Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quick Sips - Fireside Fiction #38

November's issue marks the last of 2016 for Fireside Fiction and it closes the year with equal measures joy and sorrow. Rather a fitting end to a very conflicting year, certainly. The stories all evoke the past in different ways, whether by spinning a tale laced with an older-style adventure or settling into grief and loss looking back on life or fitting characters into a tradition that has been going on since there have been roads crossing. These are incredibly different stories, but they share certain links beyond that they appear in the same space. They all create complex characters concerned with family and with place. With tradition and complicating tradition, putting their own twist on what has come before. And, of course, they are all quite good. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Galen Dara

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Quick Sips - Omenana #8

There's a new issue of Omenana out and you should read it. The publication is going through some changes, moving to a more robust website, adding some new ventures (like reviews), and the fiction remains strong and brilliant. These are stories that look at magic and at tragedy, that show loss but also people gaining things. New abilities. New hopes. New understandings of the world they live in. These are not always easy stories—they are dense and they are occasionally uncomfortable—but they are resonating stories. Stories that inspire and complicate. And I should get to reviewing them! 

Art by Danial Inneil, Color by Sunny Efemena

Monday, November 28, 2016

Regular Sip - "The Convergence of Fairy Tales" by Octavia Cade [Book Smugglers]

Today I'm looking at the latest novella from The Book Smugglers. This is part of a new initiative that they are running and if this work is anything to go by, it is going to be awesome. The piece overall unfolds across five chapters. Five sections. Five fairy tales. And as that is the case, I decided that my review would look at each section in turn. Be warned, because of the linked nature of the story, SPOILERS ABOUND after the first section. So yeah, to the review! 

Art by Kristina Tsenova

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Liver Beware Graphic Election! Primary Round 2

Hi all. As many of you know, I have a Patreon. Aside from helping me run Quick Sip Reviews, my amazing patrons also fund some bonus projects, including my personal favorite, LIVER BEWARE! You're in for Drunk Reviews of Goosebumps!

As the name implies, I'm reading the original Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine and then getting kinda sloshed and reviewing the books. So far I've done a bonus, which is available for free, and Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House, which is exclusive to patrons because I appreciate the hell out of them and want to give them something extra for being awesome. I'm shooting for doing #2: Stay Out of the Basement, in December, and then reviewing #s 3-14 in 2017. But I want to change things up a bit. For each review I post a graphic. The current graphic is:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quick Thoughts - This is Not an Eligibility Post

At least, it's not an eligibility post yet. But I do have some announcements and things I want to talk about and I figure now is as good a time as any. I might indeed be motivated to write up an eligibility post at some point, because it seems the thing to do, but at the moment I just want to share some good news and maybe get some people excited for what I still have coming out in 2016.

Because, alas for all things awards-considerable, my biggest sale of the year is coming out in December. My historical/contemporary/near-future fantasy "The Death of Paul Bunyan" is due out from Lightspeed Magazine next month. I have a date on when it will be available to read for free yet, but sadly it might be the latest of the original stories released in December. Still, I'm hoping people will still read it and like it, as it's one that I quite enjoy. The story takes figures from colonial American folklore, namely Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan, and creates a bit of apocrypha about what happens to them after they've outlived the campaign they were used for, the "taming of America." It's not really a happy story, so be warned.

That's not all for my December releases, either. My m/m romance "How the Supervillain Stole Christmas" will be coming out as well as part of Dreamspinner Press' 2016 Advent Calendar, this year centered on the theme of Bah Humbug! The story is 1000% cute. Rex (a.k.a. Dr. Devious) hates Christmas. Not really because of the holiday but because he's awful at picking out an appropriate gift for his significant other. Guns that create sentient plants, stolen Canadian provinces, and special visits from giant, talking gorillas only seem to scare off his boyfriends and girlfriends. And ever since he met Sanjay he's been terrified of screwing things up. With the threat of Christmas looming, Rex decides maybe he's been going about this all wrong. Instead of agonizing over a gift, perhaps he needs to head this off at the source, by destroying Christmas once and for all. If only those pesky superheroes would stop getting in the way…

But okay, I'm also looking ahead to 2017. I have zero idea when most things will be coming out yet, but I do have quite a bit that will be forthcoming. So yeah, hold onto something, because it's a lot to get through.

First, I sold a fantasy short story, "Where Rivers Run Free," to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It's a story about sentient rivers who can take human form and I feel it's got something of a Western flare. There's a whole lot of world building in that story as well as some (hopefully) deep emotional beats. Plus some sexy times. But to me it's a story of persecution and oppression, and the way that people can turn on each other when they're both being kept down by a larger system.

My science fiction story about people encased in crow-spaceship-suits, "Feathers and Void," has also sold, to Shimmer Magazine. This is a piece that's much more about resistance and finding ways to fight back against corruption and war that don't involve actively killing people. It's about harm and about loneliness and distance and identity and I am thrilled that Shimmer picked it up because it's not really what they normally publish, being typically a bit more on the fantasy side of things.

I also sold a historical fantasy flash fiction, "A Lumberjack's Guide to Dryad Spotting," to Flash Fiction Online. Apparently I didn't get my fill of gay lumberjacks with "The Death of Paul Bunyan" because there are more in this story which is part guide and part confrontation with fear and erasure. This is about having to hide yourself to blend in, to be safe. And it's about hoping for something better, and maybe finding the strength to work for it.

I also have a few things coming out from Less Than Three Press, the first of which will be a fantasy/fairy tale novelette titled "Riding Red." Yes, it is erotic. Yes, it features cross-dressing, shape shifters, witches, beheadings, polyamory, and all the tricksters imaginable. So, you know, a typical fairy tale. The second piece is "Perilous Knights," my mech-suit Arthurian fantasy. It's a second-world reimagining of the Arthurian myths where Guinevere is in charge, Arthur is First Consort with ambitions, and Merlin is a pervy schemer trying to get Arthur onto the throne. This story focuses on two of my favorite knights, Lamorak and Safere. In the story, Lamorak is a reckless young man with debts to pay and only one hope of earning it—winning a tournament. Safere is an enby looking for eir brother, who has suddenly gone missing, and Lamorak is the only lead ey has. Together they stumble into something much deeper and more dangerous than they had expected, and end up having to fight for their lives against the machination of a certain sketch-as-fuck wizard.

And way away in November my science fiction story "Shoots and Ladders" will be appearing at Diabolical Plots. This is a rather weird story that involves a gun that might or might not destroy realities and one man stuck in a situation he can't seem to get himself out of. It's a story about hope but about the toxicity of what people can mistake as hope. It's about escape and rules and I hope people like it.

So that's all I have as far as on-the-horizon fiction. But it's more than I really ever could have hoped for and I'm excited to see what else 2017 has in store. Thanks for stopping in and cheers!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quick Sips - Fantastic Stories of the Imagination #237

Dear readers, prepare your comfiest of sweaters and get ready for a good cry, because this issue of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination really knows how to play with emotions. It's an effective one-two punch of heart breaking and heart warming and you should just know that going in because fuck, yeah, emotionally raw would be a good way to describe things at the moment. These are stories about loving someone and then losing them. In two very, very different ways. They are harrowing and they are inspiring and they have left me a bit wrung out. So yeah, without further warnings, to the reviews! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #212

The two stories in this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies touch on the idea of oppression and resistance, ignorance and the beginning of understanding. Both feature characters in a dominant position. People who have others bound to them in some way, enslaved against their wills. But these characters don't full understand the situation, the true depth of it, until they take the time to listen, to explore, to question the status quo that they were comfortable with. Only once that happens, only once that step is taken, can healing begin. These are two very different stories, but they are nicely paired thematically, and I will just get to reviewing them! 

Art by Raphael Lacoste

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Quick Sips - Mothership Zeta #5

Another issue of Mothership Zeta has landed and it features an actual, literal Mother Ship along with a full roster of excellent stories ranging from zany time travel science fiction to sincere and heartfelt contemporary fantasy. And more than anything else I'm struck by the framing techniques of the issue. There is a series of one sided emails and a detailed bill, a conversation of people remembering an event and a man preparing for a press conference. This alongside more traditional stories that nevertheless manage to present wry and witty narrators, earnest and yearning voices. It's an issue that flows nicely, kicking things off with a smile and a nudge and then slowly drawing to more serious topics and leaving me at least, with a quiet longing for more. For now, though, it's time to review! 

Art by Elizabeth Leggett

Monday, November 21, 2016

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 11/07/2016 & 11/14/2016

After a fund drive and special issue it's back to business as usual for Strange Horizons. Luckily that means providing moving, deep, and insightful fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. I'm looking at two weeks of content today which translates into two stories, two poems, and a single nonfiction work. The stories are full of salt water and loss, hope and recovery. The poems evoke folklore and transformations, discoveries and darkness. And the nonfiction takes a look at SFF publishing that is…well, a bracing read. It's a solid lineup of work that takes an unflinching look at some difficult truths. So let's get to the reviews! 

Art by Susie Oh

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Liver Beware Graphic Election! Primary Round 1

Hi all. As many of you know, I have a Patreon. Aside from helping me run Quick Sip Reviews, my amazing patrons also fund some bonus projects, including my personal favorite, LIVER BEWARE! You're in for Drunk Reviews of Goosebumps!

As the name implies, I'm reading the original Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine and then getting kinda sloshed and reviewing the books. So far I've done a bonus, which is available for free, and Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House, which is exclusive to patrons because I appreciate the hell out of them and want to give them something extra for being awesome. I'm shooting for doing #2: Stay Out of the Basement, in December, and then reviewing #s 3-14 in 2017. But I want to change things up a bit. For each review I post a graphic. The current graphic is:

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Quick Thoughts - My SFF Playlist for the Resistance

It's over a week later. It's really not any better. This week I got to sign up for my 2017 health insurance through the Marketplace. Likely it will be my last year to do so. There is no way in fuck that I will be able to afford coverage without a subsidy, so I'm not entirely chill about anything. To say nothing for being more scared in general to go out in public with my partner, to be seen being affectionate, to be seen wearing makeup or nail polish or anything else that I already only really did on the weekends because I don't have protections in this state that cover things like that at work. I can't be fired for being bi at the moment, but that might change, and I certainly can be fired for not living up to dominant gender norms. So no, this is still not okay.

That said, I feel the need to provide something…well, not happy exactly. I'm going to call it my SFF playlist for the Resistance. It's stories, all of them fairly recent (2016 at least) that feature themes of resistance and revolution. Safety and integrity. Justice and corruption. These are not always the happiest of tales but they are about standing up for what's right, to oppose systemic abuse and oppression. These are stories that remind me that progress is not something that comes easily, and it's damn sure not something you need permission to pursue. There have been wake-up call after wake-up call lately, and if you need to be inspired in the face of all the ugliness, if you need to feel like resistance is not only possible, but necessary, then check out some of the stories below. My little descriptions do not do them justice, but I tried to link to those I could. Most are available for free. Some are not. But all are worth supporting and checking out.

Here they are:

"The Book of How to Live" by R.B Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – resistance against institutional and personal prejudice. The work of pushing things forward. The stress between the magical and the magic-less.

"And In Our Daughters, We Find A Voice" by Cassandra Khaw (The Dark) – Fighting back after trauma. Survival. Murderous mermaids.

"Polyglossia" by Tamara Vardonskaya (GigaNotoSaurus) – language and the veins of history and culture. The drive toward cultural identity in the face of erasure.

"Braveheart's Homecoming" by Dilman Dila (Mithila Review) – a return from abroad sparks a tense showdown and a desperate chase.

"Red as Blood and White as Bone" by Theodora Goss (Tor) – sometimes resistance looks like a person in the skin of a human and teeth red with blood. Sometimes it looks like a teacher protecting old stories.

"Sweet Marrow" by Vajra Chandrasekera (Strange Horizons) – there's often a trade under unjust governments for safety over idealism and expression of identity. Some people find a balance.

"Omoshango" by Dayo Ntwari (Lightspeed) – when oppression is reinforced by colonialism and corruption, sometimes the only thing to do is grow wings and fight back.

"Things with Beards" by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld) – some people have to hide their nature behind a mask. Behind a beard. But what they have is spreading, and dangerous, and freeing.

"The Sound a Raven Makes" by Matthew Scaletta (GigaNotoSaurus) – the end of the world can take many forms. But it's not really the end if people refuse to give up.

"Fragile Insides" by Jason Kimble (Orthogonal: Code) – just because someone is easily broken doesn't mean that they have to live safely. Sometimes safety is just a lie that stalls progress.

"The Taming of the Tongue" by Russell Nichols (Nightmare) – freedom can be perverted by false progress, by broken promises, by systemic injustice. But it doesn't stop the will to be free.

"Winter's Flight" by Susan Jane Bigelow (Book Smugglers) – sometimes things can get better. Sometimes the broken can be fixed. But it doesn't mean that the fight's ever over.

"The Three Lives of Sonata Jones" by Lettie Prell (Tor) – being special doesn't always mean being extraordinary. Sometimes it just means making a difficult decision and standing by it.

"Tower of the Rosewater Goblet" by Nin Harris (Strange Horizons) – you've heard of the tortoise and the hare, right? Not like this you haven't.

"An Impossible Love" by Relme Divingu (Omenana) – love is supposed to conquer all, but some people seem determined to put that to the test by trying to define who can love who.

"Only revolutions" by M Sereno (An Alphabet of Embers) – worlds may change. Realities might bend. But sometimes the strongest force isn't gravity, but love.

"Unauthorized Access" by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed) – what happens when you find corruption in the system? Do you stay silent, and hope for safety? Or do you speak, and make a target of yourself?

"Rooting" by Isha Karki (Mithila Review) – history is written by the victors. By the colonizers. And sometimes the largest revolution can begin by questioning that history, by discovering a different one.

"Standing on the Floodbanks" by Bogi Takács (GigaNotoSaurus) – often war is simplified down to right versus wrong. Good against evil. But what happens when the only right action is to stand for the people being killed and exploited by all sides?

"That Which Stands Tends Toward Free Fall" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Clarkesworld) – War and resistance meet high technology and robotic assassins in this piece about distance and violence.

"The Gentleman of Chaos" by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor (Apex) – sometimes you can't help but be part of a bad situation. It doesn't mean, though, that you can't break out. That you can't seek justice.

"Plea" by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Lightspeed) – A family flees in the face of intolerance and violence and comes up against the cold realities of immigration and the fleeting hope of being safe.

And here, a few poems supplied at no extra cost:

I'm tired. But I can't afford to rest yet. So I'm going to keep on being angry. I'm going to keep on doing what I can. I don't do much. I write. I read. I review. But I'm not going to let what's happened force me into silence, leaving only those who have more regard for the erasure of so many amazing stories and voices. No. I'm here. I'm reading. I'm not going anywhere.

All the best,

Charles Payseur


Friday, November 18, 2016

The Monthly Round is up!!!

The Monthly Round, covering my favorite SFF short stories from October 2016, is up right now at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together! I pair stories with thematically appropriate alcoholic beverages and offer matched reviews. For just a list of the stories, see below:

Tasting Flight - October 2016:
"Plea" by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Lightspeed)
"None of This Ever Happened" by Gabriela Santiago (Nightmare)
"The Calculations of Artificials" by Chi Hui, translated by John Chu (Clarkesworld)
"The Mourning Hour" by Anya Ow (GigaNotoSaurus)
"The Book of How to Live" by R.B. Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"Everything that Isn’t Winter" by Margaret Killjoy (Tor dot com)

"Butter-Daughters" Nin Harris (Sockdolager)
"Rabbit Heart" by Alyssa Wong (Fireside Fiction)
"The Sky, Falling" by Anton Rose (Terraform)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Quick Sips - Shimmer #34 (November Stuff)

The stories in the November half of the latest issue of Shimmer Magazine both deal with temptation. With the promise of relief and ease. With the growing knowledge that the promise is false. Whether facing down the devil or your own personal Hitler, the stories show that sometimes there are no shortcuts, no ways around having to face the harm and the evil. That you can't just wave your hand or fire a gun through a time hole and solve all your problems. That sometimes what you need to do is just face what's happened, what is happening, and find ways to move forward, to find a future worth living in. So without further delay, to the reviews! 

Art by Sandro Castelli

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quick Sips - Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Q30

Another issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is about and it's full of works that look at tricks and cheats. At attempts to cut corners and find magical ways to avoid hard decisions. Hard situations. The stories by and large take a look at the morality of violence and trickery when it comes to conflicts both large and small, national and personal. The stories show characters seeking to bargain their ways through situations. To save themselves. To save those things they care about. It…doesn't often work out, but these works show the many ways people can hope to cheat fate and circumstance, to use power to make up for misfortune. Time to review! 

Art by Jerome Peabody

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #122

It's another packed month at Clarkesworld with six original stories, including a rather charming novelette in translation. And it's another month that is entirely science fiction, with a splash of science-fantasy thrown in for flavor. These are tales that show visions of the future, conflicts playing out for the soul of humanity and for the fate of planets. Many of the stories take their focus off of Earth to show what humanity is capable of, the way that it can move from place to place, leaving a trail of destruction behind it. There's hope, though, too, and the stories also show the power that humanity can hold to create and to change and to love. So yeah, review time! 

Art by Joseph Biwald

Monday, November 14, 2016

Quick Sips - Uncanny #13 (November Stuff)

The November content from Uncanny Magazine does a lovely job of showing the power of stories. Of narratives. Of how the ownership of those stories is importance and empowering. How, when the narrative begins to slip away, it can be used to isolate people. To exploit people. To erase people. And only when people can control their own stories, can have their own agency, can there be justice. Can there be hope. Can there be the recognition that people are all people and that the roles they think are absolute might only be a narrowing of their perspective, and when the blinders are pulled away their world suddenly becomes larger, richer, and more rewarding. These are not all easy works of fiction or poetry or nonfiction, but they are all powerful in their own ways, and I'm going to get to reviewing them. 

Art by Julie Dillon

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Quick Thoughts - The (Ever-Present but Especially Relevant) Need for SFF

As I sit down to start this it is the day after. I don't want to write about it. I don't want to think about it and what it means not just for me and my family but for my friends and for so many other people out there, in SFF and beyond. I have to, and I am, but I'm not going to use this space to do it. Not exactly. I'm going to write about SFF instead, because… SFF is presumably defined by depicting worlds that are markedly different from our own. Worlds of magic and technology that don't exist or don't seem to exist in our "real" world. For many, SFF is an escape. From the very real dangers and disappointments of the world. For others it is a way to aspire to something better. To reach for something that seems less out of reach when there is a story to bridge the distance to it. For still others it others catharsis, allowing the reader to be discomforted by the way a story twist experience and perspective. And SFF can teach empathy, can challenge philosophy and discourse and form.

And SFF just got that much more important.

There is a reason that certain groups have adopted the language of censorship to fight against inclusion and representation. It is because stories are important. And who gets to tell them and how they get to tell them are incredibly important. In SFF, we are experiencing a crisis. But it's not one that effecting SFF alone. With the spread of the internet and devices to utilize it, borders have opened. National borders, yes, but also borders of discussion and access. Anyone can (hypothetically) write and submit a story for consideration to most SFF publications as long as they can write in English and have some sort of internet-enabled device. With free apps you can write and format, and with free email you can submit or register for some other submission system. Unlike certain other genres that charge reading fees with the express purpose of limiting who is able to submit, SFF represents a rather open system. There are gatekeepers, yes, and there are trolls and bigots aplenty, but the borders are relatively open.

What I have seen in recent years is a concerted effort to close borders back down. To return people to isolation and to fear and to vulnerability. To treat a widening of voices as an attack on the straight white male voice. This is why people cry at being censored by people who simply do not find their work valuable (while yelling at those same people that _their_ work is not compelling, though apparently that's not censorship but objective weighing of merit). And the sad, discouraging, infuriating, disgusting thing is that people buy into it. Because they like that narrative. It makes them feel better. Comfortable. Like they're the hero in the story instead of the villain or (at the very least) complicit henchperson.

None of this is okay. This is how people die. Are erased. This is how atrocities happen.

How does SFF help? In many ways. By imagining different worlds with different people. Different peoples. By showing futures where queer characters exist, where people of color exist, where neuroatypical and disabled people exist. Not a future that looks like "the good old days." Showing fantasy stories filled with characters who don't fit into the white straight dominant mold. Who throw out the mold and then burn it and use the ashes to make something new and awesome. These stories are being told now by writers who pretty much every day remind me why I love SFF. And they're being told by people who haven't broken in yet, who are writing but not selling or not showing their work or not allowed to show their work or who are pressured or threatened or intimidated away from it. And I want to read those stories, too. I want to read them all and know that I am not alone. That despite being surrounded every day by people who would rather erase me than acknowledge me there are others out there who feel the same, who live the same. It's very likely now that people might hesitate more about coming out. I understand that. It's not safe. But out or not, safe or not, people deserve compassion and understanding, and sometimes it takes a story to fill that need.

People need to see that they're not alone. That they are exactly how they feel they are. That even when the hurt lasts and lasts and lasts, there can be joy as well, and defiance, and hope. And SFF delivers that. Can deliver that. If it doesn't back away from the challenges facing it. If it embraces those who are vulnerable. If it keeps the borders open.

And how can you help?

If you are a queer writer, or a writer of color, or a disabled writer, or a trans writer…write. Submit. Share your stories. If it's safe, do it loudly. If it's not, do it quietly. But we need your stories. And if you're a marginalized reader, keep finding stories that inspire you. Stories you care about. Talk about them. Don't let them be erased or ignored.

For more dominant writers…write, but be aware of what you write and how you write it. And maybe try to give the help you can afford to give. For dominant readers, too, try to support those who are more at risk. Many people can be supported directly but if not you can help by buying their books, by helping to fund their projects. By signal boosting. By offering encouragement or time. By reading widely and gushing about the stories that you love. By spreading the love, and spreading the word.

This is going to suck. But I will still fight for the future. I don't really have a choice in the matter. Many don't. We'll fight, because this is our home. Thanks for reading.

All the best,

Charles Payseur


Friday, November 11, 2016

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus November 2016

The lovely thing about the larger word counts and focus on a single story that GigaNotoSaurus provides is that it gives some space to really dig into a piece. To really explore the boundaries of the settings and the characters and find something moving and unsettling and wonderful there. In that, the story this month is extremely suited to the publication, offering up a richly complex world and a set of characters that are engaging and deep. There are moments of action and magic and moments of quietude and friendship and at the end it’s a story about control and limitations and freedom and I will get right to reviewing it! 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Quick Sips - Apex #90

The November issue of Apex Magazine brings the focus directly to the fiction. Most months feature one or two original stories, but this one features four, and they are all shades of dark and disturbing and good. Which, who knows, maybe the publication is trying to make a case for supporting their subscription drive. Which is going on. Right now. If so, then for me they have definitely succeeded. The stories are strange and they are dark, disturbing, and deep. They look at the twisted side of human art and human civilization, and ask some very difficult questions. There’s also two reprint poems that I decided to look at as well, and all told the issue is quite strong and kinda messed up. To the reviews! 

Art by Ania Tomicka

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online November 2016

With the latest issue of Flash Fiction Online the publication continues its trend of recent months of focusing on the relationship between mothers and daughters. All three stories orbit this central relationship and the many forms it can take. And there is an additional focus in these stories of distance. The distance between a mother and a child. And the stories approach that very differently. These are very complex pieces, and ones that strike me as a definitely-not-objective reader. At their best the stories are brilliant examinations of scale and hope, difference and distance. So yeah, time to review! 

Art by Dario Bijelac

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #78

The November issue of Lightspeed Magazine certainly brings the dark. At least for three of the four original stories, the atmosphere is steeped with violence and loss and the gravity of conflict. Human against human. Sibling against sibling. These are mostly stories that are difficult and disturbing, with a weight that is impossible to ignore. And while there are some lighter notes to close out the issue, the lingering flavor is still of blood and ice. There's hope, here, too, but a rather bleak sort, nearly nihilistic, and it makes for an interesting and complex and not-incredibly-happy read. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Reiko Murakami

Monday, November 7, 2016

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 10/31/2016 Special Spanish SFF Issue

As part of its fund drive this year, Strange Horizons announced that it would do a special issue dedicated to translated Spanish SFF. And here it is! With two fiction pieces and five poems, it's a bit weightier than a typical week and that's definitely a good thing. The fiction explores both science fiction and fantasy, death and consumption and justice. The poetry is substantial and nicely varied, from very short pieces to more lengthy verse and I love it all. It's an issue that shows why SFF in translation can be so fun, because it presents stories that were originally told outside the language we are used to (well, those of us who grew up in English-only environments), and as such they approach things a bit differently. But it's still very much SFF and I should just get to those reviews! 

Art by Sonia Camacho

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Quick Thoughts - "What Dora Saw"

So I technically have a new story out in the Another Dimension anthology that released mid-October and I've been trying to figure out what to say about it. The story represents the strangest and most depressing journey I've had with a story/publication and while I still kinda like it, the story itself was written back in late 2012/early 2013 and that's…a long time ago for a publication that released late 2016. I've written about this experience a few times, really, but I'll give a bit of a recap.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Quick Sips - Nightmare #50

The stories of this issue of Nightmare Magazine explore the uncertain boundaries of horror and the mundane. The violence and the darkness lurking under the most basic of actions. These stories look at characters lost in their own battles and maybe in their own heads but struggling against the role they play in suffering and death, or maybe just not willing to see how far they've fallen, how much the darkness has reached through them, and how much they might like it. These are difficult stories and with a touch of unreliability to them, as if the realities they describe might not be quite solid, quite certain. It's a nice paired set of stories and I'm going to get to those reviews! 

Art by Max Shevchenko

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quick Sips - The Dark #18

The original fiction from November's The Dark Magazine focus on willful ignorance. On disbelief. In both stories the main characters are trapped in situations because they are not believed, because they are coded as women. They are stripped of their agency, convinced that what is happening to them is just and right and their own feelings of dread, pain, and despair are somehow unwarranted and wrong. These are stories that look at how women are ignored, silenced, and abused, and how institutions reinforce this, legitimize this, even at the expense of the people they are supposed to protect. It's a disturbing pair of stories with a heady atmosphere of violence and death and it makes for a compelling issue that I'm about to review!

Art by Vincent Chong

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #211

October ended up being a big month for Beneath Ceaseless Skies, with a special issue on top of two regular issues, and the last made it just in time for Halloween. Appropriately, the stories in this issue veer into some dark territory, evoking settings that are steeped in some spooky and surreal landscapes. The characters are acting out battles both metaphoric and intensely literal, and through it all there is an air of isolation being cut through by companionship and friendship. Both stories feature women who are prisoners of sorts to the past. To traditions that they have not wholly chosen on their own, and in both stories the characters have to face that and decide how they want to live going forward. So yeah, let's get to those reviews!
Art by Raphael Lacoste

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Quick Sips - Lackington's #11 Possessions

Just ahead of the release of their next issue, Lackinton's has dropped the paywall on their Possessions issue and it's a great collection of rather dark stories. Perhaps rising from the complex nature of possessions, from how people can own things, how people can own people, how things can own people, how entities can inhabit people, how people can own ideas and stories…there are a lot of ways that these tales circle around what it is to have possessions, and what it is to be possessed. Most of the pieces are solidly fantasy, the magic alive and well and further complicating the theme but also giving it a wild fire that casts some wicked shadows. There's a lot here to enjoy, so I'm going to get to the reviews! 

Art by P. Emerson Williams