Neil Clarke: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 202 (EBook, EN language, 2023, Wyrm Publishing) 4 stars

Cheaper to Replace by Marie Vibbert Death and Redemption, Somewhere Near Tuba City by Lou …

A better than average issue

3 stars

A better than average issue, with interesting stories by Marie Vibbert, Bo Balder, Brenda W. Clough and Davian Aw.

  • "Cheaper to Replace" by Marie Vibbert: an old robot is in need of repairs. And one graduate student, who has developed a fondness for the robot, is desperate to keep it after the university administration wants to get rid of it. Her last hope may be a professor who has a liking for old cars and, perhaps, an understanding for why she wants to keep the robot around.

  • "Death and Redemption, Somewhere Near Tuba City" by Lou J Berger: in the future, a woman hunts down the last of the AI cars still roaming the country. But their rivalry turns into grudging accommodation at the end when their encounter does not go well for either of them.

  • "Estivation Troubles" by Bo Balder: an interesting story of a couple who pay a visit to their home world, where its inhabitants are separated into people who are active in either summer or winter and aestivate in the other season. But the short visit turns into a crisis when one of them makes a choice the other doesn't agree with, but is finally resolved with a change of heart in the other partner.

  • "Clio's Scroll" by Brenda W. Clough: an interesting story involving Dante Alighieri, who picks up an unusual alien acquaintance that requires his help to find a place to stay safe.

  • "Tigers for Sale" by Risa Wolf: a space station has the ability to send ships to other universes. But it requires a human on board to decide who gets to travel. At the beginning of the story, the station encounters strange memory lapses and 'nightmares' about its real purpose. But after one encounter with a ship, its human companion gives it an unexpected command that would change the nature of the station, perhaps for the better.

  • "Timelock" by Davian Aw: a man is 'trapped' in a timelock, a bubble of frozen time, by a group of party goers. When he goes to ask them to unlock the bubble, so he could go to work, he unexpectedly goes on a journey deep into the world, and deep into the depths of time, while hardly using any time at all.

  • "What Remains, the Echoes of a Flute Song" by Alexandra Seidel: on an unknown world, a person wanders about the remains of places, playing a flute as a means of communication. One day, the flautist rescues a talking traveller, who appears to know more about the world, and now despairs at the condition of it. The flautist tries to make them happier, but it might not work.

  • "The Orchard of Tomorrow" by Kelsea Yu: in a future where food and knowledge is being hoarded by the elite, one person makes a choice that has some similarities (and differences) to that done in the story of the Monkey King and the Peaches of Immortality.