Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Quick Sips - Uncanny #29 [July stuff]

Art by Julie Dillon
This month’s Uncanny Magazine gets dark. From monsters and murder to abuse and death to magic and exploitation, the fiction features a number of characters facing their own demons. The dark places inside themselves, and the dark forces outside seeking to use them for further harm. Who are seeking to devour them, to corrupt them, to twist them. The works don’t have a lot of bright spots to them, and poetry gets in on the darkness as well, featuring doomed astronauts and haunting songs. The issue on the whole is difficult for me, visceral and tragic, though not entirely without warmth. To the reviews!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #154

Art by Axel Sauerwald
There’s A LOT to get to in the latest Clarkesworld, with seven new stories including three different translations (from Chinese, Korean, and Spanish). These are stories that tend to focus on relationships, on whether the world is worth saving, and on how to live in bleak times. The stories approach those ideas in many different ways, sometimes hopefully, sometimes...not. But they offer a lot of interesting worlds to explore and futures to imagine. Or pasts. Or alternate dimensions. It’s a nicely balanced issue that shows the beauty and tragedy and joy of humanity, and doesn’t really have any easy answers, but often finds comfort in the small connections people make with each other in the face of the giant and annihilating forces of the universe. There’s also an editorial on the state of short SFF that is well worth checking out. To the reviews!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 07/01/2019 & 07/08/2019

The Strange Horizons fund drive is going on now, but that doesn't mean the regularly scheduled fiction and poetry isn't charging ahead full steam. I'll be looking at the special bonus fiction and poetry at the end of the month instead of breaking it into the normal releases (an extra Monday helped make that decision, because I don't know what the end of July will bring for the publication). And these issues are, well, these stories are difficult, full of death and loss and grief and guilt. They examine what it means to survive, and what happens with that survival is threatened, and it looks at complicity and systems. And really it's a grim pair of issues, but ones still very much worth lingering on for their innovation, beauty, and power. To the reviews!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #281

Art by Artur Zima
It’s another well paired issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, with two works (one short story and one novelette) that very much involve bargains, bodies, and children (or at least the specter of them). For all that they go very well together, the stories diverge strongly on how they approach children and child bearing. Both characters are looking to make bargains, to find a way to get what they want, but what exactly they want is very different. Freedom and relief mean different things for them, but both know that they’re willing to do just about anything, pay just about anything, for what they want. If you want to know what that entails, though, you’ll have to follow me to the reviews!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Quick Sips - Fiyah #11

Art by Seth Brown
Four stories and two poems breath life into a rare unthemed issue of Fiyah Magazine. Despite the lack of theme going in, though, a theme might just develop after the fact. For me, at least, most of the pieces deal with traditions, with storytelling. Most of them are about facing a future, whether it’s a future of conflict or movement or rebirth. And they circle around questions of how to honor the past while pushing for something new. Something better, perhaps. But one that builds on the foundations of the past and present. One that takes strength and resilience and integrity. And it’s another beautiful issue from a publication that’s once again having a magnificent year. To the reviews!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online July 2019

The editorial in July’s Flash Fiction Online says that the stories of the issue are linked by their focus on choices, and I agree with that. These are stories where the characters are faced with a decision of how to react to a situation. Of how to move forward in a place where their options are not infinite, and in many ways where their options are not even very good. They are being limited by loss, by the malice of others, and by systemic corruptions. And it leads the characters in very different, and interesting directions that speak to how people hold to hope when their worlds seem to be pushing them into impossible choices. To the reviews!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Quick Sips - The Dark #50

Art by Tanya Varga
It’s a special anniversary issue of The Dark Magazine as the publication turns 50! 50 issues, that is, and to celebrate there are all new stories, four in total, to terrify, unsettle, and maybe inspire. It’s a nicely paired issue, as well, with the stories looking at complicity and injustice, each one finding characters dealing with how to live in a world that is dangerous, where there are forces that want their destruction. Do they slink back, try to hide? Do they run? Do they try to fight back? Are they crushed all the same? The works show how complicity works in many ways, how it’s often nearly impossible to reject completely, but how sometimes people can resist allowing injustice to continue, and by standing up to it can begin to work towards a world where it doesn’t play as huge a role in society. To the reviews!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #110

Art by Sam Schechter
Two short stories and two novelettes make for a fairly substantive issue of Lightspeed, with a return to some old friends and a focus on tricksters of various sorts. For some this means literal trickster gods part of a great diaspora. In others this means people just trying to get by with a little graft and gumption. For others still it means meeting a vast and strange universe with energy and a true neutral outlook on morality. Whatever the case, these feature characters trying to make it in environments maybe not designed for them, but where they can make a home for themselves all the same. And before I give too much away, let's get to the reviews!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Alternis [s01.05 & s01.06]

With the two episodes of Serial Box’s Alternis I’m looking at today, the series’ first season passes the halfway mark in impressive style. Though the project has been largely dominated by false starts and level grinding, the kid gloves come off and all bets are off as Tandy and the team deal with trying to learn to trust each other just as all hell breaks loose. It’s an impressive turn in the direction and pacing of the project, and if you weren’t absolutely invested before this, you will be after. To the reviews!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Quick Sips - Terraform June 2019

There’s four new speculations on possible futures in June’s offerings from Terraform. As always, the pieces cover a range, unified by their focus on the future, mostly the near-future, and what might be in store for humanity. It’s…well, it’s not always bleak picture. Some, indeed, seem to focus on what might be considered accidents. Some happy, some not-so-happy, and all of them leading the characters in unexpected directions where they have to make a choice of what to do, where to go, and how to balance survival and living. To the reviews!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Quick Sips - Tor dot com June 2019

Art by Gregory Manchess
Two short stories and two novelettes make for a fairly full month from Tor dot com. On top of yet another Mongolian Wizard story, there are works about inter-dimensional airships, torture in the name of psychological research, and a group of young women camping in the woods. The pieces lean on the dark side, highlighting drain and the stress of living in situations where exploitation is the law of the land. But some also find people trying to break free of the cycle, even as others show people being consumed by it. A nice range of stories, which I'll get right to reviewing!