Monday, April 23, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #249

April brings two tales of magic and pain to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, featuring characters very much looking for cures for something and finding that those cures might not exist. In each, the characters face something that makes them look at what they do in a new light. Their mission and their identity is complicated and altered. How they respond to that is very different, though, with one person running away from the implications of their decisions and the other person ready to meet the full weight of what’s happening. Both stories also feature an interesting take on make and some intense battles. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Stefan Meisl

Friday, April 20, 2018

Quick Sips - Shimmer #42 [April stuff]

April brings an amazing one-two punch to Shimmer Magazine, with a pair of stories that at turns devastate and heal. The month begins with a heavy darkness and a sound like angels crying. It focuses on loss and love and injustice and the weight of all those on a child, on a young adult. But just as all hope seems crushed and the tears are flowing, the issue offers a reprieve, a fun little story about the avoiding injustice, about defying expectations, and about finding something truly wonderful. These are two very different pieces but they go together so well. So well. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Quick Sips - Apex #107

The April stories from Apex Magazine are all about the toxicity of place and the inability to make good decisions in a broken system. Especially when you are vulnerable. Especially when you’re not meant to be a person with power. The stories look at how people in these situations strive to gain the freedom to make their own decisions, to control their own lives, only to find again and again any attempt to resist the system from the inside is co-opted and corrupted. And any attempt to get away from the system is prevented or resisted. Because these systems want victims, what those who can’t fight back. People still do, though, and the issue has a great assortment of stories that look at how difficult it is to reach for change when every avenue for reform seems to lead back to the same old hurts. To the reviews!

Art by Chase Hensen

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

X Marks the Story - April 2018

It's that time again. My latest X Marks the Story is up at The Book Smugglers. Go check it out here.

For those just wanting the sweet, sweet stories, here's a list of the 6 I featured this month (note, there's plenty more I included in the further x-plorations). Cheers!

“A Priest of Vast and Distant Places”, Cassandra Khaw (published in Apex Magazine #106, March 2018)
“The War of Light and Shadow, in Five Dishes”, Siobhan Carrol (published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies #247, March 2018 )
“Don’t Pack Hope”, Emma Osborne (published in Nightmare #67, April 2018)
“Being an Account of The Sad Demise of The Body Horror Book Club”, Nin Harris (published in The Dark #35, April 2018)
“Pistol Grip”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (published in Uncanny #21, March/April 2018)
"The Sower”, Takim Williams (published in Fiyah #6, April 2018)

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Quick Sips - Nightmare #67

Horror comes with a second person perspective in the April offerings from Nightmare Magazine. And, like a lot of great SFF horror, these stories are largely about fear. In one, how a being that strikes fear into almost everyone that they come across is made to feel a bit of themself. In the other, how a person who has felt fear for most of their life finds themself in a position where all that training is paying off in the face of something huge and terrifying. It’s a nice one-two punch when it comes to stories, the first a bit more meandering and slow, the second immediate and intense. And both do a nice job of examining fear and how we experience it. To the reviews!

Art by Sean Gladwell / Fotolia

Monday, April 16, 2018

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #139

It’s a phenomenal April of fiction at Clarkesworld Magazine, with four short stories and a translated novelette to bite into. And these are evocative, emotional stories that look at connections and cooperation. That look at people helping people in many different ways. To comfort one another. To protect one another. But also to push one another to do better. To reach a fuller potential. To push toward a better future where we aren’t defined by hate and loss and sorrow. The stories are at times tinged by grief and tragedy, but they shine with a lovely strength, and a flowing sweep of language and ideas. It’s just a fantastically strong issue, and I’ll get to those reviews!

Art by Arthur Haas

Friday, April 13, 2018

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 04/02/2018 & 04/09/2018

The short SFF from the first two weeks of April’s Strange Horizons looks at faith and education, memory and time, fiction and hope. The stories feature characters either revisiting their pasts or desperate to do so. They also feature relationships between parents and children, though in opposite directions (one with a mother as main character, the other with a son). And they explore memory and trying to rewrite the past with something better than the crushing weight of the present. The poetry looks at religion and education, at expectation and death. It’s a rather complex collection of pieces, but it makes for some compelling reading. So let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Julia Griffin