Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Quick Sips - Lackington's #22

Art by Kat Weaver
The latest issue of Lackington’s is out now and the theme for the issue is Archives. Now, like all themes at Lackington’s, things are often straightforward. Yes, some of the stories feature literal archives and collections. Museums and academic centers. Tomes and texts and all the things you might expect to find on dusty shelves preserved in time. But there are archives here that go beyond those, that jump out of the neglected shelves. Archives of people, of languages both living and dead, of refuges from hungry gods, of whole worlds and people finding ways to catalog and preserve themselves through time and space. The works are often deep and heavy, touched by poetry and more than a bit of tragedy. But there is hope to be found as well, and occasionally a spot of fun. The works cover an array of genres and styles, framing devices and voices, and they themselves represent an archive. An archive of archives, in a meta turn as only this publication can give. To the reviews!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #85

The November issue of Fireside Magazine is out and…well, contains three short stories and two essays, plus now a number of apologies and announcements coming on the heels of the decision of the publication to have a white man record the audio for the entire issue which included, among others, the personal essay of a Black woman that was in part about her specific lens as a Black woman, and which…was not handled well. And this has opened up a larger conversation about audio recordings, racism, and editorial responsibility which has resulted, among other things, in the stepping down of the editor-in-chief at Fireside. All that said, and not to diminish the harm done, the fiction in this issue is amazing, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Friday, November 27, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 11/16/2020 & 11/23/2020

The latest two issues of Strange Horizons bring one short story and two poems out for our reading enjoyment. The story is heavy, and mind the content warnings on this one, but it’s also a lovely mix of mystery and horror as a young woman looks for clues about her brother’s disappearance. The poetry brings…not exactly a lighter mood to the issues, as it’s some challenging and sometimes grim work. But it does tie into the themes of hope in the story, hard as they might be to reach for. That while many wounds cannot be erased, the situations can be revised, the outcomes turned away from solely tragedy and given new life. To the reviews!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Quick Sips - Baffling Magazine November 2020

November brings three early stories to the Baffling Magazine Patreon, examines family and loss. Death and the way people have to process it, have to face it, given the worlds they live in, the relationships they have. The characters are all dealing with complicated relationships. Two of the stories focus on people who haven’t really gotten along with parental figures. For one, it’s the parents of his boyfriend. For the other, it’s their own father. The third story deals not with a strained relationship but an absent one, a person bereft because of the violence of an empire taking up the cause of their dead lover and finding strength in poetry. And all told it’s a wonderful mix of stories, featuring fantasy, science fiction, and touches of horror. To the reviews!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #317

Art by Avant Choi
The two stories in the latest Beneath Ceaseless Skies are united by (aside from the fact that they’re both novelettes) the undimmable enthusiasm of their protagonists. Both main characters are driven, are artists, and they paint on large canvases. They are, in part at least, confidence men, there to sell something. They’re not exactly frauds, though, as each of them is selling something that people want. Good health. Good food. And an experience that will leave them feeling good about it. For both, though, something rears up that threatens their art, their profession, and their lives, and they have to stay sharp and depend on the people around them to come through...if not unscathed, then at least alive, and eager to get back on the road. To the reviews!

Regular Sip - Offstage Offerings by Priya Sridhar (Unnerving Books)

I’m back for a Regular Sip today for a wonderful new novella from Unnerving Books. I’m a little late to the part, as the book came out at the height of spooky season late last month, but given how the world has been, it’s possible people missed it in the chaos. Luckily, it’s a fantastic read whatever the season, and features a haunted theater, a queer woman dealing with crappy employment prospects, and worst of all...kids at an acting camp. The horror! Anyway, before I give too much away, let’s jump right into the reviews!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Quick Sips - Apex Magazine Promo 2020

Art by Justin Stewart
Apex is back! And okay, you probably already knew that. And yes, the actual launch date for the revamped Apex Magazine is actually in January. That doesn’t mean, though, that the editors could hold back, and so we get a special bonus sneak peek issue as an added gift this holiday season. It’s filled with heartwarming and--wait a second, I think I must have forgotten Apex’s specialty. It’s filled with two difficult and unsettling stories that look at the messy ways people live, love, and hurt each other. The stories reveal worlds that are reflections of our own, and the sights are rather grim. But grim stories can show us how to approach hard times, given the world we’re living in, perhaps we should take whatever instruction we can get. To the reviews!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Quick Sips - Nightmare #98

Art by Alexandra Petruk / Adobe Stock Images
The two original stories in November’s Nightmare Magazine present the horrors of school. Both the horrors of being around other students who might be terrible and abusive, and of being under the power of a teacher or professor who might be preying on students in some chilling ways. In both, the focus is on the ways the the students are made powerless in their situations, subject to the corrupt power of either a popular student or a teacher. For one, the horror stops with the things a teacher can do, the ways they can make their lesson stick in the most disturbing of ways. For the other, the horror doesn’t reach its peak until the student being abused and bullied finds she has nothing left to lose. In both, schools make powerful settings for the horror that unfolds, at least in part because the vast majority of people know exactly how school can be a horrifying place. To the reviews!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

2021: The Plan So Far

So, I’m starting to claw my way toward the new year, and I just want to sort of update people on what’s going on with the blog starting next year. For those who haven’t heard, I will be stepping back from doing reviews of whole issues, but I will definitely still be doing short SFF coverage. Check out The Plan below...

Friday, November 20, 2020

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #69

Art by Joey Jordan
The stories of Diabolical Plots’ November issue are…rather weird. Haunting. Featuring characters to have lost, who are faced with the prospect of a world different from the one they know. Absent the people who have given structure to their lives. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the characters are truly worse off, though. Because these losses, these changes, provoke the characters to introspect, to make changes, to better understand their own needs. And they find that independence is something they need, even if they’ve always been treated like independence would be impossible, or painful, or wrong. It’s an interesting issue and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

2020 Comprehensive Post List

Quick Sip Reviews 2020 Comprehensive Post List

Anathema: #10 [part 1]; #10 [part 2]; #11 [part 1]; #11 [part 2]

Augur: #2.3; #3.1 [part 1]; #3.1 [part 2]; #3.1 [part 3]

Baffling: 07/2008/2009/2010/20; 11/20; 12/20

Beneath Ceaseless Skies: #294; #295; #296; #297; #298 [part 1]; #298 [part 2]; #299 [part 1]; #299 [part 2]; #300 [part 1]; #300 [part 2]; #301; #302; #303; #304; #305; #306; #307; #308; #309; #310; #311; #312; #313; #314; #315; #316; #317; #318; #319; #320

Clarkesworld: #160; #161; #162; #163; #164; #165; #166; #167; #168; #169; #170; #171

The Dark: #56; #57; #58; #59; #60; #61; #62; #63; #64; #65; #66; #67

Diabolical Plots: #59; #60; #61; #62; #63; #64; #65; #66; #67; #68; #69; #70

Escape Pod: #716&717; #718-721; #722-725; #748-751; #754-756

Fantasy: #61; #62

Fireside: #74; #75; #76; #77; #78; #79; #80; #81; #82; #83; #84; #85; #86

Fiyah: #13; #14; #15; #16; Breathe Fiyah [w/Tor]

Flash Fiction Online: 01/20; 02/20; 03/20; 04/20; 05/20; 06/20; 07/20; 08/20; 09/20; 10/20; 11/20; 12/20

GigaNotoSaurus: 01/2002/2003/2004/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/20; 12/20

Glittership: Winter 2020; Spring 2020

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly: #43; #44; #45; #46

Lackington's: #21; #22

Lightspeed: #116; #117; #118; #119; #120; #121; #122; #123; #124; #125; #126; #127

Mithila Review: #12 [part 2]; #12 [part 3]; #12 [part 4]; #13 [part 1]; #13 [part 2]; #13 [part 3]; #14 [part 1]; #14 [part 2]

Nightmare: #88; #89; #90; #91; #92; #93; #94; #95; #96; #97; #98; #99

Omenana: #15

PodCastle: #606&608; #611; #614; #616&620; #622&623; #625&627; #638&640; #643

Serial Box: Knox: ep01.01-01.02; ep01.03-01.04; ep01.05-01.06; ep01.07-01.08; ep01.09-01.11

Serial Box: Machina: ep01.01-01.02; ep01.03-01.04; ep01.05-01.06; ep01.07-01.08; ep01.09-01.10

Serial Box: Ninth Step Station: ep02.01-02.02; ep02.03-02.04; ep02.05-02.06; ep02.07-02.08; ep02.09-02.10

Strange Horizons/Samovar: 01/06/20 & 01/13/20; 01/20/20 & 01/27/20; 02/03/20 & 02/10/20; 02/17/20 & 02/24/20; 03/02/20 & 03/09/20; 03/16/20 & 03/23/20; 03/30/20; 04/06/20 & 04/13/20; 04/20/20 & Samovar 04/27/20; 05/04/20 & 05/11/20; 05/18/20 & 05/25/20; 06/01/20 & 06/08/20; 06/15/20 & 06/22/20; Fund Drive 2020; 06/29/20; 07/06/20 & 07/13/20; 07/20/20 & Samovar 07/27/20; 08/03/20 & 08/10/20; 08/17/20 & 08/24/20; 08/31/20; 09/07/20 & 09/14/20; 09/21/20 & 09/28/20; 10/05/12 & 10/12/20; 10/19/20 & Samovar 10/26/20; 11/02/20 & 11/09/20; 11/16/20 & 11/23/20; 11/30/20; 12/07/20 & 12/14/20; 12/21/20 & 12/28/20

Terraform: 12/19; 02/20; 03/20; 10/20

Tor: 01/20; 02/20; 03/20; 04/20; 05/20; 06/20; 07/20; 08/20; 09/20; 10/20; 11/20; 12/20

Translunar Travelers Lounge: #2 [part 1]; #2 [part 2]; #2 [part 3]; #3 [part 1]; #3 [part 2]; #3 [part 3]; #3 [part 4]

Uncanny: #32 [01/20]; #32 [02/20]; #33 [03/20]; #33 [04/20]; #34 [05/20]; #34 [06/20]; #35 [07/20]; #35 [08/20]; #36 [09/20]; #36 [10/20]; #37 [11/20]; #37 [12/20]

Regular Sips (novellas)

City of a Thousand Feelings, Anya Johanna DeNiro (Aqueduct)
The Adventure of the Naked Guide, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct)
The Four Profound Weaves, R.B. Lemberg (Tachyon)
Queens of Noise, Leigh Harlen (Neon Hemlock)
Cradle and Grave, Anya Ow (Neon Hemlock)
A Fledgling Abiba, Dilman Dila (Guardbridge Books)
Stone and Steel, Eboni Dunbar (Neon Hemlock)
Yellow Jessamine, Catilin Starling (Neon Hemlock)


The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper (Queen of Swords)
Weird Dream Society (Reckoning)
The Book of Shanghai: A City in Short Fiction (Comma)
Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora (Volume One) (Aurelia Leo)
Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World that Wouldn't Die (Neon Hemlock): Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

The Sippy Awards 2019

The "I'd Ship That" Sippy for Excellent Relationships in Short SFF

Quick Sips - Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World that Wouldn't Die (Neon Hemlock) [part4]

Art by Grace Fong
And it’s time for the last of my four-part look at the wonderful Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales from a World that Wouldn’t Die, edited by dave ring and published by Neon Hemlock. The anthology so far has been incredibly, starting strong and having a lot of fun before in the third quarter dipping into a bit more tragic and heavy elements. And while those aren’t entirely gone, the home stretch builds back up, focusing on healing, on recovery, on love, and on community. On the power of queer people helping queer people survive, and in that survival making sure that no apocalypse, no end of the world, is stronger than the connections we make with each other. There’s so many amazing works, and I’ll get right to reviewing them!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Quick Sips - Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #46

Art by Jereme Peabody
November brings a new issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, with one short story, two novelettes, and one poem. The pieces are well in line with the publication’s title, featuring fantastical daring do, adventures of the magical variety, and a touch of grimness to keep things from getting too boisterous. The works look at people trying to avoid violence by and large, all pulled in all the same, to cycles of death and revenge, all trying to end up on the winning side, many having to be content with a sort of balancing act. There’s a lot of worlds to discover and characters to follow, so without further delay, let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Quick Sips - Terraform October 2020

Oops! It has been a while since the last original story from Terraform, so when one dropped at the very end of October, I missed covering it. Well, I’m making up for it now. And while Halloween might be come and gone, this story definitely keeps the blood-chilling atmosphere of the season alive and well. Looking at contagion, at bodies in revolt, and at the failure of humans to regulate and moderate themselves, to deadly and disastrous effect. It’s grim, and it’s rather terrifying, and I’ll get right to my review!

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus November 2020

November brings an interesting piece of historical fiction to GigaNotoSaurus. And I say historical fiction but it’s probably in the ways the story diverges from history that it meets its speculative element. Whatever the case, it finds a man sent to judge a situation, and to diffuse it. And those things aren’t always so close together, can’t always go hand in hand. Sometimes to keep the peace, the judgment has to sort of take a back seat, or at least has to fit itself to the moment. To the needs of a moment when there’s a lot more at stake than who might be paying a fine or going to prison. To the review!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Quick Sips - Uncanny #37 [November stuff]

Art by Julie Dillon
The November Uncanny Magazine brings three short stories and three poems to make for a full issue full of advanced technology, ancient incest, and some monsters for good measure. The fiction leans heavily into science fiction, providing three tales of super science and the very quiet, mundane, intimate things that go into big, dramatic, shattering breakthroughs in physics and AI. These are wrenching stories of people struggling and sometimes failing to reach for what they know is right, and the aftermaths that come when the decisions have been made and people have to live with what comes next. It’s an emotional and wonderfully imagined set of stories and poems, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 11/02/2020 & 11/09/2020

November opens with two short stories and two poems at Strange Horizons. For the fiction, the sense of apocalypse is strong, as is the focus on relationships. That even as the world is dying, people still hold to each other, to those who give them comfort, even if that comfort is…complicated. The works mix the heavy approach of destruction with the warmth of people reaching out in that space for love, for understanding, whatever else follows. The poetry is also amazing, and together it provides a fabulous one-two punch of SFF goodness. To the reviews!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #170

Art by Arjun Amky
Seven new stories from Clarkesworld weave a lot around sentience. Intelligence. Beings who are not human. Or not quite. Robots, AI, stars, even altered humans--the stories explore how these beings relate to the people who created them, or imprisoned them, or both. Some find ways to break free. Some find ways to cooperation. Some find ways to domination. Whatever the case, the issue hits on these ideas again and again, building up a rather thematically tight issue that looks at what it means to be alive and sentient, and explores how humans treat those they might not want to recognize as fully “people.” To the reviews!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #316

Art by Vladimir Manyukhin
The two stories in the latest Beneath Ceaseless Skies deal with order, with bargains. With rules. And each presents a situation where rules have been made into a kind of weapon used to try and control people. In very different ways. But one story features an agent of the rules, of the status quo, going to “solve” a violation, only to discover that what he’s upholding might be very distant from justice, and the other involves one man standing up against a set of unjust rules and showing people that obedience and death are not the only options. It’s an action-filled issue, with some gripping scenes and satisfying endings, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online November 2020

The November issue of Flash Fiction Online brings a bit of news, namely that long-time editor-in-chief Suzanne Vincent will be stepping down at the end of the year, being succeeded by Wendy Nikel. I wish all the luck to both as they move into new roles! Otherwise, the issue itself in a mix of genres, most of them not speculative. But they’re still interesting and powerful looks at characters dealing with expectations. Navigating how their hopes and dreams and aspirations meet the harsh reality of the world. The pieces explore how they cope, and how they overcome, the dangers, setbacks, and pressures to give up on themselves. So yeah, to the reviews!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Quick Sips - Fantasy #61

Art by Alexandra Petruk/Adobe Stock Image
It’s been a while since there’s been a regular Fantasy Magazine. After combining with Lightspeed (and retaining that name), the publication has only returned for special Destroy issues (of which I reviewed the ones that came out in 2015 & 2016), but hasn’t been ongoing. That changes with this issue. Now, things are a bit different now, as the publication will be putting out flash fiction and poetry on top of the regular-length fiction, but like Lightspeed, Fantasy will be releasing content for free online slowly throughout the month (though you can always buy an issue to get it all right away). And the first issue seems to me like a statement of intent. A way of showing what fantasy as a genre has to offer, and what Fantasy the publication might be focusing on. Stories that combine magic and resilience. Poems that mix hope and joy. A whole experience that is challenging, provocative, and entertaining as h*ck. Let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, November 6, 2020

Quick Sips - Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World that Wouldn't Die (Neon Hemlock) [part3]

Art by Grace Fong
I’m back for part three of my review of Glitter + Ashes, a so-far wonderful anthology of queer post-apocalyptic short SFF from Neon Hemlock, edited by dave ring. The first two parts (representing just over half of the works) have managed to keep spirits fairly high despite the theme of the post-apocalypse. With this section, though, things get a bit more dire. And the stories dip a bit more heavily into the violent and tragic elements that so often go along with the sub-genre. Not that the works ever forget hope, though. After all, these are stories of a world that wouldn’t die, and that refusal to give in still shines despite the muck and blood and smog. Let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Quick Sips - The Dark #66

Art by chainat
November brings two stories of homes and roommates to The Dark Magazine. Not roommates you’d want, though. Mold and insects. Depression and anxiety. The pieces find characters who are dealing with trauma, with burn out, with the pressure to somehow just get over it, just be better. And not being able to. And finding that there is no help and no way to stop or even slow their accelerating descent into a dark place. It’s a visceral and difficult issue, but one with some absolutely stunning stories, and before I give too much away, let’s get to the reviews!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #126

Art by Roman3d / Adobe Stock Image
Lightspeed is here and for November things are a little bit different. Instead of the usual two science fiction and two fantasy stories, there’s one longer sci fi novelette and two fantasy stories. So not a huge difference, really (and one the publication has done plenty of times before), but a change all the same. What hasn’t changed is that the fiction is at turns sharp and charming and wrenching, the character work solid, the world building epic, and that it all comes together to form a rather awesome issue of short SFF. There are spacial anomalies that defy the laws of physics, magic that is caught in the tears of a cosmic mourner, and a cat who isn’t about to let anything threaten the World Tree. The stories are very different, and not very linked thematically, but they provide a great range, and a little something for everyone. To the reviews!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Quick Sips - Escape Pod #754-756

Three original stories make for a pretty full month this October at Escape Pod. The works as always interrogate and celebrate science fiction. Here, there are post-disaster dystopias and far off-world military adventures (and horrors). The pieces examine empathy and cruelty amidst corruption, slavery, and colonization. To the backdrop of exploitation, betrayal, and genocide. These are not overwhelmingly happy stories. The characters are caught in places they cannot easily or perhaps ever escape from. But that doesn’t mean they can’t find ways to reach out in kindness, understanding, and love—doesn’t mean they can’t try to find those things for themselves, either. So let’s get to the reviews!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Quick Sips - Tor dot com October 2020

Art by Jon Foster
While Tor already had a large release in October in collaboration with Fiyah Magazine for Breathe Fiyah, there’s still the matter of Tor’s regular releases to get to, which include one short story and two novelettes. These stories definitely lean on the spooky side, I think, and seem rather appropriate for the season. There’s a ghost story, a nested narrative about erasure, reclamation, and the nature of storytelling. And there’s a heartwarming story about witches. All in all, it’s a powerful collection of mostly fantasy, and fantasy with some grim ornamentation. So let’s dive right into the reviews!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #84

Art by Anna Dittmann
October brings four short stories to Fireside Magazine, and the works deal a lot with bodies, with control, with violation. As such, there are some rather important content warnings to heed, but also a very driving sense of exploration of what it means to be embodied, to have skin, to be perceived. Characters struggle with and against the cultural forces that keep them at odds with the meat they carry themselves in, or the code, or both. Sometimes able to pull free, sometimes not. But always still left with the concept of self as observed versus self-observing. Always still left in this messy space of trauma, desire, and anxiety. To the reviews!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 10/19/2020 & Samovar 10/26/2020

Well, the month managed to bring a little bit of a curveball at Strange Horizons, as I wasn’t expecting a new Samovar. But here we are, and I’m certainly not complaining about the three stories and two poems that round out the two issues. As they come from essentially two different publications, there’s not a huge amount of thematic links between the issues, but they still all embody the kind of strange that both publications do so well. A complex and yearning weirdness that kinds people struggling to find their place in broken worlds. Clinging to rationalism or absurdity to make sense of it all or to reject that sense can exist at all. Add in some wonderful poetry and it makes for a great mix of short SFF. To the reviews!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #315

The latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies brings two novelettes about invasion, about resistance (or lack of). About two queer characters dealing with the prospect of their home being conquered. Of having to make hard decisions between what their heart wants and what’s expected of them. In both cases, what’s expected might win out, but the two stories have two very different takes on what that means. In one, that means a character submitting to the need to sacrifice for a cause, for justice, for the hope of a future. In the other, that means a character submitting to corruption, to lies, to a betrayal of what and who they are. It’s some emotionally powerful and devastating work, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Quick Sips - Baffling Magazine October 2020

October brings the single largest amount of stories to date for Baffling Magazine’s early access Patreon, which means three new stories just in time for PSL season. And while the stories aren’t exactly spooky, they do feel a nice fit for the season, for autumn and its lengthening shadows, it’s creeping chill, and its mix of monsters and magic. The stories blend romance and horror, love and death and betrayal. Each of the stories finds characters apt to hurt each other, characters who might be preying on one another. Hungry magics and mad sciences. But wrapped in that is the messy reality of affection, love, and heartbreak. To the reviews!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Quick Sips - Breathe Fiyah

Art by Eli Minaya
A collaboration between Tor and Fiyah Magazine, this special Breathe Fiyah issue features eight short stories (entirely flash fiction) by Black writers exploring race, oppression, resistance, and revolution through a speculative lens. The stories are largely (though not completely) contemporary, both fantasy and science fiction (with some horror elements thrown in as well at times), and they create a framework, one that ends up resembling perhaps a structure of kindling. Each piece a small addition that, when put together and struck, sets off a blaze. The stories are about resisting, about surviving a world that is actively trying to erase, exploit, and exterminate you. And the works do indeed spark and smolder, ending with a bang that, hopefully, will shake things up, weakening the racist and white supremacist structures that marginalize Black writers. To the reviews!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Quick Sips - Diabolical Plots #68

Art by Joey Jordan
The October Diabolical Plots brings two new short stories with a nice twist of horror, perfect for the season. First up, a transcript of a video channel that’s…not quite right. That shows a certain enthusiasm but not so much a…certain wholesomeness. The second story delves into the horror of shopping, and the horror of shopping culture. It’s a sharp look at consumerism and corruption, and manages a nice creepy atmosphere throughout. Both of the stories mix a bit of spookiness, a healthy dose of strangeness, and enough awkward adorableness amidst pervasive terror that they complement each other well. And if you need more convincing, let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Quick Sips - Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World that Wouldn't Die (Neon Hemlock) [part 2]

Art by Grace Fong
It’s time for part two of my review of the Glitter + Ashes anthology, published by Neon Hemlock and edited by dave ring, with a look at another seven stories. The pieces range a bit longer in the meaty center of the book, and there are less very short works to break things up. That said, the anthology is really punching above its weight with every piece, with beautifully rendered and stunningly complex takes on queer life and love after and in the face of the end of the world. And the stories show that what people cling to when the world is falling apart says a lot. The stories find characters who have the option of acting selfishly, of saving only themselves, and who choose instead to help others, to try and retain art, and expression, and of course love. It’s a wonderful collection of pieces, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Quick Sips - Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World that Wouldn't Die (Neon Hemlock) [part 1]

Art by Grace Fong
At first I was planning on doing a Quick Collections post for this anthology, recently put out from Neon Hemlock (ed. dave ring). But a confluence of circumstances made me reconsider, and now I’m just going to be doing a full review of all 26 stories. Which...is A Lot. So I’m not going to be doing them all at once. Rather, I’m going to be breaking the anthology up into 4 parts, and reviewing them as I have convenient spots in my posting schedule. First up, the first seven stories! There’s a mix of lengths and elements, but the promise of queer stories about resilience in the face of the end of the world is front and center, delivered on beautifully. To see what I mean, let’s get right to the reviews!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Quick Sips - Nightmare #97

Art by Andrey Kiselev / Adobe Stock Image
The October issue of Nightmare Magazine doesn’t really go full-on spooky, though that doesn’t mean it skimps on the horror. Rather, the horror here is...quiet. Slow. Careful. Methodical, even. And it looks at aspects of the human experience that can sort of sink into something grim and terrifying. Marriage, especially when it rots. Academia, especially when the pursuits turn out to be sinkholes, traps. The stories show people who are on the cusp of something shadowed and deep, something there’s no turning back from after a certain point. One of the characters thinks to try and escape. The other plunges right in. It makes for an interesting and well balanced issue. To the reviews!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Quick Sips - Uncanny #36 [October stuff]

October doesn’t really bring a great deal of spooky material to Uncanny Magazine, but it does bring some stories that are very aware of isolation, of oppression, and of transformation. Of characters caught under the weight of their trauma, their wounds, their fears and hurts. Seeking ways to escape, to slip free, to get out from under the crush of historical abuses and more contemporary and intimate ones. Finding the power of moving in unexpected ways, of reaching for affirmation and comfort in the midst of conflict, war, and strife. It’s a difficult month of fiction and poetry, but it’s also a lovely selection of works that flow wonderfully together. To the reviews!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 10/05/2020 & 10/12/2020

Art by Helen Mask
The first two issues of October Strange Horizons bring the regular two short stories and two poems, but (as always) it’s rather difficult to call them “regular.” Except that (as always) the quality is high, the emotions are shook, and the experience is, well, strange. From extra eyeballs growing all over a person’s body to time travel that’s not really time travel, from surveys about being a dragon to the pitfalls of recommendations, the works cover a lot of ground. Fantasy. Science fiction. Some breathtaking poetry. There’s a lot to get to, a lot to enjoy, and probably a lot to kinda low key cry about, so I’ll get right to the reviews!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #169

Art by Francesca Resta
It’s another Big issue of Clarkesworld Magazine, with four short stories and three novelettes. And there’s perhaps a theme that runs throughout the pieces, that of family. Explored in some interesting ways, the pieces all seem to circle around what makes a family and what might tear it apart. The stories are not always incredibly happy, many of them unfolding in post-disaster scenarios, but that’s not unusual for the publication, nor is the fact that this is once more an entirely-science-fiction issue. It makes for a lot of possible worlds, a lot of future we’d probably do best to avoid. And it’s just a lot of strong work, so I’ll get right to my reviews!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus October 2020

I’m no stranger to stories taking on Lovecraftian mythos and ideas, and this month’s GigaNotoSaurus short story joins the conversation with a work that crafts an alternate history where the Old Ones rose in the early 1900s and have been in power ever since. That doesn’t mean there aren’t humans left, though, and in the warped reality that Dublin has become, one human finds themself facing a string of dangers and conflicts when a chance to earn a lot of coins drops into their lap. Unfortunately, though, that opportunity comes with the promise of adventure of the eldritch sort, and ends up pitting the narrator against friends, lovers, and the maybe even a death cult or two. So yeah, let’s get to the review!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #314

Art by Vladimir Manyukhin
The two stories in the latest Beneath Ceaseless Skies feature gods and people just sort of trying to get by despite them. The characters in both stories are searching for answers to questions they don’t quite know how to ask yet. Concerning pasts they can’t remember, and futures they hope to reach. They feature strange partnerships and large casts of memorable characters. And there are discussions in both stories about the nature of gods, and magic, and how it all works together. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online October 2020

October brings a seasonably creepy slew of stories to Flash Fiction Online. Stories that deal with some of the classics in horrifying SFF--ghosts, werewolves, and monsters (oh my!). Now, not all of the stories deal with these elements in...particularly horrifying ways. Rather, the stories offer up an array of different approaches to the tropes. Complications and twists on the classics that make for some fascinating and (as always) quick reads. It’s certainly appropriate for the month, and I’ll jump right into those reviews!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Quick Sips - Fiyah #16 [Joy]

Art by Odera Igbokwe
The theme for the latest issue of Fiyah Literary Magazine is Joy. Which, I mean, is needed right about now. The five stories and three poems do not disappoint, weaving together genres and visions that bring the reader to a great many joys. Some tinged with heartache, some won only through bitter pain. But the joys on display are beautiful, transcendent, transforming. They are healing, and they imagine futures where there is hope, where there is relief, where the hardships that seem so insurmountable are memories. And it’s just a wonderful issue that shines with care, compassion, and yes, joy. To the reviews!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Quick Sips - The Dark #65

Art by chainat
October brings a special treat to The Dark Magazine--an extra original story! And all three of the works in this issue are wonderful, are full of characters pushing back against the oppressive worlds they find themselves in. Not always able to do much. Sometimes able lto escape. Sometimes able to create change. Rarely able to avoid loss, though. Never able to avoid grief. The works offer complex views of delicate situations, and people hoping to get by or else willing to bring it all down around their head. But before I give too much away, let’s get to the reviews!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #125

Art by Grandeduc / Adobe Stock Image
Three short stories and a novelette round out the original content in October’s Lightspeed Magazine. And it’s not exactly a spooky month of offerings, though there is a vampire for those interested. Rather, the stories deal a lot with stories. Stories people tell that help to define the world they move through. Of good and evil. Of hero and monsters. And the stories end up dealing with the ways those stories can be affirming and healing, and the ways those stories can be cages, devices of erasure, pain, and destruction. And the works cover a lot of ground, from post-disaster Chicago to a romance far far away, from a small village in Hungary to an online reality that can be more real than real. To the reviews!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Quick Sips - Tor dot com September 2020

Art by Audrey Benjaminsen
It’s another full month of original fiction at Tor dot com, with four short stories and a novelette. As the seasons change into autumn (here in the U.S. at least), the fiction seems to be shifting as well. The stories are getting a bit more grim, a bit spookier. The works are tending toward horror tropes and elements with vampires, ghosts, monsters, gods, and apocalypses. The works find characters who are trying to get their lives on track following loss, following disappointment, following…life happening. And their attempts run into shadows, into the strange and dangerous mysteries of the world. And if, and how, they come out of those shadows will determine a lot if they can start to recover and heal from what’s happened to them. To the reviews!