Thursday, September 24, 2020

Quick Sips - Nightmare #96

Art by Melkor3D / Adobe Stock Image
The September Nightmare Magazine brings a pair of stories that show a quieter side of horror. Both feature settings as part of the cast, though their characters are very different—rural farm versus urban decay. Both very much focus on the violence found in these places, though, the ways that a person can be lost. One story, though, focuses on the monsters that live among us and the ways America shelters and shields them. The ways it allows them. Where the other story is much more about the tragedy of loss and the deep sense of haunting that comes from so many places, where the dead and their potential loom large, and possess a solid weight. Despite the slower pacing, both stories are intense and intimate, and it’s a great issue that I’ll get right to reviewing!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Quick Sips - Baffling Magazine September 2020

This month at Baffling Magazine there’s just one story to check out, but as it’s a new story by Nino Cipri, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that’s more than enough. And it’s a beautifully rendered portrait of suburbia. The façade of the pristine--the lawns, the cars, the “perfect” families. The bliss of quiet mornings and drives through the empty streets. But under that, something perhaps rotting. Something off. Something wrong. And the story might not find words for it but it provides a stirring and unsettling picture of it, of a boy finding something he doesn’t quite understand, but that he feels with his whole self. It’s strange and more than a little creepy but also powerful, like something is about to break through the shell that he’s been living on the surface of. And what’s coming through...well, perhaps I should just get to the review!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Quick Sips - Uncanny #36 [September stuff]

Art by Christopher Jones
The latest from Uncanny includes three new short stories and two new poems that speak of space, of people finding themselves in a new place, unsure of the rules, hurting from the baggage and scars they bring with them, trying to find a way forward. A way to stop being hungry--for food, or experiences, for closure, for revenge. The works lean a bit more towards the science fictional side of things (or well, the fiction does), with a slight divergence to a work that...seems to blend science and fantasy. The works are well built, vividly imagined, and have a bit of aching need at their core, and I should stop being vague and get right to my reviews!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #168

Art by Rodion Shaldo
September’s Clarkesworld Magazine is big. Four short stories (1 translated) and three novelettes remind me that this is the longest publication that I cover. And in some ways it’s an almost strange month for the publication, featuring stories that dip more into the fantasy side of things, though with plenty of science or at least mechanical elements that mean that the focus still isn’t really on magic, exactly. The pieces run from historical weird to far future colonization, from intimate stories unfolding in the human mind to conflicts that span countries and beyond. There’s a lot to get to in this issue, so I won’t waste any more time. To the reviews!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/07/2020 & 09/14/2020

Strange Horizons’ September kicks off with two new issues with two new poems, a new short story, and a novelette, on top of the usual amazing nonfiction that I don’t cover but definitely recommend. And the pieces are indeed Strange! And…horizon…y. They look at the borders of things, the sort of uncertainty that makes reality malleable, that leaves people broken, alone, their worlds shattered by a casual violence, by the presence of something hungry and stark, mechanical and merciless. The works are unsettling and yearning, and the poetry is (as usual) challenging and wonderful. Once more the publication more than lives up to its name, and I’ll try and do likewise with some reviews!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #312

Both of the stories in the latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies are about bargains and the people who facilitate them. Who trade in the power to get things done. To realize dreams. Or to respond to hurts. Both people, though, find that there are hurts they seem incapable of really seeing to. And in some ways that regardless of what they do, things seem to get worse, people they care about are hurt, and they end up increasingly alone. It’s a nice one-two punch of grim and gritty stories involving magic and desire. But there’s hope there as well. Stuck in, and shadowed by the pain that’s been caused, but present all the same, for those willing to look for it. To the reviews!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus September 2020

The latest GigaNotoSaurus pushes things to novelette length and spins a tale of gods and desire, betrayal and faith, all wrapped around one person who really just sort of wants to be left alone. When their god suddenly develops an intense (and entirely unwanted) desire for them, though, being left along is off the menu. What follows is a strange and careful story that spins around a blossoming friendship, the desire for safety, and the shattering reality of the abuse of power. It’s not an easy read, for all the fantasy elements are interesting and the characters are rather fun. The situation is grim, though, and the atmosphere creeping, alive with violation, and lacking a clear path forward. Before I give too much away, though, let’s get to the review!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online September 2020

September brings three stories to Flash Fiction Online that deal with...change and compromises. That find two people navigating a situation where they have to decided how to move forward when the path before them seems to be leading into conflict, separation, and destruction. For the first two stories, that touches on the divine, finding beings with supernatural powers faced with how to use those powers. Even the last story, though, deals with a force that is a greater magic, and how people relate to it, how people run from it and hide it. The stories all find the characters having to deal with big changes to their little worlds, and trying to make their decisions based on empathy, compassion, and trust. To the reviews!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Quick Sips - The Dark #64

Art by Vincent Chong
The latest issue of The Dark Magazine focuses on monsters, on beings who might be gods, beings who are making some unfair bargains and fully expect to get away with it. And, well, they’re not necessarily wrong to think that, as the stories are also visceral and intensely grim. They offer no real relief from the crush of injustice and the descent of time. But then, the publication isn’t called The Happy. So it’s a rather appropriate issue, if also a rather devastating one. To the reviews!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Quick Sips - Anathema #11 [part 2]

Art by Bex Glendining
And I’m back to finish up my review of the August issue of Anathema Magazine, this time looking at the second half--three short stories and one poem. And there is a sense here of broken connections. Of characters whose ties have been severed in important ways. Ways that leave them seeking things. Revenge, in a few cases. Or closure, at the very least. To break free from cycles of violence. Or to continue them. To push back against silence, but also to express grief and loss and all the messy, complicated emotions that people can feel. It’s a wonderful collection of SFF work, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Quick Sips - Translunar Travelers Lounge #3 [part 4: Charon Blend (Dark Chocolate Rooibos)]

I’m back yet again to finish up my look at the third issue of Translunar Travelers Lounge! This final section is title Charon Blend (Dark Chocolate Rooibos) and is described as “velvet-smooth, with a rich, complex flavor that lingers on the palate.” And the works definitely have depth, taking on the idea of stories and the shapes of traditional narratives, and challenging them. And they deal with characters who kind of thought they had things figured out...and then something happens that shatters them. That makes them re-examine the shape and trajectory of their lives. And prompts them to reach for change and affirmation. It’s a fantastic way to close what has been an amazing issue, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Quick Sips - Translunar Travelers Lounge #3 [part 3: Dione Blend (Assam)]

Okay, I’m back looking at the latest issue of Translunar Travelers Lounge! This third installment of the third issue of the publication looks at the section titled “Dione Blend (Assam): notes of spice and smoke; a striking scarlet color.” The scarlet isn’t of blood, though. It might be for passion. Or determination. The three stories find characters undertaking quests of different sorts. Difficult trials. For some that means traveling great distances, overcome great challenges (often with the help of some compassionate people). For others that means doing something that is intensely personally difficult, like letting down one’s defenses enough to take a risk and reach of the stars. Whatever the case, these are stories that mix risk and reward, that border sorrow and hope, and that I’ll get to reviewing right now!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #124

Art by Grandeduc / Adobe Stock Image
The September Lightspeed Magazine brings out three short stories and one novelette, many of them tinged with a level of meta-commentary, whether through an author literally self-inserting into the text or through a fictional author confronting themselves through a series of revision notes. There’s a blurring of form, of reality and fantasy (or science fiction), and the result is a selection of stories that provoke and challenge. That aren’t always a joy to read, but that question narrative structure, time, and do a lot of interesting things. To the reviews!

Monday, September 7, 2020

Quick Sips - Augur #3.1 [part 1]

Art by Lorna Antoniazzi
Finally I’m getting to the end of my initial reviews of things released on the last day of September. There will definitely be spillover into at least next month, but today I’m looking at the first part of the extra-huge latest issue of Augur Magazine, which has been quiet on the release front since December. They make up for the absence with 16 different pieces, spread over fiction, poetry, and graphic fiction. Today I’m looking at the first three stories and three poems, which build up a rather grim thematic feel centering loss and grief. With characters who are imprisoned in various ways, either literally or more metaphorically. It’s not an easy bunch of works to approach, and readers will do well to mind the various content warnings posted before the stories. But it’s a beautiful start to what is shaping up to be a fantastic issue, and I’ll jump right into my reviews!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 08/31/2020

So there’s a special 20th anniversary issue of Strange Horizons out! Happy anniversary!!! Now, I debated with myself a while how to actually handle the issue, because it’s not a usual one. Instead of original fiction and poetry, the issue features stories pulled from Strange Horizons’ past issues, plus some brand new poetry. I’ve decided to cover the (technically reprint) fiction in this case alongside the poetry mostly because I am super curious to check out what made the cut for this extra special issue. Now, that said, I’m not looking at the Wiggins story because I reviewed it when it originally came out. The rest of the bunch were before my time as a reviewer, though, and are all super great. So is the poetry, by the way. But before I bore you to tears, let’s get right to the reviews!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Quick Sips - Omenana #15

After a rather long pause, Omenana is back with a new issue! Six stories and some nonfiction round out the offerings and provide a vivid tour of African-centered SFF with a mix of genres and characters and feels. From philosophical to deeply intimate, the stories build situations that push readers to challenge their assumptions and deepen their thinking. They’re at turns fun and charming, grim and difficult. There’s a great variety of speculative visions on display, and it comes into a whole that looks at freedom and exploitation, hope and despair. And I’ll get right to me reviews!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Quick Sips - Anathema #11 [part 1]

Art by Bex Glendining
It’s time for a new issue of Ananthema! I’m breaking the issue up for I’m-very-tired reasons, but that still means I’m looking at two stories and a poem (I’ll be back for the other three stories and a poem next month). The works are vivid and full of characters willing to take chances. It might be to pursue their dreams. It might be to escape an abusive situation. But the characters are motivated, pushing themselves to exhaustion and beyond, and reaching for something affirming and beautiful. It’s never easy, but getting to the future never is, and the works explore how these characters survive and thrive despite dangers and those that want to see them fail. To the reviews!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Quick Sips - Tor dot com August 2020

Art by Mary Haasdyk
August brings two short stories and one novelette to Tor dot com. The works are by no means easy, dealing with issues of historical erasure and genocide, sexual assault and toxic gender roles, and capitalist exploitation and ecological devastation. There’s a mix of deep space science fiction, more terrestrial or near-terrestrial climate science fiction, and a touch of contemporary fantasy thrown in for good measure. And characters have to face their own roles in the problems they face, the abuses and injustices that are going on around them. That they are often victims of, even as they become co-opted into continuing the harm. It’s a solid bunch of works, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #311

Art by Alexey Shugurov
The latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies offers up two short stories that deal very much with memories and with the stubbornness of those in power when faced with an inevitable and dangerous problem that is killing people. In both, the narrators have to deal with being expected to fix a problem that’s become hard baked into the fabric of a place they think of as home. Where actually fixing it would mean breaking it, making it something different from what it was. It also requires the power to actually do something, which only one of the characters actually has. Not that it’s easy. Not that both won’t sacrifice trying to do the right thing. These are two lovely and wrenching stories, and I’ll get to my reviews!

Friday, August 28, 2020

5000 Strong

I always struggle to come up with things to say for milestones. Something Profound and Important that can somehow encapsulate what exactly I’m feeling at a time when I have done something that I want to take a moment to recognize. Quick Sip Reviews hit 5000 reviews. Yay.

Quick Sips - PodCastle #638 & #640

It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed a new PodCastle, with the publication focusing more on reprints and flash back posts for the last little while. But the publication is back with at blast with two new stories that deal with grief and cycles of death and remembrance. In one of the stories, a veteran deals with the weight of what he carries, the expectations put on him, but also the secret pull he feels, the moon he’s looking for that will allow him to transform and give howling voice to the pain he otherwise must hide. In the other, a man deals with the intersections of his faith and his family, the desire to honor a parent against the realities of a system designed to reward those who live “complete” lives. There’s a heavy feel to these stories but also a sense of release and freedom, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Quick Questions - R.B. Lemberg of The Four Profound Weaves

Hi and welcome to my first tour? Stop? I'm new to these. I am not new, however, to either R.B. Lemberg's work or doing interviews. Or The Four Profound Weaves for that matter, which is out in just a few days (September 1) and is available for pre-order now. I've already reviewed (and loved) the book here. And I couldn't be happier to get to ask some questions about the book, about the wider Birdverse, about magic and worldbuilding and inspiration and ahhh! so much! I will try to retrain myself from further outbursts, though, and get to the good stuff!

Regular readers of this blog will need no introduction to R.B. Lemberg or their stunning work. But for those how don't know...
Photo @ Bogi Takács, 2019
R. B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their stories and poems have appeared in Lightspeed Magazine’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction!, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny Magazine, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, and many other venues. R.B.’s work has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards. You can find more of their work on their Patreon ( and a full bio at
And with that settled, on to the questions!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #82

Art by Pao-ju Lin
The August issue of Fireside Magazine contains four short stories and a bunch of nonfiction (which I won’t be covering but do recommend you check out). The stories are all…far from easy things. There is a sense of confinement that runs through the issue, a sense of decline and suffocation. There are people literally imprisoned, either by a corrupt government in the past or a possibly dystopic government in the future. There are people finding their lives sinking, unable to pull back from their descent. There is loss. There is the prospect of more loss to come. The stories are, again, not easy, but they’re also rewarding and quite good, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 08/17/2020 & 08/24/2020

Today I’m looking at two recent issues of Strange Horizons, which have put out one story and two poems (and a bunch of reviews and nonfiction that I won’t be looking at here but that I recommend people check out). The story looks at extinction and profession, secrets and power. It finds a scientist kind of trying to fit in, and then finding that she doesn’t really have to. The issues also feature poems that wrap around powerlessness and transformation, dominated by settings that define the work and growth that they contain. That shape the paths people can take, limiting them in some profound and unsettling ways. It’s a great two issues, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Quick Sips - Translunar Travelers Lounge #3 [part 2: Luna Blend (Jasmine)]

I’m back! Yes, it’s only been a day since I reviewed the first section of the latest Translunar Travelers Lounge, but schedules are weird and I am happy to return right away for the second section, which is the Luna Blend (Jasmine). And Uncle Iroh would be proud of the selection of stories here, which are warm and heartfelt but know how to have some fun. There are shadows, moments of sadness and loss, but always a smile as well, and an earnest laugh. There’s a bit of sci fi, a lot of fantasy, and some nice twists of horror (nothing too grim, though), and it all blends together into something, well, as the publication says, “subtle in scent and sweet in flavor.” To the reviews!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Quick Sips - Translunar Travelers Lounge #3 [part 1: Metis Blend (Yerba-Maté)]

It’s a new Translunar Travelers Lounge! As always, these issues are BIG. This one has 14(!) stories in it, and as such I’m not going to be getting to it all this month. Instead, I’m breaking up my review based on the four different sections of the publication, here grouped by “blends.” The first is Metis Blend (Yerba-Maté), which is described as “a little get-up-and-go; strong, pleasantly bitter.” And it certain delivers, giving four stories that are fun, bright, but cut with a little sarcasm, a little heart, and a whole lot of good. So let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #66

Art by Joey Jordan
August brings two new stories to Diabolical Plots, and both focus on narrators who have been shaped by the perceptions of others. One, a superhero who is altered based on how other see him, and especially based on racist stereotypes. He has to navigate the push and pull of racism and trying to stay safe while also trying to be a role model for his daughter. The other is shaped more by time, a victim of violence who wants to escape the prison, the gutter that has become their world. But they are seen as a monster, worthy of annihilation, and must deal with their desire meeting the fear they provoke. Both characters, though, find a kind of release and freedom through someone who sees through the outer layers and into their hearts. And before I give too much away, I’ll get to those reviews!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Quick Sips - Baffling Magazine August 2020

The second month of Baffling Magazine brings two (very short) short stories for your enjoyment! Both are fairly dense, fairly sinking works, about characters dealing with a kind of relentless pressure, both figurative and, it seems, physical. They are dealing with loss and erasure, with grief and destruction. They straddle genres, the first more of an underwater science fiction and the second a dream-like piece of weird. It’s a bold second salvo from the new publication, but it works for me, showing definite lean toward short, sharp, and strange. To the reviews!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #310

Art by Alexey Shugurov

The latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies brings two rather long novelettes that look at groups of...not exactly law abiding people who sort of fall into the position where they have to save the world. Who have to uncover the corruptions plaguing their worlds. For one, it’s a spy and courier who is pulled into a much larger intrigue. For the other, it’s a group of hero hunters who hear about the possible return of a person who could destroy armies and nations, and might be fixing to do just that. It’s a wonderful issue, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Regular Sip - Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling (Neon Hemlock)

Art by Robin Ha
I’m back rounding out my looks at the last of Neon Hemolck’s 2020 novella series, which is available for pre-order now (out September 5). There’s been a great range of works here, mostly fantasy but with some touches of science fiction, and this story builds a second world rich in political intrigue and some light (but decidedly grim) magical touches. It’s period drama laced with danger and despair, guilt and something new and sinister. It’s tragic, for all that there are bodies aplenty littering the floor before everything is said and done, but it’s also got a hope to it that makes to cut the poison with something sweet, helping it to slide over the tongue and into the body to seed and spread. To the review!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Quick Sips - Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #45

Art by Jereme Peabody
There’s a new issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly out, featuring three new short stories, one novelette, and one poem. And the works cover a nice range of fantasy, from much more historical stories with only touches of maybe-magic, to full blown second world affairs filled with strange magics. From mythological rewrites to strange myth-like tales of talking animals and walking Nightmares. It’s a wonderful issue, with spills, chills, mysteries, and even a spot of romance, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 08/03/2020 & 08/10/2020

Art by Jana Heidersdorf
August brings a pair of wonderful queer short stories and some excellent poetry to Strange Horizons. The stories deal with wars, with veterans who have tried to leave violence behind them. But who find that violence is so prevalent in their worlds that it can’t really be run away from. Hidden from. And so they have to find ways to meet it. To save what can be saved. To not be defined solely by the violence they do, but also by their compassion, their kindness, their resilience. And it’s just a fantastic pair of issues that I love a lot and will get right to reviewing!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Quick Sips - Uncanny #35 [August stuff]

Art by Kirbi Fagan
It’s a fairly big month from Uncanny Magazine in terms of words, with two short stories and one novelette that’s almost a novella. Plus two poems! The works trace ideas of various courts--pre-Revolutionary France, the courts of angels, and the courts of seasons and their rulers. Amidst these structures, characters deal with the rules, the personalities, and the dangers of those spaces. There’s a sense of wealth, of power...and of loss, as the characters also must face those courts crumbling or breaking in some ways. And it’s a wonderful bunch of works that I’ll get right to reviewing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #167

Art by Joseph Diaz
August’s Clarkesworld Magazine brings three short stories and three novelettes that once more explore an array of science fictional ideas and settings. Futures where AIs are involved in war and in scientific research. People dealing with jobs that are killing them, worlds where they are exploited, where they sign up to be exploited in order to escape the crush of poverty and danger. Not all of the stories are easy reads, but many of them are very rewarding, and I’ll get right to the reviews to explain why!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus August 2020

The August story in GigaNotoSaurus isn’t on the long side for the publication (at just over 5000 words), but it makes up for that with a deep world building and wonderful premise. It’s familiar, using tropes that aren’t exactly brand new, but underneath the classic elements there is innovation as well. A grittiness that reveals a world of corrupt and petty gods, mercenaries putting their lives on the line, and in the middle of it all, a family just trying to live away from it all. But some things won’t stay gone, and sometimes the pull back into the web of plots and gods is too strong to ignore. It’s an action-packed, thrilling read, and I’ll get right to my review!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online August 2020

August brings a mix of mostly non-speculative fiction to Flash Fiction Online, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of interesting stories to check out. From religious cars to help lines with all the answers, the works reveal the ways that people often create their own systems, their own structures, that support what they want to believe rather than looking at the reality of the situation. That allow for great injustices because of the gaps they open in human compassion and empathy. It’s a challenging bunch of stories, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Quick Thoughts - Burning

So I think a lot about burnout, in part because it means so many different things. There’s a general idea out there that burnout is what happens when you do too much for too long. You’re a rocketship on your way to Mars, and something...goes wrong. A part of you flares and goes dark, and there’s just. No. Easy. Fix. The aftermath can be intense and prolonged. Typically, in the spheres that I follow, people talk about creative burnout, where after pushing and pushing and pushing something just kinda stops. And there’s no forcing it back.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Regular Sip - Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar (Neon Hemlock)

Art by Odera Igbokwe
I’m back looking at one of the latest novella releases from Neon Hemlock. After absolutely loving the first two, my hopes going into this one were very high (especially considering the author is a Sippy Award winner for the stunning “The Percivals: The Bennett Benefit”). And it does not disappoint. It combines world building and action, showing a chosen family fighting corruption and the disappointment of their own failures to try and build something better...because the first time they tried it all fell apart. It’s exhilarating, sexy, and so much fun. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender aged up and infinitely more queer, looking at the promise of, failure of, and need for continue reform and revolution in the face of institutional injustice and abuse of power. It’s great, and I’ll get right to my review!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Quick Sips - The Dark #63

Art by John
The original stories of August’s The Dark Magazine provide two very different looks at guilt, remorse, and penance. In the first, a young woman deals with her isolation and her shattering exit from that isolation. Deals with her own actions and tries to make right something that can’t really be. Similarly, the second story also finds a person trying to make something right that really can’t be. A loss that can’t be reclaimed. A wound that leaves a deep scar. In both, the characters must navigate their own roles in death, and try to find ways forward despite a world that is dangerous and full of violence and wonder. To the reviews!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Quick Sips - Nightmare #95

Art by Zapatisthack / Adobe Stock
Both the stories in the August Nightmare Magazine deal with loss. With death. With torture. Feature narrators who have come to bad ends. To have been murdered. Who are awakened by mothers, grandmothers, told stories. Brought into cycles of violence and loss. Through that, the characters connect to family and to memory, having to parse which details are their own traumas and which have been handed down. They’re difficult, sharp reads, with touches of poetry amid the destruction and red. And I’ll get right to my reviews!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #123

Art by grandfailure / Adobe Stock
Lightspeed comes out swinging in August with there short stories and a novelette that, as usual, cover both science fiction and fantasy. More than that, though, the works move from quasi-religious science fiction to far future generation ship dystopian science fiction, from twisted mythic fantasy to historical fantasy that bleeds into horror. Through it all, the thematic link that binds them is storytelling itself, each piece in part looking at the power of narrative to shape perception and reality, to sway hearts and either reinforce corrupt systems, or bring them crashing down, opening the doors for healing and peace. It’s an interesting and varied issue, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #309

Art by Alexander Ostrowski
The two stories in the latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies deal with magic and family, and more specifically with magical companions that threaten to wreck the fragile peace and safety that the narrators of the stories feel they have achieved. In one of the stories, though, that threat is very real, and very deadly. In the other, it only seems a threat, but is really the key to unlocking something much better than what the narrator currently has. The works are very different, but their focus on younger women struggling against the roles and fates decided for them unite them in a rather wonderful way. To the reviews!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Quick Sips - Tor dot com July 2020

Art by Rovina Cai
Tor was not joking around this month. Two short stories and four novelettes makes this the biggest release month they’ve had in a while, and the works range from tie-ins to larger settings to some very stand alone. Fans of Tamsyn Muir and Seanan McGuire (of which there are many, I know) will be happy that they return to popular series, and there’s some interesting works interrogating uploaded consciousnesses, mythical games, and the deteriorating nature of reality itself. There’s a lot to enjoy, and a lot to get to, so I’ll cut this short and just jump into the reviews!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #81

Fireside Magazine closes out July with four new stories that deal with family and with bargains. Often with bargains that don’t exactly go as planned. A faerie queer who kidnaps a child only to find herself getting involved in the life of the mother. Spice traders opening up a new market in the shadow of colonialism. Workers trapped in a place where they are always outsiders, exploited, making connections no one expects. A magical being of water making a bargain much deeper than the words used to contain it. The works look at how bargains are often made with one side trying to cheat the other, and how that can be avoided, and how sometimes it can’t be. It's a lovely bunch of stories, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 07/20/2020 & Samovar 07/27/2020

Art by Mateus Manhanini
So it seems that Strange Horizons had a surprise in store for me this month, as it stepped back and a new issue of Samovar dropped instead of a regular issue. So instead of one story and two poems, I’m looking at three stories (one of them a long novelette) and two poems, and that’s not really a complaint. Because the works are interesting and deep, with an eye on history and quiet desperation. Oppressive environments wrought by human intolerance and corruption. And people trying to make their way through it, trying to find some beauty amidst the danger. To the reviews!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Quick Sips - Glittership Spring 2020

New Glittership!!! That’s right, there’s a brand new issue packed with queer short SFF! Three short stories and three poems to be precise, with lots of reprint work as well that I definitely recommend you check out! The stories and poems run a nice range of themes and genres, from fantasy to science fiction to horror, and I love the way the authors weave identity and queerness into the works. Always deliberately. Always carefully. Always with respect and compassion. And they find such joy in the ways they bring their characters out from the grim expectations put on them and to places where they can live authentically and free. To the reviews!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Regular Sip - A Fledgling Abiba by Dilman Dila (Guardbridge Books)

Today I’m back looking a new novella, this one from Guardbridge Books, which I’m not super familiar with but who looks like they do some great work. I’m a bit more familiar with the work of Dilman Dila, who, on top of making some fantastic SFF films, has put out some great SFF short fiction over the years (most recently in the Dominion anthology I just reviewed last week). This story takes the somewhat familiar trope of the magical child entering into a whole larger magical world that most people aren’t aware of, but instead of a boy with a scar in a wealthy boarding school there’s a girl who farts fire in a city plagued by illness, violence, and magical conspiracies. To the review!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Quick Collections - Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora (Volume One), ed. Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald

I’m back looking at a short fiction anthology that brings together thirteen works of speculative fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora. Domunion, edited by Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald (and published by Aurelia Leo), doesn’t limit itself to just one kind of genre, or even one kind of form. It includes science fiction and fantasy and horrors and blends of all of the above. It includes a poem, as well, and stories range from fairly short to quite long. The lack of a specific theme, though, doesn’t mean that certain elements don’t recur.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Quick Sips - Nightmare #94

Art by Chainat / Fotolio

The stories in the July Nightmare Magazine showcase very different kinds of horror. In one, a woman on the run reaches out to a ghost, the two linked by the ways they’ve been targeted, by the violence that they must share space with, that threatens to anchor them forever to one place. In the other, a group of friends deal with a strange and much more…arbitrary horror. The horror of erasure at the hands of a faceless, disembodied malevolence. One that runs on a kind of religious intolerance whose rules are mysterious and veiled but whose results are no less profound for it. The works explore people trying and not always succeeding at escaping the horror that’s chasing them, and before I give too much away, let’s get to the reviews!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #65

Art by Joey Jordan

July brings two new stories to Diabolical Plots, and they’re both about abilities that make people different. And the responsibilities of those who have such abilities. To work proactively for good. To save those who can be saved. To put their own safety, their own lives, on the line, because even if they didn’t cause what’s happening, they have to be involved with trying to fix it. Otherwise they become part of the systems that failed them, part of the cycle of difference and exploitation and fear and violence they claim to want to end. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #308

This issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies is all about stories and gods. About people making sense of the stories that are told about the divine. And finding that those stories, while they might seem simple at first, are definitely not. Because at some point the stories end, and life goes on, and people have to decide how they’re going to shape their lives and their futures. How they’re going to honor their beliefs while leaving room to recognize that the stories about the gods are rarely instruction manuals, and can’t really be applied literally to real-world situations. People have to make their own decisions, using their faith and their wisdom and sometimes their rage and defiance to steer a course through difficult times. To the reviews!