Friday, December 15, 2017

Quick Sips - Samovar 12/04/2017 & Strange Horizons 12/11/2017

Strange Horizons actually starts the month off with a new issue of it's sibling publication, Samovar, which focuses on translated SFF. Now, because the issue contains two reprints, and because I'm short on time with the holidays approaching, I'm giving those a pass for reviewing but I very much recommend people check them out. As it is I'm looking at an original translated novelette, as well as a short story and poem original and originally in English. The content speaks of strangeness and dread, destruction and hope. The stories are both dark and feature people trapped in a situation, finding that their imprisonment isn't quite what they thought it was, though they take two very different roads from there. And the poem is just a delight, fun and full of a nostalgic joy. Before I give too much away, though, let's get to the reviews!

Art by Jabari Weathers

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #240

As always, it’s a nicely paired issue from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, with two novelettes that deal with men’s power over women. Which, hey, might not seem like the greatest of things to focus this many words on, but I love how these stories contrast, the different ways they show forward for men who realize that they are in power, and realize that their power gives them a unique standing over those they care about, those that they are supposed to love as an equal. The stories do a great job of defining these relationships, the men struggling with the amount of power their station gives them, with the certainty that they can act and not be stopped. In one of the stories, though, the man learns how to be an equal to his partner, to care about what she wants, and in the other the man decides he knows best for the woman he cares about, and though he does give her something she wants, it poisons the relationship they share. These are interesting takes on power and relationships, and I’m going to get to those reviews!

Art by Dimitrije Miljus

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #135

The December Clarkesworld Magazine is all about oppression and corruption, about settings that where hope is a fragile, dangerous thing and where the characters are living in equal parts running from their lack of options and toward a future they’re not sure exists. They are dealing with the hurt and despair from having to live in situations that seem crushing, that seem all-consuming, where they don’t really have the power to fight back, where their tools have been made by their oppressors and where any resistance to the situation seems pointless. And yet the stories also look at what resistance in these situations looks like. The stories explore how these characters survive and try to thrive despite everything. Whether by finding an exit they didn’t think possible or trying to make connections in order to make change through cooperation, the stories use their SF elements to explore what it means to hope when hope itself has been twisted into a tool of oppression. To the reviews!

Art by Peter Mohrbacher

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus December 2017

December brings one of the longest stories to GigaNotoSaurus, a novella with an interesting mix of elements and its sight set on retribution, rot, and stubborn pride. The setting finds magic weaved into everyday life, though in strange ways, and sets up a situation where a woman running from her mistakes falls in with a group of police officers to help with magic-related mysteries. It’s a wonderful setup that evokes both noirish grit (there’s plenty of blood, grime, and spit) and some more modern sensibilities. It’s also a lot of damn fun, so let’s just jump right into the review!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online December 2017

This is something of an unexpected month from Flash Fiction Online, with two very short flash stories that are also not-really-SFF. All the stories are powerful in their own ways, though, beginning with a tense and wrenching piece about conflict and safety and moving to a pair of stories that tackle romance in very different, but heartwarming, ways. The result is an issue that recognizes the harsh realities of winter, of December, without succumbing to them, reaching instead for the warm of human compassion and love and finding a way to banish the cold for just a little while longer. For all that the kindness and safety are fragile, tenuous things, they also have their own strength, and their own gravity, and are capable of so much. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Dario Bijelac

Friday, December 8, 2017

Quick Sips - The Dark #31

December brings a pair of stories to The Dark Magazine that focus sharply on observation and theater. In both, women drawn into roles where they are closely watched by men, and in both these experiences are further framed in terms of a sort of voyeurism. In one, a woman is filed, in the other, a woman is part of a play. Both feature stages and bring the reader in as spectators and in some ways as participants. We are the eyes that act as camera and as audience. We get to peek into the private worlds of these character, the inner thoughts dragged out into the light. These are two interesting and at times very unsettling stories that do some fascinating things with style and tone. To the reviews!

Art by Sandeep Karunakaran

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #91

December finds Lightspeed Magazine wondering about what ifs. Because the four original stories all seem to circle around the idea of what if? The characters feel the pull to embrace something that is in some ways against the very core of their beings. A cyborg chef, a religious woman tempted with a dark cure, a young woman trying to break her (literal) programming, and a person faced with doors into other words. For some, they can embrace this pull, can travel boldly into other worlds or find the obsessive joys of cooking meat. For others, they define themselves by how they resist, how they refuse to take the easy road, even if I seems the entire reason they exist. For all of them, though, the stories unfold as they confront their roles and seek to find ways to retain who they are in the face of a world, or worlds, that want to change them. Some are more successful than others, but all make for great reading. To the reviews!

Art by Christopher Park