Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #93

Love is in the air for Apex Magazine's February issue. Er, well…maybe not exactly love. What's sort of like love but awful, horrifying, and uncomfortable? Well, the issue is probably first and foremost concerned with the loss of agency. With the way that (mostly women but also other) people can be stripped of their autonomy. Their will. Their bodies. Their souls. The way that they can be made into dolls and puppets and controlled. So okay, maybe the story's not about love so much as about people and things that mistake abuse for love. Who think that love means cutting away what makes a person human. It's a difficult issue with a wide range of stories, some hopeful and some…decidedly not. But that's the nature of dark SFF, so let's just get to the reviews! 

Art by Adrian Borda

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quick Sips - Lackington's #12 (Animals)

The latest issue of Lackington's has a theme of Animals to it. And while it does feature a number of precocious and mischievous characters, this isn't exactly an issue I'd recommend giving to a young child as a diversion on a rainy day. Unless you want some very interesting conversations (and maybe therapy) later. The issue is full of stories that twist the unexpected, that show that just because there are talking animals in a piece doesn't mean they're all going to be sweet. Many of these are dark. And violent. And beautiful. The prose flows in good Lackington's style and the themes approach justice and human (and animal) nature, as well as loss, and dissolution, and expectations, and roles, and…well, you get the idea. It's a big issue full of characters and beasts great and small. And it's time for me to get to my reviews! 

Art by Pear Nuallak

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #35 (February Stuff)

The stories in this month's Shimmer Magazine look at very different sides of love. In the first, love is something dangerous and alive, tarnished by pain and loss and hate. And in the second it is a kind of magic that transforms the random daily acts of parenting into larger-than-life confrontations and accomplishments. These are stories that don't precisely flow thematically, but after the first the second is a welcome respite from the pain and damage that life can bring, that broken systems encourage. These are stories, though, that both flow and weave language into beautifully poetic form. These are certainly stories that shimmer, though in very different ways. To the reviews! 

Art by Sandro Castelli

Monday, February 20, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #14 (February Stuff)

The pieces in the February content from Uncanny do a great job of giving a wide ranging view of what makes up short SFF. From stories about love and immigration and Poe to a poem about being hot for Mars to nonfiction that educates and challenges, the issue provides a stunning arrangement of SFF that pushes the boundaries on narrative form and style. Plus there's a story just in time for a certain romantic holiday that is incredibly appropriate and rather fun. The story brings the laughter and the tears and the raw silences and does it in a way that is inspiring and imaginative. So yeah, let's get to the reviews! 

Art by John Picacio

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Quick Thoughts - Some Small Changes Coming

Hi all! I've been thinking recently that my level of output for Quick Sip Reviews has been getting…well, slightly more than I can handle. Which is why I'm planning on making a few rather minor changes to the way I do things. But before you think that I'm going to be cutting reviews or anything like that, please remain calm. The changes are slight and designed mainly to streamline what I do and give myself permission not to stress out about certain things.

First and mainly, I will probably be stepping back from having a Quick Thoughts post every week. Now, I love writing things directly and I think that many of my Thoughts posts have been some of my best work here at QSR, but I also know that I struggle some weeks to find topics and things to write about. I'm not getting rid of Quick Thoughts, but I do think that I'm not going to push so hard to have something every single week. For instance, I'm going to be running some of my extra projects like Year of Garak and probably Quick Questions on Saturdays, which will mean that I won't be having so many weeks of having a post up every single day.

Now, if you still want to hear me talk about things every week, I have been doing a weekly post on my patreon where I give little updates and I will continue to do those. Speaking of my patreon, I think I'm going to restructure it a little bit and streamline some of the reward tiers to de-clutter things. I want things to make sense and make sure that anyone awesome enough to support the work I do here at QSR is completely satisfied with being a patron. Which, if you're looking for ways to make sure that QSR can continue for a long time to come, please consider becoming a patron. It means a lot to me and it does help me stay on top of life and get my reviews done.

In the grand scheme of things, not much will be changing. My Patreon has added a bit to my workload and I just want to make sure that I can maintain what I'm doing. I do struggle some with feeling that I have to do a certain amount every week and every month or I'm somehow failing. At being the reviewer that I want to be. At being a resource that people can use to find and think about great stories. Even into my third year now I feel weird about everything and like I'm not exactly "legit." So it's difficult to find that I'm struggling to keep up with everything even when I recognize that I'm writing more than I ever have for QSR. Because the last two months I've done more than fifty thousand words in nonfiction (reviews, thoughts, patreon stuff, etc.) for QSR and that's not a pace I can keep up indefinitely. So I'm going to try and practice just a bit of self care and hope it doesn't negatively effect your experience. Thank you for being awesome and for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur


Friday, February 17, 2017

The Monthly Round is up!!!

Hi all! My monthly column pairing my favorite short SFF reads with booze is up right now at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together. So definitely go check that out! For those who just want those mouth watering stories, the list of my picks is below:

Tasting Flight - January 2017
"Chesirah" by L.D. Lewis (Fiyah)
"A Series of Steaks" by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld)
"Mag, the Habitat and We" by Lia Swope Mitchell (Apex)
"Bodies Stacked Like Firewood" by Sam J. Miller (Uncanny)
“Requiem for the Unchained” by Cae Hawksmoor (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"A Human Stain" by Kelly Robson (Tor)
"The Twelve Rules of Etiquette at Miss Firebird's School for Girls" by Gwendolyn Kiste (Mithila Review)
"A Song to Charm the Beasts" by Wendy Nikel (Fantastic Stories)
"It Happened to Me: My Doppelganger Stole My Credit Card Info, and then My Life" by Nino Cipri (Fireside)



Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 02/06/2017 & 02/13/2017

Two weeks have passed and Strange Horizons has put out both a pair of stories and pair of poems that continue their focus on global and domestic justice. These are stories and poems that look at the harsh realities of injustice. At the way that hatred and misunderstanding and frustration can fuel people to commit horrendous acts against one another. The way that the danger of those acts can push people to hide themselves, to quiet themselves, to censor themselves. These are pieces that remove the censor, that explore what stories are told not to heal wounds but to make them just bearable enough that people won't try to stop those responsible for causing them. It's a rather difficult collection of speculative work, but also moving, beautiful, and important. So yeah, to the reviews!