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!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #166

Art by Yigit Koroglu

The latest issue of Clarkesworld is out and it’s a big one, with five short stories, a novelette, and a novella to enjoy. As always, the stories have a distinct science fiction bend to them, but with touches of fantasy and horror mixed into the sci-fi as well. More than that, many of the stories are about isolation and intense relationships, the people caught in ways, pulled toward loneliness and directionlessness, trying to find ways forward, trying to find where they belong and what their lives will look like. Not all of them find happy endings. Many of them find that their choices are extremely limited to factors in and outside of their control. Whatever their outcomes, though, the journeys are at turns beautiful and terrifying, and worth checking out. To the reviews!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Quick Sips - Baffling Magazine July 2020

Well I am looking at a brand new publication today. Baffling Magazine comes courtesy of Neon Hemlock press and promises a new home for short SFF. By short I mean flash fiction, mostly, but that might just be to start. The publication will release quarterly issues of content for free, but patreon supporters will be able to access stories early. As that includes me, I’m going to be reviewing the content monthly (to make it a bit easier on myself). The very first release is also something of a Big Deal, at least for fans of queer SFF,’s a new Gilda story! Set in the same world (and featuring the titular character) of The Gilda Stories, it spins out a new tale set right near the end of that novel/collection. And yes, you should definitely read it! To the review!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Knox [ep01.09-01.11]

I’m staring down the barrel of the last episodes of Serial Box’s Knox season 1 and I’m not sure my body is ready. To now the series has blended supernatural and cosmic horror with historical fantasy in a noir-tinged New York between the two World Wars. Knox and her allies have been mostly on the defensive to this point, but that’s about to change. The full picture is finally coming together and, more importantly, they are completely out of options. If they’re going to save the day and each other, they’ll need to work together and give it there all, and even then, against the weight and power of a vast malevolence, do they even stand a chance? Well, let’s get to the reviews and find out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 07/06/2020 & 07/13/2020

Strange Horizons kicks off July with two short stories and two poems, on top of their normal bounty of nonfiction (which I’m not covering here). The works are fairly different, one story looking at a conflict, a war, a destruction, while the other looks at portal fantasies and the weight and burden carried by those who go elsewhere and have to return. They are linked, however, in that they both approach the idea of willful ignorance. In the first, for people who don’t want to face that doing the same thing that has consistently failed is…going to fail. And in the other, that doing the same thing that has consistently failed is…going to fail. The stakes are completely different, and the situations are different, but both find people trying to push not the truth but a narrative that will maybe allow people to live “normally” rather than dealing with the messy situations they’re all is. It makes for some fine reading, and I’ll get to the reviews!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Quick Sips - Uncanny #35 [July stuff]

A new Uncanny is out and the July offerings including four short stories and two poems. There’s a lot in the works about communication, about worlds ending, about people reaching out despite that, finding comfort and strength amidst the chaos and destruction. That might mean people kindling a friendship as the rain forests burn half a world away, or parents uniting to fight the monsters that seem legion, or a couple struggling under the shadow of an asteroid bearing down on the planet. Whatever the case, the works feature complex and careful takes on time, destruction, and effort, and before I give too much away, let’s get to the reviews!

Quick Sips - Fiyah Literary Magazine #15

Art by Cyan Daly

Fiyah is back with a new issue and four original stories and three new poems! It’s also the third non-themed issue in a row, and gathers up stories that feature science fiction, fantasy, and touches of horror. And there are some things that run throughout the works, most prominent to me the theme of memory. The stories tie into memory and history, showing the weight that the characters carry because of their pasts, because of the systems that have been built over time, that carry with them memories codified into traditions and rituals. Some of the characters are running from those memories, some trying their best to hold onto them. Whatever the case, though, the works explore what it means to remember, what it means to engage with a world that itself can seem alive and not always concerned about the lives of the people living inside it. It’s a wonderful issue, and I’ll get right to my reviews!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Knox [ep01.07 & 01.08]

I’m back again covering two more chapters of Serial Box’s Knox. Things are getting I N T E N S E and I’m not sure I can handle much more of this. The series has been so good at building tension while exploring a wonderful cast of characters. Each new person is wonderful and fun and fleshed out and the series has made me care about each and every one of them only to dangle the prospect of their impending destruction over me like the blade of a guillotine. I might literally be on the edge of my seat because I am terrible at suspense but I can’t look away. I must know what happens next, following the chapters as they expertly guide my feels right toward the meat grinder. These chapters continue experimenting with voice and perspective while still keeping Knox firmly in focus, and the result is some seriously nail-biting fiction. to the reviews!

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus July 2020

The July GigaNotoSaurus is out and it’s...well, not exactly the happiest of easiest of stories. It deals with entrapment, with power, and with abuse is some very visceral, very wrenching ways, placing the child main character under the power of an affluent abuse asshole in a historical setting where the kind of abuse she faces isn’t exactly illegal, as long as the victim is poor, and the perpetrator wealthy. And into that very fraught arena the story takes some bold strides, shaping a story that could so easily be a tragedy and not quite getting there. Ultimately giving the main character some choice, and some power, and a future where she might be able to run free. To the review!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #307

The two new original stories in the latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies at first don’t seem to have the same obvious thematic connections that I expect from the publication. One’s a story that involves fairies and bargains, the other one a story that involves prisons and dreams. But both deal with injustice, with captivity, with people who find themselves trapped trying to survive, trying to be free. And who find that being free is more than having food to eat. It might also be about standing against the status quo when that status quo is disinterested in people’s lives and happiness, when the system leans towards tragedy and loss. So connection definitely is there. To the reviews!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online July 2020

The stories in the July Flash Fiction Online focus on relationships. n family. And on the bonds that can fracture and strain. That can break, if pushed hard enough, if stressed in the right away. And in each of the stories the characters are trying to reach out, knowing that it’s difficult, knowing that the thing they are grasping at might not be within reach.But even so, they have to stretch, have to try, because not doing that is too painful, too raw and hurt. They have to hope that things can get better, even if they can’t quite convince themselves that it’s going to happen. To the reviews!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Quick Sips - The Dark #62

It’s a rather strange issue of The Dark Magazine this month, with two new original stories that are all about isolation. That find characters who can’t seem to be seen by the people they want to connect with. For the first, it’s not being able to get people to see her pain, her truth that is killing her because of the things that are happening to her. In the second, it’s not being able to be seen at all, being alone through a history that slowly turns but remains mostly locked in the same old cycles of loss and violence and grief. In both, the characters want to break through their isolation, but there are patterns of force and abuse and violence that keep them separate, alone. And before I give too much away, I’ll get to the reviews!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #122

Art by Galen Dara

I’m starting my July reviews with a look at the latest Lightspeed Magazine, which lands with four short stories (the lack of novelettes is cut by the fact that three of the four stories are over 6000 words, though, so there’s still a lot of original fiction). The works themselves show a wide range of speculative visions, from a very interesting kind of alien visitation to new takes on Baba Yaga and the Peter Pan story. The works recontextualize all these things through the lens of now, reshaping science fiction and fantasy alike by challenging the tropes and traditions of the genres. The result is often delightful, occasionally devastating, and very much worth checking out. To the reviews!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 06/29/2020

Art by Sam Guay

So it’s been a very busy month at Strange Horizons. Not only was there already a special Fund Drive issue, but another special issue on top of it. This one focuses on Chosen Family, and features two new stories and three new poems, on top of a slew of nonfiction that I’m not covering here but that’s very worth checking out. The works explore the idea of chosen families quite well, showing where the bonds of biological families can fracture and fall apart, where they can be toxic and abrasive, and showing that even with family, consent is vital, choice paramount. The works find characters who have been hurt, who have been caged, and who don’t want to live that way any more, choosing for themselves who they spend their lives with, who they make their families with. To the reviews!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Knox [ep01.05 & 01.06]

Whoops! I had a suspicion I had it wrong and this one definitely convinces me that I made a rather grievous error in my early review that noted the wrong Great War (curse you unimaginative European war names!) that Serial Box’s Knox takes place after. Not World War II, but World War I. Not that it makes that big a difference, but it does put things in a different context. Completely my bad! Anyway, that out of the way, the action actually does travel back to the war and the mark it’s left on Knox. And how what she went through during that conflict has bled forward into the present case. What fun. These chapters continue the turn into the Weird and Horrifying that the previous chapters were hinting at, and things get mighty strange and ominous here. Lots going on, so I’ll get right into my reviews! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #80

Fireside Magazine Issue 80, June 2020
Art by Shaina Lu

The latest issue of Fireside Magazine is all out now, featuring five new short stories and once again harmonizing the ebook releases of the issues with the content put out for free on the website (yay!). The works range in genre, but are linked by a kind of mood that marries some more whimsical or perceived innocent things, and complicating them and giving them an added weight. The love for a pet, a family business through the eyes of a child, a date to a new restaurant, a virtual environment with a mind of its own, and even instructions for building a fantasy creature—on their surface, the stories seem to promise a lot of fun. And it’s not that they aren’t fun, but these aren’t exactly beach reads, taking those premises and crafting some wrenching and challenging experiences that interrogate safety, magic, and family. To the reviews!