Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #158

Art by Tomas Kral
November brings two short stories and three novelettes to Clarkesworld Magazine, most of them science fictional though some with fantasy elements thrown in there as well. There’s actually a strong focus on survival in this issue, on humans outliving (or not) some ecological or man-made disasters on Earth and having to decide what to do next. Having to decide whether to hold on and milk survival of every last drop of joy (and despair) or to embrace that humanity might be doomed, and that maybe it’s not the ultimate loss in the universe.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

2019 Awards Eligibility Post

Hi all! It's that time again to start to wrap up the year and get ready for...awards season [*shudder*].

2019 has been and continues to be...a challenge, we'll say. But I've managed to have some work out that I'm incredibly proud of, and I've continued my work here at Quick Sip Reviews as well as through my Patreon. I've tried some new things and expanded my coverage of short fiction to review more venues than ever (not an easy feat, given what I'd been doing already). But let's take it in chunks. For your consideration...

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus November 2019

November brings one of my favorite subjects in SFF to GigaNotoSaurus with a novelette all about magical cooking. And it shines a light on the brutal, often toxic atmosphere that dominate in many high end kitchens, where everything is expected to be conducted perfectly every time. The story finds a woman dealing with the prejudices inside the profession, as well as the added complications of cooking with magical ingredients. She’s determined to reach for her dream of being a chef, though, and so she’s willing to press through a lot that is crushing her spirit at the same time it’s helping her get ahead. So without further delay, let’s get to the review!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online November 2019

November’s Flash Fiction Online brings an interesting perspective on different kinds of magic and ownership. In one, both come down to a ritual, to an encircling. In another, they are tied up with memory and relationship, where items following the dissolution of a relationship go to those with more of a connection to them. And one, the ownership is of narratives, of images, and it has everything to do with the violent magic of colonialism. In all the pieces, characters are trying to reach for something, and all are dealing with corruption and power. Some are fighting against it, though, and some are rushing to embrace it. To the reviews!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Quick Sips - The Dark #54

Art by Romolo Tavani
Halloween is over but the darkness continues year round at The Dark Magazine. November brings a pair of stories that are very much about family...and the forces working to break them apart. They look at war and immigration, racism and despair, magic and peace. The characters revealed are struggling against heavy weights that seem poised to crush them, and their ways of coping are...not always the healthiest. But without other options, it’s what they have, and the stories explore what that means, and the cost it has for the characters and their families. To the reviews!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #114

Art by Christopher D. Park
Three short stories and a novelette round out the November fiction from Lightspeed Magazine. Things kick off with a new story in the Robot Country series, and from there things progress to soul mates and annihilation of worlds, documentaries and punchlines. And a lot of the works have what might be a particular focus on world building, on large stories that unfold even outside the constraints of the stories featured here. Especially with the Phetteplace and Lee stories, these feel more like chapters that will unfold in larger confines, where the stakes are huge but still only a taste of what will be. It's a fascinating collection of fiction, with action probably taking prominence over introspection (by and large, though not without exception) and it's certainly an issue to spend some time with. To the reviews!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Quick Sips - Escape Pod #702 & #704

Escape Pod doubled up in October, with two original releases covering some very interesting future technologies. I almost feel like Jonathan Frakes at the beginning of Beyond Belief. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if memories...could be passed down like grandma's furniture? Or, have you ever looked at a new piece of technology and wondered "am I going to be a machine?" The stories look at the implications of technologies that allow humans added avenues of thought and efficiency. Where people can gain the skills of the dearly departed, but might end up haunted. And where efficiency gives rise to Singularities that have already ravaged the world once, and might again. The pieces carry with them a weight of loneliness and loss, and yet refuse to be bogged down in despair. To the reviews!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Quick Sips - Terraform October 2019

I thought for a minute there that there wouldn't really be much out at Terraform this month, but a few later-month releases mean that there's still some rather sharp SF visions of the future to enjoy. In one, the world is ending and the people looking down the barrel of that possible, even likely extinction have to decide how to meet the end, and how they might leave something that will outlast them. In another, a character enters a novel kind of sleep study and end up realizing that his own biases going in can have very real outcomes coming out, in a nice look at the problems with scientific studies that rely on people to describe their own results. Not exactly the spookiest content, but full of shadows all the same, and well worth checking out. To the reviews!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Quick Sips - Omenana #14 [part 1]

Art by Sunny Efemena
In an unexpected bonus this month, Omenana is back with a brand new issue! And, well, it’s big! So big that I think what would be best for me is to break it up across two review posts. So today I’ll be looking at the first half of the issue, at four short stories that cover science fiction set on distant worlds, horror pieces much more terrestrially based, and some fantasy to round things out. It’s a challenging start to the issue, not flinching away from some very difficult truths, and it challenges readers to face some things that most would not choose to. So pay attention to the content warnings and I’ll get to the reviews!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Quick Sips - Tor dot com October 2019

Art by Mary Haasdyk
October opened strong at Tor, and closed out with two short stories and a quite long novelette that mix science fiction and fantasy in interesting ways. There's a new Wild Cards story that picks up from an earlier one released on the site, so fans will definitely want to check that out, as it's fun and (dare I say) rollicking. The other two stories are a bit more somber, though, dealing with human fragility and resilience. Finding people coping with some huge issues of survival and ethics. Questioning how to make personal decisions and live responsibly when there are larger societal demands, and blurring the line between what's good for the whole and what's good for the individual. These are some dense and careful pieces while still managing to capture some wonder and beauty. So let's get to the reviews!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #72

Art by Amanda Makepeace
Well Fireside Magazine certainly takes its Halloween seriously, because this issues is entirely ghost-centric in order to get you into the spoopy mood. The stories explore what it means to be a ghost, what defines ghost-ness. And obviously, spread over so many stories, the place it arrives at isn't homogeneous. There are a variety of ghosts, as there are a variety of people—ghost who remember their lives and those who don't, ghosts who hunger for the living, and those who want only a break from isolation. Ghosts created by violence, and those created by longing. And it's a wonderful celebration of ghosts carried out over the issue. So let's get to the reviews!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 10/21/2019 & 10/28/2019

Art by Sarah Gonzales
The end of October brings one heart-rending story and two poems very much suited to the season to Strange Horizons. The story is gorgeous and difficult, examining a future that might as well be the past for all that history might move in circles, in cycles where certain groups are always more vulnerable, always more at risk of being stripped of their rights and lives. The poems are actually rather creepy, both of them unfolding from perspectives that gives voice to a bit of darkness. That are waiting for people to initiate a bargain that the people might not even realize they are making. But it’s enough for horror to blossom. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #289

Well I think that Beneath Ceaseless Skies is starting to get in the Halloween mood, as this issues stories do kind of lean toward the spooky side. Full of darkness and difficulty, the stories find characters who are pushed into violent situations. For one of them, it’s an opportunity to repay a debt and maybe break his isolation. For the other, though, the violence is part of a control being exerted over his life, and is very much causing his isolation and pain. But both characters need to work through it in order to try and find what’s on the other side. Community perhaps. Forgiveness? Well, you’ll just have to see. To the reviews!

Monday, October 28, 2019

LIVER BEWARE! You're in for a Drunk Review of Goosebumps #24: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM

Okay, so I admit I always wanted to get into theater, but I guess was never really good enough. Or maybe by the time I would have gotten into it, I was in sports and things instead, and it didn’t seem open to me. Or maybe I avoided it on some unconscious level because it’s not exactly...the...straightest of things. And maybe I just steered clear because I didn’t want to get into that. I’m kinda messed up. But anyway, that is all to say that this book hits me right in the drama geek feels, and I just can’t wait. Y’all, I can’t wait!

Oh, I should say that I’m drinking from the Dogfish Head summer variety pack (which is super cheap right now and full of things like a coconut IPA which is weird but good). So right, drinks are lined up. Let’s get to this book!

LIVER BEWARE! You're in for a Drunk Review of Goosebumps #23: RETURN OF THE MUMMY

So what actually earns a Goosebumps sequel? This book marks the second return visit in the series (the first being Monster Blood), and as with that...uh...shining example, I'm not really sure what merited a return to this particular set of characters. Mummies are classic? Or...uh... Well, what's certain is that this book is a waaaaay better sequel than Monster Blood II. Not that giant hamsters aren't awesome, but that this book at least stays consistent with itself and the world it introduced in the first book. Gabe still gets lost way too easily. Uncle Ben still shouldn't be allowed to supervise children. And Sari is still quick to make Gabe look like an ass.

But first, some booze! I'm actually drinking a strange milkshake IPA, which has lactose in it, I guess? Look, I'm not here so you can judge my drinking decisions (and besides, it's really good). Thusly fortified against the descent into madness that this is sure to be, let's get right to it!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Quick Sips - Mithila Review #11 [part 1]

Art by Edward Hicks (1848)
It’s been a while since the last issue of Mithila Review, but issue 11 is out now! Now, things are a little different, in that the works aren’t being released all at once. Most of the content is live, but there are some more to come, and to cope I’m going to be taking the issue in two parts. In the first half there are three stories and four poems, and there will be again when I finish up my review next month. There’s a lot to experience, from a very very short piece to a full novelette, from a satire featuring zombies to a nightmarish look at a possible future where a border wall is being built. The poetry is great, the fiction dips into some rather dark wells, and the issue as a whole is a solid experience. So glad to see a new issue from this publication. Let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Quick Sips - Translunar Travelers Lounge #1 [part 2: With a Twist]

I’m back looking at the inaugural issue of Translunar Travelers Lounge, this time taking a taste from their With a Twist offerings. The section promises new takes on classic tropes (at least as I read it) and I can definitely say that it delivers. A ghost story with a musical (and romantic) embellishment. A post-disaster story with a badass librarian and a few overdue books. A fairy tale with its own defiant happily ever after. A kaiju story with a human heart. A time travel story with a meta filter. There’s lots of interesting ideas to explore, and I’ll happily do just that with my reviews!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Quick Sips - Augur #2.2 [part 2]

I finish up my look at the latest issue of Augur Magazine today, which includes another story, a graphic story, and two more poems. And because of the kind of weird way I organize things, the story (which appears first) was actually the last piece in the issue, while everything else ran in the order it’s listed. And it’s a rather wonderful collection of work, definitely dark and definitely playing with structure and form in some interesting ways. The story and graphic story also evoke fairy tales and resonate quite well together, and throughout there is just this emphasis I feel is put on twisting out of restrictive expectations and roles, and breaking restrictive narrative forms and tropes. These are careful and not always about an unqualified happily ever after, but still feature people freeing themselves from heavy burdens, if only imperfectly. To the reviews!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #56

Art by Joey Jordan
The two stories that round out the latest issue of Diabolical Plots look at futures both bleak and bright. Or, well, mostly bleak, but with their moments of warmth and hope brought about by an awareness of the power of humanity to inspire each other (and maybe some pandas?). It features characters who in some ways are agents of the status quo. Someone responsible for enforcing a system that exploits originality. Someone responsible for getting pandas to follow through on their supposed biological imperatives. And it finds these characters pushed to examine their own methods and beliefs, to doubt that their way is the only way. It's a mix of styles and voices, but two rather neat stories that I'll get right to reviewing!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Quick Sips - Nightmare #85

Art by Elena Schweitzer / Adobe Stock Image
The stories in October’s Nightmare Magazine a quite different, though both are definitely horrifying in their own way. In one, a woman deals with being the final girl, the one left to the end of the massacres. The one who has survived twice but is now considered cursed, and has to figure out where to go from there. The other story looks a different kind of random horror, though not the kind that stalks or targets its victims specifically. This one lies in wait for a person to pass along and open themselves unknowingly to…something. It’s an interesting one-two punch, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 10/07/2019 & 10/14/2019

It's always nice when I can make a little less work for myself, and having a new story up at Strange Horizons means that I'll only be looking at the other story and two poems from last two issues. I will still hope that maybe people check out my story, "The Sloppy Mathematics of Half-Ghosts," but otherwise the issues focus on magic and revenge, the afterlife and how we tell stories. There is a great edge to the pieces, and especially to the fiction, that twists expectations when it comes to how a person can seek and accomplish vengeance. One that recognizes and actually utilizes the cyclical nature of harm and violence. So buckle up, and let's get to the reviews!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #288

Well the anniversary issue is over and it’s back to business as usual at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which in this case means back to two stories about distance and isolation, memory and transformation. In one, a man looks back on his life and especially his youth, preparing himself for a new kind of adventure. In the other, a boy finds that he can’t remember his life, and that as a ghost he only gets to interact with the living world one day a year. Both are slow and winding stories, serene but ruled by sadness and yearning. Both find characters who are looking to move on, and might finally have found a way to do just that. It’s a somewhat sorrowful issue, and I’ll get right to reviewing it!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Quick Sips - Disabled People Destroy Fantasy! part 2 (Uncanny #30 [October stuff])

Art by Julie Dillon
Disabled People Destroy Fantasy! wraps up with these three short stories and three poems from Uncanny Magazine. Once again it’s a very eclectic mix of stories and styles, from a romantic fairy tale (with a great twist) to a dream-like piece featuring someone continually burying the dead. From a very different kind of portal fantasy to a slew of poems about disease, body image, and safety. There’s a lot to read and experience, and it’s been a phenomenal special issue that you do not want to miss. To the reviews!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online October 2019

Halloween month finds Flash Fiction Online in a rather horrifying mood, with three new stories to delight and terrify. Now, not all of the stories are scary, but 2/3 ain’t bad when it comes to getting into the spirit of the season, with rituals involving the dead (and undead), and an old stuffed animal who just wants some love. The pieces deal with children or teens and their families, and what they have to do in order to help those they care about, or how there are forces trying to lead them astray into ruin and shadow. There’s a lot to see, so make sure the lights are on and prepare yourself for a few quick jaunts into nightmareland. To the reviews!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #157

Art by Beeple
It’s a fairly large October issue from Clarkesworld, with four short stories, one novelette, and one novella. As usual, the stories lean more science fiction than fantasy, and deal with people struggling with loss, with grief, with death, and with the prospect of ruination. The stories find characters who have been through Some Shit, and are dealing with that in various ways. Veterans, star ship captains, drug addicts, the narrators and main characters face situations beyond their experience, where they must look into a new frontier, an alien face, and decide what to do next. Some of the reactions are violent, some tender, and all are worth checking out. To the reviews!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus October 2019

It’s a rather long story at GigaNotoSaurus this month, with a fresh novella for your reading enjoyment. And it’s a bit of a challenging piece, taking on ideas of vocation and fate, community and art. It centers a young woman coming of age in a community with some strange and rather extreme practises. It’s probably best described as fantasy, what with its magical talking stone, but in many ways it’s a story that could be taking place in an isolated community in the here and now, where there is a Way Things Are and an almost cult-like organization. But before I give too much away, let’s get to the review!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Quick Sips - Fiyah Literary Magazine #12 (Chains)

Art by Sophia Zarders
There’s a new issue of Fiyah Literary Magazine out now! Rejoice! The issue featuers three short stories, one novelette, and one poem that all revolve around the theme of chains. Chains that bind. Chains that chafe. In most of the pieces the chains are there to be broken, to be shattered. But that’s perhaps a simplistic way of really looking at it. Because not all the chains are broken. Not all are evil. Not all limitations are corrupt. Some are mutually agreed upon. Some chains are used for support, for anchoring, for something constructive instead of oppressive. But it’s the complex and multifaceted nature of chains that become clear in these works, and it’s a stunning issue very much worth considering. To the reviews!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Quick Sips - The Dark #53

Art by Miranda Adria
October means an issue of spooky stories from The Dark Magazine, which is mostly just business as usual, to be honest. The stories do carry some of the hallmarks of “Halloween season,” though—namely, they feature ghosts and zombies. Just...not the kind that one would expect to show up in a rather commercialized monster tale. Instead, these stories trace the roots back to something still very much dangerous and lurking at the edges of vision, in the space where the laws of man and nature seem to blur and something else asserts itself. To the reviews!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #113

Art by Grandfailure / Fotolia
It’s a rather wrenching bunch of stories at Lightspeed this month, focusing on relationships, from a long term romance on the verge of collapse to one just beginning, from a prince finding her place in the world to a sentient building doing likewise. There are tragedies that run throughout each, death and traumatic injuries, settings full of corruption and stagnation, magic that doesn’t seem to bring justice and justice that loses sight of history. But there’s hope to some of them, as well. That someone out there is the narrative that will fit the characters, and that maybe they’ll be able to defy convention and the pressure of expectation to find what works for them. To the reviews!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Quick Sips Beneath Ceaseless Skies #287 [part 2]

The latest special anniversary issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies continues, and this second part opens my October reviews. The stories take on a rather different feel, with one story a retelling of an epic of religion/mythology through the lens of one of the slightly less traditionally prominent and the other looking at a pair of sisters separated in some rather tragic ways. The stories deal with life and rebirth, with finding meaning and finding the will and determination to push for something that seems impossible. In both, characters deal with the whims of the gods, pushed to sacrifice themselves in order to fight injustices and right wrongs that cannot be defeated otherwise. It's a fascinating way to close out this issue, and I'll get right to the reviews!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/30/2019

Well this is certainly a wonderful way to close out September, with five short stories and three poems of Brazilian SFF in a special issue from Strange Horizons. The works are varied and vibrant, alive with rebellion and beauty and despair and loss and resilience. That find characters struggling against oppressive worlds and situations, trying to find ways to survive and, more than that, to thrive and grow and heal. I will admit that reviewing poetry is always something that I kind of have to grapple with, and especially with work that comes out of situations very different from mine, where I might not know the context intended. But I am all for owning my opinion and I love the feeling of the poems, the call for resistance against corruption and the need to act. It’s a wonderful issue, all told, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Quick Sips - Tor dot com September 2019

Art by Kuri Huang
September brought three new fiction releases from Tor's digital arm, two short stories and a novelette with a bit of a mind-bending feel to them. From the "real world" slipping into fantasy to scientific proofs of life after death to a kind of disease that takes away people's sleep cycles, the works explore things happening that completely change how people live. How people adapt. How people strive for something better, even when they are afraid, and challenged, and tired. To the reviews!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Quick Sips - PodCastle #591

PodCastle released one original story in September (on top of a lot of reprinted work. The new story is a strange one, haunting and slightly surreal, but at its heart (couldn't help it) it's about intimacy and relationships. About two people who find themselves in a difficult place, in a world where so many are hopeless and alone. And through their doubts and fears and hurts they have to find ways to reach out, both to one another and toward a future that seems broken. It's a difficult piece, and before I give it away entirely, I should get to my review!

Quick Sips - Terraform September 2019

It's still been a little slow at Vice's Terraform, but September saw two releases exploring different rather bleak visions of the future. Both pieces are rather philosophical, exploring questions of race and "equality," science and revolution. It features characters struggling against pressures to conform, trying to find ways to resist in a way that will be meaningful not just personally but on a societal level. The pieces explore when it might be better to fight back openly, and when to work subversively. When to concentrate on science, and when to join in the physical and political movements. And without further delay, I'll get to the reviews!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #287 [part 1]

Art by Ferdinand Dumago Ladera
It’s anniversary time again at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, with a special double issue, the first two stories of which I’m looking at today. The works are both novelettes, and both linked by a sort of preoccupation with the soul. They are in some ways rather philosophical pieces, examining morality and grit, will and skill and magic. They find women who have set themselves on a course that they could leave at any moment, but that they are resolved to see through to the (perhaps bitter) end. I’m eager to see how these two fit into the larger issue, too, but I’ll have to wait for next week when I’ll be finishing up my look at the issue!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #71

Art by Mariana Palova
The September Fireside Magazine breaks a bit from the usual mold, in that three of the stories are translations (all from Spanish, I believe). Together, the stories and poetry paint something of a grim picture, revealing hungers and traumas, lies and fears and doubts. The characters are often put in situations where they're trying to figure out how to be themselves, how to walk the line between performance and identity, and never exactly coming away with a clear answer or map. The works are challenging and wrenching but often fun as well, emotionally charged in different ways. So let's get to the reviews!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/16/2019 & 09/23/2019

Art by Qistina Khalidah
September keeps right on rolling at Strange Horizons, and between the latest two issues there is a short story and two poems to look at. The stories evoke darkness and myth, and the places in the world where magic seems able to slip through. The deep woods. The moments of tragedy that break the world a bit. But as much as there is violence and sorrow and grief and loss, there are moments of healing as well, and compassion and empathy, that might be able to knit back together the torn fabric of reality, while maintaining a bit of that magic. To the reviews!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Quick Sips - Augur #2.2 [part 1]

It’s a month of me adding some publications to my regular rotation, and (as voted in by my patrons), that includes Augur Magazine! It’s in its second year of publication and is a Canadian magazine specializing in SFF short fiction and poetry! I personally love venues that do both fiction and poetry so that’s extra awesome! I’m going to be breaking the issue up into two parts, though, in order to not bury myself in work (and to help me fill up some space in my rotation). The first half of the issue is strong and rather dark, filled with intense yearning as well as broken systems that often leave people vulnerable and without support. But there’s hope to these pieces, as well, that these characters can survive regardless, and find ways to help each other, and achieve compassion and community, even if it’s with just one other person. It’s a beautiful collection of works, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #55

Art by Joey Jordan
September brings a slightly larger release from Diabolical Plots, with three original stories covering magical schools, strange competitions, and vending machines of questionable morality. They walk the line between fun and poignant, between charming and wrenching. The pieces look at familial relationships and personal ambition against the desire to be a part of a community. In each, a character must handle being confronted with disappointment, with an unexpected complication. A family crisis, a educational reality, an immigration nightmare. Not all of the complications have simple fixes. But they all push the characters to reexamine their situations and try to find ways forward in a world that doesn't work quite the way they thought it did.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Quick Sips - Translunar Travelers Lounge #1 [part 1: Fizzy Mixers]

I wasn’t actually meaning to pick up any more things to review but I am apparently a glutton for short SFF and couldn’t resist this new project, Translunar Travelers Lounge, that promises some fun short fiction with speculative awesomeness. Today I’m looking at the first section of the magazine, which has conveniently (and topically where this blog is concerned) organized itself as a tasting menu. So these are the Fizzy Mixers, which are meant to be light and great for whetting the appetite. They are also delightful, fun, and funny, brash and wicked and very, very good. So buckle up and loosen up your smilin’ muscles, and let’s get to the reviews!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Quick Sips - Escape Pod #696-697

Escape Pod has two original stories this month, and while they cover some very different ground both thematically and stylistically, they are united by perhaps a certain preoccupation with...death. Both stories approach the idea of death in very different ways, though, one of them looking at the lengths people will go to in order to try and revoke death, to overcome it, to erase the grief of loss and maybe pull something back from the abyss, while the other looks at the utility of death, the culture significance and the power of death as a driving force of human art and expression. The episodes are tightly written and at turns tragic and fun. So without further delay, to the reviews!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Quick Sips - Nightmare #84

Art by Chorazin / Fotolia
The two stories of Nightmare's September issues take on horror tropes old and very, very new. From a found text detailing a strange being hidden in the distant past to a new game craze sweeping a future where immersive gaming is possible, the stories deal with situations where a story takes on a life of its own. Where the whispers in crowded markets and quiet, dusty libraries lead to a monster who looks like a man. Where the corporate greed of game makers to create the most perfect (and profitable) gaming experience waken something hiding at the edge of the collective unconscious. The stories are disturbing and visceral, and pack in some shock to go with the creeping dread. To the reviews!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Quick Conversations: Post-Apocalyptic SFF (with L.D. Lewis, Marianne Kirby, and Nibedita Sen)

Okay, so something a bit different today! I’ve done some interviews in the past for my Quick Questions series, but today I’m starting something new (and exciting!)...Quick Conversations. Which will run a bit longer and will be more of a round-table discussion about a topic of interest in short SFF. Today I’m welcoming three excellent writers to the blog to discuss a subject near and dear to a great many SFF readers’ heart—post-apocalyptic fiction. The idea comes from a super-awesome-looking anthology that is Kickstarting now, Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn't Die from Neon Hemlock (edited by dave ring). Definitely check out the campaign, and perhaps pay special attention to the promise that the project “will be an anthology about queer joy and queer community in the face of disaster.” I mean, yes please! 

The good news is that it’s already funded, too! There are still stretch goals to hit, but the project itself definitely is happening. The project’s editor, dave ring, has this to add:
“I am over the moon that we've met our initial goal.  One way or another, this book will be in your hands next summer.  I'd really like to increase the level of compensation for our writers, as well as include the folks who've agreed to jump in at each of our stretch goals, so please check out our project!  Now that we are funded, submissions will open over at, and will remain so until November 30th."

Anyway, if that hasn’t convinced you, I invite you to sit back, relax, and absorb some amazing insights from some of the project’s contributors.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Quick Sips - Disabled People Destroy Fantasy! part 1 (Uncanny #30 [September stuff])

Art by Julie Dillon
This month kicks off Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Fantasy!, with three poems, two short stories, and a novelette all written by disabled authors. The pieces definitely look at different ways that characters deal with disability, with pain, with limitations, with chronic issues that they can’t just will away. It looks at how the rest of the world treats them, which ends up defining a lot of their existence, what they’re able to do. The works are often a bit grim, and perhaps not surprisingly take on fairy tales and other media that has a history of...not handling disability very well. The fantasy is strong here, and gorgeously rendered, so let’s dispense with further small talk and get right to the reviews!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #286

Art by Noah Bradley
The two stories in the latest Beneath Ceaseless Skies both deal with younger people getting some advice and guidance from powerful magic users. In one, a boy dreams about apprenticing with a Magician who he hopes might get him out of going to war. In the other, a woman seeks out a Witch in order to free her from a different sort of doom. In both, the characters are trying to turn away from death, to avoid the end that has befallen so many others. Only one of the characters gets what they’re after, unfortunately, though both learn some valuable lessons along the way. To the reviews!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #156

Art by Beeple
September brings just five new stories to Clarkesworld Magazine, but given that none of them are under 6800 words, it’s not exactly a light issue. It’s not light in terms of themes, either, with a lean toward works that explore abuse and damage, with people struggling to find meaning and connection in environments and situations that have been built on misconceptions, corruption, and exploitation. The result is the issue has its share of grim moments, but I feel out of that springs a lot of hope, with characters finding ways to trust and believe in themselves and others, working for a future that can be better for everyone. Or, at least, for the people who are trying to make things better for everyone. And there’s a lot to cover, so I’ll get right to the reviews!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Quick Sips - Samovar 09/02/2019 & Strange Horizons 09/09/2019

September kicks off with a bang with a new issue of Samovar to enjoy before settling back into regular Strange Horizons content. The translated issue features two stories and a poem, while the "regular" issue has another short story and poem, so all told it's a rather full two weeks. It's also a rather difficult few pieces, dealing with colonization, identity loss, and some dense literary comparative theory. And for all that the fiction is strong and unsettling, chronicling people struggling and often succumbing to the violence and corruption of their systems, I also want to point specifically to the poetry in these issues, which is pretty amazing and worth checking out. So let's get to the reviews!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus September 2019

GigaNotoSaurus is back! Editor LaShawn Wanak ushers in a new day and after having had just one other issue this year, the publication returns with a dose of magical Western in a novelette that mixes blood, sand, and compulsion. The piece follows a man made to suppress his nature, made into the semblance of something he used to be—fully human. It’s a rather bloody tale of covert action and a slight drive toward oblivion. But it’s also a fine taste of an interesting and intricate world, and might just whet your appetite for more. To the review!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online September 2019

September brings a somewhat grim collection of short fiction to Flash Fiction Online, with three pieces very much about accidents and loss, grief and the slim margins of hope. In many, death rides heavy in shotgun. In some, grief and loneliness seem like they will be too much for the narrators to bear. There is a sharp edge of bleakness in many of the stories, and how they approach grieving and sorrow. But there’s also hope to many of them. That even when you lose someone, not everything is lost. Even when it seems that way. And not everyone who leaves does so entirely, leaving pieces of themself behind in memories, in acts of compassion that linger long after their footsteps have faded to silence. To the reviews!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Quick Sips - The Dark #52

Art by chainatp
Both of the original stories in this month’s The Dark Magazine deal with stories, with fairy tales. One of them in a more meta, way, weaving a woman’s harrowing struggle into a song that she can sing into life to give herself the happy ending she needs. The other is more of a fairy tale retelling, taking the familiar shapes and characters and themes and boiling them down into something thick and hearty. The result is an issue that is very aware of the price that women often pay just to live, and the injustice of that price. Both works find characters breaking free from the cycle that seems poised to consume them, and finding room for family and for hope. To the reviews!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #112

Art by Galen Dara
Two novelettes and two short stories means a fairly full issue of Lightspeed Magazine this September, with a focus on history, freedom, and struggle. Often in the stories, characters find themselves being controlled or manipulated, either by another being or by their own insecurities and fears. What results is an issue that looks at people struggling with the implications of their own drives, their desire for freedom over comfort, meaning over survival. There are stories of future incarceration, science gone wrong (or right?), struggles linked by music, and even a Weird Western where magic springs from decks of special playing cards. The worlds are vividly rendered and the characters often wrenchingly portrayed, but instead of just telling you about them here, let's get to the full reviews!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Alternis [ep01.09 & ep01.10]

We’ve reached the end of the season for Alternis, the serial project from Serial Box. It’s definitely been a bumpy ride for Tandy and the rest of Team USA, competing in a game structured as an MMORPG and populated by teams from all over the world, a “friendly” endeavor meant to peacefully allocate resources on a global stage. And while that mechanic of the story is still a little murky, the obvious truth is that the world is in a bad way, on the edge of all out war, and only the game seems to be keeping things from boiling over. So, you know, no pressure. Since the beginning, Tandy and company have been trying to put USA on the leader board, and finally they are poised to do just that. Can they seal the deal, though, or will their efforts crumble to dust. It’s a thrilling cap to what has been a very entertaining season. To the reviews!