Friday, December 2, 2016

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 11/21/2016 & 11/28/2016

I'm looking at two weeks of Strange Horizons content today, which means two stories and two poems. I also recommend checking out the nonfiction, but because of time and inclination I'm not going to be discussing those here. The fiction in these two issues both imagine catastrophic journeys and different worlds. Now, one is a science fiction piece and one a fantasy, so those mean very different things, but both stories show characters falling into situations they can't control and having to adapt. Having to dance with their circumstances and their fears and their emotions. And the poetry is about lust and distance and darkness. And together it makes for a fascinating issue that I should just review already. Let's go! 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #213

People looking for a happy, uplifting read, turn back now. This issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies might be the darkest and most horror-laced of all the issues I have read of the publication. These stories are well paired but fuck are they not entirely appropriate if what you want is to curl up in a warm sweater and enjoy life. These stories are pits of darkness taunting you to look inside. And if you do, if you answer to the voice calling out from the black, there is no real light at the end of the tunnel. Just a growing and gathering darkness that consumes and destroys, that twists and turns. That asks: in a place where justice is dead, what will grow from the rotting remains of its corpse. So yeah, with that warning in place, let us descend to the reviews! 

Art by Raphael Lacoste

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quick Sips - Fireside Fiction #38

November's issue marks the last of 2016 for Fireside Fiction and it closes the year with equal measures joy and sorrow. Rather a fitting end to a very conflicting year, certainly. The stories all evoke the past in different ways, whether by spinning a tale laced with an older-style adventure or settling into grief and loss looking back on life or fitting characters into a tradition that has been going on since there have been roads crossing. These are incredibly different stories, but they share certain links beyond that they appear in the same space. They all create complex characters concerned with family and with place. With tradition and complicating tradition, putting their own twist on what has come before. And, of course, they are all quite good. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Galen Dara

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Quick Sips - Omenana #8

There's a new issue of Omenana out and you should read it. The publication is going through some changes, moving to a more robust website, adding some new ventures (like reviews), and the fiction remains strong and brilliant. These are stories that look at magic and at tragedy, that show loss but also people gaining things. New abilities. New hopes. New understandings of the world they live in. These are not always easy stories—they are dense and they are occasionally uncomfortable—but they are resonating stories. Stories that inspire and complicate. And I should get to reviewing them! 

Art by Danial Inneil, Color by Sunny Efemena

Monday, November 28, 2016

Regular Sip - "The Convergence of Fairy Tales" by Octavia Cade [Book Smugglers]

Today I'm looking at the latest novella from The Book Smugglers. This is part of a new initiative that they are running and if this work is anything to go by, it is going to be awesome. The piece overall unfolds across five chapters. Five sections. Five fairy tales. And as that is the case, I decided that my review would look at each section in turn. Be warned, because of the linked nature of the story, SPOILERS ABOUND after the first section. So yeah, to the review! 

Art by Kristina Tsenova

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Liver Beware Graphic Election! Primary Round 2

Hi all. As many of you know, I have a Patreon. Aside from helping me run Quick Sip Reviews, my amazing patrons also fund some bonus projects, including my personal favorite, LIVER BEWARE! You're in for Drunk Reviews of Goosebumps!

As the name implies, I'm reading the original Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine and then getting kinda sloshed and reviewing the books. So far I've done a bonus, which is available for free, and Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House, which is exclusive to patrons because I appreciate the hell out of them and want to give them something extra for being awesome. I'm shooting for doing #2: Stay Out of the Basement, in December, and then reviewing #s 3-14 in 2017. But I want to change things up a bit. For each review I post a graphic. The current graphic is:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quick Thoughts - This is Not an Eligibility Post

At least, it's not an eligibility post yet. But I do have some announcements and things I want to talk about and I figure now is as good a time as any. I might indeed be motivated to write up an eligibility post at some point, because it seems the thing to do, but at the moment I just want to share some good news and maybe get some people excited for what I still have coming out in 2016.

Because, alas for all things awards-considerable, my biggest sale of the year is coming out in December. My historical/contemporary/near-future fantasy "The Death of Paul Bunyan" is due out from Lightspeed Magazine next month. I have a date on when it will be available to read for free yet, but sadly it might be the latest of the original stories released in December. Still, I'm hoping people will still read it and like it, as it's one that I quite enjoy. The story takes figures from colonial American folklore, namely Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan, and creates a bit of apocrypha about what happens to them after they've outlived the campaign they were used for, the "taming of America." It's not really a happy story, so be warned.

That's not all for my December releases, either. My m/m romance "How the Supervillain Stole Christmas" will be coming out as well as part of Dreamspinner Press' 2016 Advent Calendar, this year centered on the theme of Bah Humbug! The story is 1000% cute. Rex (a.k.a. Dr. Devious) hates Christmas. Not really because of the holiday but because he's awful at picking out an appropriate gift for his significant other. Guns that create sentient plants, stolen Canadian provinces, and special visits from giant, talking gorillas only seem to scare off his boyfriends and girlfriends. And ever since he met Sanjay he's been terrified of screwing things up. With the threat of Christmas looming, Rex decides maybe he's been going about this all wrong. Instead of agonizing over a gift, perhaps he needs to head this off at the source, by destroying Christmas once and for all. If only those pesky superheroes would stop getting in the way…

But okay, I'm also looking ahead to 2017. I have zero idea when most things will be coming out yet, but I do have quite a bit that will be forthcoming. So yeah, hold onto something, because it's a lot to get through.

First, I sold a fantasy short story, "Where Rivers Run Free," to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It's a story about sentient rivers who can take human form and I feel it's got something of a Western flare. There's a whole lot of world building in that story as well as some (hopefully) deep emotional beats. Plus some sexy times. But to me it's a story of persecution and oppression, and the way that people can turn on each other when they're both being kept down by a larger system.

My science fiction story about people encased in crow-spaceship-suits, "Feathers and Void," has also sold, to Shimmer Magazine. This is a piece that's much more about resistance and finding ways to fight back against corruption and war that don't involve actively killing people. It's about harm and about loneliness and distance and identity and I am thrilled that Shimmer picked it up because it's not really what they normally publish, being typically a bit more on the fantasy side of things.

I also sold a historical fantasy flash fiction, "A Lumberjack's Guide to Dryad Spotting," to Flash Fiction Online. Apparently I didn't get my fill of gay lumberjacks with "The Death of Paul Bunyan" because there are more in this story which is part guide and part confrontation with fear and erasure. This is about having to hide yourself to blend in, to be safe. And it's about hoping for something better, and maybe finding the strength to work for it.

I also have a few things coming out from Less Than Three Press, the first of which will be a fantasy/fairy tale novelette titled "Riding Red." Yes, it is erotic. Yes, it features cross-dressing, shape shifters, witches, beheadings, polyamory, and all the tricksters imaginable. So, you know, a typical fairy tale. The second piece is "Perilous Knights," my mech-suit Arthurian fantasy. It's a second-world reimagining of the Arthurian myths where Guinevere is in charge, Arthur is First Consort with ambitions, and Merlin is a pervy schemer trying to get Arthur onto the throne. This story focuses on two of my favorite knights, Lamorak and Safere. In the story, Lamorak is a reckless young man with debts to pay and only one hope of earning it—winning a tournament. Safere is an enby looking for eir brother, who has suddenly gone missing, and Lamorak is the only lead ey has. Together they stumble into something much deeper and more dangerous than they had expected, and end up having to fight for their lives against the machination of a certain sketch-as-fuck wizard.

And way away in November my science fiction story "Shoots and Ladders" will be appearing at Diabolical Plots. This is a rather weird story that involves a gun that might or might not destroy realities and one man stuck in a situation he can't seem to get himself out of. It's a story about hope but about the toxicity of what people can mistake as hope. It's about escape and rules and I hope people like it.

So that's all I have as far as on-the-horizon fiction. But it's more than I really ever could have hoped for and I'm excited to see what else 2017 has in store. Thanks for stopping in and cheers!

All the best,

Charles Payseur