Friday, January 24, 2020

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #59

Art by Joey Jordan
2020 starts with an extra story at Diabolical Plots, bringing the month's total to three and ranging from horror (where childhood fear and trauma get a twist) to portal fantasy (but not how you might expect) to a contemporary piece, well, featuring a talking gorilla Wall Street tycoon. So it's an eclectic mix, not only in subject but in mood and impact. But the stories are all powerful, all challenging, and all reviewed by me! Right now!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Quick Sips - Nightmare #88

Art by Ddraw / Fotolia
The two stories in the first Nightmare Magazine of the year both build up some nicely strange and haunting situations. Situations where there’s a mystery to solve. Who murdered a woman? What happens in the forest outside the city? Death is very present in these pieces, and the characters all have to decide what to do and how to approach that death. Will they run from it, or be driven to despair by it? Or will they face it, resolved and ready, and in forcing that confrontation, do something about it? These are some haunting reads, walking a line between triumph and destruction, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #295

Art by Rytis Sabaliauskas
It’s the second Beneath Ceaseless Skies issue of the year and it’s just as well-paired as the first, only this one might be even more My Jam than before. Fun is still very front and center, but here we have characters finding and holding to each other despite the limitations of the places they are in. Despite the distance between them, either physical or otherwise. The characters here all need to take risks to be together, to find a life where they can be free and, if not safe, at least joyous and able to watch out and protect each other. It’s a heartwarming and exciting issue, and before I gush too much I’ll get to the reviews!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Quick Sips - Mithila Review #12 [part 2]

Art by Theobald Carreras
I’m back diving into the latest issue of Mithila Review, which is still rolling out content for free on their website. These are all technically 2019 releases, but as some of them didn’t come out online until this year, it puts me in a weird position for where to place them. But we’ll burn that bridge when we get there. As for the content, there are some strong pieces, and a nice running sense of continuity as the works explore people who have done wrong. The fiction, at least, features three different people facing their own kinds of trials. Having to defend themselves or give into the voices calling for justice. And they work well together, exploring the way that violence acts as a toxic presence, corrupting everything that builds out of it. And there’s a lot to get to with three short stories and three poems, so I’ll get right to the reviews!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Quick Sips - Uncanny #32 [January stuff]

Art by Nilah Magruder
Uncanny Magazine kicks off the new year with three short stories and two poems that bring energy and resilience in a time when it's very desperately needed. The fiction ranges from post-disaster to rather dystopian (but warm and queer) sci fi race to touching and careful fantasy about ghosts and immigration. The poems complicate fairy tales and traditional depictions of monsters while interrogating identity and navigating some very complex space. The work here reiterates what Uncanny has been publishing since it began—a wonderful mix of genres with resonating characters and richly built worlds.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 01/06/2020 & 01/13/2020


Strange Horizons opens with two issues with some strange and stunning fiction and poetry. The works are challenging in that they imagine futures or alternate worlds where things...aren't the way we're used to. Marriage is a book with sometimes-competing authors. The future is a museum plucked from the rubble of humanity as if at random. The poetry explores themes of identity and transgression, choice and fear. It's a new reminder of what to expect from Strange Horizons—stories that take risks while still being careful. To the reviews!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #160

Art by Eduardo García
Well that’s one way for Clarkesworld to open 2020. Following the pulling of their lead story at the request of the author, the publication will also be issuing a statement (at the time of my writing this it’s still forthcoming). I had written a review of the piece, but it’s my policy to remove reviews at the request of authors, and I’m honoring the author’s request to remove the story from publication as a further request to remove my review of it, in this case preemptively. So I will not be posting a review of the story, at least as things stand now. That said, there’s still a lot of issue to get to, and a lot of the stories this month are linked by themes of death and loss, by family, and by mortality and transformation. There are many characters dealing with the line between human and robot, between AI and person, between friend and monster. To the reviews!