A review by mikewhiteman
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 133 by Tomáš Petrásek, Xia Jia, Julie Nováková, Finbarr O'Reilly, Emily Jin, Nisi Shawl, Jack Skillingstead, Neil Clarke, Genevieve Valentine, Gareth L. Powell, Ken Liu, A.M. Dellamonica, Natalia Theodoridou, Chris Urie


The Sum Of Her Expectations - Jack Skillingstead ***
A woman finds herself confronted by her own abandonment issues when she attempts to rescue her robot friend from a planet overrun by city-building nanomachines. The representative of the sublimed society that created the builders adds to the creepiness and focuses her eventual catharsis.

The Nightingales In Plátres - Natalia Theodoridou **
A group of Orthodox Greeks in a generation ship find themselves stranded on a barren planet, waiting for the Dirac wave they need to continue their journey. Some nice flavour of the culture onboard the ship but the communication and sacrifice at the heart of the story is played so straight that it jars.

The Last Boat-Builder In Ballyvoloon - Finbarr O'Reilly ****
Quiet story about a man refusing to accept the transformative change brought on his world. Captures the atmosphere of the small Irish seaside town and the SF aspects - attempts to clean up the oceans and free them of plastics evolved out of control - are smoothly integrated.

The Psychology Game - Xia Jia, trans. Emily Jin & Ken Liu **
Not much in the way of a story; sets up the idea of counselling on TV where the patient does not know if their therapist is a human or an AI, then discusses various issues around that through interviews and description. Interesting enough, and the conclusion (it doesn't matter if they are or not) is reasonable, if a bit pat.

Intro To Prom - Genevieve Valentine ****
A bleak story about the four survivors left behind in a domed town now covered by the ocean and how they get through the timeless days with each other. The multiple viewpoints tease out the details of the situation and their true helplessness; the character work is excellent, they each inhabit the world in a different way and the writing

Shiomah's Land - Nisi Shawl ***
A girl's journey from starvation on the streets to posthuman godhood. The relationship between Teekoige/Shiomah and Amma always has coercion hanging over it, though the final conflict is about a different betrayal and any romance is ambiguous as to both of their intentions. The world is fun and opulent but that central relationship never quite comes into focus.

Red Lights, And Rain - Gareth L Powell *
Powell's writing is just not for me. Everything is so surface level and matter of fact. A biologically enhanced super soldier vampire from the future being hunted down across time by a "fangbanger" presumably sounded like a cool pitch but I just do not care when reading it. Even when it's revealed the vampire had a family so is he even really that bad? Mmm, nuance.