Friday, June 23, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #97

It’s a trio of stories this month at Apex Magazine, including one story in translation and two entirely new tales. The issues offers a nice range of darker SFF, never quite descending as deep as the publication sometimes goes but still keeping things dark enough to fit with the overall aesthetic of Apex. The stories are about oppression and the battle between the characters and themselves. Between them and their pasts, their presents, and their futures. In each, the character must face their decisions, even when they can’t remember making them, and decide how to move forward, whether to give in to the weight of what has happened or to blaze a new trail and strike out into unexplored territory. The characters all find different answers to question of how to proceed, and in doing so provide stories rich in mood and pathos while still remaining fun and moving. So let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Irina Kovalova

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #16 [June stuff]

Well it’s another busy month at Uncanny Magazine, with three original stories, two poems, and five nonfiction pieces. I was very tempted to just skip the nonfiction, I will admit, because of time concerns, but once I saw it was about Star Trek, food, resistance, and revolution, I kinda had to look at it more in depth. What’s here this month has a great focus on self-determination and strength and stories. About the ways that we write ourselves out of struggles in order to relieve the burden of having to act and the ways that we need to counter that. The stories focus on people being confronted with narratives that don’t leave room for them, where they are often ignored or marginalized, and how they seek to recenter and decolonize these stories to present a more just and more complete vision of the world. And the pieces all do this by subverting tropes and familiar structures and ideas to present wholly new and revolutionary messages. Time travel is revealed as more crutch than cure. Vampirism takes on wholly new levels when crossed with gender and transition. Narrative structure and voice itself is blurred as character and author and reader meet. It’s a lovely collection of works and an amazing call to arms for SFF readers who want to act and fight back against what perhaps is becoming the darkest timeline. So yeah, review time!

Art by Galen Dara

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #227

The latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies brings a pair of stories about relationships and conflicts, betrayals and healing. In each of the stories women seek to live in a world that is hostile, that doesn’t really let them be in peace. Whether it’s because of a long-standing conflict that they have to try and live through or an unjust government that they have to live under, the settings are drenched in the threat of violence and erasure. And only through coming together, helping each other, and trusting one another, can these women find strength in their love and security in the families they make of and with each other. These are stories of women getting shit done and taking on the systems of oppression in open and interesting ways, having faith in their partners and their own abilities to shape a more just and healthy world. So yeah, it’s review time!

Art by Jeff Brown

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #37 [June stuff]

June has arrived at Shimmer Magazine and it’s a month of relationships and yearning, distance and growth. Both stories focus on a central relationship and the power it has over those in it. For the first piece, it’s a budding relationship that brings meaning and nourishment for the people experiencing it, for the people unable to be together but still drawing nearer and nearer, more and more intimate. For the second piece the distance between the characters means that they can never really know what they might have had. And for all that it pushes the characters forward, inspires them and in some cases protects them, it’s a more haunting kind of relationship, defined by absence and not potential. Both are beautiful to watch unfold, though, and each offer their own flavors of hope, even when its bittersweet. To let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Monday, June 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 06/05/2017 & 06/12/2017

Strange Horizons kicks off their first two weeks of June with a pair of stories and a pair of poems. I have to say, the stories probably couldn't be more tonally different if they tried, but both broach on some heavy themes of loss, hope, and movement. The first, however, does so with a frenetic, almost saccharine cheeriness, and the second with a stark bluntness that drips with grief and pain. Both are beautiful in their own ways, but be prepared for perhaps some fictional whiplash. The poems resonate as well with feelings of having power wrested away, of being subject to another's whims only to perhaps take back some measure of control. Or at least expose the damage done. It's a challenging two weeks of content but, as always from Strange Horizons, very rewarding. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Rachel Khan

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Monthly Round - May 2017

The Monthly Round is up over at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together.

As always, it features my favorite SFF short fiction paired with booze and tasting notes and topped off with reviews. It's great. For just a list of the stories, here you go:

Tasting Flight - May 2017

“Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“They Will Take You From You” by Brandon O’Brien (Strange Horizons)
"The Heart's Cartography" by Susan Jane Bigelow (Lightspeed)
“Read Before Use” by Chinelo Onwualu (Uncanny)
“The Stars that Fall” by Samantha Murray (Flash Fiction Online)
“Bear Language” by Martin Cahill (Fireside Fiction)

Cheers!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #129

Okay, so it’s a very full month of content from Clarkesworld, with five original stories, all but one of them a novelette. And seeing as how many of the stories have something of a slower pace, this is an issue that might take people a while to get through (it certainly took me some time). he good news is that even if some of the stories are a bit slower and more ponderous, they are still very much worth spending some time with. The focus of the issue for me seems to be the aftermath of great harm and what responsibility the individual has in the face of collective cruelty, corruption, and violence. Each of the stories take a run at this core idea in different ways, from looks at the end of the world to more intimate apocalypses, but they are all emotionally resonant and interesting. So let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Matt Dixon

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus June 2017

Weighing in at a rather long novelette, the story from this month’s GigaNotoSaurus, is full of old hurts and distant stars. Unfolding in a space where things are lean and mean, it features a cyborg with a lot of emotional baggage and a plot that mixes action with some deep emotional beats. There are thuggish villains, corrupt space cops, smug conmen, and for those looking for a fast and fun adventure, it has exactly what you’re looking for. So let’s get to the review! 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Quick Sips - Nightmare #57

June has arrived at Nightmare Magazine and with it a pair of SFF horror stories featuring predators. These stories show just how different predators can be, one of them a woman shunned and isolated and hunting for a way to break out from her loneliness; the other the story of a man driven by his entitlement and desire to abuse. In both stories women are the ones targeted, women who are made into the objects of obsession and torment. The stories take two very different approaches toward a similar theme of manipulation, gaslighting, and abuse, and both are creepy as hell. June might be about the approach of summer with its long days and short nights, but it’s also about lengthening shadows and the rot that can hide in plain sight. To the reviews!

Art by agsandrew / Adobe Stock Art

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Sips - The Dark #25

June’s The Dark Magazine brings two stories of women living with the realities of their own vulnerability. In each, the female protagonist is unsafe. They are different, threatening because they have power or simply because they don’t fit in well enough in their society. And in both this vulnerability opens doors that should perhaps have been left closed, provides them with layers of tragedy and victims, death and skin and magic. The stories are very different in the SFF they reveal but both also show the hunger and the violence that being under constant threat can create. The sharp edge that these women hone within themselves, becoming in their attempts to not be prey a new sort of predator. So yeah, let’s jump right into the reviews!

Art by Lonely

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mapping Smutty SFF - Part 1: Getting Started

A while ago I tweeted a thread that got a bit of attention that was about the distance between “pro” SFF and what I call smutty SFF and how frustrating and disappointing it can be writing in the chasm between those two perceived genres, especially as a queer writer wanting to write queer characters. It was about feeling like I have to make choices when I sit down to write what mask I’m going to wear—what market I’m going to write toward. If I want to write a fun and pulpy queer romp, do I try to make it fit into the mold of “pro” SFF or do I try to get it to fit into the smuttier mold of romance/erotica. These are creative decisions as well as financial ones, and apparently I’m not the only one who struggles with the same worries, insecurities, and rages—the same compromises and capitulations.

So what do I do? Well, I write about it! So welcome to a new blog series of indefinite length and scope that will be looking to examine more the weird intersection of SFF and queerness. A lot of what I’m going to talk about is anecdotal—there will be a lot of me talking about what I’ve done, noticed, observed, experienced, etc. There will be some advice and there will be some warnings and there will be information both general and very, very specific. I’m going to try with most installments to look at markets that accept queer content of various flavors and pay. I’m also going to go through some of my though processes for approaching these markets and stories and what I’ve learned from reading many of them for a number of years now. It’s weird because I feel like a new writer still, inexperienced and madly paddling to try and stay above water and mostly failing. Even so, I want to offer what I can because I know how alone it can feel for someone in this place between forms and genres and expectations.

For now, I guess we’ll see how response to this goes, but I hope you’ll come with me as I talk a bit about smutty SFF. As a reader and a writer, there’s a lot to learn, and a lot of great stories to create and discover. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online June 2017

The three stories of Flash Fiction Online’s June issue present visions very close to the reality of our world. With women made of water and dragons that feed on guilt, perhaps, but still very wrapped up in the here and now, in the minds and traumas of people just trying to get by, trying to deal with what the world throws at them. These are pieces that show the value of community, of touch, of the possibility of healing. These are stories that center loss and violence but still, by and large, leave room for hope. And before I spoil them all too much, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Dario Bijelac

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #85

It’s June at Lightspeed Magazine which I guess means science fiction that shows just how dangerous capitalism and technology can be and fantasy that shows the ups and downs of trying to steer a clear course in dealing with people. These are stories that show people either at the losing end of bad deals or seeing their careful plans fall apart. These are not wholly hopeless stories, though, and many of the pieces show that even though chaos seems inevitable, that preventing harm is in some ways impossible, there is still work to be done, and lessons to be learned, and a hope of healing and maybe, in time, improvement. So yeah, let’s get to those reviews!

Art by Randy Gallegos

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quick Sips - Lackington's #13

It’s a new issue of Lackington’s and this time the theme is Births. Which can seem like a scary theme (at least for me) but I love what the issue did with it, examining all sorts of births and all sorts of families and really providing some heart-rending and heart-warming stories about people searching for meaning and purpose often in very hostile situations, often in places where it might not seem worth it to try. And I love that these stories seek out a better way, even when they don’t find one. They reach, and in that reaching they are profound and beautiful and I should just get to the reviews!

Art by Random Dreaming

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Quick Sips - Tor dot com May 2017

Well, Tor dot com continues to put a nice amount of SFF short fiction this June, with two novelettes and three short stories. Mercifully for yours truly, the novelettes actually came out first and not on the last day of the month, so I got to do a reviewer happy-dance. And luckily for yours truly, these are some interesting and at times intensely dark stories that show the ways that the darkness swirls around us and takes shape. The way that it whispers to us. The way that it pulls at us and begs to be let in. These are stories of mutants and aliens, ghosts and shadows, and a buried sense of loss and violence. These are stories about the repressed returning, about alternates and news ways of thinking, and they are both beautiful and terrifying. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Robert Hunt

Monday, June 5, 2017

Quick Sips - Fireside Fiction May 2017

It's another fairly full month from Fireside Fiction, with about 16,000 words of fiction that moves from fantasy to science fiction with a fluid grace. These are stories that largely explore trauma and the looming threat of violence. There is an added focus on children here and the ways that their worlds are arrayed against them and the various ways they seek to protect themselves, not always successfully. The stories show characters moving around great and personal dangers and being unsure how to proceed, being made to make the decision of what to do when it's a very difficult decision to make. Some of the pieces are fun and some are decidedly dark and all of them are worth sitting down with so let's just get to the reviews!

Art by Galen Dara

Sunday, June 4, 2017

LIVER BEWARE! You're in for a Drunk Review of Goosebumps #4: SAY CHEESE AND DIE

[Hi all! Here's a new FREE installment of my ongoing Liver Beware! series of drunk Goosebumps reviews. At first I thought I would do all the odd-numbered reviews, but I think I might just skip around a bit, which means that this isn't review #3 but rather #4. If you enjoy this series or indeed anything that I do at Quick Sip Reviews, become a Patron and you can get access to all the Liver Beware! reviews plus other extras. Anyway, to the review!]



Friday, June 2, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 05/15/2017, 05/22/2017, & 05/29/2017

I'm taking things a bit easy with regards to the last three weeks of content from Strange Horizons. Meaning, I'm not looking at either of the reprints that appeared this week or the nonfiction that came out last week. I still very much to recommend you check them out, though. What remains is a single piece of original fiction and three different amazing poems. The works draw the reader into space, into the inky dark, and reveal glimpses of other worlds and possible fates for humanity. They revel in moments of crisis, in the quiet of important choices and the distance of dreams. Not all the works take the action far away from Earth, but there is a great mix of themes and experiences, flavors and styles. These are works to enjoy in the morning with coffee, surrounded by people but still, somehow, alone. So time to review!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quick Sips - Terraform May 2017

I'm still not sure exactly what's going on with Motherboard's Terraform. I technically missed a late excerpt release last month but May has been without another original release, though it does include another interesting excerpt. What's here is stylistic and rather strange, a series of stories within stories and layers within layers. The excerpts tease at interesting projects and provide a vivid and weird feeling that lingers. This is still very much science fiction with a sense of urgency, which is Terraform's goal, mixing planetary mysteries cyborgs and language with violence and the threat of violence. I'm still playing wait-and-see as to if the publishing schedule will even out, but until then I guess the reviews will continue!