Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quick Sips - Terraform January 2017

Terraform has entered 2017 and some of the nightmare that the publication predicted might happen, that the publication warned could happen, that the publication seemed to hope wasn't going to happen, has. It's a full month of releases, and surprisingly few deal with the recent election and new…person who got sworn in. Which is a call I can appreciate, because at the moment I have anxiety enough about it. Indeed, most of the stories steer clear of actually addressing the orange elephant in the room in favor of showing what it might mean for us that he's now where he is. These are stories that imagine the future of work. The future of science. These are stories that are about what happens after a shock, a loss, a grief. They're about the desire to forget and the desire to be free and the desire to imagine a brighter world. They are an interesting bunch of pieces that seem particularly interested in the question: what next? And they have very different answers, though all of they are worth checking out. So yeah, review time!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Quick Sips - Tor dot com January 2017

The offerings from Tor dot com do an excellent job of balancing light and dark, love and betrayal, hatred and hope. The stories range from horror to noir mystery, from sci fi romance to cerebral deconstruction. As such there isn't exactly a single thread that weaves all these stories together. Which is just fine. What I find instead are stories that stand perfectly well on their own, that revel in the myriad interpretations of SFF. From gothic horror to environmental science fiction, the stories all set about capturing different flavors of genre. There isn't an awful lot of overlap, either, so fans looking for a nice primer on different styles and visions might be well served checking out each of these stories. Or, for those preferring a specific brand of SFF, you'll find weighty stories that provide satisfying experience in and of themselves. So yeah, time to review!

Art by Sam Wolfe Connelly

Sunday, January 29, 2017

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2016! The "Where We're Going We Won't Need Categories" Sippy for Excellent I Don't Know What in Short SFF

Welcome back to the last entry in the Second Annual Sippy Awards! The short SFF award that no one asked for is back and things are definitely…well, kind of…or, that is to say…fuck it, I don't know but WE'RE DOING THIS ANYWAY!

There are some stories that just sort of take me by surprise. That work so incredibly well but that I can't really figure out what to call. I'm notoriously finicky when it comes to genre and so sometimes it's best to just embrace the nebulous. The undefined. The meta. Today I want to look at works that do interesting things not just with character and plot and conflict but with SFF as an idea. With art as an idea. Stories that push the boundaries on what should be considered the beating heart of SFF. Many of these stories have a lot to say on why people create. Why stories are important. Why giant wasps are scary. Err…well that last one might be a little specific but still!

SFF exists because some people a long time ago weren't satisfied with the conventions of storytelling. Because they wanted to tap into the imagination directly and hell with the establishment. And today that urge still lives and the breathes. Only now it comes against a different establishment, the one that tries to define what SFF is and should be. But I want to celebrate some stories that refuse to sit quietly, that refuse to stay confined. Today I want to present…

The "Where We're Going We Won't Need Categories" Sippy
for Excellent I Don't Know What in Short SFF

Saturday, January 28, 2017

YEAR OF GARAK, Part 1: Hollow Men by Una McCormack review

Hello everyone. In case you didn't know, I'm a little bit in love with Garak (everyone's Cardassian boyfriend from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). I can assure you, loving Garak is both HEALTHY AND CORRECT, because he is amazing and on an already amazing show he is the frosting laced with rare irradiated particles that will cause your transporter beam to malfunction, scattering your atoms to the cosmos. He is the exquisitely tailored suit with the secret pouch of sehlot pheromones sewn into the lining that will cause the Vulcan ambassador's pet to go mad and "accidentally" maul you to death. He is, in other words, delightful (and sexy), and so to take back some awesome from what is promising to be an incredibly trying year, I am marking 2017 THE YEAR OF GARAK. I have a pile of Garak-packed novels that I will be reading and reviewing. I might even stop in with reviews of some of my favorite Garak-ful episodes of DS9. (And it looks like the extremely talented Nicasio Andres Reed might be helping me with much of the Garak-y goodness) THIS WILL BE AMAZING!

Ahem. First up, I'm going to be looking at the DS9 tie-in novel HOLLOW MEN by Una McCormack. I was lucky enough to find the author gushing about Garak over at Uncanny Magazine not too long ago. Go read that article. Thankfully, I was able to obtain all of the author's Garak novels and the first one I read was the sequel to probably my favorite episode of DS9, "In the Pale Moonlight." The premise is rather complex, but basically Sisko and Garak end up going back to Earth to attend a conference and hijinx ensue. Of course, with Garak involved that means murder. It's glorious.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Quick Sips - Glittership January 2017

2017 is bringing a few new faces to Quick Sip Reviews, and Glittership is the second new publication I'm adding to my review list. Since it's beginning I've followed the publication and I'm thrilled to start officially reviewing it. This comes at a time when Glittership is changing its format somewhat. It's still releasing stories every month, but now it will also be releasing a quarterly issue to collect all these fine stories. I'm going to be checking in every month, though, to look at what they're putting out. Which kicks off with the January offerings of an original story and a reprint, both of which dive headlong into some rather strange waters. Which is rather wonderful, to be honest. The stories show settings that are weird and, at times, a bit uncomfortable. Goofiness hiding something dark and sinister that is brushed against, that informs the stories without overwhelming them. These are stories that might make you laugh but will definitely catch your attention and, before you know it, might twist into something a bit more serious. Or might just be fun. Whatever the case, it's time to review! 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #217

In the second issue of the 2017 Beneath Ceaseless Skies inches up the story lengths while also turning up the action a bit. These two stories are well paired, both of them fast-paced tales that weave magic and transformation, betrayal and loyalty. The settings for the stories are quite different, one much more historically based and the other a world where airships and storms of the damned share the same skies. But for all that they unfold in much different places, both also develop a similar danger—that of the twisted unknown. The familiar made strange and monstrous. The mind or the dead made into a sort of weapon, a sort of maze, that must be navigated quickly and successfully to survive. These are some thrilling tales that I'm just going to review! 

Art by Jinxu Du

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Quick Sips - Mithila Review #7

After a bit of a break, Mithila Review is back! There's four short stories, one very long novelette, and a novel excerpt as far as fiction goes, and because of time constraints I'm only going to be looking at the short stories. There's five pieces of poetry that I'm checking out, too, and there's a literal ton of nonfiction to enjoy, but I'll leave you to browse that on your own. Needless to say the issue is packed with amazing works. The fiction takes things from magic schools to deserts in Arizona and Mars. There's action aplenty with Luchador battles and desperate violence. There's also a nice amount of humor, with biting satire and laugh-out-loud characters. There's also heart, and family, and a rich tapestry of emotions. The poetry weaves together nicely, looking at nature and stories and hope, and the entire issue is another strong example of why you should be reading Mithila Review. Review time! 

Art by Archan Nair

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Quick Sips - Fantastic Stories of the Imagination #238

Fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign that will allow the publication to do some interesting and exciting things, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination opens 2017 with a pair of short but sweet SFF stories. These are pieces that look at family and relationships, trauma and effort. They show characters given the opportunity to walk away from some important part of their pasts. To put it down and maybe remake themselves. But these stories are about the choice to go back, to stay, to fight on even in the face of rejection, even in the face of overwhelming cruelty. The stories are at turns disturbing and fun, magical and wrenching, and they do an excellent job of exploring the worlds and characters they introduce. To the reviews! 

[Note. I am saddened to hear that Fantastic Stories will be closing after their next issue. Fuck.]

Monday, January 23, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #14 (January Stuff)

Uncanny has kicked off the new year with an issue that reminds me of all the reasons that I love SFF. These are intensely original works that begin to break down what it means to be human. What it means to be different. What it means to live in a world that isn't really safe. Where things can do suddenly and terribly wrong and where sometimes people are forced to fight because the world is not fair, is not organized in a way that gives them room to breathe. It's a wrenching and emotionally heavy issue that tackles some very difficult and dark topics—assault, suicide, intolerance, violence. And yet there is a fire burning through these pieces that unites them, a contagious spark that, if you're not careful, might start a fire within you, as well. So let's get to the reviews!

Art by John Picacio

Sunday, January 22, 2017

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2016! The "Time to Run Some Red Lights" Sippy for Excellent Action!!! in SFF

Welcome back to the Second Annual Sippy Awards! The short SFF awards that no one wanted is still going on for some reason! I've shipped my favorite relationships. I've shivered in fear of my favorite horror. I've bawled until I was nothing but a husk of raw feels. And now I'm back again. I'm better than ever! Because it's time to get exicted!

SFF has the power to tug at our hearts, but it also has the ability to get our heart pounding. To get our blood hot and our fists clenched. There's a lot of SFF that tends toward the cerebral side of things, but there's also SFF out there that sweeps everything onto the floor, tips over the table, and uses it for cover in a sudden blaster battle. And today I want to look at the stories that shoot first. That jump out into the open air without a parachute. That drive a hundred miles an hour in heavy traffic because there are cyborg-ninjas on motorbikes who will destroy the future unless you get the enchanted chinchilla back to his home dimension.

Ahem, well maybe not exactly that last one. Still, these are stories that do that cool slow walking away as the explosion happens. That tell the others to go on ahead and then ready their shotgun, waiting for the enemy to round the corner. It's time for…

The "Time to Run Some Red Lights" Sippy 
for Excellent Action! in Short SFF

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Quick Thoughts - Some Gay Lumberjacks, I Guess

So apparently January has been a little busy. Rants and Sippy Awards and with everything happening I've been a little neglectful to come on here and talk about some of my recent publications. So today I'll be talking about my last two pro SFF stories, "The Death of Paul Bunyan" and "A Lumberjack's Guide to Dryad Spotting."

Art by Dario Bijelac

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #216

The first issue of 2017 from Beneath Ceaseless Skies is, well, it's not exactly the happiest of issues. Both of these stories feature protagonists thrown into situations where they aren't in control. Where they lose people important to them. And where the very worlds around them roil with chaos and conflict. And in the midst of that there are moments of compassion, of hope, only to be lost, only to be taken away. And so the stories become about how the characters cope or how the characters fail to cope. These are stories filled with trauma and the whispering of secrets, and if you're looking for happy endings, well… To the reviews! 

Art by Jinxu Du

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #92

It's January at Apex Magazine and that means another oversized issue full of wonder and darkness. It makes a huge amount of sense to kick off the new year with an issue like this, because if it's your resolution to try out some excellent SFF, this issues makes a strong argument why this publication is worth your time and attention. Apex's thing is dark SFF, and this issue shows that in many varieties, from violent darkness to humorous darkness to lyrical darkness to adorable darkness. The stories and poems in this issue weave a fairly comprehensive tapestry of the work that Apex does, providing space for dark stories that aren't necessarily crushing (though they can be). These are pieces that take a skeptical look at the nature of humanity, that don't flinch away from looking at the truly awful things people are capable of. Still, these are largely enjoyable stories that lift and flow and entertain, and I'm going to jump right into reviewing them! 

Art by Aaron Nakahara

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Regular Sip - "The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist" by S.L. Huang [Book Smugglers]...Plus Giveaway!!!

This comes a little late as my last review from 2016 (probably), but I really didn't want to miss out on reviewing this novelette from The Book Smugglers. I'm all about fairy tale retellings, especially ones that complicate (and queerify) classic tropes and ideas. Here the story of "The Little Mermaid" becomes something quite different. If you're looking for something that conforms to the Disney version, look elsewhere (though I love this version of Ursula, fwiw). If you're looking for a layered narrative that is dark, emotional, and imaginative as fuck, then sit down as I get to this review!

This is also the very first time that I'm running a giveaway for a story (I'm really stretching my blogger wings now). So definitely check out the link below the review because FREE BOOK! Seriously, the book looks beautiful and the prose itself more than lives up to it. Do it!

Art by Kristina Tsenova

Monday, January 16, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 01/02/2017 & 01/09/2017

It's the first two issues of the new year and Strange Horizons has certainly kicked things off with a bang, providing two stories and two poems that capture the strange, the nebulous, and the mythic. The stories especially are told with a scarcity of dialogue and more the feel of fairy tales, dark and twisting reflections of our world. And all of the pieces take an interesting look at form and style, pushing the boundaries in their scope and their execution. These are stories that certainly live up to the Strange in Strange Horizons and challenge even as they subvert. And over and on top of all of that, they are also beautiful, lyrical SFF visions that I'm just going to review already! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2016! The "There's Something in My Eye" Sippy for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF

Welcome back to the Second Annual Sippy Awards! The short SFF awards that no one asked for is here again because I said so, dammit! I've shipped my favorite SFF relationships. I've kept the lights on for my favorite SFF horror. So now it's time to examine yet another dimension of SFF short fiction.

Okay so yes, as a reviewer I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Part of the joy of engaging with stories is being effected by them. Is following where they lead, intellectually and emotionally. So for me stories that can move to tears are incredibly valuable. They hit and they hit hard. They draw blood.

They also inspire. Each of these stories can be a lesson in empathy. In really trying to understand what the characters are going through. Their grief and their loss and, through it all, their hope. More than anything else, it's the hope that gets me, that moves me, that breaks me and put me back together again. There is despair, yes, and pain. Sometimes far too much pain. Some of these stories are bleak. But none of them are without hope. And so while they all make me a large puddle of feels, when I solidify again I am the stronger for it. And that's why I love these stories, and why I can say without shame that these are the stories that made me cry the most in 2016. Yes, it's time for…

The "There's Something in My Eye" Sippy 
for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The 108 Recommendations of Destiny (2016 Edition)

Yes, that is a Suikoden reference, for any wondering. But welcome to my 2016 recommended reading list! Now, I'm kind of lazy, I will admit. This list really isn't new. It compiles all twelve of my 2016 Monthly Round choices and gives them to you as one large list. But, as The Monthly Round represents my favorite stories from each month, this mega-list does stand up pretty well. There's probably stories that I would add because some months were really packed and it was very difficult to pick, but I think that for now this is a pretty good place to start for my recommended reading list for 2016. If you're looking for more, then you'll just have to check out The Sippy Awards. So yeah, enjoy!

The Quick Sip Reviews Long List (aka my fave reads of 2016)

"While I Wait" by Layla Al-Bedawi (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
"Spirit Tasting List for Ridley House, April 2016" by Alex (Rachael) Acks (Shimmer)
"Das Steingeschöp" by G. V. Anderson (Strange Horizons)
"Under Dead Marsh" by Julia August (Lackington's)
"The Old Man and the Phoenix" by Alexandria Baisden (Apex)
"The Marvelous Inventions of Mr. Tock" by Daniel Baker (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"Muse" by Nicola Belte (Flash Fiction Online)
"Choose Your Killer" by Abhishek Bhatt (Mithila Review)
"Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies" by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
"Director's Cut" by Matthew Bright (Harlot Media)
"The House That Jessica Built" by Nadia Bulkin (The Dark)
"Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes" by Vajra Chandrasekera (Strange Horizons)
"Nothing But the Sky" by Gwendolyn Clare (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"1957" by Stephen Cox (Apex)
"Breaking Water" by Indrapramit Das (Tor)
"The Life and Times of Angel Evans" by Meredith Debonnaire (The Book Smugglers)
"Braveheart's Homecoming" by Dilman Dila (Mithila Review)
"The Mama Mmiri" by Walter Dinjos (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"The Exemption Packet" by Rose Eveleth (Terraform)
"The Artificial Bees" by Simon Guerrier (Uncanny)
"Butter-Daughters" by Nin Harris (Sockdolager)
"Morning Cravings" by Nin Harris (Lightspeed)
"Tower of the Rosewater Goblet" by Nin Harris (Strange Horizons)
"The Automatic Prime Ministers" by Kate Heartfield (Lackington's)
"Vesp: A History of Sapphic Scaphism" by Porpentine Charity Heartscape (Terraform)
"The Venus Effect" by Violet Allen (Lightspeed)
"A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover from the Bottom of the Sea" by Ada Hoffman (Strange Horizons
"The Scrape of Tooth and Bone" by Ada Hoffmann (GigaNotoSaurus)
"The Indigo Ace and the High-Low Split" by Annalee Flower Horne (Mothership Zeta)
"Can't Beat 'Em" by Nalo Hopkinson (Uncanny)
"The Marriage Plot" by Tendai Huchu (Omenana)
"The Calculations of Artificials" by Chi Hui, translated by John Chu (Clarkesworld)
"Nobody Puts Baby in a Chamber" by Alexis A. Hunter (Mothership Zeta)
"Life in Stone, Glass, and Plastic" by José Pablo Iriarte (Strange Horizons)
"The City Born Great" by N.K. Jemisin (Tor)
"Love Letters on the Nightmare Sea" by Rachael K. Jones (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles" by Rachael K. Jones (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"All Souls Proceed" by K.J. Kabza (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Girl Who Escaped From Hell" by Rahul Kanakia (Nightmare)
"Rooting" by Isha Karki (Mithila Review)
"Ndakusuwa" by Blaize M. Kaye (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
"Breathe" by Cassandra Khaw (Clarkesworld)
"Some Breakable Things" by Cassandra Khaw (The Dark)
"Everything that Isn’t Winter" by Margaret Killjoy (Tor)
"Fragile Insides" by Jason Kimble (Orthogonal: Code)
"All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray" by Gwendolyn Kiste (Shimmer)
"Whaling With Clowns" by Chris Kuriata (Unlikely Story)
"Postcards from Natalie" by Carrie Laben (The Dark)
"Superior" by Jessica Lack (The Book Smugglers)
"Espie" by Richard Larson (Terraform)
"The Book of How to Live" by R.B. Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Bereyyar" by R.B. Lemberg (Uncanny)
"Black, Their Regalia" by Darcie Little Badger (Fantasy)
"Her Sacred Spirit Soars" by S. Qiouyi Lu (Strange Horizons)
"The Drowning Line" by Haralambi Markov (Uncanny)
"Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands" by Seanan McGuire (Uncanny)
"Now Watch as Belinda Unmakes the World" by Lynette Mejía (Flash Fiction Online)
"Angel, Monster, Man" by Sam J. Miller (Nightmare)
"Things with Beards" by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
"Plantation | Springtime" by Lia Swope Mitchell (Terraform)
"Plea" by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Lightspeed)
"Talking with Honored Guests" by Alexander Monteagudo (Fantasy Scroll)
"How High Can Your Gods Count" by Tegan Moore (Strange Horizons)
"Old Customs" by Rajiv Moté (Unlikely Story)
"You, an Accidental Astronaut" by Sonja Natasha (Mothership Zeta)
"u wont remember dying" by Russell Nichols (Terraform)
"The Company" by Sanya Noel (Omenana)
"Creation" by Sara Norja (Flash Fiction Online)
"Omoshango" by Dayo Ntwari (Lightspeed)
"Godfall" by Sandra M. Odell (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Afrofuturist 419" Nnedi Okorafor (Clarkesworld)
"Screamers" by Tochi Onyebuchi (Omenana)
"The Mourning Hour" by Anya Ow (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Three Points Masculine" by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed)
"Unauthorized Access" by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed)
"The Four Gardens of Fate" by Betsy Phillips (Apex)
"The Sweetest Skill" by Tony Pi (Beneath Ceaseless Skies
"Painted Grassy Mire" by Nicasio Andres Reed (Shimmer)
"Kid Dark Against the Machine" by Tansy Rayner Roberts (The Book Smugglers)
"Fylgia in the City" by Ian Rose (Plasma Frequency)
"The Sky, Falling" by Anton Rose (Terraform)
"A World Alone" by Lauren Rudin (GigaNotoSaurus)
"The Gentleman of Chaos" by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor (Apex)
"The Cedar Grid" by Sara Saab (Clarkesworld)
"A Menagerie of Grief" by Kelly Sandoval (Flash Fiction Online)
"None of This Ever Happened" by Gabriela Santiago (Nightmare)
"The Sound a Raven Makes" by Mathew Scaletta (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Chimera" by Gu Shi, translated by S. Qiouyi Lu and Ken Liu (Clarkesworld)
"What Pada-Sara Means to the Elephant" by Jeremy Sim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"The Jeweled Nawab Jungle Retreat" by Priya Sridhar (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"That Which Stands Tends Toward Free Fall" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Clarkesworld)
"Standing on the Floodbanks" by Bogi Takács (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Toward the Luminous Towers" by Bogi Takács (Clarkesworld)
"Songbird" by Shveta Thakrar (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Singing Soldier" by Natalia Theodoridou (Shimmer)
"Terminal" by Lavie Tidhar (Tor)
"America, America" by Okafor Emmanuel Tochukwu (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Portal" by Debbie Urbanski (The Sun Magazine)
"Polyglossia" by Tamara Vardomskaya (GigaNotoSaurus)
"The Tomato Thief" by Ursula Vernon (Apex)
"War Profiteering" by M. Darusha Wehm (Mothership Zeta)
"A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers" by Alyssa Wong (Tor)
"Rabbit Heart" by Alyssa Wong (Fireside Fiction)
"Secondhand Bodies" by JY Yang (Lightspeed)
"An Ocean the Color of Bruises" by Isabel Yap (Uncanny)
"Hurricane Heels" by Isabel Yap (Book Smugglers)
"Love Out of Season" by Caroline M. Yoachim (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
"Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station" by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)


Friday, January 13, 2017

The Monthly Round is Up!

Hey all, get ye to a nerdery and check out my December picks for The Monthly Round. Speculative short fiction reviews paired with booze and up RIGHT NOW at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together.

For those who just want the picks, I've included them below. But seriously, you know you want to know what booze to drink while reading these amazing stories...

Tasting Flight - December 2016
"The Venus Effect" by Violet Allen (Lightspeed)
"Hurricane Heels" by Isabel Yap (Book Smugglers)
"Black, Their Regalia" by Darcie Little Badger (Fantasy)
"Das Steingeschöp" by G. V. Anderson (Strange Horizons)
"The Jeweled Nawab Jungle Retreat" by Priya Sridhar (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"A World Alone" by Lauren Rudin (GigaNotoSaurus)

Shots (flash fiction):
"Spirit Tasting List for Ridley House, April 2016" by Alex (Rachael) Acks (Shimmer)
"Can't Beat 'Em" by Nalo Hopkinson (Uncanny)
"A Menagerie of Grief" by Kelly Sandoval (Flash Fiction Online)


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #35 (January Stuff)

The January offereings from Shimmer Magazine do a nice job of standing in the nebulous spaces. The half known and the half dark and the half hurt and half healing. These are the places where monsters and magic live, even when it turns out that what seemed like monsters are anything but and what seemed like magic might only have been a fierce desire for something different. And both stories center families. Mothers and fathers and children, all hurt and hurting each other, all seeking some measure of forgiveness and unable to quite reach through the miasma of difference to find it. These are stories of quiet tragedies and loud changes, and it's a lovely way to start a new year of stories. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Sandro Castelli

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quick Sips - Claresworld #124

I rather like issues of publications that can manage to build some thematic synergy, and January's Clarkesworld does just that, presenting five stories that fit quite well together. Three of them, indeed, play with many of the same ideas. Human nature, loss, and artificial intelligence. These stories examine the ways that people live, the way that they hurt each other. Even one of the stories that doesn't feature AI looks at the systems that humans build to hurt each other, and imagine ways of possibly breaking free of the cycle of pain and abuse. These stories are difficult and complex and don't always give the most definitive of answers, don't necessarily succeed in imagining systems free of violence and pain. But then, they seem to do so pointedly. And of course, there is one story that is just fun, that gives a much needed break from the heavier ideas and themes and revels in something charming, witty, and light. All in all it makes for a fine issue that I will review presently! 

Art by Gabriel Björk Stiernström

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Quick Sip - GigaNotoSaurus January 2017

It's 2017 and today I'm kicking off my second year of reading GigaNotoSaurus. I must say that since starting in January of last year this publication has definitely shined for me as a source of some consistently awesome slightly longer SFF. And this month's offering is no exception, building an intricate and intriguing world and populating it with compelling characters and capricious gods. This fantasy builds an interesting and layered magic system and tells the story of resistance, power, and love. It's a great way to kick off a new year of stories and I'm going to jump right in to my review!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Quick Sips - Fiyah #1

Ever since I heard about this project last year I've been looking forward to the first issue of Fiyah. Guess what? It more than delivers on its promise of excellent SFF stories. The issue is tightly packed with six pieces that work together marvelously, that start out on Earth and then slowly pull away farther and farther, mixing science and magic, alien worlds and our own past. These are stories that examine and challenge the idea of difference among sentient beings, that refuses to allow the "science" of intolerance and hatred to decide who should be considered a person and who should not. And the stories feature characters fighting for better worlds and better lives, fighting because to not fight is to die, to extinguish, and to be erased. It's an excellent issue and you should all rush out and buy it. In the mean time, let's get to the reviews! 

Art by Geneva B.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2016! The "I'm Sleeping with the Lights On" Sippy for Excellent Horror in Short SFF

Welcome back to the Second Annual Sippy Awards! Last week my heart melted as I went through my favorite SFF relationships. This week…things het a bit more creepy.

Those who know me know that I am a scaredy-cat. Horror movies? Yeahmaybenotthanks. But I will admit that I am still drawn to being scared. To being frightened. It's something that gets the heart racing and the blood pumping. And, in SFF, things aren't even as simple as a serial killer on the loose. From cosmic horror to body horror to monsters to…cooking? SFF horror definitely knows how to keep things interesting and innovative. And today I want to honor those stories that make me want to hide under the covers and wish for sunlight to save me from the dark. Which means, of course, that's time for…

The "I'm Sleeping with the Lights On" Sippy
for Excellent Horror in Short SFF

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Quick Thoughts - (Posi/Nega)tivity in SFF Short Fiction Reviewing

Hello, Dear Readers. Do you have your torches and pitchforks ready? Good, because there's something we need to kill with fire. It is the idea that SFF reviewing (and especially SFF short fiction reviewing) is overwhelmingly positive. Or even, really, mostly positive.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online January 2017

The first issue of Flash Fiction Online's 2017 kicks things off with...well, not a bang exactly. These are not, by and large, stories about action or explosions. These are stories about quiet revolutions. Against reality. Against injustice. Oh, and one of them is by me, so while I encourage anyone to go read it, I won't be looking at "A Lumberjack's Guide to Dryad Spotting." The two other stories, though are both about people getting over death. About either breaking down systems or breaking down themselves. There's the feel of loss and grasping for something to make sense of that loss, though the characters of these stories take very different approaches. It's an interesting issue, though, and I'm all set to review it!
Art by Dario Bijelac

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Quick Sips - Nightmare #52

The first 2017 issue of Nightmare Magazine explores the border between the human and the monstrous. In these two tales of fantasy horror, we find monsters who seem nearly human and humans who might just be a little bit monster. These are story that delve deep into the dark corners of the mind but never quite lose their spark, stories that understand cycles of tragedy but also hold out some spark to keep going all the same. These are stories about fear. The fear of being alone, or of letting down those you care about. The fear of the unknown, and the slow creep of mortality. They're some interesting pieces of SFF horror, and I'm ready to review!

Art by annamei / Adobe Stock

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #80

Lightspeed kicks off the year with a collection of stories that certain lean toward the dark. These are stories that brush against some large issues and human tendencies, and chief among everything the desire to love and be loved and how that desire can be twisted. How it can be used as a weapon and as a salvation. How it can transform us into better people or into monsters. These are stories that all recognize the human desire for love, for companionship and family, and show how difficult it can be to make connections in situations that seem hopeless, surrounded by people who seem hostile. The stories vary greatly in tone, from fairly horrifying to full of an aching longing, and each are interesting in their own ways. Which means, of course, that it's time to review! 
Art by Galen Dara

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Quick Sips - The Dark #20

2017 has officially begun and my first review of new content in the new year is of The Dark Magazine, which continues to put out a pair of original stories alongside a pair of reprints. FYI they also have planned to restart podcasts and have a Patreon now, so anyone interested in some excellent speculative horror and dark fantasy, definitely check that out. Anyway, the years starts off a bit slow in this issue, with two pieces that explore the space between childhood and adolescence, between adolescence and adulthood. Between generations and between genders and between spaces. These are stories not anchored by action but by the slow turn of emotions and time, pressures and expectations. It's a lovely, almost nostalgic way to kick off the new year, and I'm ready to get to reviewing!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Quick Sips - Tor dot com December 2016

The offerings from Tor dot com this December all hover around the long short story/short novelette line in terms of length, and start in the distant fantastical past before drawing closer and closer to the fantastical present. Things kick off in ancient China with a judge and a unicorn (well, a kind of unicorn) and a personal crisis, then move to the Manifest Destiny of American colonialism, then finally end in a New York much like our own…but with some superpowers involved. These are story that are at turns fun and fast and brooding and dark. There's a lot to see and feel, though, and as the stories draw nearer to the present they seem to me to grow a bit more hopeful about the new year approaching. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Ashley Mackenzie

Sunday, January 1, 2017

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2016! The "I'd Ship That" Sippy for Excellent Relationships in Short SFF

Welcome to 2017! Quick Sip Reviews is officially two years old! And what better way to celebrate than by kicking off the SECOND ANNUAL SIPPY AWARDS!!!

For those who might be new to QSR or missed last year's awards, the Sippys exist primarily because I wanted to give some special love to my favorite SFF. Wait, though, don't I already do that? YES I DO! But where The Monthly Round is my monthly recommendation column, I really wanted to do something annually. And wait, don't I sort-of already to that, too? YES I DO! But not here, on Quick Sip Reviews, and so I wanted to make something EXTRA SPECIAL. Enter THE SIPPY AWARDS, the SFF awards that no one asked for or really cares about!

These aren't just my favorite stories of 2016, though. The Sippys have categories, five in all, celebrating different aspects of SFF. From stories that made me afraid to go to sleep or left me a ball of tears and feelings huddled in the corner, I want to look at the different ways that SFF can be effective. And my categories might seem a little…odd, but that's just part of the fun. Each category has five picks, four Sippy Award winners and one Big Sip Award winner. So yes, without further ramblings on my part, let's kick things off with…

The "I'd Ship That" Sippy 
for Excellent Relationships in Short SFF