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!