Thursday, September 20, 2018

X Marks the Story - September 2018

It's that time again! I look back at some recent favorite reads, a lot of which feature weirdly specific but wonderful facets. Wise chickens, psychic detectives, romantic Death, and much more! The list and links to the stories is below, but check out the column at The Book Smugglers (with X-tra X-plorations)!

X Marks the Story - September 2018

“The Privilege of the Happy Ending”, Kij Johnson (Published in Clarkesworld #143, August 2018)

“The Barnum Effect” by Celia Neri (Published in Apex #111, August 2018)

“A Taxonomy of Hurts”, Kate Dollarhyde (published in Fireside Magazine #37, August 2018)

“What Man Knoweth”, Russell Nichols (Published at Strange Horizons, August 2018)

“Momento Mori”, Tiah Marie Beautement (Published in Omenana #12, August 2018)

“The House on the Moon”, William Alexander (Published in Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction!, August 2018)

Cheers!

Quick Sips - Apex #112

It’s another rather large Apex Magazine this month, with three short stories and a novelette full of darkness, damage, and families. For most of the works, at least, the focus is on the pressures that people, especially women, face to blend in and accept a world that is so actively harmful to them, loaded against them. That they are pushed into participating in a system that harms and abuses them, without real help in dismantling that system. And for some, this is something to fight against, something to push back against, and maybe win some room, some progress towards a better world. And for others it’s something where any attempt to push back is met with brutal punishment and constant bombardment of abuse and humiliation. The stories map the complexities of desire and hope in settings where darkness holds sway, and they are all beautifully devastating. So, to the reviews!

Art by Joel Chaim Holtzman

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #260

The first Beneath Ceaseless Skies issue of September brings a pair of stories that certainly shake of the summer heat, opting instead of a colder, darker tone and feel. In each we find young women who make bargains that they don’t completely understand when they make them. About finally getting something they want in a setting where women’s desires are often the first thing suppressed in favor of survival and subsistence. Without anywhere else to turn, they get approached by witches, who in turn seek to take more than is offered. In one of the stories, though, the bargain’s toll goes much beyond even the steep price that was set, and in the other the price is still under negotiation, though a negotiation that now involves a gun. To the reviews!

Art by Piotr Dura

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #144

Clarkesworld keeps things a little light this month, maybe as a slight reprieve as convention season winds down, with two short stories and two novelettes. For me, the stories have a lot to with movement, with generations, and with harm. They find characters on the run because of the violence they were brought up to value, and having to decide to reject it or revel in its flavors. The pieces explore family and connections and hope, and the impulse to reach for the stars, be they celestial bodies or human celebrities. It’s a rather complex, moving, and sometimes hilarious issue, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Art by Arthur Haas

Monday, September 17, 2018

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/03/2018 & 09/10/2018

Strange Horizons opens September with two new short stories and poems. And the feel of these pieces very much faces the bleak and desolate for me. People who are struggling against a world that seems like a hostile waste, where they can't find connection, where those people they care about don't seem to stick around, don't seem to really understand. Where they are pulled by ghosts, of those they have lost and by the ghosts of their past selves, toward ends that mean destruction or worse. It's a rather rending month of short SFF, so let's steel ourselves and get to the reviews!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus September 2018

It’s a new short story for September’s GigaNotoSaurus, and it’s a dilly of a tall tale, complete with traveling librarians, horses that can ride galaxies, and whole lot of open desolation. The piece looks at the utility of tall tales, the function of them in places like the American colonial frontier, where people were coming across environments so unlike anything they had known that making larger-than-life figures seemed to give them a bit of security, knowing that somewhere out there someone was beating back the loss and the danger and the seemingly random catastrophe of the West. It’s a story of love and adventure and oh so much longing, and I’ll get right to my review!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Quick Sips - Uncanny #24 Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! [September Poetry]

And now for the poetry from Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! Now, in years past it has been flash fiction that rounded out the original offerings in the Destroy! issues. But, as Uncanny normally publishes a selection of excellent poetry, this special issue continues the tradition. Now, I find poetry some of the most difficult things to review, in part because they rely so much on what the reader brings to the piece. But I do find it valuable as a reader to approach poetry with a critical gaze, searching for meaning and seeking to understand and examine how I read and respond to poetry. And the selection here is amazing, moving from self and body outward into the universe, which can be beautiful and terrifying and freeing and confining and just, really, it’s a great celebration of speculative poetry that I’m going to do my best to review. So let’s get to it!

Art by Likhain