Friday, November 30, 2018

Quick Sips - Tor dot com November 2018

Art by Rovina Cai
Well it turns out it's a rather light month from Tor's short fiction, with only a single novelette on offer for November. Luckily for readers, it's a very good one, exploring a magical linguistic academia with shitty advisers, entrenched sexism, and a whole lot of bullshit put up to hamper innovative research in favor of traditional lines of inquiry. The main characters are queer and bring to their studies an entirely new way of approaching the work, in part because it's work that's never cared about including people like them in an official sense. And it shows them hitting the limits of what's expected of them and then blowing past those barriers. So yeah, to the review!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #61

Art by Satu Kettunen
November’s Fireside Magazine focuses on relationships. Mostly romantic, where people are learning to navigate this shared space with their partners. Where each of them bring to the mix something wonderful and alive and warm, but also some damage. Something that makes it tricky sometimes to know what to do or say. The stories follow the ways that these people can hurt each other, and how they can set each other free. They are at turns beautiful and tragic and excellent, and I should get to reviewing them!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 11/19/2018 & 11/26/2018

Art by Cindy Fan
No surprises this month from Strange Horizons, as November closes out with one more original story and two poems. And the story is full of teeth and the feel of fairy tales twisted into something new and exciting. The poetry uses a light touch in order to build up moments of devastation and change. Of effort and solidarity and resilience. And all together it’s a literary but also thrilling glimpse of short SFF through some very interesting uses of form and structure, voice and character. Some are a bit more ambiguous, some are a bit more solid, but it’s all really interesting, and very much worth checking out!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #265

Art by Veli Nyström
Families anchor both stories in this latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. And specifically, fathers and sons. In both, fathers are faced with the prospects of being separated from their children. In one, that separation comes in the form of an abduction, and in the other it’s more from a break between the father and mother. But in both it pushes the father to try somewhat desperate things in the hopes of reconnecting. In the hopes of not completely losing their children. In both, though, they also rely on violence to get what they want, falling back on the things that might have strained their relationships in the past. These are some complex and wonderfully-imagine stories dealing with parenting and hope, loss and healing. And I’ll get to the reviews!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Quick Sips - Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Q38

Art by Toe Keen
Four stories and three poems anchor a new issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly that seems to linger on feeling trapped. Because most of the pieces build up a situation where the characters are either physically confined or philosophically confined. Either they find themselves on a raft at see, or in a vault deep in a keep, and they must try to find their way out of a situation with ever-narrowing options, or else they are in a situation where change seems impossible, where disaster and war seem inevitable. The stories and poems all show people fighting back against the gravity of corruption and violence and greed and finding that often times there is no winning there. That the best they can hope for is to delay the final crushing blow. But fighting against that weight isn’t useless. Isn’t pointless. Sometimes, it’s all a person has. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Quick Sips - Glittership Spring 2018

There’s a new issue of Glittership out!!! Cue the queer dance party! The issue is dated spring on the cover but the pieces inside are definitely more appropriate for autumn. At least, there is a strong theme of death and hurt that grounds the stories and poems in rather dark territory. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope, but rather that the works recognize the dangers waiting for those who are different, who are queer. The violence lurking, ready to pounce. The promise and power of community when isolation often means abuse and exploitation. For all that, there are moments of tenderness, defiance, and freedom to be found here as well, though not easily won or without scars. To the reviews!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

X Marks the Story - November 2018

My penultimate X Marks the Story is now up at The Book Smugglers! I actually have something of a theme this time, of broken worlds and people helping people to heal and to fight back. The whole column gets into the stories in depth, but for those just looking for the links, they are below. Cheers!

“The Fortunate Death of Jonathan Sandelson” by Margaret Killjoy (Published at Strange Horizons, October 2018)
Between the Firmaments” by JY Yang (published at The Book Smugglers, October 2018)
“Talk to Your Children about Two-Tongued Jeremy” by Theodore McCombs (published in Lightspeed #102, November 2018)
“What the South Wind Whispers” by H. Pueyo (Published in Clarkesworld #146, November 2018)
“How to Swallow the Moon” by Isabel Yap (Published in Uncanny #25, November 2018)
“Toward a New Lexicon of Augury” by Sabrina Vouroulias (Published in Apex Magazine #114, November 2018)


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Quick Sips - Shimmer #46 [part 1/2]

Art by Sandro Castelli
Weep, friends, for the final issue of Shimmer Magazine has landed. But also rejoice, because it’s full of awesome. And I should say that online releases for the publication will continue through April 2019! But that in the interest of reading the stories in the year they are technically coming out in, I’m going to cover the issue spread over just November and December. Which means that I’m looking at six stories today, many of which look at family, consent, and magic. These are pieces that look at darkness and follow characters coming up against the pains and injustices of the world. The things that you don’t get to control. Aging. Family. History. But just because you don’t get to choose these things doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about them. And the stories follow characters pushing against the gravity of their own erasure and pain. Reaching for a place where they can be free and empowered. So let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Quick Sips - Nightmare #74

Art by Christina M. / Fotolia
Nightmare Magazine throws a bit of a curveball this month with not a pair of stories but a single longer work. And wow, it’s a creepy one, unfolding like a boulder rolling downhill, set to crush all unwary enough to be caught in its path. The story combines cosmic-level horror with much more visceral and grotesque beauty and brutality. It’s a story that looks at possession, and in some ways at addiction, that circles an abyss like water circling a drain, moving incrementally closer and closer until the inevitable plunge. So let’s get to the review!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Quick Sips - Apex #114

Art by Godwin Akpan
November at Apex Magazine brings three stories (two shorts and one novelette) that look very closely at memory. That feature characters who have to face events in their pasts…or try to obliterate them. For some, this is an incredibly traumatic event. It ends in death and murder. Or revolution. For others, it’s a chance to walk back from an edge. From an abyss. From despair and loss. For all of them, though, memory is something that is confronting them with something. With the weight of their own existence or the depth of their love. And these are stories that find different ways for the characters to face their memories and move forward into a world drastically changed by that confrontation. To the reviews!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Charles Payseur 2018 Awards Eligibility Post

Hi all! This has been...a year. Not a super great one in terms of number of stories published. But have definitely been some bright spots and in case people want to consider me for various awards/etc., or just want to catch up on some reading, I figured I would post some things.

Short Story

"Humans Die, Stars Fade" (published at Escape Pod)

The full text and audio are up on this story about stars and trauma and learning to heal and trust again. It's a story with a fragile kind of hope to it, but ultimately I want to say that it is a strongly optimistic piece about science, the future, and love.

I have others, but most of those are...decidedly smutty and so I'm not going to list them because those really don't have a snowball's chance wrt SFF awards. If you want to find those, though, all of my works can be found in the My Work!!! tab at the top of the page.

Fan Writer

I got a finalist nod for last year's Hugo Awards and it was such an honor! This year I have been back to it, and have reviewed 684 stories and 137 poems (for a total of 821 reviews) here at Quick Sip Reviews. I've also done...

The Sippy Awards: My yearly SFF awards covering five categories. Basically what I read and loved the most for short SFF.

X Marks the Story (at The Book Smugglers): 12 posts in all (2 forthcoming) covering a ton of stories from all around the genre.

Some Queer Short SFF (at my Patreon): every month I round up a bunch of links to some queer short SFF.

Liver Beware! (at my Patreon and on QSR): I also drunkenly look at the Goosebumps series in these hopefully fun but also drunkenly philosophical posts.

There's more, too, from my review of Sam J. Miller's Blackfish City to a few posts about reviewing, and even some Quick Questions interviews. Plus this recent post on WisCon. I also got a chance to Shout About Queer SFF.

Things I haven't really been able to do is a lot of longer form essays or analysis this year, which is too bad because those are things I like to do as well (and things that seem to go down a bit better wrt what tends to get recommended for fan writing). Mostly what I do is a lot of reviews. Mostly of short SFF. Because, for my money, short SFF is where so much amazing and innovative work is being done. It's what I love and what I spend most of my time trying to celebrate and complicate. So yeah, I would definitely appreciate any considerations for fan writer.

[note: I will try to have my own recommended reading list up soon, and will update it for the end of the year to make sure I cover everything. Thanks.]


Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 11/05/2018, 11/12/2018, & more

Good news, everyone—Strange Horizons funded for 2019! The fund drive had been running for a while, complete with bonus fiction and poetry, so it’s a bit of a larger release than usual today, with three stories and five poems to look at. And there’s a lot of damage on display in these works. A lot of characters trapped by circumstance in situations where there really doesn’t seem like a good way out. Where their pain seems inevitable and unavoidable. And, often, pain is unavoidable. But the shape of that pain is often something that can be effected, and here we see how these characters seek to choose the pain they have to experience. And it’s just a wonderful collection of short SFF, really showing what Strange Horizons does as a publication, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quick Sips - Uncanny #25 [November stuff]

Art by John Picacio

After a few special issues, it’s a relatively small month from Uncanny Magazine. That doesn’t mean, though, that there isn’t A Lot to enjoy. Anchoring things is a novelette that blends magic and song, sword and myth. And really both of the stories this month deal with stories, with narratives, and how they can be twisted. How specifically women can alter the narrative structures that keep them prisoner and use them to cut their way free of the conventions and expectations that would keep them caged. That, plus two very short but densely powerful poems, and it’s one heck of an issue. So let’s get to the reviews!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #264

Art by Veli Nyström
For me, this latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies is all about stories. About the stories that people tell about other people. About women in particular. The whispers and the myths that seem to crop up wherever there are women trying to live and thrive on their own. In the mountains or in the bakery, wherever it happens that they make their homes. And how these stories push them into keeping secrets. From the outside world, yes, but also from themselves. And how they struggle but ultimately come to terms with those secrets, and try to live honestly, at least to themselves, and in these cases how they mostly succeed to do that. These are some very dark stories, but they also give way to hope and maybe healing as well. So let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #146

Art by Helen Ilnytska
A single novelette and four short stories make for a nicely balanced month at Clarkesworld, where the theme as I can find it is ghosts and hauntings. In very different ways, the characters of these stories are being haunted. By guilt and by the past. By their mistakes and by the memories they leave behind. These are stories of people being confronted with the ways their paths differ from how they hoped. Disaster looms. And yet most of them are able to snatch back from the edge of the abyss something to help them move forward and not fall in. It’s an interesting bunch of stories, so let’s get to the reviews!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus November 2018

The latest release from GigaNotoSaurus is a longer novelette about the end of the world. Or rather about what the world becomes when so much that we depend on is lost. The internet gone. The infrastructure shattered. Where people are left having to figure out how to survive, and what that means. Having to decide what laws are still important, and which they can no longer afford. It’s a gripping read that sees this post-disaster scenario in all it’s shades of gray, so let’s get to the review!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online November 2018

Art by Dario Bijelac

The original fiction at Flash Fiction Online comes single word titles this month. Which okay, isn’t a super strong connective tissue, but it does set up three stories that for me are all about social contracts. In each story, characters run against the ways that people make unspoken arrangements, which in turn lead to unspoken transgressions that in turn lead to very much spoken tragedies. It’s a rather resonating theme that in each, the ways people break the rules that are supposed to govern how people treat each other. So yeah, to the reviews!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Quick Sips - The Dark #42

Art by Laura Sava

The stories in the November issue of The Dark look at distance. The distance between people and their societies. Between people and their families. For some, the distance is the result of strife, and difference. For some it’s the result of violations that leave scars that cannot be wholly healed. And for some it’s the result of a refusal to really struggle with and face the beasts of their unconscious. The beasts of hate and anger and violence and guilt. And that in trying to deny and avoid that confrontation, tragedy ensues. So yeah, to the reviews!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #102

Art by Galen Dara
It’s an issue of return in this November issue of Lightspeed Magazine. Two short stories and two novelettes make the issue a bit heavy, and for me a big theme running through the pieces is the idea of cycles and returns. Returns to childhood dreams, to classic books, and to familiar settings. There’s a look at childhood and how children are often confronted by some very upsetting things that they can’t quite handle, that they certainly shouldn’t have to deal with. And it’s a rather dark issue, centering death and abuse and trauma and a shift of the familiar for the strange, for the new and dangerous. Even so, there’s a beauty and a light that shines through a lot of these stories, where children can find their way through the darkness to someplace safer and free. Where even if there is loss, that loss can be honored, and remembered. And yeah, let’s just get to the reviews!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Quick Sips - Tor dot com October 2018

Art by Mary Haasdyk
It was a fairly light month from Tor dot com, with only two stories (one short story, one novelette), and one of those coming from the shared Wild Cards setting. For that, there's an interesting focus on ethics and morality. The pressure to act, and the ways that moral action can be muddied by a number of factors. At their cores, though, the stories are about conversations, and about understanding. About overcoming prejudice in order to see that someone's seemingly strange or wrong view of a situation actually makes a lot of sense, and give them a valuable (if often inconvenient) perspective on what's going on. So yeah, to the reviews!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #60

Five Tuesdays in October means five new stories from Fireside Magazine, featuring interesting twists in form and expectations. From battles entirely fought inside the minds of special warriors to a man deeply effected by loss, from a paper on self-driving cars to a split narrative on charms, the pieces often look at symbol and metaphor becoming literal. That there is a power that comes from approaching a difficult and incorporeal idea by putting it into physical reality. And it's a strange and moving collection of stories this month, leaning dark perhaps to go with the season's spookier connotations. Whatever the case, it's a solid issue that I should get to reviewing!

Art by Saleha Chowdhury

Friday, November 2, 2018

Quick Sips - Terraform October 2018

Thanks to a novel excerpt that I’m not looking at, the October Terraform stories from Motherboard are a little light this month. Three flash fictions, though, deal with some rather heavy themes. Appropriate, given the goal of the publication to put out topical science fiction. Because most of what’s topical right now is the nightmare that world and domestic politics has become. From international war to exploitation and death on a mining colony in space to the much more intimate hurts that family can inflict on each other, these works aren’t exactly a cheery bunch. They reveal characters wanting to find something better, though in very different ways. So let’s get to the reviews! 

*UPDATE: They sneaked in a Halloween novelette on me, so some of the above isn’t accurate.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Quick Sips - The Book Smugglers October 2018

It’s another novella live at The Book Smugglers, this time a political fantasy all about fate and fighting against it as part of their Awakenings themed short fiction. About sins and defilement and cleansing. About how a society can be arranged in order to codify imbalances in power. Where some people are born to rule and others to be crushed under the boulder of history rolling always downhill. It’s a complex and exciting read, full of death and magic and a main character just starting to figure out what she can do, never given much time to think but rather learning to run before she walks. To the review!

Art by Autumn Evelyn