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Summary: Clarkesworld Magazine, 2009

Summary: Clarkesworld Magazine, 2009

Clarkesworld Magazine is a monthly online publication. There is also now a publishing operation, Wyrm, associated with the magazine. (I should note that Wyrm is publishing my anthology Unplugged.) The editors are Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, Neil having replaced Nick Mamatas as of the first issue this year. Two stories are published each month. So, 24 this year, two of them novelettes, for a total of nearly 100,000 words, quite a bit more than last year. The stories this year averaged somewhat longer than in the past, and it was also notable that there was an increased emphasis on Science Fiction (as opposed to Fantasy) this year. On the whole I thought Clarkesworld had an outstanding year in 2009, really impressive.

Several stories stood out: Jay Lake and Shannon Page's "Rolling Steel" (April), an offbeat romantic story set in a Balkanized US-Canada alternate history, featuring a mad tank driver looking for steel, and a woman soldier who throws in her lot with him against her better instincts. Also from April, "The Dying World", by Lavie Tidhar, which mixes Russian assassins, sentient black holes, worlds contained in crystal balls, superintelligent entities, Lenin, and more into a fascinating mélange. "The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew", by Catherynne M. Valente (August), is one of the strangest and best stories of the year, a difficult to describe but ever fascinating story, set in a sort of steampunk alternate Earth, and concerning the lost last film of a documentary filmmaker called Bysshe, about a mysterious city on a strange Venus. Sarah Monette's "White Charles" (September) is another Kyle Murchison Booth story, about the unwanted gift to his museum of some mostly worthless old books from a dotty benefactor. Unfortunately, the previous owner had summoned a rather scary creature, that comes along with the gift. Kij Johnson's "Spar" (October) an aggressively and effectively unpleasant story of a human and an alien marooned together on a space lifeboat, in which they seem to communicate only by sex (or by what the human thinks of as sex).

Other very fine stories were "Celadon", by Desirina Boskovich, "Night, in Dark Perfection", by Richard Parks; "Of Melei, of Ulthar", by Gord Sellar; "The Mermaids Singing Each to Each", by Cat Rambo; "Placa Del Fuego", by Tobias Buckell; and "From the Lost Diary of Treefrog7", by Nnedi Okorafor. And indeed nearly all of the remaining stories were worthwhile -- Clarkesworld really did have an excellent year, and a very consistent one.

Statistics: Clarkesworld, as mentioned, has moved strongly in a science fictional direction. Last year I thought 56% of the stories were SF, a huge jump from the 'zine's first 15 issues, and this year the proportion is 75%. 13.5 of the stories (56%) were by women, nearly twice 2008's proportion, but consistent with the previous year plus.
Tags: 2008, webzines, yearly summaries
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