Things get profoundly weird in these April short stories from Motherboard’s Terraform. Very. Very. Weird. From planets where people worship different body parts of their prophet to visions of the future or present where people experience alterations in their perception, the works are all about bending the rules of what makes logical sense in what might be attempts to shake and call into question the fundamental and assumed orderliness of the universe. It finds characters embracing the dark and the unknown, rushing into the jaws of chaos, and struggling against the feelings of stagnancy and inertia. There are some really strange works on display here, but I’m going to give it my best in reviewing them!
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Monday, April 29, 2019
|Art by Keith Negley|
April marks a rather full month of short SFF releases from Tor dot com with three short stories and a novelette, a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, all of it unfolding in the “real world,” though sometimes twisted by technology, sometimes touched by magic, and always heavy with a waiting darkness. The stories certainly lean on the dark side of things, revolving around exploitation, grief, and death. That might come in the form of a family who transforms when they die into heirlooms for their relatives to treasure and care for, or in the form of a military experiment targeting a person who can’t feel physical pain but can definitely experience other kinds. There’s artificial intelligences helping to facilitate social justice, and even a creepy dog who might hide a menacing secret. It’s an eclectic month of fiction, to say the least, offering a solid tour of how SFF approaches death, recovery, and hope. To the reviews!
Friday, April 26, 2019
|Art by Vicky J. Bawangun|
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
|Art by Christopher Jones|
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
|Art by Joey Jordan|
Two new short stories mark the fiftieth issue of Diabolical Plots, and the works seem very much to be concerned with generational shifts and issues. To me, at least, the stories focus on the ways that the past builds up systems designed to exploit rather than help younger people. That envision the past and present as castles that must be defended, as sacred objects that should not change or adapt because for the older people policing them, they are comfortable and safe. Only the story reveals how that’s often not even the case, and makes compelling strides to complicate and challenge those systems by showing just how much they tend to let everyone down. Let’s get to the reviews!
Monday, April 22, 2019
|Art by Chainat / Fotolio|
It’s springtime in horrorland with two new stories from Nightmare Magazine that examine tropes and truisms. The stories revolve around ideas, the first around the genre of gothic horror, celebrating it without defending the parts of its history that have been riddled with Issues. Meanwhile the second looks at a saying about hearts and wolves, making literal something that might have otherwise been purely figurative. And in both stories the focus is on escaping the gravity of oppressive and prejudiced violence. It finds characters seeking to pull free from the expectation or requirement that they suffer, that they die, that they become consumed to support the dominant narratives. Subversion rules the day in these stories, which I will get right on reviewing!
Friday, April 19, 2019
Thursday, April 18, 2019
|Art by Marcela Bolivar|
I wasn't expecting to say in this introduction to the April Apex Magazine a goodbye. But with the announcement that the publication will be going on indefinite hiatus following the next issue (which will be guest edited by Maurice Broaddus), it means this penultimate-for-now issue is the last from the current team of publisher/editor-in-chief Jason Sizemore and managing editor Lesley Connor. I've followed Apex Magazine for a long time, having read every original story and poem put out since I started Quick Sip Reviews (and even before then as part of my reviewing elsewhere). And Apex has always been a venue of challenging, sometimes upsettingly dark SFF. The stories do not seek out the best of humanity, but rather reveal the depths that we as people can sink. Through that murk and grime and grit, though, there's also found the diamond-hard, shining bits of kindness, compassion, and empathy that even the harshest world cannot fully kill, cannot extinguish forever. The latest batch of stories are no exception, and stand as a solid sendoff to a stellar editing team. All health and hope and happiness to all the people involved with Apex, and a huge thanks for showing the light in the dark. To the reviews!
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
|Art by Vicky J. Bawangun|
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
|Art by Arthur Haas|
It’s a full month of fiction and Clarkesworld, with seven stories (six short stories, one novelette), including two different translated pieces (one from Chinese and one from the brand new line of Korean SFF that the publication will be putting out this year). And the pieces by and large focus on the past, and on family, and on trying to recover from the world having gone in some unexpected directions. The characters are looking for people that they cannot find, that are no longer there to be found, and it’s some emotional, rending work, but also full of resilient hope, and audacious survival, and there are tons of moments of tenderness and compassion and love even in settings torn apart by war and violence and loss. And yeah, let’s dive into the reviews!
Monday, April 15, 2019
Friday, April 12, 2019
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Flash Fiction Online, just three stories touched by grief and loss, defiance and denial and the need for something to change. In some of the story, the pressure comes in the form of another person, though that might be an abuser or a lover. For others, it might be a situation, a constant droning noise that won’t stop. But each of the characters loses something. Their freedom, their expression, their love. Even as they reach for something else, something they can’t quite name but for the want of it. And they reach, and reach, and the stories detail how they might finally take control of their futures, or fall victim to them. To the reviews!
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
|Art by Olivia Stephens|
A new issue of Fiyah Literary Magazine brings out four new stories and three new poems, all exploring the theme of Hair. It’s a complicated theme, one that grows out of the ways that black hair has been politicized and policed. But like all hair it’s also a source of identity, expression, and pride. The works explore how hair brings people together, through magic and through care, through defiance and through rebellion. How people suffer when they are dehumanized by those who want to control their hair, restrict and legislate their hair. The works run from contemporary fantasy to second world heroics, and feature characters very much battling against systems of oppression trying to define what beauty, value, and power should be when it comes to hair. To the reviews!
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
|Art by Ksenia (Iren Horrors)|
It’s an interesting issue of The Dark this month, with two new stories aimed directly at history and the military and South America. Both pieces deal with women running up against a wall of tradition, of a history of abuse and hunger. They go in wanting to succeed, wanting to excel, and find that the system isn’t set up to let them do that. Instead, pushing only seems to make them targets, to put them on the menu for the appetites of those with power. It’s a creepy and at times difficult pair of stories that challenge but also take on the weight of corruption, slowly crushing the reader beneath the tide of corpses the past keeps bringing forward into the present. To the reviews!
Monday, April 8, 2019
|Art by Reiko Murakami|
Lightspeed Magazine brings four new stories out this April (three short stories & one novelette) that space from near-past science fiction to mythological fantasy, moving from a Mars where humanity has suffered a great loss to a village where the injustices are a bit more nuanced. The issue also includes a conclusion to the Banker cycle that’s been recurring in recent months, though I dare say it’s probably not the last readers will see of the characters or setting. And all told there are a lot of characters bound by their promises, having to navigate situations where what they said they were going to do might be more ruinous than breaking their word. So yeah, to the reviews!
Friday, April 5, 2019
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
REVIEW BY ERIN BARBEAU
|Art by B R Sanders|
Vulture Bones is a new speculative magazine focusing on trans and nonbinary writers. It is published quarterly, and I will be looking at issue #4. Content warnings are included in the table of content of the magazine, so I will forgo including them in my reviews. The six stories in this issue run through with unsettling details which make them a deliciously creepy read.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
I’m super excited to say that I’m a Hugo finalist! Twice, actually! For the second year in a row I have been nominated in the Best Fan Writer category, and, rather surprising me this year, Quick Sip Reviews has also been nominated in the Best Fanzine category. My eternal gratitude goes out to everyone who nominated me and QSR for this honor!
I am, as with most things, pulled between feelings at all of this. Mostly, I am so grateful for all the people who have helped to make Quick Sip Reviews what it is, and who have helped me find a place in fandom that is personally rewarding as well as appreciated. It’s easy to feel alone as a fan in SFF. For me, at least, being geographically rather removed from a vibrant SFF community, most of my footprint has been online, most of the people who have helped me and people I have in turn reached been those I have never met in person. Part of what pushed me to start QSR was that feeling of isolation and loneliness, and so to be recognized for my work online, as an advocate for and critic of short fiction, is just amazing.
Because even as I started the project and my work online, I have hardly been alone. I have been helped by so many, encouraged by so many, that it would be impossible to list them all. But I do want to take the time to say my thanks to a number of people who have helped to make these nominations possible. And I know, this is normally saved for an acceptance speech at the awards themselves, but as there is no way that I can attend this year, and because last year I didn’t publicly thank those who helped me get to be a Hugo Award finalist, I do want to take the time now to say a few words, if for no other reason than it’s always good to say, and to recognize those who have helped me.
So I want to thank The G and Vance and all the Nerds of a Feather crew for giving me my first real home in fandom I could be proud of. Thanks to A.C. Wise, who might be the kindest person in SFF, the most supportive of new voices and just an amazing advocate for short SFF as a writer, editor, and fan. Thanks to K. Tempest Bradford for giving me a boost just when I needed it. Thanks to Ana and Thea at The Book Smugglers for being awesome in general and for making me a part of the Smuggler Army. To Nicasio Reed for spending so much time talking Garak with me, and for introducing me to so many amazing things. To R.B. Lemberg for always giving me advice I need to hear. To Sam J. Miller for being amazing and encouraging and for writing stories that make me cry on the regular. To the entirety of PQ because you are all wonderful. To Sigrid Ellis for all the support and wisdom. To all my patrons, without whom I would not be able to keep doing this, and who put up with me drunkenly reviewing kids’ books when it has nothing to do with short SFF.
Thanks to the SPACECATs for being a little pocket of awesome in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. And last and most, thanks to my amazing partner Matt, who has been with me through everything and who I am nothing without. I am so much better because of nem, and would not be a fraction of the reader or reviewer I am without nem to break down my expectations and my defenses and show me a universe so much darker and larger and more beautiful than anything I might have found on my own.
There are many others who I am probably forgetting to mention, too, who have been instrumental to me being in short SFF. Who have helped me to grow and learn the ropes. I feel often like I have unpopular opinions about reviewing and about talking about short SFF, but I suppose I have to revise that sentiment in the face of the support I receive. Definitely there are a lot of people who find what I do valuable, and I’ll not lie and say that doesn’t feel good. In turn, I appreciate all the writers, editors, readers, and fans who make short SFF a space that I want to be in. Not that it’s always easy, but having been a short SFF reviewer now for over five years, I’m still inspired and challenged by the work being created. I’m still in awe of the creativity and humbled by the bravery of so many excellent people.
So to you all, again, thank you! Whatever happens at the awards ceremony this year, it’s always rad as fuck to be recognized with a nomination, and I’ll try to earn the trust that’s been put in me by this honor. Cheers!