Friday, March 27, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 03/16/2020 & 03/23/2020

March isn't quite over, and I hear tell that Strange Horizons has a big special issue planned for next week. So before that buries me in all the things to read and review, I'm catching up on the last two issues of the publication, featuring a new original story and two new poems. The works look at some rather heavy topics, from climate change and the loss of a(n adult) child to the misfortune that multiverses might imply. For all that they feature some lingering grief, though, they also seem to be about finding new ways forward, new methods of dealing with situations that aren't exactly good or hopeful, and continuing on regardless. It's a beautiful two weeks of content, and I'll get right to the reviews!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Quick Sips - Mithila Review #12 [translated poetry]

Art by Theobald Carreras
Well oops! Looks like when I was reading the last issue of Mithila Review, I overlooked two translated poems. My bad! I’m fixing my mistake now, and I must say the poems do not disappoint. There’s great skill on display both from the poets and the translators, and the works take on ideas big (alien refugees and possible global catastrophe) and small (laboratory experiments thrown off by something miniscule and overlooked). Together the pieces offer a nice one-two punch, and make for a great way to close out what was a huge and excellent issue of SFF fiction and poetry. To the reviews!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #299 [part 2]

Art by Andis Reinbergs
The science fantasy goodness continues as I finish up my look at the latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which hits a bit above its weight with over 20,000 words of fiction. The stories deal with unfairness in very meaningful ways, finding characters who want to break free of systems that have them trapped. That are hungry for their death and suffering. That are punishing them for something they don’t understand. The pieces are visceral and bloody at times, but through all that they also hold to hope, that even the more powerful of systems can be dismantled, though that doesn’t mean it will be easy. To the reviews!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Quick Sips - Nightmare #90

Art by Patila / Adobe Stock Art
Both of the stories in the March Nightmare Magazine deal with urban legends. With how they might start, and how they spread. And both of them rather directly examine the power of the darkness, the dangers that come from speaking into it seeking an answer. The issue is superbly paired to infect and spread, the nature of urban legends made a kind of contagion that can leap from person to person. Where even if a legend started its life as pure fiction, something can happen to it, believe fleshing it out, giving it very real teeth. It’s a creepy, a series of warnings, but let’s just walk past the boldly printed signs saying “Stay Out” and see what the reviews bring!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #61

Art by Joey Jordan
The two original stories in March's Diabolical Plots feature new takes on older settings and ideas. From the size-changing potions of Alice in Wonderland to the horrors of Lovecraft. Neither piece exactly allows those texts to exist without complication or challenge, though, and the focus for me is on providing new lenses through which to examine some of the failings and problems of those older texts. And in doing so the stories seem to offer some commentary on generational shifts and changes in attitudes, and the ways that the older generations can fail the younger. So yeah, to the reviews!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Machina [ep01.07 & 01.08]

Well the end of the first season is closing in and Serial Box’s Machina is shaping up to be an exciting and complex experience. Mixing hope and capitalism in beautiful and painful ways, the race is still very much on between DevLok and Overwatch to see whose machine will reign supreme. In the midst of this competition, though, the goalposts are shifting, and fear of failure is being deepened by what that failure might look like, and just how devastating a rogue AI can be. So far the focus has been on the possibility for good that these AIs and their programmers have, but there’s a small detour here to show just how large that possibility is for harm, too. So buckle up and let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Quick Sips - Translunar Travelers Lounge #2 [Hearty Fare]

I’m back looking at the second issue of Translunar Travelers Lounge, this time reading through the second section, labeled Hearty Fare. And I’m not sure exactly if that means these are supposed to be a little denser, a little bit more built up. Certainly these stories do feature some interesting and complex world building, from one where fairy tales are part of genealogical research to one where superheroes walk a precarious line between heroism and corruption, to another where magic is bridged to the mundane world by a network of pirates. More than that, though, it’s possible these feature a bit more emotional complexity, putting characters in morally perilous places within these worlds and demanding they find their ways back out. It’s fascinating work and still manages to stick to the general guideline of “fun” while at times being emotionally sharp and a wee bit devastating. To the reviews!