Friday, July 30, 2021

Quick Sips 07/30/2021

Well I knew that this was going to be a bit of a smaller week for reviews compared to last week, though that doesn’t mean much given last week. I think I did end up slightly under average, but I did still get to quite a bit, rounding up a lot of the month’s releases. Luckily for my schedule, it seems like the Escape Artists aren’t doing many originals lately at PodCastle or Escape Pod, so that helped me catch up on Cast of Wonders and Pseudopod, as well as making sure I got to this month’s GigaNotoSaurus, which I would normally have read sooner. I also got to check out the new Diabolical Plots, The Deadlands, Fireside Magazine, and Omenana, as well at the latest week’s Strange Horizons, so a lot of ground I covered, all told, even if the total number of pieces covered isn’t huge. It leaves only a few things (I hope) to catch up on for next week (namely Mermaids Monthly, Tor, and another issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies). I am sort of catching up on reading, but also not. So it goes.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Quick Sips 07/23/2021

So a new week brings a bunch of reviews, and some special coverage. Namely, I’m looking at a spinoff of Reckoning, a special anthology of poetry and nonfiction (with one story) all about creativity and the coronavirus. It’s a timely thing, and while I’m not looking at the nonfiction, there’s a lot of poetry to look at in it as well. Kaleidotrope has a new quarterly issue, and The Future Fire put out their third issue of the year. Baffling Magazine also had a quarterly issue full of queer short SFF, and I tried to quick catch up on Strange Horizons, as well as the latest from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Mostly short stories and poetry aside from the BCS issue, which was two novelettes. And just rather busy for me.

Next week I’ll try to catch up on the various Escape Artist podcasts, and probably try to get Diabolical Plots, The Deadlands, Mermaids Monthly, and another else I can think of. I’m running on empty but I’m still running on.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Quick Sips 07/16/2021

So no new publications this week. I swear I’m trying to reign myself in. We’ll see how well it goes. There’s still a lot to get to, and Flash Fiction Online is back on original fiction after taking June to focus on reprints. Uncanny and Apex both have their bimonthly issues, and Fiyah their quarterly (and themed this time!) issue. Which leaves The Dark as the other monthly publication I’m covering. I’m taking a quick break from weekly publications and will likely double up my Strange Horizons coverage next week and catch up on what I might have missed from the Escape Artists podcasts. We’ll see, though. Still a punch of issues to check out, including July’s Baffling Magazine, The Future Fire, and Kaleidotrope, and regular content from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Diabolical Plots, Mermaids Monthly, the Deadlands, and more. Also kinda expecting Translunar Travelers Lounge to drop a new issue. And catching up on Decoded Pride and ahhhhhhhh. Whoops, gotta bottle that back up. Anyway, I am determined! Next week will probably be a big one if life can stop getting in the way!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Quick Sips 07/09/2021

So turns out I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew when it comes to reviews. Sigh. But given the fact that I’m just getting to July reviews now and given just how many I have to get to this month, it’s possible that I’ll have to make some adjustments in the future. Maybe not. It’s possible that some venues are closing, or will go off output for a while, but that’s always something of a gamble, and given all I want to cover…well, we’ll see. For now, I’ll do my best to keep up and just hope that I don’t fall apart too thoroughly. Like I said, this month is still a bit of June, with Tor and Strange Horizons, and then lots of July with F&SF (never sure when to count these as they release a month before the cover says?), Lightspeed, Nightmare, Fantasy, and the latest Beneath Ceaseless Skies. No rest for weary short SFF reviewers, I guess.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, July 2, 2021

Quick Sips 07/02/2021

Despite the tick over into July, I’m still very much on June publications, looking at six different issues today that cover over thirty SFF works. It’s only the second time I’m reading The Deadlands and Prismatica, and both deliver some powerful fiction and poetry. Mermaids Monthly also packs a punch, and is entirely queer authored and edited this month (though I mean the edited part is every month). Strange Horizons Diabolical Plots both put out strong issues as well. And once against I’m adding new things, this time with Zooscape. And…yeah, I mean, I’m probably already overbooked this month with things to read. I have Pride Decoded to get to now that I’ve ironed out actually accessing the stories, and I’m a little behind in general because of how much I choose to read and review. But.

I do care about trying to get to as much as I can in short SFF. And as wide a coverage as I can give. And that means stepping outside what most consider the “core” of short SFF in part of question what the core really is. Or, more likely, to try and destroy the idea that there is a core at all. Short SFF is vast, yes, and subject to far too many people trying to narrow it because they want to feel that it should be “manageable.” Which in some ways I understand. As someone with a collecting urge, there’s certainly a part of me that wants to be comprehensive. That wants to read Everything. And I know I can’t, so it might be tempting to say that something doesn’t count as a way to claim that actually I do read Everything. But that’s bullshit.

The short SFF I do not read or review still exists, and I’d likely enjoy a whole lot of it. It’s my loss that I don’t read it. But I do have limited time, and I have to decide what I read. There’s no real “fair” way to do it, but I try my best to be inclusive and eager. I’m not saying that the stories I don’t read aren’t worthy of my time or attention, just that I have to make the call what to cover, and I’ll own that. I’m adding Zooscape because I like furry media, and because I do think it often gets overlooked and pushed out of SFF because people are embarrassed about it. I’m excited that the publication is looking to raise its payrates to become an SFWA qualifying market, and I wish them all the best in that. And I’m happy to add them to my short SFF coverage. Onward!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Quick Sips 06/25/2021

So this is technically my last review post for this year’s June, and so I’m about halfway through the year. As such, please, if you haven’t already taken this survey about Quick Sip Reviews, please do. It would help me out immeasurably. Otherwise, I’m catching up a bit on Beneath Ceaseless Skies after kinda missing an issue, and moving through the big issue of Shoreline of Infinity, the quarterly Future Science Fiction Digest, the June Fireside Magazine, and some weekly content from Strange Horizons and the Escape Artists. Pretty standard as weeks go.

But now that I’m halfway through 2021 (kinda sorta) I can look at my number a bit closer. Right now I’m sitting at 581 short stories, 51 novelettes, 8 novellas, and 181 poems I’ve covered (minus a few whose reviews I didn’t publish because I didn’t want to). That makes 821 on the year so far, which means if I maintain this pace I’ll hit…over 1600?! Shit. Well, I mean, I know I’m reading more. Still, that’s a lot. Over the life of QSR that means I’ve covered 5005 stories, 1061 poems, and 126 nonfiction works, for a total of 6192. Another big number. Never let anyone say it can’t be done, thoughtfully and relentlessly, for years. Not that it’s easy, but I’m okay with being walking, talking proof that it’s not impossible. Let that be only more clear the longer I do this.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Quick Sips 06/18/2021

And like always, there’s a lot to get to this week. Most of it is regular monthly/weekly stuff, though there’s a new issue of Hexagon as well as a new Driesch story that I had missed from earlier. The week is almost entirely short stories, too, which isn’t incredibly odd but two poems (and only 2 novelettes) means that short stories are far and away the majority of what I’m covering. Taken over the year so far things are a little more balanced, with 554 short stories, 49 novelettes, 8 novellas, and 174 poems. I have a few more novellas to read (mostly from Neon Hemlock) coming up, but otherwise I think the mix is about right. Honestly I think it would be difficult to really increase novelettes and novellas without taking on more of the digests, and at this point I’m not in a place to do that. I don’t have flash fiction marked out, either, though I’m sure that’s pretty well represented as well, given trends. Indeed!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Quick Sips 06/11/2021

Well May was certainly a month. I thought I was only going to have a few things to finish up, and then EVERYTHING RELEASED. So there’s still a whole lot of May content here, from Mermaids Monthly and Fusion Fragment (which I was expecting) to Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, and Cast of Wonders (who I should have suspected). I do manage to get into June, though, with looks at the trifecta of Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Fantasy. And I did it all around the Memorial Day weekend and my birthday. Weeeee! Of course, that means I’m behind in my X Marks the Story work (because I like to wait to read the entire month before finalizing things). So it goes? In other other news, June’s Flash Fiction Online is entirely reprints, so I won’t specifically be covering those, though I do recommend checking out the issue, which is very good. So yeah, onward!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, June 4, 2021

Quick Sips 06/04/2021

So May just won’t end, it seems. Though at least this week I’m looking at one June release, and just in time for Pride, as it’s a queer horror anthology with sixteen(!!!) new original stories. Aside from that, I’m getting to the May Anathema (which has been missed since the last original issue back in August 2020), Clarkesworld (which I thought I had already reviewed but nope!), and Lackington’s (which last published in November 2020), as well as another short week of Strange Horizons content. Still quite a bit to get to for the Month, but I’m doing what I can, and looking forward to what June has in store! In other news, June 3 is my birthday, and if you’re looking to get me something, I’d love if you could take a minute to fill out this quick survey about Quick Sip Reviews. Thanks!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Quick Sips 05/28/2021

Today I’m continuing my May coverage with looks at nine different publications. Most of the Escape Artists pods have new work out, as well as regular releases from Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Diabolical Plots. I add The Deadlands to my rotation, and am very excited about the project and what it will be putting out, and relatively new khōréō magazine is back with a second wonderful issue. I’m taking a bit of a risk trying to review Tor before the end of the month (I’m writing this before the 26th), but if there’s another release I’ll just cover that next week. So yeah, lots to get to!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Quick Sips 05/21/2021

Welcome to my continued May coverage! This week I sweep up the last of my advance copies and move into some new territory (again). The new publication is Shoreline of Infinity, who reached out to offer a review copy. I don’t even want to know how many publications that means I’m actually covering at this point. A lot. Which, I mean, is the goal, is the point. And so far I’m doing my best to stay on top of it all. Hopefully that lasts. There’s also the new Uncanny (a reminder that I review the whole issue now rather than breaking it up into what’s out for free each month), Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (a somewhat slim issue for them), Fireside Magazine (guest edited by Danny Lore), and Strange Horizons. So while it’s not the busiest week of reviews ever, it’s no slouch, either.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Quick Sips 05/14/2021

Welcome to May proper, at least here at QSR. Yes, the month is about half over, but with all that came out in April I might be a little behind. Eep! Anyway, Not too much incredibly new about today’s post, as I’m covering venues that I’ve covered previously, and most of the ones I take care of first every month. Most of these are monthly, though Apex is bimonthly, Beneath Ceaseless Skies is biweekly, and Strange Horizons is weekly. There’s a lot to get to, though, including a lot of short stories, a few poems, and a decent amount of novelettes. The works skew rather grim for a lot of these, too, though I feel that Apex in a bit of a twist has a few really hopeful stories that were fun. Anyway, onward!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Quick Sips 05/07/2021

More new things! Yes, I know, that’s a recurring theme with me, but I just can’t help it (more like I just can’t say no when there’s an opportunity to review something and I feel like I have time). So I’m adding Reckoning to my rotation. The thing with that is the publication only comes out once a year, so…I’m already done with 2021 there. This week I’m also covering a new The Future Fire and the return of Samovar after a bit of a wait. Plus the latest Mermaids Monthly, Tor, and various Escape Artists podcasts. This will hopefully close out April releases (unless I’ve missed something), so next week I’ll be fully into May. After more novelettes and novellas last week, though, this week it’s almost entirely short stories and poetry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially when it’s a lot of wonderful works!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Quick Sips 04/30/2021

So after a fairly large week last week, this one shaped out to be a bit lighter, though that’s not to say there’s not a lot to cover. The largest release I’m looking at today is the May/June F&SF, while also picking up April’s Diabolical Plots and new issues from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and Cast of Wonders. There’s actually a decent number of novelettes here, (3) as well as a novella. Throw in a decent amount of poetry and while the week might be below average for total works for me, it’s doing just fine in terms of words covered. And it lets me get more of a taste for the newer-to-me publications of F&SF and Cast of Wonders. And really there’s a lot of great stuff here, from haunted furniture to people with planets that orbit them. From a wrenching piece about losing a name to a person trapped in a dreamscape because of a bargain they didn’t make. Just lots of neat works!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, April 23, 2021

Quick Sips 04/23/2021

And welcome back! I know I know I said that I was basically done with new venues but I feel that I’ve mostly stuck to that, for all that I’m adding another today. It’s more, though, that Cast of Wonders hadn’t had original stories until just now, and I feel I technically added it back when I added Pseudopod (essentially the beginning of the year. So there. But then, I also am looking at a new poetry collection today. But that’s a one off! And probably I don’t need to make excuses for any of this, because I doubt anyone is actually upset that I’m getting to more reviews. And aside from Cast of Wonders, Omenana also put out its first issue of the year, which is always reason to celebrate. I’m excited about the editorial that says they’re hoping to get a more regular schedule, and I’m wishing them all the best with that!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Quick Sips 04/16/2021

Well I’m now into entirely April publications, and looking a lot of interesting works this week. I think I can start to pin down some trends, though, for the year. And I mean keep in mind that I’m not reading everything, that I’m not seeing all works being put out, but I have been noticing a big return of stories focused on the act of survival and the different ways that people can resist, and the ways that can be effective, and the ways that sometimes there’s no win, no real way to fight back except in personal, often self-destructive acts. And I feel that it’s probably reflecting a lot but especially the pandemic and the lingering effects that authoritarian movements have made a bad situation so much worse globally, where almost every authoritarian/conservative government has fucked up their response and let their people die. And just…the weight of that. Mixed in to how some governments are going further right, using this as a chance to consolidate power, to the further detriment of their people. Though through a speculative lens, I am noticing that there are a lot of really heavy stories dealing with corrupt regimes, the desire to push back, and the enormous toll that takes on a person.

But anyway, that’s just one thing. I’m sure I’ll notice other things as the year moves on even more. For now, I’ll just keep my eyes open.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Quick Sips 04/09/2021

March is dead. Long live April! Or something like that. This week I am hoping to close out my March reads, at least (unless I have completely missed something, which happens). There was a bit of activity late in the month what with the release of a special issue from Strange Horizons, but mostly now I’m moving into stuff from April. Now that we’re entering into the second quarter of the year, it means that all the quarterly publications I’ve been following (many of them new to my coverage this year) will be putting out new issues. Luckily they seem spread out enough that I shouldn’t be too buried, but we’ll see how this goes. Yay. Anyway, I expect to stay busy, and I’m glad that I got to cover Baffling, because it’s fairly large and always amazing, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the month is going to bring!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Quick Sips 04/02/2021

So April is here and I forewent doing any sort of April Fool’s Day “pranks” this year. Instead, I’m back with a lot of reviews. Surprise! This week I don’t think I’m covering anything brand new to me, though Mithila Review has been absent for the better part of a year and has returned with a big new issue. I only dip my toe into April reviews with a look at the new Fantasy Magazine, mostly because the end of March has been busy. Otherwise things are going nicely. I feel like 2021 is still taking shape in terms of what themes are widely on display. It’s still a rather grim year across the board, or at least so it seems to me. But there are some lighter spots that hopefully will strengthen as the year goes on. Whatever the case there, it’s a wonderful year for stories, and I’m loving the chance to read so many great ones!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Quick Sips 03/26/2021

A new week, and new reasons for me to once again add new venues to my reading. I mean, obviously. What could go wrong? Seriously, though, I’m adding both Future Science Fiction Digest and The Future Fire to my reading, both of which I’ve admired from afar for a while but couldn’t fit into my plans. The Future Fire issue is technically from January so oops there, but better late than never I hope. I’m also looking at some single-author stuff, including a new installment in Julie C. Day’s mosaic novel/story collection and a collection of speculative crip lit by Brian Koukol, whose work I enjoyed when it appeared in GigaNotoSaurus a while ago. But yeah, lots to cover today, even if it’s technically not a huge week numbers-wise. Cheers!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Quick Sips 03/19/2021

Just go ahead and ignore me whenever I say I’m done adding publications to cover. I’ll stop saying it, because I apparently can’t resist having a bit of time and immediately going to track down more to read. Just the way I am, I guess. And this week I’m adding some more…again. Both Hexagon Magazine and the Future Fire and new to my coverage, though neither are terribly new to me personally. It’s nice to be able to add them to my reading, though, and already I’ve found a lot of great stories in them. Further, here’s the first time I’m adding stories from a single author collection, but I do plan on continuing that trend, so that while I’ll only be covering the original stories, I’ll still definitely be able to keep up with some that might otherwise have slipped by. Otherwise not too much to report.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Quick Sips 03/12/2021

Well the year isn’t really slowing down. Eff. But that’s mostly okay! I’m staying busy, at least. This week I’m moving through a bunch of publications, catching up on some that I’ve not exactly missed but needed to get yet from February. As a peek into my process, most of these are from places where I receive review copies, which helps me get to them promptly (F&SF and Apex, which I covered last week, are also in that boat). The rest are irregular/weekly releases that I try not to fall too far behind on. I try. Again, eff. I still have one or two review copies to get to, afterwards I’ll move to regular releases like Clarkesworld that are out in their entirety for free early in the month. Irregulars and issues that release a little at a time by necessity get moved back further in the month. So yeah!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Quick Sips 03/05/2021

Apparently I just keep adding new publications to what I’m covering. Case in point, I’ve got two new ones this week, with a slightly belated review of the inaugural Constelación and a review of the latest Fantasy & Science Fiction. I also finally remembered that Diabolical Plots exists (sorry!) and got myself caught up there. It’s still a mix of months, with works from January, February, and March all represented here, but hopefully you can keep it all straight. Next week should be all stuff from March, though, so I’m hopefully more or less caught up on what I’m doing. And there’s a lot to get to, so I’ll cut my intro there!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Quick Sips 02/26/2021

So there’s a lot to get to today. A LOT. And most of it rather new to me, including me starting coverage on a new magazine, a new serial/mosaic project, and quick reviews on yet another anthology from last year (which I missed at the time and which is Ah-Mazing! Just saying). On top of that there’s a new Translunar Travelers Lounge, new Strange Horizons, and new Pseudopod works all out. So from my lightest week to, well, this deluge of SFF goodness. Wow!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Quick Sips 02/19/2021

So the year continues to give me the chance to expand my coverage, and I’m happy to add Prismatica Magazine to my rotation, as well as Pseudopod. I’m also happy that most of the feedback I’ve been getting about the Scales of Relative Grimness has been positive. Though, that might be because I haven’t been hearing any of the negative feedback. Again, I do encourage people to reach out if they have objectives. I am always willing to listen.

It's hard to reckon that the year is already a month and a half over. 2021 feels like a mess still, but something of an exciting mess. I’ve got some amazing news, namely that I have a short story collection coming out later this year! The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories will be released from Lethe Press in the autumn. It even has a phenomenal cover that I revealed over on my Patreon publicly on Monday. So yeah, between that and We’re Here, it’ll be a rather me-heavy year. Yay! Anyway, sorry, that’s a bit of an aside. Reviews to follow the regular note!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Quick Sips 02/12/2021

Hi there! Well, I’m still catching myself up on January, as my reading these days isn’t quite as strict and structured as it used to be. Which, I mean, suits me quite well. It means I can also have a bit of a diversion to cover an absolutely phenomenal anthology that came out last year. Seriously, if you haven’t read Silk & Steel, it’s good! Otherwise I’m covering venues that I’ve been reviewing for a while, though I do have my eyes on a few just-out and upcoming issues of venues that I haven’t read before to keep life interesting. Probably my favorite part of doing these broader posts is that, well, I can read more broadly, and while I will always miss things and not be able to read everything, that I can read more is fantastic.

But I’m just keeping my nose to the wheel, mostly. I’ve decided to delay the Sippy Awards to March, though, as I’m still desperately trying to read for We’re Here consideration and those deadlines will be coming up very soon. The Sippys are still like my favorite thing, though, so I will definitely keep doing them. Just…it’s been a lot of year-end stuff like participating in the Locus Rec List committee for short fiction categories and the like. And whew, some things are ending, but other things are beginning (my Clarion Class is later this month, eep!). So yeah, just a bit of a delay there.

As on last note before the reviews, you’ll maybe notice that my Scales of Relative Grimness make their debut this week. The below note will now run with all of these posts. Hopefully it’s some added value, but I’ll probably be refining for a while. Consider this a public test of the system.

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Quick Sips 02/05/2021

The year just keeps right on rolling! Up today is a told at eight different publications. Some are very short (just one poem in the latest Strange Horizons and just one story that I review from the latest Fireside Magazine) and some are a bit longer. Some are from January, some are from February, and the anthology is actually from last year (but ICYMI it’s very very good!). In general, I can say that I’m reading a lot more this year, and that the “a lot more” is coming generally in the form of short stories rather than novelettes and novellas. I’m going to have to figure out ways to try and mitigate that, but it’s an issue in that there are just way more short stories put out in a year than otherwise. Still, I’m really liking that I’m able to get to more things.

As a scheduling note, and along the note from above, these posts will cover recent stuff, but not always from the month noted in the title of the posts. Just because there’s a mix of stuff and I get some things early and some I have to wait for like the last day of the month to cover, so apologies if this is all something of a mess. But I’m trying! Anyway, to the reviews!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Quick Sips 01/29/2021

Another week, another boatload of fiction to read! Today I’m looking at another mix of venues I’ve covered for a long time and some that are completely new to me. Plus, I look at a review from late 2020. I’ll probably be doing that from time to time, looking at anthologies that might not be current-year releases. These won’t, alas, be able to be added to my recommended reading end-of-the-year lists, but I still think work that I want to read and I will still be figuring those stories into the number of stories I’ve read this year because, well, I read it this year. Just sort of a heads up there, I guess. There are still at least one, maybe more anthologies from 2020 that I plan on covering early this year.

Anyway, it’s still a little early to make too many conclusions about what 2021 might look like in fiction, though I have appreciated the amount of rather fun and bouncy messy queer stories that aren’t that bleak. The overall mood is still rather grim, but there are some nice breaks in that. Maybe I’ll start to notice more as the year really gets going.

Anyway, just a regular reminder that I don’t necessarily mention every story in an issue or collection, but the total numbers I list after the issue title is for the stories that are there, not how many I review. Reasons for not writing a review vary, and aren’t always a statement I didn’t like the story or anything. I simply reserve the right to not do a write up, as I feel like it. So yeah, to the reviews!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Quick Sips 01/22/2021

Hi and welcome back! Today I’m doing a quick look at 7 recent publications/issues, including the latest Kaleidotrope, which is relatively new-to-me (I did review an issue in late 2015 but didn't add the publication to my regular schedule). Part of my decision to shorten my reviews, after all, has been so that I could widen what I read and cover. So far, the balance is actually working out quite well, I’d say. We’ll see if I get myself into trouble adding too much (more on that at the end of this post), but I am very happy to be able to look at publications outside of the list of those I fully reviewed (it was always a time limitation that prevented me from adding more).

Now, I’m hopeful that these very short reviews are still helpful. It’s very hard to give an idea of what a story is about in such a small space, which is part of why I stayed away from this kind of format. Trying to balance giving readers tools necessary to guide their reading with trying not to immediately default back to my lengthy reviews is rough for me, especially after having spent so long doing longer reviews. I’m managing at the moment, and apologies if the reviews are less useful in guiding reading or provoking further thought. I’m not going back to what I did, but apologies all the same.

Anyway, maybe some people like these even more than what I was doing! To you, you’re welcome! Also, you’re in luck, because here’s another round of quick sips!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Quick Sips 01/15/2021

So here’s how this is going to go. First, I’ll do a little intro. As in, hi all! 2021 is certainly off to…a start. National and international politics aside, though, I’m here to reflect more on short SFF and so I’ve been seeking out whatever I can to read. I have queries in a few places about review copy but haven’t heard back. Otherwise, I’ve been mostly sticking to venues that I have already covered and that I could get my hands on full issues of. This week I’ll briefly touch on 8 publications, which will probably be more than normal but I quasi-skipped this update last week because I was still catching up so much on late 2020 reads.

Now, to be fully transparent, a number of those late reviews I did are also technically 2021 releases (the last Beneath Ceaseless Skies I reviewed and the last three months of Baffling Magazine reviews). And a bunch of stuff that I expect out into 2020 from Fireside I technically already covered because it was released in the Quarterly in 2020. Apologies if that’s all kinds of vague. Anyway, the year is off to…well, a bit of a grim start. Part of that is because of the return of Apex Magazine, which is focused on dark SFF. There’s also a big anniversary Nightmare Issue. But perhaps because of the tenseness of the rest of the world at large, the general fiction even from other publications seems a bit grim as well. So it goes?

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Quick Sips - Fireside Magazine #86/Fireside Quarterly Autumn 2020

Art by Don Rimx
So this review, my last in this format, also has the honor of being something of a complete mess. Because, well, Fireside Magazine has had something of a bumpy road recently, and it’s thrown off the publication schedule. What’s more, because the print Fireside Quarterly has been running ahead of the magazine, there are still a number of stories that are 2020 releases that haven’t made their way online yet. So…I decided to just settle up. So here are both the stories from the most recent issue of Fireside Magazine, and all the original stories in the latest Quarterly as well. In total, it’s nine new works, and it makes for a wonderful assortment of SFF visions and voices. And it might be messy, but for maybe the last time, let’s get to the reviews!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Quick Sips - Escape Pod #765

Well I wasn’t really expecting a final story from Escape Pod in 2020, but it was a year for surprises, so what’s one more? Appropriately, the story itself is about a New Years celebration, and for me is a lot about connecting with what you love, and taking steps to prioritize that love and what makes you happy. Which is wonderful and warm and a fantastic way to step into the new year. So yeah, without further delay, to the review!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #320

Art by Avant Choi
The stories in this latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies are all about the grim realities of being young, being a woman in a time and place where that often means being property, and being without a real friend in the world. And both stories follow a person who acts as a kind of friend for young women. Who reach out to help them, to teach them, to guide them. Not always innocently, but usually with something approaching good intentions. Just ones that are also often filtered through the realities they are in, the grim and dangerous cities the stories take place in. Now, whether these are 2020 or 2021 releases, I’m less sure. What I know is that this will be my last comprehensive review of a Beneath Ceaseless Skies issue, and that’s a rather bittersweet thing. But, without too much angst, let’s get to the reviews!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Quick Sips - Speculative City #10

Art by Jacqueline C.J. Barnes
And now for something new! Yes yes I know, right before I’m set to step away from doing these kind of full reviews isn’t precisely the time to be starting a whole new publication, but I assure you that’s not what I’m doing. Indeed, this is something of a one-off, as I was told about this issue of Speculative City and just couldn’t resist. Plus, I had a sudden hole in my schedule and boom! It’s a wonderful issue, though, focused on an Afrofuturism theme and featuring four short stories and two poems. The works are vibrant, dealing with some decidedly grim subjects but bringing a fresh and vibrant voice that cuts through the oppressions facing the characters and brings them new hope. It’s a fantastic collection of works, and I’ll dive right into my reviews!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 12/21/2020

Art by Galen Dara
It wouldn’t be Strange Horizons without a little bit of last minute confusion on my part, I guess, as I was expecting a final issue of the year on the 28th that didn’t arrive. Still, I was only expecting on last poem, so it’s not a huge shift. But…wow. I have read and reviewed every issue of Strange Horizons since the beginning of November 2014. In that time, I would hazard to say that the publication has been my personal favorite, at least going statistically off of how many times stories published there have made my recommended reading lists. So breaking the streak of reviewing at Strange Horizons has something of a big impact for me personally. I will still be reading, certainly. And I do want to thank the publication for providing so many amazing stories over the years. I’m just a ball of emotions about it all, and want to say cheers before I get to this, my last comprehensive review of the publication for the foreseeable future. Cheers!