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)

Collections/Anthologies

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!