Monday, December 17, 2018

LIVER BEWARE! You're in for a Drunk Review of Goosebumps #13: PIANO LESSONS CAN BE MURDER

Welcome back, dearest readers. I have good news! This book is LOADS BETTER than the previous two. I also have bad news! It’s probably because the main character is a boy. That said, we’re a bit more on track for what I remember Goosebumps to be—ridiculous plots, interesting visuals, and endings that just make no damn sense. Plus, this book dips back into one of my favorite parts of Say Cheese And Die! Namely, evil mad scientist magic! Because just some of that would be too boring. WE MUST HAVE IT ALL! Oh, before I forget—I’m once again drinking Voodoo Ranger from New Belgium (it’s been really cheap here for some reason). But before you start telling me that’s what I always drink, wait! This is the regular IPA Voodoo Ranger. Totally different from the Imperial IPA or Pumpkin Ale I’ve had previously. Because branding! But enough of beer. Let’s get to the Goosebumps!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Quick Sips - Samovar 12/03/2018 & Strange Horizons 12/10/2018

Art by Caroline Dougherty
December brings a new Samovar to the world, as well as a new issue of Strange Horizons. Between them, they feature two short stories, a novelette, and two poems. And the works as a whole are strange ones (perhaps not so surprising, given the name of the publication), featuring ghosts, post-apocalyptic horrors, and a rather shocking take on prophecy. They reveal characters who think they know what they’re about—inventors, judges, inmates—who find that the shape of their worlds, be it a tiny cell or a vast and untamed world, are not what they thought they were. And they have to deal with the changing definitions as best they can. Some find it easy to shift, to edit the rules of their existence. Others find it much more difficult, if not outright impossible. So let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Quick Sips - Uncanny #25 [December stuff]

Art by John Picacio
It’s a month of ghosts, cyborgs, and mages at Uncanny Magazine this December, with three stories and two poems fleshing out a vibrant range of short SFF. The pieces very much represent a wide swath of genre work—one contemporary fantasy, one near-future science fiction, one mix of fantasy and horror and science fiction. The poems look at language and at loss and rebirth. And together there’s an interesting take on family and vulnerability, showing characters trying to find ways of dealing with a new and possibly destructive present while changing their assumptions and focusing on adaptation and perseverance. It’s a great bunch of works, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #147

Art by Pascal Blanché
December brings a whole lot of fiction to Clarkesworld Magazine, with well over forty thousand words spread over three novelettes and two short stories. A lot of the stories focus on corruption and pollution and people trying to find happiness and freedom in situations where great harm has been done both to the planet and to human rights. Where people have become cogs in the machine of human exploitation. It’s not exactly a cheery issue, but some of the stories at least reach through the fog and smog of pain and isolation to show the strength and necessity of human connection to push back against the tide of crushing corruption at work in the world. Let’s get right to the reviews!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #266

Art by Tyler Edlin
As the year nears its end, Beneath Ceaseless Skies takes a moment to step into the dark forest in these two short stories from the penultimate issue of 2018. The pieces follow characters who are compelled to enter the woods, to revisit old feelings and old fears as they face the unavoidable and often unjust rules that draw a wide line between the natural world and the civilized one. Both main characters travel not so much because they want to, because each has their own reasons to want to avoid the shadows of the trees. But they go, because of their devotion to those they care about, because of their ties to their families, and for themselves as well, to prove that they can, and to make a stand. They’re two rather bittersweet stories, full of hope but also an acknowledgment of issues that cannot be easily defeated, shadows that linger among the tall trees of the forest. To the reviews!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus December 2018

GigaNotoSaurus closes out 2018 with a novella, a military science fiction about trauma, growth, and healing. And while it might walk the border of a sort of inappropriate humor and a heartbreaking tragedy, it manages to resolve into something that isn't quite either. That, out of the horrors that the story reveals, something new and delicate and beautiful can grow. And it's by no means an easy read, but it does a lot of really interesting things with naming and with memory and with hope. Plus it has an awesome alien goat slug thing. Let's get to the review!

Also, this month marks a new transition for GigaNotoSaurus, with the arrival of new editor Elora Gatts. Rashida J. Smith has done a stellar job with the publication, and I'm saddened to see her go, but also excited what the future holds for the this awesome venue!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online December 2018

It’s a month of literary original stories at Flash Fiction Online, focusing on family and more specifically on dysfunction and the breaking of familial roles. Because, as the stories show, those roles can become prisons. They can become suffocating with how little seems possible, how little the future offers for them. And yet when people try to push outside they face the specter of violence, of coming up against the expectations and investments of parents who rely on their children at times to give meaning to their own lives. Which is difficult and real and well handled in these stories. So yeah, to the reviews!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Quick Sips - The Dark #43

Art by Anna Mei
Christmas comes a little early with a special all-original issue of The Dark Magazine, featuring four new short stories. The pieces go a bit weirder and meta than I am used to seeing from the publication, but there’s no question that they are indeed dark. From the end of the earth to a storm that twists reality, from death and revenge along the highway to a family with a dark legacy, the works find characters who really never expected to find themselves in the situations they are in. Who couldn’t really prepare for the darkness they walked into. But who are hell bent on not giving in to the gravity of their destruction. Not that they can always do much about it. But there is a resilience I feel in these stories, and will to keep going. So let’s get to the reviews!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #103

Art by Marcel Mercado
December brings a somewhat dark collection of short SFF to Lightspeed Magazine, though in some unexpected ways. Women seek to thrive following the collapse of nations. A scientist goes looking for answers deep beneath the waters and finds some she did not expect (or want). A river goddess desires a man but has some very strange demands for their relationship. And baking with grandma takes on a positively wicked edge. Many of the stories feature women stepping out of their expected roles and navigating a landscape defined by misogyny and violence. Some find ways to flip the script, while others are pulled down under the weight of history and injustice. And it’s a wonderful collection of stories that I’ll get right to reviewing!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Quick Sips - Terraform November 2018

Three short stories anchor Terraform's releases in November, as well as a strange video thing on Cyber Monday that I won't be looking at. The fiction, though, looks at identity and disaster and, ultimately, isolation. In all of the stories, characters fight for their lives, or what of their lives they can have any control over. The worlds revealed are ones of narrowing futures, where technology or climate or a combination have made it so only the ultra rich have the freedom to do as they want. For everyone else, life is navigating the thin spaces left to them, trying (and mostly not succeeding) to save what they can to the creeping loss effecting the globe. To the reviews!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Quick Sips - Lackington's #18: Magics

Art by Carol Wellart
Lackington’s gets magical this issue with six new short stories circling the theme of magic. It’s not exactly wizard duels or hidden schools that populate the worlds the stories reveal, though. Rather, the magic is often much thornier, and more subtle. Concentrated into witches, or gods, or lovers trying to make the world a better place. And in good Lackington’s fashion, the pieces all have a rather heady style to them with an emphasis on language. The stories evoke tragedy and romance, comedy and philosophy. It starts off weird and really only gets weirder from there, flowing seamlessly from one experience to the next. Each one might take a little bit of care and deliberation, but these are some fantastic works to wade into, that come alive with resolve and tenacity and, yes, magic. To the reviews!