Friday, December 13, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 12/02/2019 & 12/09/2019

Art by Arturo Lauria
Two issues of Strange Horizons bring two short stories and two poems to kick off December's content. Tonally, the issues cover a lot of ground, from a slow, wrenching examination of oppression and expression, family and safety, to a more action-oriented adventure in deep space featuring twisted gods. The poetry adds to the diversity of the works and the moods, painting pictures both creepy and resilient. All in all, it's a wonderful look at just how different short SFF can be, building fascinating new worlds peppered with classic touches. To the reviews!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #292

Art by Alexey Shugurov
It’s no surprise that the two stories in this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies are incredibly well paired—it’s just sort of what I expect from the publication. And they are, both dealing intimately with names, and with flowers, and with violence and expectation. With ignorance, and characters dealing with that ignorance. Because without knowledge they can’t make informed decisions, can’t give informed consent. Being asked to take everything on faith, they see how that system allows for their exploitation and unhappiness, their marginalization and, ultimately, their death. It’s not an easy issue, and both stories deal with gaslighting and abuse in some visceral ways. So definitely be mindful the content warnings. But there’s also a power and a beauty to them that’s worth sitting down with. To the reviews!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus December 2019

Don’t let the fact that it’s December trick you into thinking all the best fiction of the year has already come out. Because people, the new short story from GigaNotoSaurus is probably going to end up on a number of my lists. It’s bold and kind and completely out of fucks and I love it so much. But then, a story about a punk rock band and the end of the world via alien invasion is probably going to be hard for me to dislike. And this story has an amazing cast, a sort of gallows humor that is charming and poignant all at once, and you should just read it already. For me, it’s time I got to the review!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online December 2019

It’s not an overly speculative issue of Flash Fiction Online for December, with only one science fiction piece and two literary ones, but the stories are all solid and explore themes of family, relationships, power, freedom, and success. The characters are often stuck in situations that feel oppressive, their desperate wish just to be released from the constant pressure on them. To ignore the issues in their marriage. to accept the stifling atmosphere of their father’s home. To churn out content for fans that might turn on them at any moment. It’s a great handful of flash stories, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Quick Sips - The Dark #55

Art by Miranda Adria
The Dark is closing out 2019 with two stories that treat with horror in very different ways. In one, a young woman deals with social isolation and trauma while trying to both solve a mystery and navigate a very fragile space within her family. In the other, an artist deals with a much more physical isolation as he finds himself in a remote house where his inspiration has taken a rather sinister turn. In both, though, the characters are up against supernatural threats alongside emotional and mental ones. The baggage they carry is a weight on them, and they've effectively been thrown into the deep end with it. Can they shed it, or build it into something they can use to steer a course to safer waters, or will they be dragged down to the depths by it? To the reviews!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #115

Art by Grandfailure / Fotolia
The last Lightspeed Magazine of the year is a rather challenging one for me, full of settings defined by exclusion, oppression, and conflict. These stories are grim, and unsettling, and for me personally mostly upsetting. Not that they don't have hope, or moments of beauty, or skill in wordcraft. But perhaps because I'm in the start of what already is a rather trying winter, I found it hard with some of the pieces to achieve the distance from some of the stories that would have been required to enjoy them more. Still, there are some definite bright spots in the issue, and I'll cover it all in the review.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Quick Sips - Escape Pod #708

Not all futures are so bright you gotta wear shades, and that's certainly the case in November's lone Escape Pod release, a story that explores how technology can make some wonderful things possible (printing life saving organ transplants and reviving extinct species), but in the grips of our capitalist system those wonders will always be tainted by corruption, inequality, and abuse. It's not perhaps the rosiest vision of the future, but it is a call to perhaps take the sunglasses off for to better see in all the shades and subtleties the road we as a people are speeding down, and how we might exit toward something better before it's too late. To the review!