Forever Magazine: Issue 1, by Neil Clarke ++

Forever magazine is new. Well, it was new back when I heard about it and bought the first issue, which was… a few months ago.  Today I finally read it, and promptly made a subscription, because this was one of the most satisfying magazine reading experiences I’ve had.  Despite belatedly realising I already owned Ken Liu’s featured novella, The regular,  as part of the Upgraded anthology.

It’s a great novella, though, unexpectedly touching for a… cyberpunk noir with a bunch of traditional ingredients:  A string of murdered escort girls, shady implant technology, international tensions in the background, local racial tensions a little closer to the foreground,  an ex-cop full of trauma and tranquilizers.   I would not have expected to like this quite as much as I did, but this was lovely writing, and made me that much more eager to grab hold of Ken Liu’s recently published silkpunk fantasy, The grace of kings.

(I will, if/when I convince myself it’s okay to not finish every fantasy series in an orderly fashion. Series grate on my must-read-faster nerves, which I recognise as lame, but still…)

There’s a little interview with the author too, which is sweet. It’s also short and to the point, which I feel like describes the whole magazine – in a very good and refreshing way. I like a magazine that doesn’t have so much content going on that I’ll inevitably be bored and skip parts of it.

Two truly awesome short stories follow.

Susan Palwick’s The fate of mice caught me by surprise. It’s tragic and gripping, much like Flowers for Algernon, which it references (or actually uses to spin the story out of).   I feel like I can’t really talk about it directly without giving away the whole thing, but, well. I’d giftwrap this for everyone who’s ever loved a hyperintelligent lab experiment mouse. Um, in fiction.  I’ve never hung out with a real one.

Peter Watts’ Firebrand is… oh, wow. I realise “Oh, wow” is always my response to Watts.  I get really embarrassingly blushy-giggly enthusiastic about his stories, for which I’d apologise, but I think it’s also kind of the point of being a geeky reader, so, blah.   In Firebrand, human spontaneous combustion is a real thing that happens to people because science! and oops ethics!.   I just…  spontaneous combustion, okay?  Delightful ending, too.

I’ve missed issue 2, as my sub only starts at the third one, but I’m going to leave it at that because hey, why not go read that Upgraded anthology I have around here somewhere.  I got it for backing a kickstarter, and of course forgot all about it.

And literature magazines give me strange and mixed feelings, usually. I mean, I can’t help but be awed and excited about monthly issues of interesting fiction.  But it’s the same way I feel about podcasts – I could be very, very into them! But… I usually choose to read a book (or listen to an audiobook) when story consuming time occurs.  This is also why my game consoles are dusty. I try to change it, because more sources of input is not a bad thing, but… books. So many books.   Thus, I love the compact and readable size of Forever.  Big thumbs up.

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