|Art by Melkor3D / Adobe Stock Image|
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
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
|Art by Christopher Jones|
Monday, September 21, 2020
|Art by Rodion Shaldo|
Friday, September 18, 2020
|Art by Thais Leiros|
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
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!
|Art by Vladimir Manyukhin|
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Monday, September 14, 2020
|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
|Art by Bex Glendining|
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
|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
|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
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
|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
|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
|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
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.
Hi and welcome to my first ever...blog 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!
|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 (patreon.com/rblemberg) and a full bio at rblemberg.net.
And with that settled, on to the questions!
Thursday, August 27, 2020
|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
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
Friday, August 21, 2020
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
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
|Art by Alexey Shugurov|
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
|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
|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
|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
|Art by Kirbi Fagan|
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
|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
Monday, August 10, 2020
Saturday, August 8, 2020
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
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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
Wednesday, July 29, 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
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
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
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
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
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!
|Art by Alexander Ostrowski|