Bick's Reviews on Tangent Online


Luddite Curmudgeon
Jul 26, 2012
Auckland, NZ
I've joined the review team at Tangent Online so I thought, like Victoria, I would perhaps post links to reviews somewhere on the forum, as they may be of interest.

I'll start with a couple of short reviews I provided on single stories from two online magazines:

Strange Horizons, January 18, 2021, and
Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, January 2021

I wasn't much of a fan of either of the stories in these online magazines to be honest; the tale in Strange Horizons was the better of the two.

I have reviewed The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for Mar/Apr 2021, but it can't be published on Tangent Online yet as it hasn't hit the newsstands; I think it will go up on Feb 6th or thereabouts and I'll post a link as soon as its up. Without giving any details away, there were some good stories in this issue of F&SF.
Good one Bick. An even review rather than a ripping session that I enjoyed reading. Good for you.
My review of Clarkesworld #173 (Feb 2021) is now published on Tangent Online.

I thought Obelisker Adrift in the Desert by K. H. Meridian was the finest story in this issue, and warmly recommend it as superior far-future sci-fi.

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Very good job!
Thanks - I'm still not quite sure how to relate the idea that I don't care for a story - this is something I'm still working on. I expect it comes across in my review of certain stories, but it's a fine line between constructively saying it has flaws and letting the cat out of the bag that you thought it was %#*&. :)

However, some reviews leave you not knowing what the reviewer actually thought - its hard to work out what's good and what's bad. You're good at this, but I'm not sure everyone else on Tangent is sufficiently willing to be critical. (Perhaps I shouldn't say that out loud,, but I won't name names).
Good work. I agree that avoiding giving the protagonist a name is rarely a good idea. I note that there is a famous series of detective stories set in ancient China featuring a Judge Dee, so I wonder if this is a deliberate allusion. "The Tyger" sounds very "literary" indeed.
I note that there is a famous series of detective stories set in ancient China featuring a Judge Dee, so I wonder if this is a deliberate allusion.
Very interesting, I didn't know that. I've read that Lavie Tidhar has written some very highly regarded work, so I read this twice to see if missed its qualities first time round. I don't think I did, its not awful, it's just perhaps not his finest work.

"The Tyger" sounds very "literary" indeed.
Yes, it rather is, but not in a pejorative way - it really appealed to me and I rec'd it to Dave with one star. I'm a sucker for fiction that rings true - in much the same way Hemingway felt that this was the most important thing - capture the truth of things. The dialogue and scenes in this short story capture the scenario just right. It's not especially SFF, which would usually irk me, so it must have something about it!
Congrats on your review gig, Bick!
Thanks J-Sun, and good to see you on here again. I found myself with a little more time than when you mentioned the possibility first a few years ago. I was in an email convo with Dave about something and it came up.

How are you doing? You’re not reviewing for Tangent presently yourself?
Well, I'm glad you're now able to point people to the Good Stuff. :)

I guess I'm doing all right - what prompted me to visit was that I'm recovering from a minor medical thing and it seemed like something fun to do that I was capable of. :) As far as Tangent, no, I gave that up. It was a lot of fun for quite awhile and I read a lot of good stories, but too many bad ones. ;) I'm not sure there's a magazine out there that didn't publish something good and something bad, though. Of these you've mentioned on the thread, Strange Horizons had a very poor batting average but posted one of my favorite stories of the year at least once. Cosmic Roots was rarely great but rarely bad and would occasionally pop out a notable one. Clarkesworld and probably published more better stuff than most on average but also produced some of the ones I liked the least. And F&SF just seemed to go off the rails almost completely at some point, though I hope that was just a momentary thing. (I saw in your review that it has a new editor now - do you know why Finlay left/got replaced?)
My review of Analog Science Fiction & Fact - Mar/April 2021 is now up on Tangent Online.

I thought the best stories in this issue were: Tail Call Optimization by Tony Ballantine, If a Tree Doesn’t Fall by Jerry Oltion, Damocles by Sean McMullen and the novella Invasive Species by Catherine Wells. There were several other good stories though, and overall I enjoyed the issue, and would recommend it. I only had to grit my teeth to get through a couple of the pieces.


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