Friday, September 22, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #100

It’s time to celebrate because Apex Magazine turns 100 this month! Woo! As a special treat, there’s an extended table of contents to this September issue, but mostly in the form of three reprinted stories. I definitely recommend you check those out, but I’m keeping my eyes on the original works, of which there are a new novelette and short story. The stories are very much about survival, and in particular about girls surviving tragedies that make them orphans and that leave them with lasting scars, either physically or emotionally. And both stories see these characters pushed to confront their pasts in order to prevent new tragedies from unfolding. These are rather uncomfortable stories at times but also carry with them a gripping tension and action and a strong payoff. It’s been 100 issues from Apex and as I get to these reviews I can only hope for at least 100 more!

Art by Carolina Rodriguez Fuenmayor

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #234

This issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies features two stories about hunting and about violence. In each, there are two sides, hungry and in many ways brutal, who move through the world with certainty in their own worth. Caught between them, though, are legions of victims whose only crimes seem to be being in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught between larger forces who want something. Who want war, mostly, and conquest, whether on a more intimate scale or on the scale of empires and cultures. The stories are dark and uncomfortable, offering no easy answers and really no heroes, just those with power and those who must try to survive being without. These are pieces about victims, and about predators, and I should just get to the reviews already!

Art by Jordan Grimmer

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #39 [September stuff]

The editorial in this month’s Shimmer Magazine gives a glimpse into the element linking the stories—ghosts. And both of the original stories for September revolve around hauntings, and around ghosts, and around stories. In each there are people who are misunderstood, people who walk through life but who never really feel a part of the same world as everyone else. That might have to do with their gender and how they are perceived, or it might have to do with their role and their power. But in both stories the characters are confronted with stories underneath stories, with unearthing hurt and violence and trying to bring some closure and healing to a bad situation. And both seem to focus on how the characters reach toward connection through a haze of difficulty, though the disconnect they often feel with other people. These are two strange but touching stories that I should just get to reviewing!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Nightmare #60

Nightmare Magazine’s September issue features a nicely paired duo of original stories that explore faith and sacrifice, bargains and power. For both characters, they come face to face with a place of power, with a kind of temple, and have to make some decisions. Do they listen to the voice speaking to them, nudging their feet toward a desired outcome? Do they resist in the face of pain and violence and the prospect of losing everything they have? What does faith really mean to them, and what are distant gods in the face of those that are present, immediate, and loud? These are two stories that take a dark look at gods and power, and it’s time to review them!

Art by Foldyart1980 / Fotolia

Monday, September 18, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/04/2017 & 09/11/2014

Hey! Strange Horizons is running their fund drive! It’s almost over! GO SUPPORT THEM!!! You get things like mugs and shirts and pins and just do it, okay. Strange Horizons is hugely important to SFF, in my opinion, and does amazing work. Case in point, I’m looking at three stories and two poems today that are rather stunning. They look at loneliness and loss, at compassion and patience, truth and love. These are stories that feature characters looking for connection, hoping to save someone, even if that someone is themself. The poetry is moving and haunting and everything weaves together to create a feel of warmth and chill, comfort and grief. It is some fantastic work and I for one want Strange Horizons to continue for a long time to come. So check out the fund drive, give what you can, and get ready for some reviews!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Monthly Round - August 2017

The Monthly Round is live right now at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together. Do please go give it a read. It features my favorite short SFF reads from August 2017 and pairs them with tasting notes, drink pairings, and reviews. It's quite fun. Anyway, for those wanting a taste of what this month's list features, here's the run down. Cheers!

Tasting Flight - August 2017

"The Library of Lost Things" by Matthew Bright (Tor)
"Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live" by Sacha Lamb (Book Smugglers)
"The Wanderers" by Ian McHugh (GigaNotoSaurus)
"unfurl/ed" by Jes Rausch (Strange Horizons)
"If a Bird Can Be a Ghost" by Allison Mills (Apex)
"Our Secret, In Keys" by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Fireside)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #132

September brings an interesting mix of stories to Clarkesworld, exploring love and coupling, as well as space and time and sentience. The stories range from cerebral and strange to fun and witty to achingly hopeful and human. There are people who are birds, bots who are heroes, planets who are people, people who are machines, and just people being people, with all their flaws but also all the grace and power to save the world. It's never really a surprise to note that the stories are all science fiction, with perhaps a little hint at sci-fantasy but mostly these are stories that imagine a future where life can be different, and some futures where, for all life could be different, it hasn't really changed. So yeah, let's get to the reviews!

Art by Vladimir Manyukhin

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus September 2017

September brings a very timely story to GigaNotoSaurus, a science fiction piece that looks at the cost of water. And that might, by extension, look at the cost of humanity, of decency, and the role of government in providing for the people rather than exploiting them. Water is a complicated topic because of how much humans need it, and how historically it has been a right, to have access to clean water. With the way things have been going, though, any resource, no matter how fundamental, can be twisted to serve profit and power. So yeah, before I get too off on a rant, let’s get to the review!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online September 2017

The September Flash Fiction Online is taking things in a science fiction direction. Just like the special horror issue of earlier in the year, these stories are devoted to exploring worlds that might yet be. Worlds of the future. For some of them, that means dealing with the end of the world, or the end of human life. Or, perhaps, about the end of most human life. They become about loss but also about what can be preserved. The stories are also about violation and voice, though, about who gets to make decisions and who must live with them. These are stories that explore situations bleak and dire. They are not by and large happy stories, even when they lean toward justice, but they are fun in their own ways and heavy with emotional weight, an asteroid of feels careening toward an unsuspecting planet. To the reviews!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Quick Sips - The Dark #28

The September issue of The Dark Magazine brings with it two original stories that examine what it means to believe in a system that rules the universe. Whether it’s based on logic and science or magic and religion, these systems guide the way people view the world. And they also give shape to the ways that people are hurt by it. For some, it means living with the knowledge that every reality is a sort of cage, every action just a forking in a path that might lead nowhere. And for others it means being a part of a metaphor that strips them of every comfort, that isolates and sacrifices them. In both stories the characters must decide whether to accept these rules, these beliefs, or to try and stand against them and the weight of their implications. To the reviews!

Art by breakermaximus

Friday, September 8, 2017

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #88

The September issue of Lightspeed issue is very concerned with the future. And with freedom. The four stories, all short stories this issue, weave around characters walking the line between destiny and free will. Between falling into what’s expected and taking a stand to do something else. And these stories shift between relationships—husband and wife, mother and daughter, soldier and demon, and how those relationships shift with time and with distance, with death and with life. These are stories that carry with them very interesting visions of hope amidst difficulty, and I’m just going to get to reviewing them already!

Art by Alan Bao

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Quick Sips - The Sockdolager #9 - Summer 2017

It’s with sadness that I say that this will be the last time I review The Sockdolager, which ends its publication run with this issue. The good news is that wow are there a lot of stories to look at, eleven original stories that are mostly centered, in my opinion, around the theme of resistance. It makes sense for a publication that strived to push for being original and fun, impacting but enjoyable. It’s a difficult line to walk, and a bit of resistance in itself, trying to carve out a unique place within SFF. The stories move, largely looking at societies struggling with corruption and invasion, and people forced to find a way to move forward, to push toward justice even when it’s difficult, even when what they really want is just to rest. But there is no rest for the willing, and the characters prove themselves to be up to the task of moving forward, of resisting, of pushing for revolution and change. Sometimes it doesn’t work out too well, but often it’s still much better than it would have been. These are some fun stories, and a great final bow for a great SFF publication. To the reviews!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #233

This third August issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies delves into two very different worlds that are linked by the way they exploit the vulnerable. The stories explore the ways in which people are used as tools for war and execution, for death and conflict. And they reveal women willing to risk everything in order to work for a better world. In many ways the characters in both stories are working for peace, for justice. But both know that most of the time that's not a goal that can be reached without walking a road paved in its own sort of conflict and violence. That the most direct path is the one that often leaves the most destruction in its wake, but is often the only road that doesn't allow the harm to continue, that strikes at the heart of the problem. These are stories that firmly believe you can't make a peace omelet without breaking a few eggs, and so some eggs get broken. And it's at times disturbing and always tragic, but it's still necessary in the pursuit of a better world. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Jordan Grimmer

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Quick Sips - Tor dot com August 2017

It's a rather big month of releases from Tor dot com this August, not because there's an unusual number of them, but rather because so many of them are...big. There's five stories, four of them novelettes and three of those over 13k, so these are mostly stories that you can really sink you teeth into. Many of them examine what it means to be lost, what it means to be out of place. Whether the reason for that is magical, or because the person has been left behind, or because society itself isn't making room for people to be, the result is that the stories circle around loneliness and hurt, hope and despair. These are characters trying to find how they'll fit into a world that doesn't quite fit them, and finding that things are more complicated than they originally thought. Demonic weapons, stranded aliens, awesome libraries, and missing memories all weave deep narratives that deserve some serious time and attention. So before I take up too much of yours, let's get to the reviews!

Art by Red Nose Studio

Monday, September 4, 2017

Quick Sips - Fireside Fiction August 2017

Well September is a busy month at Fireside Fiction. With four flash fiction stories, one short story, and the first three installments of a serial novelette or novella, it manages to pack a lot in there. Given that, it's no surprise that the themes and feels of the stories range quite a bit, from happy in the face of oblivion to heartbroken at the end of a beautiful relationship. The stories look at gods and prophets, loves and robots. These are stories that all explore what it means to be human and what it is that humans create. All the bullshit and abuse but also the beauty and the compassion. It's a difficult batch of stories to fully fit under any thematic umbrella, but the quality is certainly high and the overall feeling rather triumphant. To the reviews!

Art by Daniel Stolle

Friday, September 1, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 08/21/2017 & 08/28/2017

Well, we’ve made it to the Strange Horizons annual fund drive! If you haven’t chipped, I strongly encourage you to. Strange Horizons is a non-profit publication and it does some very incredibly work, lifting up voices in SFF while keeping an eye out for awesome poetry and providing a nice assortment of nonfiction. Strange Horizons is one of my very favorite publications, and today I’m looking at a short story and a whole lot of poetry. Because of the nature of the fund drive, bonus content is being released on a rolling basis as they reach funding goals, so I will try to keep up with what’s been released there as well, but please forgive me if I miss a little bit. Anyway, there’s quite a bit of awesome to look at, so I’ll just jump right into those reviews!