Bick's Reviews on Tangent Online

Bick

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The cover of this issue is interesting. The cover is given over to the Bossert story, which was a dreadful bore, while the best story, by Ahmad, was not referenced at all on the cover. The moral of this story: what's on the cover is unrelated to the quality of the contents!
 

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My review of Lightspeed #134 - July 2021 is now up on Tangent Online.

Quite a good issue, with some interesting stories, though none that were truly excellent. I felt the best story was the time travel story A Smell of Jet Fuel by Andrew Dana Hudson.

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My Review of Clarkesworld #179 - August 2021 is now up on Tangent Online.

A mixed bag, with some enjoyable stories, but also two poor translated stories. The best story was a steampunk tale: The Clock, Having Seen Its Face in the Mirror, Still Knows Not the Hour by Adam Stemple (which was better than the title might suggest).

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alexvss

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My Review of Clarkesworld #179 - August 2021 is now up on Tangent Online.

A mixed bag, with some enjoyable stories, but also two poor translated stories. The best story was a steampunk tale: The Clock, Having Seen Its Face in the Mirror, Still Knows Not the Hour by Adam Stemple (which was better than the title might suggest).

View attachment 80753
Hey, I liked that title! :LOL:

And I agree about the translations. They just feel off. I guess something always gets lost on translations, specially from distant cultures like the Chinese.
 

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My review of Analog - Sep/Oct 2021 is now up on Tangent Online.

Quite a mixed bag of decent and weaker stories. The best story was probably Room to Live by Marie Vibbert, who's work also seems to get recommended. The Soul is Ten Thousand Parts by Chelsea Obodoechina and the novella The Silence Before I Sleep by Adam-Troy Castro, are also worth a read.

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My review of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - Nov/Dec 2021 is now up on Tangent Online.

A rather mixed bag of stories, with several I really didn't care for (I would suggest skipping the Nalo Hopkinson novelette and the novella by Natalia Theodoridou). It's interesting the editor chose to highlight these 'misses' on the cover. On the flip-side, the fantasy Laki by Eleanor Arneson was excellent and the SF noir thriller A Vast Silence by T. R. Napper was also good.

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My review of Analog - Nov/Dec 2021 is now up on Tangent Online.

A mixed bag, as is usually the case. The flash fiction is usually weak, and this is true this month also.
There were three pretty good stories I recommend: A Sports Story by Brenda Kalt, From the Maintenance Reports of Perseverance Colony, Year 12 by Jo Miles and Caoimhe’s Water Music by Mjke Wood. And there is one story I thought was very good, and highly recommend: An Hour to Ames by Dan Reade.

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My review of Lightspeed #140 - Dec 2022 is now up on Tangent Online.

Rather a disappointing issue, with no content to recommend. Lightspeed has occasionally published some really good short fiction (see May 2021, for example, which was a much stringer issue), but recent issues have generally been weak, I feel.

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My review of Analog - Mar/Apr 2022 is now up on Tangent Online.

This was a strong issue, containing numerous good stories, including Exile’s Grace by Mark W. Tiedemann (excellent and reminiscent of Frank Herbert's work), In Transit by the elusive J.T. Sharrah, The Hard Law by D.G.P. Rector, The Honeymooners by Brenda Kalt (who's becoming a very reliable SF author) and The Big Day by A.T. Sayre. It was an issue for those who like initials, clearly!

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Victoria Silverwolf

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Excellent reviews. I have been noting a trend of stories starting off in very confusing style, with things explained, if at all, much later in the text. I'm not asking for total transparency, as a little mystery is intriguing, but complete opacity isn't desirable either.
 

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Excellent reviews. I have been noting a trend of stories starting off in very confusing style, with things explained, if at all, much later in the text. I'm not asking for total transparency, as a little mystery is intriguing, but complete opacity isn't desirable either.
Yes, it’s as though the authors are fixated on the idea of a ‘reveal’, and it is a growing trend I think. But the reveal shouldn’t be why you’re bothering to read it, it should be a surprise or development in the plot, which already has a solid background or context.
 

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Yes, it’s as though the authors are fixated on the idea of a ‘reveal’, and it is a growing trend I think. But the reveal shouldn’t be why you’re bothering to read it, it should be a surprise or development in the plot, which already has a solid background or context.
I have been reading short stories more often lately and "The Book Keepers" by J.T. Sharrah in Analog Sep-Oct 2021 seems to fit your description. Time travelers from the future go back to the library of Alexandria to record the writings that will be lost to the future. They get into trouble; they get out of trouble only to find out in the end that it was a time traveler from their own future that was helping them from behind the scenes. They themselves had nothing to do with the success of the mission at all.

Is this what you two are talking about? For me, I found the story to be a letdown in the end. I don't write in that style but still good to know.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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I was thinking more of stories where the author throws unknown words and names at you at the start, and you don't know what's going on until about halfway through the story. This technique creates a sense of the exotic, but it also leads to initial confusion.

Here's an example, although it's not anywhere near as bewildering as some.

The entire time they were walking towards the Dragon Stairs, Giền said nothing. She merely changed shape in Thanh Lan’s arms—not growing heavier and heavier, which Thanh Lan could have understood, but by turns lighter and heavier, her shape shimmering between ten thousand different ones: a dragon, a Maw soldier—a faceless, helmed countenance with the Maw’s spiral emblem on their forehead—, an elderly woman who could have been Thanh Lan’s mother. Every one of them kept only the three dots on the nape: the connection ports, once faintly visible, now more and more distinct as Giền grew weaker and weaker.

I can see why you'd want to toss strange things at readers right away, to grab their interest, but too much of this can make getting into the story difficult.

What you're talking about seems to be more hiding information from the reader; one type of twist ending, which doesn't often work.

Like any technique, sometimes these work well, sometimes they don't.
 

stevejk

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I was thinking more of stories where the author throws unknown words and names at you at the start, and you don't know what's going on until about halfway through the story. This technique creates a sense of the exotic, but it also leads to initial confusion.

Here's an example, although it's not anywhere near as bewildering as some.



I can see why you'd want to toss strange things at readers right away, to grab their interest, but too much of this can make getting into the story difficult.

What you're talking about seems to be more hiding information from the reader; one type of twist ending, which doesn't often work.

Like any technique, sometimes these work well, sometimes they don't.
I see what you mean. Was that from a novel or a short story? I kind of under that for a short to a point. As for a novel...
From my point of view, it seemed your example was written by someone that has played a lot of role-playing games like D&D or Role Master; total submersion.
Thanks! That helps a lot.
 

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