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!
"Parts" by Paul Lorello (3422 words)
This is a strange and rather visceral story about parts and about a pair of men living together, though their relationship remains something of a mystery throughout. At the least they are roommates, and they seem like friends but not exactly through any mutual respect or camaraderie. They are linked by a need. For the main character, Miles, the relationship seems to keep him from being alone and to keep him from being consumed by his own thoughts and drives. For Jake, who is obsessed with collecting the body parts of a person called Bobo Schmuley, the relationship gives him a space to explores this obsession and a person who will sometimes participate in it with him. He, too, is vulnerable, though a bit more directly from the relationship than Miles, who is more of the instigator, more of the physically violent. For both of them, the world that they live in is, well, really fucking weird. Which is an area where the story does well, creating this very odd world of parts collectors and detractors, drug addicts and people with daisies grafted to their chins. And through it all there is a sense that something is seriously fucked up with the environment (what with the extreme heat) and no one is exactly dealing with things well.
I like how the story frames this relationship between Miles and Jake. It's about as fucked up as the setting, neither of them entirely a fan of the other and yet both locked into these patterns. And for Miles, who can't find it in himself to empathize with Jake any longer, who refuses to try to see why he is so compelled to collect, the story is a tragic one. Of loss and a failure to connect. A failure to see past the comfort of having no issues about parts in order to try and understand what's going on. He's abusive and violent and increasingly lost in a haze that he prefers to reality. There is no hope left in him, really, and the story plays with that, twists that around on itself like the strangest of pretzels and then presents it with all the ugliness and hurt still there for all to see. It's an uncomfortable read, and not one I'm entirely confident I've figured out for myself yet, but it's definitely worth spending some time with. A fine read!
"The Subtler Art" by Cat Rambo (1954 words)
This is a charming story set in the same world as at least one other tale I've read before. It's nice to see Cathay back to some antics, at the very least. Though she haunts the story mostly in the background, this story is in manys ways her story. It's just that the two main characters, The Dark and Tericatus, don't quite know it. Like the other story from this setting I've read, this story takes the form of a wager. The Dark and Tericatus, old lovers, come to a bit of a disagreement when it comes to what's the more subtle art, assassination or magic. And the story follows them as they demonstrate just why they think that their craft is the more subtle. And it's an adorable story, watching these characters move through a setting both strange and exceedingly well built. The world here has a lived-in feel to it, an age that comes in part from the characters and their lively and long histories and part because the city the story unfolds in feels full of conflict and change, memories and lost ages. And, of course, lots of fun. The characters shine as much as the setting, each one interesting and distinct, each one older and stubborn and powerful, but still…respectful in a way that made them rather endearing. These are characters who have seen a lot and who still manage to avoid being jaded or melancholy. They remain active and alive and nearly itching to get into a bit of mischief. It's a bit of a caper, a bit of a blunder, and definitely good for a laugh. A great story!