Friday, May 20, 2022

Quick Sips 05/20/2022

Well there’s some good news to share—We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction 2020 made it into the top 10 of Locus Finalists! Thanks to everyone who voted for our fantastically queer anthology! Alas, The Burning Day did not make the top 10, but it was still wonderful to see it on the recommended reading list. Super happy that We’re Here is not a Locus and Ignyte finalist! It’s a huge honor, especially as a debut editor. And We’re Here 2021 is marching closer to completion as well, and I can’t wait to share that with the world as well. Just a lot of joy here.

Or, well, joy and exhaustion. I continued to be a very tired person, which isn’t probably going to change any time soon. But I’m working on that. Mostly that involves experimenting with how I do my reviews for Locus, how much I cover, etc etc etc. Now, this week I do have some reviewing thoughts that relate to all of that, so buckle up.

In short SFF reviewing, there are a number of things that make the work somewhat complicated. One is the idea of audience. Who do we review for? And the answer there is…ourselves mostly, but also anyone who reads our reviews. I’ve gone on at length in the past about the necessity of reviewing somewhat selfishly. But it’s a complicated thing. Yes, we review for ourselves, but it’s not like we can be wholly ignorant of our audiences (nor should we be). If there were a lot of people using my reviews to direct harassment at authors, I should be aware of that and my role in that, for example.

This is complicated a bit more now that I’m paid by a venue to review, because I am now more obligated to consider my reviews and how they’re serving Locus the publication and Locus readers. Which might be different than how I had to think about serving Quick Sip Reviews the publication, of which I was the sole editor and stakeholder (essentially, though that makes it sound more official than it might deserve), and readers of Quick Sip Reviews. Which…okay, a slight history.

For most of the seven years that ran reviews here on Quick Sip Reviews, I leaned toward longer reviews (for short fiction). It was a personal choice and allowed me to dig in a bit into each story that I read. And while I was still able to cover a lot, it did mean I had to limit more of what I covered, just because it’s impossible to produce more than what I’m capable of producing, word-wise. When I shifted focus in 2021, suddenly I could cover almost twice as much as I did previously, because I was writing half as much in reviews per work.

And I know, in general (because I’ve done polls), that people like a wider net of shorter reviews. So 2021 was me trying to cater much more to that, providing more in terms of tools for readers to find stories they liked rather than doing much in the way of in depth analysis. I’m not going to say it’s better or worse than what I was doing before that. But I imagine that short SFF readers probably found it more helpful, because one of the largest issues in the field is being able to sort through the field to find the stories you’ll like the most. Which is why monthly “best of” or “favorites” columns are generally more popular than more comprehensive coverage of the field. People want recommendations.

In moving my work to Locus, I’ve been largely continuing the focus from 2021. Covering as much as possible and mentioning as much as possible, with little in the way of analysis of individual works. Readers want to know the general premise, a touch of detail, but don’t want spoilers. Many don’t want much more than that. The issue, of course, is both that this wide coverage is harder on the reviewer, and also for me a little personally frustrating because I want to dig into things a bit more. I like over-thinking stories, and want to get a little bit back into that.

Anyway, so my current experiment will be to mention less and review a little more. We’ll see how it goes. Practically, that means that I’ll be trying to focus on less than ~50% of the works that I’m reading. To this point I’ve been aiming more at mentioning at ~75% or more of the works (of the stories at least, as poetry I tend to mention less). The main issue here is that, as an author myself, I know how nice it is to be mentioned, and I always feel some level of guilt skipping stories, because I’ve been there, it sucks. But as much as I wish there were more of me in order to have the time and space to touch each and everyone story I read, there isn’t. And this is the decision I’m making, and I’ll own that. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, that’s about it for reviewing. In media, I haven’t been watching much and haven’t been doing too much comic reading. I am now in the Ellis Excalibur era between AoA and Onslaught. I can’t remember if Excalibur actually crossed over with Onslaught, though. Probably not? But it’s going fine. I actually am not a huge Pete Wisdom fan so far, but maybe that will change. I miss Rachel being in this book.

I have been playing a lot of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, though. The annoying thing is that the fulfillment company for the KickStarter bungled getting the right codes right away, so I’m waiting for my Switch code. I was given a free Steam code in the meantime, though, so I’ve been playing on my laptop, which is mostly okay though I suck a bit at the controls/press a lot of the wrong buttons. Still, I’m getting into it and it’s a lot of fun so far. The character work is great with CJ the enthusiastic sporty bisexual and her love interest Isha, the progressive tax advocate who seems cold but is actually deeply committed to her community. Add in Garoo, the grumpy kangarooman, and it’s a nice small cast.

The gameplay itself is fun and the town building elements are rewarding in that you can unlock a lot of great equipment and upgrades if you’re willing to do some grinding. As grinding is typically part of why I like rpgs, even action rpgs, I’m quite happy with the way that going back to mine resources in places actually pays off, and there’s still a level of challenge in making sure you get enough new things while also doubling back fairly often. All told, I’m a big fan. The setting and the mechanics otherwise are a little simple, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t depth there as well, and I’m hoping that the main game takes things even further. Especially for a cheap bonus game, I’d say it’s very worth it, especially while waiting for the main game to arrive. Indeed!

All right, that’s about it for me. Cheers!


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