Thursday, August 16, 2018

Quick Sips - Apex #111

It’s a special Zodiac-themed double issue of Apex Magazine this month, guest edited by Sheree Renée Thomas (who also just guest edited the SEUSA Strange Horizons special issue in late July). There’s A LOT of fiction and as with most of the Apex special issues, poetry is back! There’s actually six short stories and well as six poems in this issue, making it perhaps the biggest I’ve read from the publication. And it all swirls around the idea of the Zodiac, of divination, of astrology. Not always literally, though the actual signs and horoscopes make an appearance or two. Instead, the stories look very much at the stories that we tell. At the ways these stories then become everyone’s stories, our minds making them personal, intimate, and topical. Because our lives have a way of getting into the stories we tell and the stories we take in, and then we might mistake our pulling them out again like a bit of magic and mysticism. But there’s a lot of different takes on stories and truth to find in these SFF works, and I should just quit talking about reviewing them and get to reviewing them!

Art by Stacey Robinson

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

X Marks the Story - August 2018

My monthly short SFF review column, X Marks the Story, is up now at The Book Smugglers, and features a host of ghostly stories to check out. For those wanting to find out all my thoughts on the spectral and haunting stories, definitely go check it out. For those just wanting the list, it's below. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #143

Three short stories (including one translation) and two novelettes round out Clarkesworld’s August, with a bit more fantasy that I was expecting. Or what would have been more fantasy than I was expecting, except that a number of the stories this month play with that in subtle ways, slowly revealing that what seems like magic is actually something different, something much more technological in nature. Not that the issue is completely sci fi, but I feel like the uniting thread is more that each story plays with expectations in interesting ways, and leading the reader through worlds where they must piece together the rules, only to occasionally find that the final piece of the puzzle is a leap of faith. It makes for an interesting bunch of stories, which I will!

Art by Luis Carlos Barragán

Monday, August 13, 2018

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus August 2018

August brings a short story to GigaNotoSaurus, though a fairly long one. And it’s a piece that looks very candidly at pain and at trauma. Unfolding after a devastating war, it looks at two survivors in particular, and the ways that they’ve been touched by what’s happened. It’s a piece that explores ways to keep moving, to relieve the pain that comes with being in one place for too long, and before I give too much away I guess I should just review it!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #257

I am sorely tempted to guess that the link between the two latest stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies is that their both authored by a Christopher. Because, at first glance, these two pieces are very different in terms of character, tone, and theme. Looking closer, though, and the stories seem paired not because of how well they work in harmony, but in how well they contrast, showing two sides of the same coin. On one, we get to see a man on a quest realize that he’s in danger of losing something of himself and pause, take stock, and find comfort and guidance in another person. In the other story, though, we find a man who has fully embraced his quest, regardless of who he needs to destroy or hurt. Both stories feature mostly conversations and philosophy, but in one a lesson is learned, and in the other it is utterly destroyed. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Piotr Dura

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online August 2018

I wasn’t sure if I was going to review this issue of Flash Fiction Online, because it is entirely made up of reprints. But because these reprints are from Flash Fiction Online, making up something of a “Our Favorites” issue chosen by the editorial staff, and because I don’t want to skip the publication this month, I’m going to do ahead and review the stories that I haven’t already reviewed (all of them but the Samantha Murray piece, which I did very enjoy). Many of the stories are about families or children, though in very different ways, and many of those feature a focus on the ways that adults impact young people, for good and for ill. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Dario Bijelac

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Quick Sips - The Dark #39

August brings two stories of hauntings to The Dark Magazine. In one of the stories, the haunting is of an exorcist who thinks he has lost everything. In the other, the haunting is of a man wandering a ruined world. In both, their special sight gives them a power and perhaps a way out of the darkness that surrounds them. Only for one of them that way out might well be a terrible trap, while for the other it might require a confrontation with some difficult truths. It’s a well paired and creeping issue, and I’ll get right to those reviews!

Art by grandfailure

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Quick Sips - Uncanny #23 [August stuff[

The second half of the special Dinosaur issue of Uncanny Magazine brings even MOAR dinosaurs, with five new stories and three new poems. Two of the poems aren’t really dinosaur-centric, but the issue as a whole offers up a great diversity in styles and ways of incorporating the source material and expanding the shared space of the issue. Here we are treated to more stories of dinosaurs displaced in time, landing on the Oregon Trail, or in a strange fairy tale, or in the middle of a small town. There’s not quite the same focus on communication and understanding as before, though. Instead, these pieces look a bit more at violence, and hunger, and corruption. They don’t flinch away from showing some dinosaurs getting their feed on, as well as getting their freak on. It’s a strange, rather wonderful collection of short SFF, so let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Galen Dara

Monday, August 6, 2018

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #99

The four original short stories of August’s Lightspeed Magazine have a lot to do with age and aging. They find characters at different stages of their lives, from adolescents running afoul of a truly foul justice system to people pushing middle age and having to make some hard decisions to older characters making a difference even after their so-called retirement. The worlds explored here are varied and strange, bent reflections offering views through which we can examine areas of our own world, our own lives. It’s a varied and interesting slew of short fiction, so without further delay, to the reviews!

Art by Waiji Choo

Friday, August 3, 2018

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 07/30/2018 Special SEUSA Issue

It’s a special issue of Strange Horizons to help close out July, which focuses on SFF from the Southeastern USA. The stories range quite a bit in style and location, but they are linked by their connections to the American South as well as to magic. Of the six short stories, all of them land on the fantasy side of things, focusing on gods and ghosts most of all. And perhaps that’s not surprising, because the story looks at power, and systems, and the ways that South is built on injustice, on suffering. On how it can be such an oppressive place, but also a place of power for the oppressed. Because they have connections there, a well of pain and resolve and survival that they can draw on to keep them moving foward. It’s a wonderful bunch of stories and poetry, so let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Geneva Benton

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine July 2018

Five stories fill out the July offerings from Fireside Magazine (all of them, I believe, also available in the inaugural Fireside Quarterly). And the SFF on display rangers from the aching and luminous to the powerful and auditory. Most of the stories, too, feature a voice that is pointed outward. Told in the second person and playing with myth, archetype, and overcoming adversity, these stories are bits of advice wrapped in narrative structure. They offer readers a voice that might just drown out the inner demons trying to be heard, and replace those with resolve and reassurance—not a guarantee of victory or success, but a promise that trying is still worth doing. It’s a somewhat melancholy month of stories, touched with bittersweet notes, but the take away for me is strength and perseverance, and a will to stand in the face of injustice. To the reviews!

Art by Chris Loke

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Talking About Short SFF (ep 001: Writing for Markets)

Hey everyone! Instead of a review today I wanted to share the transcript to a recent audio thing I did covering a short SFF topic: writing for specific markets. The full audio can be found on my Patreon. Just fyi, it's thanks to my patrons and their amazing support that I am able to do projects like this, and if you find what I do valuable and want it to continue, please consider joining them and becoming a patron. Not only will you get exclusive access to special reviews and fictions by me, but you help me continue to keep up Quick Sip Reviews at the level it's at now, and even grow what I do into new areas, like audio! Okay, so full transcript after the bump!