Thursday, February 22, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #245

Science Fantasy Month continues at Beneath Ceaseless Skies with a special double issue, featuring four stories the bend genres and expectations. And these stories look very much at worlds that have suffered. That have gone through some sort of disaster or apocalypse or major fucking event that have left them more damaged. And the stories explore these broken worlds, revealing how that damage was done, and why, and in some instances how it can be healed (but in most of them it's more about how they cannot be). These are stories of people struggling to survive and, more than that, struggling to find meaning in places where bare survival often takes every possible effort. But they're about reaching for more, and perhaps helping each other get to someplace better. To the reviews!

Art by Florent Llamas

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Quick Sips - Uncanny #20 [February stuff]

Uncanny Magazine lands with four original stories and two poems in its February release. And throughout the works the theme I think I feel plays through is visibility. Is release. In most of the pieces, there are characters who are struggling against a system, against a world and culture, that has erased them. That has covered up uncomfortable pasts. That have demanded that those who are different censor themselves and constrain themselves so as not to offend the dominant. And the stories explore how the characters push back against that, how they are seen, how they are freed. In some, that freedom comes with a heavy price, with the destruction of something, maybe everything. And yet the stories seem to ask if that destruction might actually be necessary, to wipe away the corruption and the abuse. To unravel the mess of hurt and fear and exploitation. It’s an issue that covers science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and does a great job of giving fans of SFF a lot to experience. To the reviews!

Art by Tran Nguyen

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

X Marks the Story - February 2018

Hello! My latest column for The Book Smugglers is now live! It's full of (mostly) recent short SFF that I loved, so be sure to go and check that out. For those who just want the recs, here's a list of the stories I featured:

“A Snow, A Flood, A Fire,” Jamie Berrout (Strange Horizons) (Short Story)
“The Starship and the Temple Cat,” Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) (Short Story)

Umberlight, Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld) (Novella)
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” Alix E. Harrow (Apex) (Short Story)
"The Fisher of Bones," Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine) (Novelette)
“Try Looking Ahead,” Jason Rodriguez (Try Looking Ahead, Rosarium Publishing) (Short Story)

I also give some further reading, but I'll let you X-plore that on your own. Cheers!

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Quick Sips - Shimmer #41 [February stuff]

The stories from Shimmer Magazine’s February offerings excel in coming from interesting viewpoints. From ghosts of boys who never were and never should have been to bags full of dreams and magic, the character work here involves narrators whose primary function is to accompany someone else. In that these are two excellently paired stories that highlight the ways in which these companions, these burdens, these people relate to those who carry them. And the stories offer two widely different takes on that theme, one of the narrators kind and helpful and loving and the other…well, not so much. The stories show just how much these presences can help the people carrying them, and just how much they can hurt as well. To the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Friday, February 16, 2018

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 02/05/2018 & 02/12/2018

February brings a touch of the weird and rather literary to Strange Horizons, and the first two issues each feature a story and a poem that explore violation, bodies, and exposure. For me, the stories have a dense, rather poetic quality to them, the sense of reality bent around metaphor and pain. There's a heavy weirdness to them as well, with people becoming bears, bodies becoming art, and an all around just kind of uncomfortable/icky feel to things (I know icky is like the most literary of terms, right?). But there's a sharpness to the discomfort, an edge to the disturbing that these pieces reveal. And the poems are as always deep and layered and interesting and let's just get to the reviews!

Art by Dan Rempel

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Quick Sips - Nightmare #65

February brings a pair of stories to Nightmare Magazine that deal with violence and with magic and with women. With adaptation in the face of oppression and the threat of violence. It’s a very nicely paired issue that sees characters who change in the face of the difficult environment where misogyny is a force stalking them, hoping to devour them. In both stories, though, women find ways to take a power to themselves, to embrace perhaps a different way of being, a different way of organizing and valuing the world. In both, the pressure begins to become whether or not these women will betray each other, if men can convince them to embrace a system that has only marginalized and destroyed them. They’re not the easiest of reads, poised as they are between erasure and freedom, but I love the resonance of the issue and let’s get to those reviews!

Art by Kevron2001 / Fotolia

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus February 2018

Perhaps appropriate for the month, GigaNotoSaurus brings a rather romantic piece for its February release. Or, at least, a story very interested in love and trust, hope and freedom. It’s a story that features two very different characters finding a common language, a common purpose, and staying true to each other in order to do something they couldn’t do alone. It’s a touching and beautiful piece, for all that it’s dominated by the weight of captivity and the desire for release. But before I spoil everything, let’s get to the review!