Friday, September 24, 2021

Quick Sips 09/24/2021

I think I can I think I can I…hmm, have I done that gimmick before? If so, apologies. I’m still at it though, toiling away in the old reviewing mines. I’m a bit above average with number of reviews this week, and cover a fair amount of full issues. There’s the weekly Strange Horizons and biweekly Beneath Ceaseless Skies, then there’s Hexagon, Future Science Fiction Digest, Apex, Shoreline of Infinity, and Fireside Magazine. So…a lot. It does mean that I’m doing all right getting through September, but just don’t think about September kinda sorta being over before my next review post goes public. Eep!

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!

Hexagon #6 (4 short stories, 1 poem total)
  • “Raised Bed” by Noah Codega (short story) - A strange and rather haunting story about a narrator who wakes to find they have plants growing in them. Crops that have been sowed into their body, nourished by their flesh, which has become a kind of dirt. As the piece moves, more and more of them is cultivated, and in the end it becomes an unsustainable nightmare, sharply constructed and powerfully delivered. A great read! Plants, Beets, Organs, Cultivation, Dirt. CW- Transformation, Destruction/Desolation. [c3 t3]
  • “Thorns” by Vera Hadzic (short story) - This piece keeps the rather quiet and subdued feel of the previous story and focuses on a new kind of tragedy, this one of a boy being bullied who sees an escape through transformation into a mermaid. The piece is actually narrated by the person who would perform the operation/transformation, which is an interesting choice, making this person a kind of voyeur to the boy’s sadness and misery, to the way the boy sinks into the pain of his life and wants to get away. And how it turns out he doesn’t really get the chance. It’s a difficult and drowning story, and a fine read! Mermaids, Drawings, School, Family, Transformation. CW- Bullying, Death of a Child, Car Accidents. [c4 t4]
  • “Chrysalis of Justice” by Christopher Collingwood (poem) - A piece that imagines justice as a process of transformation. One that takes the offender and remakes them in order to try and right the wrong they have done. At least, for me the piece seems to capture a sense that through a kind of magic the offender becomes their victim, restoring them while not exactly being obliterated themself. Which, limitations aside, is an interesting way of capturing what justice might be, a way to renew what was lost, at least in instances where that’s possible. It’s an evocative piece, almost visual in its philosophical elements, and it’s well worth spending some time with!
  • “The Hole in the System” by E. C. Fuller (short story) - A wrenching story about a mysterious phenomenon sweeping the world--holes. That can appear in buildings or, more devastatingly, in people, where for Nadia, have appeared in her throat, ending her career as an opera singer. Struggling to find work and even more in debt when her husband develops holes in his heart, Nadia follows a contest that looks like the answer to her problems. Except that in this system there is no answer, and things only get more and more bleak as the piece progresses. It’s a blistering look at capitalism, and an emotionally powerful and beautiful read! Employment, Voices, Family, Marriage, Singing. CW- Illness/Terminal Illness, Aggressive Capitalism. [c3 t4]
  • “Your Body is a Doorway” by L Chan (short story) - A story about the end of the world created by the twisted aims of a cult, and the survivors of those aims in a battle neither of them seem to fully understand. Kai, one of them, can transform into a monster to fight against a creature who is tearing the city apart, but it locks him into a cycle of death and rebirth that doesn’t save anyone, especially not himself. It’s a gripping story with some nice action and a solid bit of world building. One that finds strength and power in breaking cycles and facing the future consciously and intentionally rather than in a rush of chaos and violence. A wonderful read! Monsters, Cities, Soup Kitchens, Transformations. CW- Cults, Abuse/Torture, Death/Violence. [c3 t4]
This issue is very much about transformations. About people who can or who want to change, even if and when that change is traumatic and extreme. There is justice in some of these transformations, and tragedy in some of them. But in each piece the transformation is at the heart of hope and despair, trying to reach of a better world and running into all sorts of barriers. A powerful issue!

Future Science Fiction Digest #12 (5 short stories total)
  • “Old People’s Folly” by Nora Schinnerl (novelette) - A lovely story about a world after a flood, after an ending, and an old woman and a much older ghost (though of a much younger person) meeting and finding in each other something deeply disappointing but also something to push them in new directions. To ignite in each other a more realistic way of pushing for positive change. Even when everything seems pointless, finding that compassion and courage where it’s still very much needed. A wonderful read! Bees, Ghosts, Uploaded Consciousnesses, Post-Apocalypse/Disaster, Queer Character. CW- Abuse/Parental Abuse, Imprisonment/Execution, Climate Change, Poisoning/Pollution. [c4 t3]
  • “The Life Cycle of a Cyber-Bar” by Arthur Liu, translated by Nathan Faries (short story) - A super interesting story about, well, what the title says. But picking apart what it means is so fun, especially as the story moves away from the standard tropes (or rather, embraces them in some wild and unexpected ways). When the tequila starts to talk things really start moving and I love it. It’s such a fun read, leaning on the “true” nature of cyber-bars and how they might have infested, or migrated, into the human consciousness. There’s just something charming about this, and I highly recommend checking it out. A fantastic read! Bars, Aliens, Buildings, Candy Houses, Life Cycles. CW- Eating People, Guns/Gun Violence, Alcohol/Drugging, Reproduction. [c3 t3]
  • “When a Sleeping Seed Blooms” by Alexandra Seidel (novelette) - A story about a lonely archeologist on a planet trying to uncover a fresco in a rather hostile environment. A woman who starts to see visions as she works, which might be hallucinations from lack of oxygen but which also might tie back to a myth. To a history that has been long buried, of a group who helped to build an empire, one that was foretold might come again. And the piece follows that, building up this meeting, this moment, in ways both lovely and rather grim. Because the archeologist, Anuett, is able to wake something in the dark, but not without a huge personal cost, and the ending is a rather tragic one, despite the rebirth the piece oversees. A great read! Archeology, Frescos, Dreams, History, Seeds. CW- Imprisonment, Oxygen Deprivation. [c2 t4]
  • “Nobel Prize Speech Draft of Paul Winterhoeven, with Personal Notes” by Jane Espenson (short story) - A sharp piece that looks at one man’s entitlement and belief in the supremacy of his own pain only to find’s nothing truly special, and that his quest to weaponize his pain was not only doomed to failure but very quickly overshadowed by the great good that could come from the technology he helped to create. It’s a story about pain and empathy, and it builds nicely around a rather terrible person. A great read! Speeches, Empathy, Pain, Prizes. CW- Abuse. [c2 t4]
  • “When the Mujna Begins” by Oleg Divov, translated by Alex Shvartsman (short story) - A story that finds a mysterious event that might happen if people vote for it by using a special remote during a specific window of time. The event, the munja, is an enigma, without definite meaning and yet meaningful to a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. It’s a promise of choice! Progress! Change! But it comes without details and there’s a sense that, whatever anyone does, the munja will happen, and it will mean exactly what those in power want it to mean. It’s a strange piece, but also a sharp one about promises and power, about politics and progress, and it makes for a fascinating read very much worth checking out! A fantastic way to close out the issue!
A new Future Science Fiction Digest means some new translated SFF (two in this issue) and some other internationally minded stories that do some interesting things. There’s sentiment and discover, history and politics, and a perhaps a bit of a focus on people making decisions without knowing or fully understanding the significance of their choices. Choosing while missing key information, and having to life (or not) with the consequences of that all the same. A strong issue!

Apex #125 (6 short stories total)
  • “Cottonmouth” by Joelle Wellington (short story) - A story of ownership, of stories, where Grant is a young man who finds a girl in his attic. A girl-with-no-name who tells his stories and fills him with desire. A girl who can see the shape of the cycles that have chained her, and is ready finally to be free of them. The piece deals with violence, with denial, with hunger and the twisting of something grim and malevolent and using it as a tool to force freedom. It’s a piercing piece, and doesn’t flinch from some difficult things, and it’s very much worth checking out. A great read! Attics, Family, Chains, Witches, Bargains. CW- Abuse/Torture, Violence, Captivity/Ownership/Slavery. [c4 t4]
  • “Next to Cleanliness” by Rose Keating (short story) - A strange and haunting story about Catherine, a woman who decides to do a cleanse. What that means, though, is opaque, and when it begins, it takes her through a rather harrowing series of events that twist her body but never seem to bring about the desired change, the cleanse. The piece is bloody and uncomfortable, the process one where Catherine is never really sure of what the treatment she’s getting is or what it might do, but suffers through it after some hoped-for good outcome. One that might be as invented as the various ridiculous and dangerous regimens she is subjected to. A fine read! Cleansing, Dieting, Eating, Sex, Tests, Skeletons. CW- Eating Disorders, Blood, Medical Malpractice, Body Horror/Trauma. [c5 t4]
  • “Discontinuity” by Jared Millet (short story) - A piece that imagines a universe where breach drives can help people travel faster than light, have helped humans move out into space. But that might also be tearing reality apart at the seams, as it does the memories of many people to experience breaches. For the Lura, though, an experienced pilot with years of jumping under her belt, it’s just part of her job. One that lands her with a particularly dangerous but incredibly important mission. The piece is full of distance and explores memory and identity as Lura tries to hold onto her mind amidst a series of punishing breaches. A wonderfully imagined and built story, tense and with a triumphant ending, so definitely check it out! Space, Spaceships, FTL Travel, Family, Aliens, Queer MC. CW- Memory Loss, Death/Battle. [c3 t3]
  • “Candyland” by Maggie Slater (short story) - A story about a reunion of childhood friends who have had very different lives. One apparently a huge success, rich and able to travel widely. The other, the main character, Tara, less so--lost her job, her relationship, and has had to move back in with her parents. And, of the day the two are supposed to meet for coffee to catch up, with a sudden uncontrollable ability to change what she touches to candy. And for all that the piece deals with appearances, with jealousy, and with hunger in some profound and unsettling ways. A great read! Candy, Transformations, Friendship, Restaurants, Cars. CW- Death of a Parent, Death/Melting, Cannibalism(?). [c4 t4]
  • “Gift for the Cutter Man” by D. Thomas Minton (short story) - This piece finds Legrue, a cutter, a man who takes people apart to render their blood and bodies into salable products, is in a desperate situation. His daughter is sick, and he’s in debt, and it pushes him into a series of bargains that might taint his very soul. The piece is part, bloody, and yet finds a limit for what one man will do, even to save his family. An interesting read worth spending some time with. Bargains, Family, Parenting, Cities. CW- Inequality, Illness, Death, Death of a Child, Blood/Surgery/Tissue Harvesting. [c5 t5]
  • “Wake Up, I Miss You” by Rachel Swirsky (short story) - A strange, dreamlike story that revolves around two sisters. Poppy, who is desperately trying to wake up her sister, Terra. And yet, as the piece moves through the dream logic, the constant shifting, the danger and the confusion, it becomes a question of who might be awake, and who asleep, even as the full details of what happened remain in heavy shadow. For that, though, it’s still an emotional piece, one where Poppy is trying so hard to do something she might not be able to do, trapped and striving in a place where hope is hard to come by. It’s a difficult read at times, and the ending is a bittersweet twist of the knife, powerfully delivered. Siblings, Dreams, Teeth, Elephants, Chases. CW- Hospitals. [c3 t4]
Another great issue from Apex, where there’s a nice through about memory and family and a fluidity of reality. In a lot of the stories things happen that can’t, and yet they manage to all the same, twisting the logic of reality and taking away the comfort that there are some things in the world that are safe and solid. It’s a nice way to explore an aspect of speculative horror, where there are no definite rules, and where anything can happen, to devastating results.

Fireside Magazine #95 (4 short stories total)
  • “Souls” by Kate Francia (short story) - A rather charming story that finds a group of angels trying to refine and automate the process of judging mortals for to assign them their next reincarnated life. To...well...mixed results. And It does speak to the kind of hope of trying to automate, trying to program something, that really just needs more people. Where the “efficient” solutions inevitably fall apart and make things worse and the attempt ends up putting off doing the work even more, compounding the issue more and more. It’s a sharp piece, and a funny one, and a wonderful read! Angels, Employment, Reincarnation, Programming. [c1 t3]
  • “The Magnitude of It All” by Eleanor R. Wood (short story/flash) - A really cute and brief story about two scientists, one studying the universe on the macro level, one on the micro, who discover simultaneously that there’s a message waiting to be discovered. Across the largest reaches of the universe, and in the smallest particles. A message that fits together, uniting macro and micro, and promising so much. The least of which might be the reunion and rekindling of a relationship that had seemed over. A really fun read! Science!, Messages, Research, Collaboration, Relationships. [c1 t1]
  • “The Empathy Lessons” by Hal Y. Zhang (short story/flash) - A piece that looks at a kind of...well, it’s not really cultural tourism, it’s something a lot more complicated. But there’s a sense I get all the same that it touches on the desire to know another culture, and how thin a line it is between respect and appropriation. And the story gets into a way to sort of more intimately know a place and its history, to experience in concentrated form something that leaves those who go through it with a better appreciation for a place and people. And for the narrator, a “tour guide,” it’s even more complex, as is their own relationship to a cultural they have a stake in but also a distance from. A wonderful read! Virtual Reality, Cultures, Tours, Education, Family. CW- War/Violence/Trauma. [c3 t3]
  • “Fear of a Stuntwoman” by Abra Staffin-Wiebe (short story) - A fascinating take on vampires as a divorced mom and stuntwoman finds an...unconventional way to give herself an edge in stunting, though one that requires a great deal of thought and effort to make work. All because of a chance encounter/attack on set that leads to something wonderful, but also something intensely dangerous. The piece looks at fear and euphoria, at parenting and the requirements to staying independent in a capitalist and unjust society, and it does it with style. A fantastic read! Vampires, Stunts, Parenting, Garlic, Bargains. CW- Drug Use/Euphoria, Child in Peril, Blood Drinking. [c3 t3]
A great issue with four stories, each of them finding people finding...novel solutions to very different problems. From angels working on automating reincarnation to a stuntwoman making a deal with a not-quite-devil, the pieces explore how the characters make their particular plans and bargains work...or not. And they reveal some very interesting takes on old questions and tropes, to wonderful results!

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #338 (2 short stories total)
  • “The Shape of Wings and Feathers” by Jenny Rae Rappaport (short story) - A story that finds a fifth year magic student, an orphan, Bryce, taking a dangerous magic test that might kill her. And as she navigates the test, and all the expectations bound up in it, she yearns for the found family she has, the giant granny who she met while exploring other realities with a power that isn’t exactly taught in school. And she has to face the injustice of the system around her and the promise of her own power, her ability to survive and to embrace herself regardless of the intentions of the teachers testing her. And it’s a nicely defiant piece that still plays out slow and steady, with building power and resonance. Starting with wanting to succeed under “the rules” and moving to a place where there are more important and deeper truths to honor than “rules.” A wonderful read! Family, Schools, Tests, Magic, Giants. CW- Child in Peril, Death of Parents. [c3 t3]
  • “Those Virtues, Those Poisons” by Martin Cahill (short story) - A piece about a ritual involving a set of twins and a two-headed snake with two different poisons. One immobilizes and, if untreated, kills. The other brings a euphoria and hallucinations. The narrator, Pano, is the injected with the later, and it’s his job to carry his brother all the way to their home. The process is complicated by Pano’s insecurities, his fears, and the fact that he tried to cheat to avoid this task, so sure he was that he’d fail to save his brother. As he’s confronted by that fear, by the task ahead, Pano must constantly make the decision to keep trying rather than giving into despair and failure. It’s a moving, resilient story, and one that finds a hope in connection, a strength in refusing to give up on a loved one. A great read! Twins, Snakes, Rituals, Family, Visions. CW- Poisons, Drugs/Hallucinations. [c3 t4]
This issues finds two characters who are being tested. Who face impossible or seemingly impossible tasks. Ones that they don’t know that they can overcome. And yet there is someone giving them strength through it. Someone who might not be able to be with them, mentally or physically, but who is still inspiring them to keep trying, to succeed, to believe in themselves even when that seems so dangerous and foolish. And it makes for a great issue!

Shoreline of Infinity #26 (5 short stories, 6 poems total total)
  • “City of Corporate-Sanctioned Delights” by B.G. Alder (short story) - A strange but rather charming story that finds two script assistants in a future were algorithms drive most sitcom comedy. Their lives are largely drudgery, hard won but still struggling with debt and a general sense that they aren’t cared for or about in their work. On shore leave for four days, they are expected to make a bunch of mistakes, to stick to the script, but instead they set out on a different kind of quest--to touch a cow. And the adventure shifts their lives, and their hopes, and makes for a rather wonderful misadventure that’s still revealing the fragile mess at its heart. A great read! Employment, Cows, Shore leave, Queer Characters, Quests. CW- Aggressive Capitalism. [c2 t3]
  • “In Search of Rust” by Danielle Froom (short story) - A tender and moving story about George, a boy who is enamored with things that are old, before the world was remade in order to avoid the polluted waste it had become. Now everything is sustainable and efficient, but George pines for airships, for metal, for something beautiful like that. It’s not something that makes him friends, and he is lonely, isolated, and misunderstood. For all that, the piece explores that attraction he has for the past, for something so solid, what with things around him feeling so mercurial, so apt to change out from under him. It’s a lovely story with a touch of angst and longing, and I love the arching feel of it! A wonderful read! Recycling, Queer MC, Sustainability, Family, Metal, Art. CW- Blood/Injury. [c2 t3]
  • “Trans Timelines” by Beth Martyn (short story) - This story finds James visited by his future self. Well, his two future selves. Who sorta hate each other, on the account that one is trans and the other is an asshole. And the story explores that, these two competing visions of a future, and works through the complex web of feelings and logics that led those futures down their paths. It’s an interesting and careful story, funny and sharp without losing sympathy or patience in some very important ways. A fantastic read! Trans MC, Time Travel, Alternate Timelines, Family. CW- Prejudice, Slurs, Transphobia. [c3 t3]
  • “Awaiting Instructions” by Sonia Rippenkroeger (short story) - An at times difficult story about an android programmed to enjoy receiving instructions, but who wakes to no one. So she has to decide to give herself instructions. Which serves her well, but doesn’t help with her lingering desire. When another person shows up amidst the desolation of her situation, though, things change, and the narrator, named Fella by this new arrival, has to navigate her desires and personhood, and it makes for a rather wrenching, delicate story that’s powerfully told. A great read! Androids, Instructions, Relationships, Trans Character, Ferrets, Batteries. CW- Blood/Death, Death of an Animal (Ferret), Prejudice/Misgendering. [c4 t4]
  • “The Last Cup of Coffee in the World” by Freiya Benson (short story) - A beautiful but gutting story about the end of the world. A slow one, by all accounts, and one that left the narrator, Jess, still holding on with her girlfriend, still going out and getting coffee. Except that ninety-six days ago, things changed. And how and why is a tragedy that seems almost to eclipse the end of the world. Because it’s the end of something else, another in a line of them but no less potent a loss for that. And the story captures that powerfully, holding onto a delicate and warm memory that surfaces with the aroma of fresh coffee, if anyone can find some in the shithole the world’s become. A wonderful and rending read! Relationships, Coffee, Trans MC, Memory. CW- Death/Illness/Viruses, Apocalypses. [c4 t4]
  • “Iris, Robot Granny” by Rachel Plummer (poem) - This piece speaks of transformation, from flesh to machine, the character of granny slowly replacing flesh with metal and wire. But it’s not a loss, not a decline. Rather, it’s framed as an upgrade, stepping into a body that is still vital and sparks like she wants. It’s the fulfillment of something, a step in the right direction, and she retains all that is important to her, it seems, catches it in wire and binary code, and there’s a relief to it that speaks of joy. A great read!
  • “Iris, Dragon Granny” by Rachel Plummer (poem) - A new poem, a new transformation, this one also framed as something that happened gradually, that has helped Iris avoid a kind of death. The “real” kind perhaps but also perhaps a death forced on her by the way people try to put her into a role. A role she doesn’t want and doesn’t fit into. She becomes a dragon, a being of rock and earth, and there is a power and a hardness there that the piece embraces, just as before it was wire and metal. This doesn’t seem to me like a progression, though, but rather an alternative. That this Iris became a dragon while another became a robot, not necessarily the same person but variations on a theme all the same, and very much worth spending some time with!
  • “Iris, the First Granny In Space” by Rachel Plummer (poem) - And this third Iris poem features the character not transforming exactly, but rather traveling into space. Into the dark, into the light, into the void, into the sun. Weightless, cut free from the constraints of Earth, and if lonely then still vibrant and purposeful. Still graceful and beautiful. And I really love the sense of weightlessness here, the way the piece ties into but complicates the other two poems. Another vision of Iris finding her own way, but her a sort of return, into the primordial, the stars themselves. And there’s that sense at the end that she’s also an inspiration, that she’s setting an example of sorts, to not bow to expectations or pressures or gravity itself. To make a new path, wherever it leads. A fantastic read!
  • “I wish” by J. Chng (poem) - This piece speaks to me of losing history. Family. Of feeling a distance of time and wanting things to be different. The title is a plea, a statement of want, and it’s in some ways heartbreaking for it, for how familiar it is, to look back over generations at the knowledge that has been lost and feel that keenly, like something is just missing. For me, the piece is looking at that, looking at the past without a definite connection to it and wondering what might have been had that connection still been there, still been strong. A lovely and wrenching read!
  • “Silence” by J. Chng (poem) - A piece that for me operates on more than one level. As a way of describing silence, yes, but in some ways also an entreaty for it, mixing the noun and verb forms of the word. Descriptive until it becomes a call to quiet, not just to listen and hear the words of the poem but to experience the actuality of silence as well, to let that in, to quiet to the point where the silence can creepy and comfort. It’s a lovely piece, and I love the format, the way that there are these breaks that aren’t breaks, that only move across the page/screen. It’s an amazing read!
  • “Materials” by Harry Josephine Giles (poem) - This is a strange piece that for me speaks of growing up. Of living. And of living in a way that is in many ways not safe. Where images and ideas of the feminine are everywhere, in a way that might make it difficult for people to really connect with their own selves, their own bodies. There are these images of girls everywhere, being pushed by people out to enforce gender roles and to sell things and to get things and all the while there are the people, the girls, who are trying to define themselves, to reject the ways girlness is being controlled and to speak back against it, to step into agency and expression in all the messy wonderful ways they can. Though, I mean, I might be way off there. Still, for me it’s a piece speaking to conflicting visions of girlness/girlhood and the power and joy of claiming something for yourself. A wonderful way to close out the issue!
A special issue this time from Shoreline of Infinity, which I fear I might only be covering sporadically/whenever I get sent review copy and I’m not sure if I’ve done every issue. But this is a special one focusing on trans and nonbinary creators. And the result is a wonderful issue of fiction and poetry that celebrates identity and connection. That features some moving, sad pieces and some defiant, joyous pieces. And it’s all good, all worth checking out, all gloriously speculative and so much fun. A fantastic issue!

Strange Horizons 09/13/2021 (1 novelette, 1 poem total)
  • “An Exploration of Nichole Otieno’s Early Filmography (1232-1246)” by Kola Heyward-Rotimi (novelette) - I do enjoy stories that are framed as criticism of fictional art, and here the art is films on a world that isn’t Earth, though still a place plagued by colonialism and war. The fictional author of the piece is a scholar and critic and from an island nation that was conquered but that fought for and got its independence. Not that everything got easy after that, and the author’s return to the islands, to his former home, is complicated by the distance he’s lived from it, and his place in an education system that isn’t precisely kind to him or his homeland. Still, his journey, documented in the story, tells of tracking down lost scenes from an important filmographer working during the revolution and struggles, one whose work is overlooked in part because it’s incomplete. And the story is touching, complex, and beautifully done, looking at the footprint of colonization and the strange, messy map of history and identity. A stunning read! Islands, Film, Language, Color, Magic, Moons, Rituals. CW- Colonization, Racism, Violence to Animals (chicken). [c3 t4]
  • “The suck-up” by Steve Castro (poem) - This is a fascinating piece for how it sets up the core characters and their dynamic. The godfather and the suck-up. And how the suck-up is rewarded for being a suck-up, for putting his hand where the godfather might chop it off, but part of what allows him to do that is that he knows it will grow back. He doesn’t risk much and yet that brings him the greater rewards and it is this sort of perfect encapsulation of this dynamic, this phenomenon. Because I want so much for the suck-up to be punished, for this kind of thing to not be rewarded at least, but of course that’s not often how it works. A sharp read definitely worth checking out!
A new issue of Strange Horizons and it has a rare novelette from the publication. One that does some wonderful things with form and meta-art appreciation. Plus a poem that on the one hand is incredibly frustrating and also very very good. So it’s all win this issue!

Works read this year to date: 976 stories, 288 poems (+27 stories, +8 poems)

Well thirty five reviews isn’t exactly a light week of them, though it also strikes me that this is the last review post of September, technically, and in that I am still rather woefully behind. Still, It’s a nice mix of works this week, with a lot of short stories, a novelette, and a decent amount of poems. I’m actually getting very close to crossing the 1000 mark for stories and 300 mark for poems, which means fuck do I read a lot. At the time I write this we’re 259 days into the year, which means I’m averaging something close to 5 reviews a day every day. Wow. As an experiment of just how much one person can read and review in a year, I am still standing, so maybe that’s something. But ouch, wow, yeah.

Next week I’m not super sure what I’ll be looking at. There’s still Tor to catch up on for the month, and the new Diabolical Plots which just missed getting covered this week. There’s probably a few or more than a few Escape Artist stories to catch up on, as well as the September Clarkesworld (don’t let me forget that again). On the plus side, it means I’ll be in decent shape when I have to post my monthly queer list. On the minus side, infinite screaming.

As I get closer to the final quarter of the year (I think I said earlier this month it was the last quarter but haha no it’s only the last third), I am thinking that I’ll probably still do weekly posts next year, just…not reviewing. I mean, I doubt I’ll be able to walk away from blogging. Reviewing for the most part, yeah, probably. But blogging? So I think I’ll just sort of segue over to writing posts that are kind of like these just…without the bulk of the reviews. I will probably say what I’ve been reading in broad swaths, and maybe still be able to talk trends in short SFF and things like that. Just so long as it doesn’t devolve into just as much work as now. Don’t let me do that. Fahk.

In other me news, we’re moving forward with getting our roof redone, which turned out to be…rather pricey, because it’s old and needs some repairs and new insulation and screm. But it will be done and very nice looking (green!) and I really do look forward to that. Having a house that isn’t falling apart…sounds nice. Anyway, that’s happening, and I’m otherwise just trying to stay on top of my shit. I joined the executive board of the local queer non-profit not long ago and I’m still settling into that, but already we’re doing some amazing things and I’m very much enjoying myself. Isn’t really…less work in a time when I should be cutting back but fuck it.

Media-wise I’ve been enjoying Excalibur (Marvel comic book) and the Cross Time Caper, where it’s really easy to see the origins of the Exiles idea that I also want to read at some point. The character work is classic Claremont, though I appreciate that he does a bit more with Rachel and how fucked up her whole situation is. Some really nice work, and Brian is shown to be rather an ass so hurrah! Still watching Grantchester with Matt and we’re into the Will era and not sure if it’s a step up or down. Certainly more drama in the house and more prominent roles for Mrs. C, Leonard, and even Cathy. Not sure how much I like their side stories, but so it goes. Really we’re just trying not to rush and watch the new Vera episodes before we have some time off to really enjoy them. But yeah, that’s me. Cheers!


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