Sunday, February 25, 2018

Checking in with Short SFF Reviewing - early 2018 edition

I wrote a version of this post late in 2017, when I was not in a great headspace to do it. My own journey into and through short SFF reviewing is...complicated and full of some rather intense feelings, so please excuse me (and also you’re welcome) for not posting that and instead probably having a drink and venting to my partner instead (maybe petting a cat?). I have weird feelings writing something like this, because I dislike reducing things, and I know that no matter how complete I try to be, I’ll miss a lot of people doing amazing work and if those people see this post, it might hurt. I know from experience (a certain post still haunts me because of how it struck me and continues to strike me) that it’s an awful feeling. But I do want to take a moment to check in with short SFF reviewing, because I love it and because I think it’s important, and because I want to cheer a bit at some of the things I’ve been noticing.

Mainly, I want to take a moment to collect here a taste of what’s out there, to list some of the amazing projects where people are reviewing short SFF. Some of these things are very new, but for me it paints a much fuller and more vibrant picture of what’s going on in the reviewing field. So first, a list (fyi, all of these people qualify as Fan Writers if you’re looking for people to maybe nominate for Hugos. I've also included links where I could find them on where you can support these people and their work):

A.C. Wise does amazing work with Words for Thought at Apex Magazine (as well as Women to Read at The Book Smugglers and even more work at her blog). Her reviews are deep, considered, and substantial, and she is a champion of short SFF and short SFF reviewing. (ko-fi)

Brandon O’Brien has begun The Jewelry Box at Strange Horizons, which looks at short fiction and poetry (something I am so excited to see). It’s very new but already has me hooked, and I can’t wait for more. (Patreon, ko-fi)

Bogi Tak√°cs is a phenomenal reviewer of long and short SFF, and works prolifically both on eir blog, Bogi Read the World, and on Twitter with #diversestories and #diversepoems (again, I love to see poetry reviews). (Patreon, ko-fi)

Maria Haskins has a monthly recommendation/review column called Salute Your Shorts at Barnes & Nobles SFF site, spinning out of her tireless work on her blog, and it casts a wide net, capturing the essence of a lot of excellent short SFF. (ko-fi)

Vanessa Fogg’s It’s a Jumble blog has been running for a while now, and I always love to see her insights into stories.

Ada Hoffmann runs Autistic Book Party, which looks at SFF works of all lengths, including a lot of short SFF. The reviews look at representation of autism as well as larger themes within works and are in depth and are just all around invaluable. (Patreon)

SFF Reviews is a relatively recent venture from Dr. Sara L. Uckelman and Sarah Grace Liu, among others, and brings a whole team of reviewers together to look at an impressive number of short SFF venues and stories. They’re releasing daily content now, and are very much worth checking out.

Natalie Luhrs’ In Short brings a sharp and critical eye to look at a number of short SFF stories. It’s also always worth it to check out the larger blog, Pretty Terrible, and the links roundups and other coverage of SFF as a field. (ko-fi)

Short & Sweet is a excellent column from forestofglory (who also does recommendations on her blog) at Lady Business, and covers a great range of stories, often focusing on positive SFF stories. (ko-fi)

There’s also Short Business at Lady Business as well, which is run by bookgazing and which provides a great range of reviews.

Jason Sanford has started #JasonReadsShortStories on Twitter and it is a great source for a lot of reviews/recommendations, set around the goal of reading/reviewing a short a day. These are also being collected at his blog in monthly posts. (Patreon)

Inspired in part by the above, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor is collecting A Few Favorite Fictions at their blog, Robots With Keyboards. Lots of awesome thoughts. (Patreon, ko-fi)

My own work both here at Quick Sip Reviews and at The Book Smugglers with X Marks the Story is a lot of my own contribution to the field. (Patreon, ko-fi)

And there are many, many more talented reviewers and recommenders out there that I am missing but this might be a good place to start. I am aware that many amazing reviewers aren’t as active or have lost their venues, too (K. Tempest Bradford at io9, Gillian Daniels at Fantastic Stories, and Haralambi Markov’s Innumerable Voices at Tor are a few that spring to mind). Which is partly why I am so happy to see more paying venues for short SFF reviews, and more short SFF reviewers able to try and fund themselves through Patreon, ko-fi, and more. Because reviewing/recommending does take a lot of time and energy and skill and it’s sort of important to eat and have a place to live.

And, of course, there are still venues around like Tangent and Rocket Stack Rank that I don’t often mention or like to highlight because of my own deep ideological differences and grievances with both places.

I could go on and on about short SFF reviewing and my particular approach to it. I’m not going to right now. It’s messy, and it leads me to the occasional Twitter rant, but for now I want to just leave this list here and say that I’m humbled to be able to read so many excellent thoughts by such a diverse and wonderful group of reviewers. I think the field can be even larger, and I’m so excited to see the ways that it might grow further in the coming months and years. If you ever want to start your own reviews, I welcome you and hey, I even have a post about that. If you just want to check out what’s being written about current short SFF around the internet, that’s fine too. Thanks for checking in.



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