Friday, September 30, 2016

Quick Sips - Tor dot com September 2016


September brings a certain return to form for my enjoyment of the stories from Tor dot com. Meaning, I like them. Quite a bit. The four stories provide a moving and often dark picture of the world. Of cities and the dangers lurking in and around them. Of songs and their power and their transformative essence. Of resistance and the call of standing up to the overwhelming press of danger and corruption. Of finding oneself suddenly in a very precarious situation and having to fight out of it, though not always alone. These are great pieces that explore humanity brushing against something…different. The great unknown. A monster from the night. Living cities. They are fascinating and powerful and it's time to review them! 

Art by Linda Yan

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/19/2016 & 09/26/2016


The Strange Horizons Fund Drive continues with two more weeks of excellent content, featuring two stories, two poems, and a nonfiction piece. There are also nice previews of some of the initiatives that Strange Horizons will be running or hopes to be running that are worth checking out but that I won't get into here. The pieces from these weeks, though, seems to deal heavily with both history and heroes. Looking at the myths we tell, about the way in which history and narratives mix and mingle. There is a strong Greek mythology vein that is explored in a number of the works, and larger than that they all explore old wounds and newer efforts to heal and make right the injustices of the past. And the pieces are touching and interesting, complex and heavy. It's a great collection of works that I'm going to get to reviewing! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Quick Sips - Terraform September 2016


This month marks another one of experiments for Terraform's short SFF. Not only is there a story told as a series of documents making up a packet of information that still manages to tell a compelling story, but there's also a continuation of the running graphic story and two rather formally daring pieces of fiction. There's a lot weird in this month's offerings, but also a lot of good. Most of the risks taken pay off, are exceptional for their innovation as well as their hitting content. And it mixes a jaded look at the future with a spot of hope as well, that even in the worst of futures there's something worth fighting for. To the reviews! 


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #208


The stories in this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies carry with them a heavy dose of darkness. From madness on an isolated island to being hunted through the heart of a swamp, they're about pursuit, about pursuing and being pursued. They're also about stories, about narratives, and the power of knowledge and ignorance. Often, those who hold the narratives are those with power, and when the stories become lost, the dangers they were illuminating become active and aloof once more. It's an interesting issue and it's time to review! 

Art by Marek Hlavaty

Monday, September 26, 2016

Quick Sips - The Book Smugglers September 2016


The Year of the Superhero officially comes to an end at The Book Smugglers with this story. At least as far as original short fiction is concerned. It's a good thing, then, that it's a longer piece, and that it's a bit of a departure from the other superhero offerings the publication has put out so far. Instead of capes and cowls, this story looks at the idea of being a chosen hero, of having some role to fill in a larger story. And what happens when, for most, the story ends. What happens to the primary character? It's a fascinating and poignant work and it's time to review it! 

Art by Jenna Whyte

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Quick Thoughts - Essential

So recently at Nerds of a Feather we've been running posts that feature "essential SFF." Followers of Quick Thoughts know that I have some opinions about canon and about anything that seeks to create objective divisions between genres, books, and writers. And so when tasked with thinking about essential SFF, my first reaction was to balk. To want to step back and let other people more comfortable with the concept make their lists and leave it at that. But then… Well, it's not that I necessarily object to other people making essential SFF lists. It's that…it's that when I was thinking about what to include on an essential SFF list I looked at what other people put on their lists. At what was out there in terms of recommendations.

The answer, predominately, was novels. Pretty much every list out there about essential SFF was about novels. And yet the lists weren't necessarily labeled as essential novel lists. More often they were labeled as essential SFF books. And there was really no YA on these lists. Or romance. Or graphic novels. Or collections. Or poetry. These things got their own lists. Separate lists. And…and to me those are just as much books as any novel. I feel that often people think of amazing books and they think only of novels. Because how can you consider poetry next to short fiction next to graphic novels next to novels? They're apples and oranges and lemons and grapefruit. Mustn't we strive for specificity? Mustn't we first determine what is a great novel and then, elsewhere, determine what is a great graphic novel? Mustn't we first determine what is a great SFF novel, and then, elsewhere, determine what is a great SFF romance? Or SFF poem? Surely we can all agree that these things cannot share a space.

There is a reason that it is harmful to have a list of American Authors and a separate list of Female American Authors and have it mean being included on the second means you are not included on the first. I understand people who like to look at genre and want narrow definitions of what makes something SFF. I just don't agree with them. At all. I find such narrowing of genres and considerations to be harmful. For the health of the genre, for the writers trying to push the boundaries of form and meaning, and for readers looking to connect with books they love. It is a way only to catch people in an endless loop of the same boring, comfortable crap. And that does no good for anyone. So when I approached putting together a list of essential SFF, I wanted to do it in a way that reflected my thoughts on the matter but also…well, I wanted to try and define "essential" in a way that doesn't mean "should be part of a canon." I do not really find value in a canon. But I find value in book recommendations. I do find value in knowing what works spoke to people.

Basically, what I've enjoyed when many places have done lists of recommended stories and books has been the passion of those recommendations. The sense that here were books that shaped a person, that inspired them. That pushed them to try new things. That affirmed them. That saw them. And so when I thought about what is essential SFF I ended up looking at what has been essential to me. What has shaped me. So yes, I wrote it and it will out on Tuesday and everyone can check it then. It was, ultimately, a fun experience, because it made me think about the person I am and the person I want to be and how my reading has steered that internal conversation. How I've changed because of the books I've read. How I am changing still. It's a list that, for me, ranges all over the place, so SFF purists might want to avoid (though what SFF purists are doing on this blog I'm not sure).

Anyway, it would also be cool to know what other people's essential SFF lists would be. I love getting recommendations and if anyone has a list they've published on a blog or on goodreads or who wants to, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quick Sips - Fantastic Stories of the Imagination #236


The two fiction works in this issue of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination are solidly urban fantasy, exploring how the creatures of myth and legend live among "normal" humans. These are, to me, stories about abuse and about struggling to overcome abuse, to stop it where it is or at least try to stop being a part of it. The worlds presented are mirrors to our own, where the magical elements are hidden but for those who know to see, and it mirrors the way that abuse in our world is often invisible, lurking. Both stories do an amazing job of creating compelling plots and characters and complicating the traditional folklore. It's an excellent issue that I should just shut up and review! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Quick Sips - Apex #88


It's another fairly large issue of Apex Magazine with three fiction pieces and four poems, exploring a number of interesting different worlds that all seem to reflect back on our own. With the fiction, the stories are all rather more fantasy than science fiction this issue, though perhaps science fantasy might fit some of them better, with mixtures of magic and mortality. The poetry takes things in a bit more science fictiony direction, though, with glimpses of post-apocalyptic Earth as well as other worlds that might be experiencing catastrophes of their own. It's an issue that brings the dark but doesn't forget to pack some extra hope just in case. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Mélanie Delon

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Quick Sips - Uncanny #12 (September Stuff)


What can I say about the September content from Uncanny that will convince you enough to go out and read it now? Star Trek nonfiction? There are two and they are amazing and I would love this month's offerings for that alone but there's also three pieces of fiction that delve into relationships and love and yearning and dysfunction and are definitely worth checking out and there is a poem that has left me desperate for a flavor I've never know, a food that I can almost taste and it is so good. Seriously, everything is good this month and this is just the thing for people looking for some great SFF fiction, poetry, and nonfiction! To the reviews!
Art by Kirbi Fagan

Monday, September 19, 2016

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/05/2016 & 09/12/2016


With two stories and four poems*, Strange Horizons has kicked off their annual fund drive with these two weeks of content. There's announcements galore and, oh right, some SFF to read and enjoy. The fiction offerings are decidedly different, from a longer piece deconstructing the idea of art and death and sentience to a cute little story that looks at loss and fantastical cooking. There's certainly a lot to digest between the stories and the fiction, though, and a great many reasons that giving to Strange Horizons is a great idea! So yeah, time to review!  (*well it was two and then bonus content happened so now it's four, hurrah!)


Art by K. C. Garza

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Quick Thoughts - "Defying Gravity"

I was sorely tempted to take my Thoughts this week and try to capture some of my feelings surrounding some recent happenings on Twitter but should probably be grateful that I have a new publication to talk about instead. That's right, my story "Defying Gravity" is out now in Dreamspinner Press' Starstruck anthology. Which, the theme of the anthology is basically m/m romance with a celebrity element, so I couldn't really resist making the main character a superhero of moderate success meeting a guy who wants to be his sidekick. Hijinks ensue.


Part of what I love about writing superhero stories, and especially superhero romance stories, is that I can revel in the ridiculousness of the genre tropes. These are stories that feature superpowers and villains with rather peculiar ways of doing business and instead of bringing on the grit I decided to go for more of a…well, faux-classic feel. High drama and talking gorillas and giant, universe-destroying shark gods. And a bit of a romance thrown in for good measure. The main character is Gravity who, as you've probably guessed, has gravity powers. Largely unexplored gravity powers, though he's been around a while and has enough of a following to crowd-fund his living expenses to superhero all day. Which, I couldn't help but imagine what modern superheroing would look like, how people with powers would be able to live free of corporate sponsorship. Crowd funding seemed like a good bet.

I think I love this story a little too much. It's rather over-the-top and saccharine but it's also unapologetically fun. When I say that I write smut to keep myself sane, this is the kind of story I mean, that's just unambiguous and happy. I get to write happy queer love and that's rather amazing, given that it's not often I can find something so…positive in SFF. And hey, I don't always want to write happy fluff, but sometimes I do and this is my outlet. Deal. And okay, so smut always has these forms to fill out for blurbs and things like that (which is also something that SFF lacks), and this story probably has my favorite descriptive text I've ever given to a story. Basically: [SPOILERS]

[SERIOUSLY SPOILERS!!!] Gravity meets Bruce, an eager gentleman who wants to be his sidekick, and immediately starts having troubles defeating the villains he's always had no issue with. Accelerator. Gorillord. Small time stuff. He fears his attraction to Bruce is making him weak but nope, turns out that Bruce only showed up to try and help because Bruce's evil twin brother couldn't stand his attraction to Gravity. Turns out Bruce's twin, Clark, is SUPER STRAIGHT and feels that his twin being bi somehow implies that he's bi as well (BECAUSE THAT'S HOW TWINS WORK I GUESS) and is out to destroy the main object of Bruce's perverted lust: Gravity. Cosmic shark gods are summoned, Gravity learns how to accept and ask for help, and Clark is a complete asshole. Things happen and resolution with kissing probably. [OKAY SPOILERS OVER!!!]

This is what I live for sometimes. There's also a ton of little easter eggs and bits of world building going on because I can't resist when it comes to superheroes. Indeed, I liked this so much that I have a related story appearing in December as part of Dreamspinner's Bah Humbug Advent Calendar. There is a supervillain and his boyfriend and all the attempts to destroy Christmas and I just love writing these so much. I'm thinking of further fleshing out the setting with future stories as well (and who knows, if this is popular at all maybe something longer still). For the moment, though, this represents my first step into this world. And for fans of not-erotica (notrotica? enotica?) it peaks at kissing so is more just these two guys first meeting and getting involved (for fans of yes-erotica, the Christmas story includes some much steamier bits).

Anyway, indeed. This was probably much more pleasant to write about than thinking about trying to engage on Twitter and then being told I'm wrong and just don't understand and all my priorities are stupid and I don't think ahead because I'm too emotional and all. Because yeah… Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Monthly Round is Up!!!

The Monthly Round, my favorite stories for August with reviews and drink pairings, is up right now at Nerds of a Feather. Check it out!


Tasting Flight - August 2016

"The Gentleman of Chaos" by A. Merc Rustad (Apex #87)
"Superior" by Jessica Lack (The Book Smugglers)\
"What Pada-Sara Means to the Elephant" by Jeremy Sim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #206)
"Fragile Insides" by Jason Kimble (Orthogonal: Code)
"An Ocean the Color of Bruises" by Isabel Yap (Uncanny #11)
"Rooting" by Isha Karki (Mithila Review #5&6)

Shots

"Creation" by Sara Norja (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Company" by Sanya Noel (Omenana #7)
"The Singing Soldier" by Natalia Theodoridou (Shimmer #32)

Cheers!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #120


It's another full month for Clarkesworld with six original stories and a nice array of nonfiction that I don't have time to talk about but which I recommend to everyone. The stories here are, by and large, about the ways that humans destroy. Corrupt. Harm. Make war. The stories largely take place in the aftermaths of devastation. Science fiction and science fantasy stories about characters making do (or not) About characters finding hope despite the destruction, despite the harm, even if that hope is only for escape and release. More, though, the story is about people finding each other in the desolation, reaching out when they could pull away, and being richer for it. It's a fine bunch of stories and it's time to review them! 

Art by Julie Dillon

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Quick Sips - Shimmer #33 (September Stuff)


The two stories in this month's Shimmer content explore the boundaries between ideas that seem distinct but, upon closer examination, become a bit fuzzy. The space between human and plant, waking and dreaming, shadow and body, male and female. The stories dive into the ways that categories sometimes fail, that treating things with scientific distance sometimes means losing the real point. They are moving and complex stories of magic budding into our world and so I'm going to jump right into reviewing them! 

Art by Sandro Castelli

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus September 2016


The September GigaNotoSaurus has arrived and it's a contemporary fantasy novelette that brings a kind of Hell on Earth. But, you know, not really the whole fire and brimstone kind. This month's offering is full of more quite suffering. Ghosts that linger but don't really do all that much. Suffering that needs to be unearthed before it can be eased. It's a tale that could almost be a horror story for its elements but ends up being something more tender and more luminous. Whatever it is, though, I should just get to reviewing it! 


Monday, September 12, 2016

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #207


The two stories in the latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies drive for mixing the magical with the mundane. Showing young characters reaching for some escape from rather oppressive situations and finding portals (of sorts) into different worlds. Whether the portal is mathematics or a hand-built raft, and whether the magic involves is fairy-related or steampowered, the stories show how the greater world is waiting for these characters, though it's not always what they imagined. And for some of them, it's not at all welcoming. But these tales bring a more classic feel to the issue, blending in styles that evoke the literary traditions of bygone years. And they're both rather fun to read. So to the reviews! 

Art by Marek Hlavaty

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Quick Thoughts - Vacation Thoughts (novels, reviewing, and me)

When I started writing, way back when, it was novels that inspired me. Novels that took shape in my mind and then inevitably dissolved into a pool of incoherent thoughts and poorly defined characters. From what I know of writers, this isn't really strange. I grew up on chunky fantasy novels and it was always my desire to write them, to craft this huge tapestry of a novel, of a world. I made settings and notebooks of history and subjected people to D&D campaigns set in the settings I created. I considered myself a writer, not because I actually finished any of the novels I started, but because I aspired to be a novelist. Still do, kinda. But the goalposts of writing, of being a writer, have certainly changed since I first started poorly imitating the epic fantasy I read as a child.

I am solidly a short fiction writer now, with some poetry thrown in for good measure. Not that I have never finished a novel. I have written six or seven fairly awful novels which are sitting on a flash drive somewhere. I still occasionally get really inspired to sit down and write something longer. But...life changes. Goals change. Realities change. I feel like this idea I had as a child of being a novelist is one that was encouraged constantly. Even through college I feel that short fiction was treated as practice. As something you got through. In some ways this is a heartening idea, because short fiction (in my opinion) is leaps and bounds ahead of novels when it comes to inclusivity and treating identities with respect and depth. It is by no means perfect, but short fiction is still where I feel the most comfortable, as a reader and a writer. And seeing more and better short SFF writers "graduate" into novels means being able to read more and better SFF novels. So win-win, really, except that it creates this idea that there is a path that involves going through short SFF and then beyond into more lucrative and more respected work.

I'm just sort of rambling, here, to be honest. I'm on vacation for a week and I will admit that there is a part of me who feels this time and thinks "Write a novel!" Because sometimes it takes a week off to realize just how much time the rest of life takes. How much I would be writing if I didn't have pesky things like bills to worry about. I did just finish a novella, the first I have ever written, and I'm rather excited about it. It's got mech suits and Arthurian myth and so many queer people and sex and some kinkiness and it's really rather exactly what I want to be writing. And I would write novels of this. The setting and the characters spread out before me in such an interesting and complex way. I'm thinking of maybe crafting a mosaic novel of connected stories for now, because I guess I don't really want to think about the story not being picked up. Ambition is a double edged sword for writers, I feel. Or for me. It motivates me to produce what I hope is my best work, my most imaginative and fun and complex work. It also makes rejection hurt that much more, because if I believe in something so hard but no one else seems to care...well, possibly I'm just wrong.

It is always terrifying for me to start something new. I've consciously shut off my novel brain basically ever since I started this blog. Because it would kill me to keep up with this and try to write novel-length work and try to write short fiction (and I'm going to be writing short fiction regardless, so something had to go). I have not regretted the decision, so no worries. I put out about 30-40,000 words of reviews every month (August actually saw over 45,000 between all of my nonfiction SFF). I am quite proud of that, even as it means that I cannot write the novels that child-me was so excited about. For me, I don't feel ready yet. Part of my push to review is to learn, is to gain by osmosis and constant examining of SFF some better understanding of it and myself. For now, it works out quite well. I feel I'm getting better at knowing how I work, and I feel like I'm getting better.

Taking a week off has been somewhat illuminating. I had a chance to read Kelly Robson's piece over at Clarkesworld and had a world of feels about it. There is this feeling that every single moment is wasted unless it is spent doing something that will not only be paid for but which will find a wide audience and garner positive engagement. And especially in writing, there is the sense that any story that doesn't sell, any novel that doesn't get picked up by a large publisher, is wasted. And to further complicate this is the knowledge, pressing and persistent, that there isn't enough time to write everything I want, to read everything I want, to do everything I want. But that trying to wring every last moment out of life and time is exhausting and, perhaps, not really the point.

These are perhaps some big thoughts to be had when I had meant only to sit around mostly-naked and relax. But fuck, relaxing is hard. When there is time I want to fill it. Why? Because there is so much time that I have to fill with shit I don't want to do, and my financial situation is not really one that I have a great deal of options regarding that. I see things occasionally that are supposed to be motivational that people who want a thing bad enough will make it happen. I...don't really agree with that. But that I disagree with the sentiment doesn't mean that I will use that to do nothing, or even do less. It means struggling with these feelings. As the Robson piece closes, the only way to fail is to stop. And I'm not stopping. I'm just forced to limit what I can start, which at this time includes novels. Which is in some ways heartbreaking for me but in other ways what I know needs to happen. In a year, in two, maybe that will change. For now, I'm...well, for now it's what it is.

This piece has probably rambled on far enough. I have tea to sip and stories to revise. Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Quick Sips - Nightmare #48


The stories in this issue of Nightmare Magazine are a mix of older tropes and newer innovations. The many faces of haunted houses. A very different take on cults and Heaven. These are stories that don't flinch away from difficult topics—death, suicide, grief, despair—but the stories also show or hint at the other side of that, of the only power able to cut through the oppression of loss. Hope. They show the utter hell of hopelessness and the redemption of hope, of escape, of finding power to move on and move toward a future that might be brighter. So to the reviews! 

Art by Luis Molinero

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #76


The September issue of Lightspeed Magazine is all about crime and punishment. About people running from their pasts, running from authority, running from justice or injustice alike. In each of the stories there is a looming threat of some sanction. Police officers trying to maintain a status quo or a corrupt government trying to quash transparency or some nebulous force urging surrender or an actual crocodile waiting for the right moment to… These are stories that complicate crime and resistance, activism and revolution. And though they are unified by their focus on characters running from pursuit, from punishment, they show very different motivations and outcomes. So, without further dithering, to the reviews! 

Art by Reiko Murakami

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Quick Sips - The Dark #16


The latest issue of The Dark Magazine offers up two original stories that focus on family and hurt. About the oppression of the roles people are forced to adopt, and how seeking to escape them is not always successful. Because regardless of how much a person wants to flee, wants to escape, wants to be free, family is something that often sets its hooks deep, and can only be broken with a lot of pain and blood. These stories don't hesitate to show the harm that family can cause, that societal expectations can cause, and how people have to live with what comes after. So yeah, time to review these dark fantasies! 

Art by Vincent Chong

Monday, September 5, 2016

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online September 2016


Well Flash Fiction Online is back for September and, well, dark as hell. These are stories that concentrate on certain ideas and craft stories around them on many levels. Distillation, consumption, and flooding. Through these ideas the stories explore injustice and abuse. They explore the cycles of oppression and the weight of inheritance. They explore the burdens forced on children because they were born, because their parents lacked the power or spirit to force change. And because they are so burdened, these children often drown under the deluge of violence and inequality. To the reviews! 

Art by Dario Bijelac

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Quick Thoughts - With Liberals Like These Who Needs Conservatives?

Readers, I am tired. There is a part of me that wants only to revel in my love of SFF, to point out the stories that I think are amazing, to be thankful that I am have the opportunity to read so many great visions from so many talented writers. There are times when, safely ensconced in certain pockets of SFF, I can feel like the world isn't all that bad. And then I venture out of those pockets and…

I don't think being tired is really the worst thing. In some ways that's the price of doing business. Participating in SFF is something I want to do, and if it takes work then it's work that I feel is worth doing and that, for now at least, I can afford. I say this as I'm trying to plan a week's staycation from my day job and, hopefully, most of a week off from reviewing. Probably you won't notice a huge difference, because I'll still have review posts coming out, but hopefully I'll have all those scheduled ahead of time. But it's been a while since I've taken some time off and I feel that maybe it will help to energize me with regards to writing and reading and reviewing. We shall see. What I know is that between the US elections and SFF in general, I'm tired. Mostly, I'm tired of the way that the drama around both gets framed.

Let me be rather clear, here—we do not need conservatives. Or wait, maybe I should rephrase. We already have conservatives. They're called moderates. In the US right now, there are two main parties. The conservative party and the moderate party. To be clear—there is no progressive party (or there is, but not among the big two). People who aren't very good at thinking tend to think in binaries. Right or Left. Conservative or Progressive. Straight or Gay. White or Black. Male or Female. People who tend to think in a more complex way, either because they have to because they don't fit or because they're decent human beings, know that this is a shitty way of framing the world. This is why the only options people have so often is between bad and worse. Or between meh and oh-fuck-no. That people are calling SFF liberal is, frankly, laughable. How many fails does SFF have on a seemingly monthly basis? I read quite a bit of short SFF and let me tell you it's not overwhelmingly progressive. It's overwhelmingly moderate.

Yes, my rant-y thoughts today are brought to you courtesy of Tangent and special snowflakes and gah, really, a panel where one straight white guy told a panel of mostly other straight white guys how SFF was too liberal? Seriously, Clarkesworld and Fantasy & Science Fiction and Tor are not exactly pillars of extreme liberalism. Go read the recent Tor short stories and you'll see that some of them…are decidedly not liberal. Not that these are bad publications that put out nothing of merit. I love many of the stories that they produce. But they are solidly moderates. And of course they are—they're successful. They do publish some progressive stories. They also publish some conservative stories. And they publish a lot of stories somewhere in between the two.

So I just tried to watch The Murdoch Mysteries, and I feel this might illustrate some of my thoughts. It is a show that seeks to engage with "liberal" ideas. There is an episode about racism, and an episode about homosexuality, and an episode with an autistic character. And the characters from these groups are not shown as evil because of these things. But much more work goes into portraying the main character, a police officer in historical Toronto, as not racist, not homophobic, and not ablest, when he's a white straight Catholic cis-male police officer. More work goes into his feelings about maybe being prejudiced than go into trying to not actually be prejudiced. And in a show that I'm kinda thinking certain people would call "liberal," the main character lies to a black man to get him to confess to a murder as self defense (which Murdoch then reveals he can disprove which means that character will be executed). He pretends to be gay to entrap a gay man to get information for his investigation (information said man is beaten for and that leads to the suicide of another gay man and which, ultimately, has nothing to do with the investigation). In all of these episodes the marginalized characters are either victims or murderers. This is not a progressive show. This is a rather conservative show, though maybe not compared to the most conservative of media out there. But it's a show that probably considers itself an ally of marginalized groups for including these characters at all. And let's be honest, for some conservatives it's far too liberal a show for them. And..and with allies like that, who needs enemies?

The truth as far as I can find it is that we've never seen a truly progressive, liberal SFF. Some stories, yes. Some novels, yes. Some writers, yes. But not a systemically liberal landscape. Just like we've never seen a truly progressive, liberal government. So making the argument that conservatives are the true oppressed group is…well, to me it shows a willful lack of thinking and a determined effort not to self-examine. The truth as far as I can find it is that there is close to zero value to ideas that are currently framed as conservative because they are radically conservative. Of much more value in the sea of moderate conservatism that is dominant at the moment are the progressive voices. Those pushing for change, and change now. Those are the voices that see a future that is better, and a future where everyone can be safe and be heard. And that's the future I want to be a part of. Thanks for reading.

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Friday, September 2, 2016

Quick Sips - Tor dot com August 2016


I want to concentrate on the ways that I like the stories from this month's Tor dot com offerings. There's a lot here, especially for fans of a certain kind of epic fantasy. For my money, though, the stories that shine are the ones that step back and witness the meetings between worlds. The ties that bind people together across species and across space. Stories that imagine humans seeing something completely different from themselves and not recoiling in terror. Or at least not entirely. This is something of a mixed month for me, personally, but I'm sure that there will be lots of people who find something valuable in each of the stories. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Jaime Jones

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 08/15/2016, 08/22/2016, & 08/29/2016

August concludes with three weeks of content from Strange Horizons, including a pair of linked reprints that I apparently had time for and was very curious about. And they are worth it! It helps that the original fiction is also incredible and the poetry is wrenching and the nonfiction tackles some of the recent reports coming out of SFF. It's a nicely balanced few weeks and a great way to close out the summer and get things ready for the real beginning of autumn. To the reviews!