Friday, January 18, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 01/07/2019 & 01/14/2019

The first two Strange Horizons issues of 2019 feature two short stories and two poems, which deal with hauntings and injustice, with generation oppression and with seeking to come to terms with the past. The stories and poetry weave a picture of characters caught in the wake of tragedy, trying to make sense of the world around them, the losses that don't seem necessary, that all seem pointed and corrupt. These are not very easy pieces to open the year on, but given the global nature of the publication and the global issues facing us at the moment, they are perhaps incredibly fitting. They are difficult, about tracing the contours of loss and pain while still leaving a path open toward healing and hope. To the reviews!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Quick Sips - Apex #116

Art by Tangmo Cecchini
January might not bring a fan-appreciation issue like in the last few years, but it doesn't mean that there isn't a lot to read, with three short stories and a novelette that definitely bring the strange and luminous to Apex Magazine's usual run of dark SFF. The pieces all deal with memories, and with something strange and almost magical brushing against the more "mundane" realities of the worlds they reveal. Our world, in some cases, but not always. And it's certainly a mix of interesting and delicately-imagined settings, ripe with injustice, hurt, and longing, and before I spoil too much, let's get right to the reviews!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #148

Art by Pascal Blanché
January brings a slew of new science fiction to Clarkesworld Magazine, which probably isn’t much of a surprise, given the venue’s track record. What is something of a surprise to me is that the publication is taking a month off from translations, as there are five originals all in original English here. But these stories have more in common than just rough genre. They are all stories of planets, of movement. That find characters travelling across great distances to find new worlds and new homes. To be confronted by the lessons of the gods or experience a moment of peace and hope. The stories are all touched by darkness but much more about near-misses, about how situations might devolve into chaos and death but...don’t. Where something brighter manages to hold on and win the day. So without further delay, let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #268

Art by Tyler Edlin
It’s a pair of stories about decline and confrontations with gods in this first Beneath Ceaseless Skies issue of 2019. Both pieces feature villages that have suffered great losses, that have been transformed by what they’ve had to do in order to survive. And both find themselves faced with a situation where they must put themselves in the power of a god (or godling) in order to try and save as many people as possible. More than that, though, both villages have to rely on their own very mortal humanity in order to stand up to the tyranny of gods who have lost their way and role. To the reviews!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Quick Sips - Anathema #6

So I might have missed when this latest issue of Anathema dropped on the last day of the year. My apologies! I’m super glad I caught it, though, because it’s an amazing bunch of stories, featuring six different works that explore grief, loss, and a palpable powerlessness. The characters are dealing with things that cannot be changed (or that seem like they cannot be changed) and finding out what they can do about it. That sometimes means learning how to accept things and try to move on, though that’s complicated by grief, by pain, and by the fear of losing more. It’s an emotional and often devastating read, and I’ll get right to those reviews!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus January 2019

January brings a short story full of magic, dancing, and...trolls to GigaNotoSaurus, where a young troll comes against the prejudice of humans and the pressure to conform to stereotypes. It’s a piece that looks at art, and the acceptable ways that people are expected to perform—the emotions and characteristics they are allowed to conjure to their audience. And the strength and bravery it can take to break out of those roles and refuse the conventional portrayals and wisdoms concerning different groups. It’s a piece with a breath of the forest, of the damp earth and cool air of a mountain hall, and a troll who wants nothing more than to fill the world with dance. To the review!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Ninth Step Station [episodes 3-4]

Good news, everyone! Ninth Step Station is available now from Serial Box! So for this exciting release day I’m looking at two more episodes of the sci fi mystery series (be sure to check out my reviews of the first two episodes here). The series mixes near-future political science fiction with police procedural-style mysteries and it’s just a lot of fun. After a strong (if rocky) start to their relationship…well, Miyako and Emma are still definitely trying to figure out how to work together. But split allegiances and outright lies aren’t really helping things. Throw in some invisible men and serial killers and this represents a very tense pair of episodes. And before I can give to much away, let's get to the reviews!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Quick Sips - Fiyah Literary Magazine #9

Art bDustin Bolton
A new year means a new issue from Fiyah Literary Magazine. Which comes with some news. Namely, that co-executive editor Justina Ireland is stepping down and leaving the publication and DaVaun Sanders is stepping up into that role. The issue also steps back from the tradition of centering around a specific theme, though that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few that sneak in. Namely, a lot of the works look at infection, disease, and affliction. They map the devastation that pandemics create, whether the plagues are medical, magical, or moral. And they find characters who are faced with the sicknesses draining their worlds and have to decide what to do about it. Fight back? Seek a cure? Flee? Or weather the storm as much as possible? It’s an issue full of defiance and strength, though it recognizes that sometimes even that isn’t enough. There’s four short stories, one novelette, and two poems to get to, so let’s dive right into the reviews!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online January 2019

Art by Dario Bijelac
Kicking off the year with an issue full of food and drink, Flash Fiction Online opens 2019 with three stories that explore the comforts, fears, and griefs of cooking. From a couple who use food in intimate and foundational ways to a young woman trying to connect to a dead relative through a special libation to a pair of chefs searching Mars for a vital ingredient, the three pieces all show the power of food and drink to bring people together. To connect people through flavor and through labor, through joy and through sorrow. It’s a story full of strangeness, and the danger of dissolution, but also full of the love of food, and family, and all the flavors of home. To the reviews!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Quick Sips - The Dark #44

Art by grandfailure
January 2019 seems a great time to remind readers by The Dark Magazine is named, well, The Dark. Because it sets a course for visceral horror and does not waver as it sails directly for it. Through a quiet, almost somber tone, it takes readers on a descent, through the crust of the earth to the roiling innards and deeper, deeper, cutting through the societal niceties and norms and finding a raw and bleeding heart crying for change. The stories feature characters trapped in many ways by their roles, by their jobs, and by their responsibilities to their families. They take two very different paths, but both works explore what lurks beneath the surface, and what darknesses can come back up when people dip down and try to rise.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #104

Art by Reiko Murakami
A new year brings some familiar faces to Lightspeed Magazine, including two new stories from larger works that have appeared before at the publication. More than that, though, the stories have a certain focus on them, of growth and cycles and family. Of people in situations where they are questioning the givens in their lives—the rules and the goals that they’ve always thought they were working towards. For some of them, this moment of crisis and examination causes their outlooks and their motivations to crack. For others, though, it allows them to remember what they are doing and why they are doing it. The stories look at cycles, at the ways that people fall into patterns of harm and isolation, and how they can seek to break through that and forge into uncharted territory, toward a future made better by their efforts. To the reviews!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 12/17/2018 & 12/31/2018

You know, I kinda thought I was done with the year when I didn't see a new Strange Horizons issue out on the 24th. But, of course, the best laid plans of mice and reviewers and all that. So instead of having just one story and one poem to cover for today, it's one story and five poems. Strange Horizons certainly is sending the year out in style with extra poetryrific experience. For my part, I'm already drinking mimosas on New Years Day and I will be damned if I'm going to let that stop me from closing out my reviews of 2018. So let's get to the reviews!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Quick Sips - Terraform December 2018

Well, Terraform got one of its stories in just under the wire, meaning I'm a little late in posting this today because of the holiday and everything. But the month certainly brought a rather...apocalyptic bunch of stories forward, focusing on dramas both personal and global and keeping the tone dark and foreboding. From the ways that devices can be used to gather data on consumers (for both good and ill) to ways that the planet has to be completely re-imagined if it's to survive humanity, the pieces are perhaps a little doom-and-gloom, though not without some heart and some hope for the future. Fitting, for the final works of the year. To the reviews!