Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book/magazine reviews.
Clarkesworld Magazine's October 2008 issue is quite solid, whether it comes to the fiction or nonfiction. The cover art by Jobert Zaide, "Alien Cityscape", has that right combination of familiarity (it has that War of the Worlds feel) and strangeness.
The feature piece is "Gift of the Kites" by Jim C. Hines. This was an endearing story with that right touch of the fantastical. Hines's characterization is impressive, whether it's the young protagonist in the story or his biological father who acts as an antagonists of sorts. Another praise-worthy quality of the story is how the action and tension is narrated, especially during the scenes where the kites battle. The author avoids the pitfall of an all-too easy ending and while I'm not completely won over by the route he takes, it's certainly commendable.
The podcast version of the same story, read by Cat Rambo, is equally impressive. Hines includes some Japanese terms and Rambo pronounces them correctly and smoothly so much so that one doesn't really realize there are actually foreign words in the story. She also adds a layer of meekness to the protagonist and a stern distinction between the various characters thanks to dialogue.
"Passwords" by John A. McDermott uses something as commonplace as passwords and uses it as an objective correlative for the frustration and problems the protagonist is facing. McDermott handles the juxtaposition between the character's personal life and corporate life adeptly, with characterization being the hallmark of this piece. Perhaps it's not as strong a story as "Gift of the Kites" but it's certainly an enjoyable read.
When it comes to the non-fiction, Gord Sellar does a competent job of drawing science fiction/fantasy comparisons with Korea in "How Candle Girl and V Took on 2 MB". It honestly reminds me of the revolutions that have taken place here in the Philippines, with technology and paranoia playing a big part in such moving events. Sellar is also comprehensive in citing sources and attributions which sheds light into the incident as well as Korean culture. Jeff Vandermeer's interview, "Margo Lanagan and Tender Morsels", delivers exactly what the title suggests as we gain an insight into the writing behind Tender Morsels.
Overall a good issue of Clarkesworld Magazine that's certainly worth the investment in time.