Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #36 [April stuff]

The two stories from Shimmer’s April offerings are heavy with grief and the weight of the past. The weight of expectations. The weight of the family business. These are stories of people finding themselves swept away by the tides of other people’s lives and deeds. Subject to them and wounded by them, unsure if they can set those old hurts aside, unsure how to escape the hooks of the past and the obligations heaped on them by the generations that came before. For both main characters a time has come to both face the past and the future, and these stories do a wonderful job of capturing that moment with hope and despair, magic and possibilities. To the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Monday, April 24, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #15 [April stuff]

It’s another full month of SFF from Uncanny, and another month full of pieces that look rather specifically at resistance. At least, the three nonfiction pieces all revolve around the idea of resistance and how SFF can be an invaluable tool to bridge between cultures, people, and experiences. There’s a bit of a surprise novella in among the fiction, paired with a flash work, and both look at the profound impact that loss can have, that disaster can have, on a person and their life. How it can make an ambivalent person dedicated. How it can make a peaceful person a killer. And the people it equally beautiful, exploring the boundaries between religion and consent, history and human folly. It’s a well rounded issue, and I’m going to get right to the reviews!

Art by Julie Dillon

Friday, April 21, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #95

It’s a special guest-edited issue of Apex Magazine this month, with Maurice Broaddus in the driver’s seat. And people, poetry is back for this special occasion! It’s a full issue with four stories (three shorts and a novelette) and two poems. And the pieces all seem to center on narrative and voice. These are stories that look at how we pass along roles and expectations. How we prepare people to accept being abused and tortured, and how people still manage to find ways to stand up and take back their names and their voices and their skins. These are stories that center acts of violence and pain and fear, and seek for ways to bring justice and healing and hope back to people who have little reason to feel them. It’s a wonderful and challenging issue of dark fiction and poetry, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Art by Angelique Shelley

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Quick Sips - Nightmare #55

The April stories in Nightmare Magazine do a great job of capturing a sense of darkness and magic in settings that don’t seem too different from our own. Where, for all the violence and all the strangeness and all the eerie beauty, there are links too to the mundane and the common, to the chore of visiting a sick relative and the insecurity of being in a new relationship. The stories reveal characters being confronted by strangers and making decisions they might have reason to regret. But these are also stories where, for all their violence and betrayal and weirdness, also hold on to a lifting hope. And before I spoil anything more, to the reviews!

Art by Dusan Kostic / Adobe Stock

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #223

The stories in this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies both have an almost video game appeal to me. In one, the conventions of gaming and fantasy are definitely in full swing, revealing a world where Fate is capitalized and an adventuring party are nearly at the end of their mission. In the second, a person travels a blasted landscape killing gods with a special weapon. From these beginnings, though, the stories branch into newer territory to tell stories of people made into victims and reacting to that. Finding that they are unwilling to stay down and accept what’s happening. In both there is a sense of community and broken promises, and in both there is a moment when the main character has to face a sudden revelation. The pair is nicely matched and creates a moving, magical experience. So to the reviews!

Art by Ward Lindhout

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus April 2017

It’s a longer piece this month at GigaNotoSaurus, though still very firmly in the novelette category. Things get a bit historical as the piece pulls the reader back into the age when opera houses were huge draws and ghosts roamed the land. Wait, that didn’t actually happen? Well in this world it did, and exorcists are in high demand. It’s a historical paranormal fantasy with an interesting take on the time period and history and general, keeping things moving and fun even when touching on some decidedly dark and complex themes. It’s another great month of long-ish SFF from GigaNotoSaurus, so let’s get to that review!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 04/03/2017 & 04/10/2017

It's a strong opening to April with these two weeks of content from Strange Horizons. With two short stories, three poems, and an amazing essay in the offing, there's a lot of content and a lot of good. And there's also an editorial change going on, fyi, so it's doubly impressive that the publication hasn't slowed a step and is meeting this month head on. The fiction is a nice mix of strange landscapes and nearly-alien sights and sounds that get under the skin and into the minds of the main characters. These are stories of being lost, of losing oneself. The poems are at turns fun and wrenching and wonderful, building a number of different people on missions, people bound for something over the long term having a single moment of feeling and hope. And the essay…is about Star Trek and you all need to read it. And before I say anymore, let's just jump into the reviews!

Art by Emily Ettlinger