Monday, May 22, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #16 [May stuff]

This is another full issue of Uncanny Magazine, with May containing three original stories, two poems, and four different nonfiction pieces that I’ll be looking at. There’s a reprint and another nonfiction piece that I won’t be looking at because I’m not familiar with the text it’s discussing, but otherwise this is a very nicely balanced issues that focuses on resistance and fighting back but knows that there’s no hiding from the despair of oppression and the harm being done. And while many of the stories are quite hopeful, and while much of the nonfiction is about how to resist and how to maintain hope even in a very bad situation, there are also stories that know very well that there is also exhaustion, there is also hurt. And while none of the pieces stop there, some of them do carve out a space to feel that pain and recognize it. To show that it’s okay to hurt and to focus on that, while still leaving a path forward for when healing is possible and the fight can be resumed. It’s a powerful issue and I’ll get to those reviews!

Art by Galen Dara

Friday, May 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #96

The May issue of Apex Magazine features two original stories and one reprint that explore trauma and distance, time and space and hope. It’s an issue that’s about the telling of stories and the reaching back for some semblance of comfort and closure. It features characters who are living on borrowed time, who are fighting against the weight of the forces that have doomed them. For most of them, it’s not a doom that is avoided, either, but that comes with the power and relentlessness of a train, of a storm, of a sun exploding. These pieces explore darkness in different ways, revealing it as both a source of comfort and fear. So yeah, join me as I jump into the reviews!

Art by Marcela Bolívar

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #37 [May stuff]

Well, May at Shimmer Magazine is a special one for me this year. Why? Well, because maybe a story of mine is appearing there! Yes, after nearly 30 rejections I have finally landed at one of my favorite publications! As such, I’ve also saved myself a bit of work, as I won’t be looking at my own story. I will definitely be looking at the other May release, though, which is the cover story. It features youth and a rural environment where nothing really grows right. It circles around abuse and toxic masculinity and trying to find a nurturing environment when everything seems poisonous. It’s not exactly a cheery tale, but not without its hope, the implication that maybe, somehow, there can be something beautiful and right to grow out of a fallow field. So yeah, to the review!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Monthly Round is up!!!

Head over to Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together to find my favorite SFF short fiction from April 2017 paired with thematically appropriate booze and reviewed! I call it my Taster's Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, and it's a lot of fun.

For those just wanting to know what I picked, the list is below. Cheers!

Tasting Flight - April 2017

"Underworld 101" by Mame Bougouma Diene (Omenana)
"Champollion's Foot" by Haris A Durrani (Mithila Review)
“And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus” by Michael Matheson (Shimmer)
"Some Remarks on the Reproductive Strategy of the Common Octopus" by Bogi Takács (Clarkesworld)
"It Happened To Me: I Was Brought Back to Avenge My Death, But Chose Justice Instead" by Nino Cipri (Fireside Fiction)
"And Then There Were (N-One)" by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus May 2017

It’s May at GigaNotoSaurus and apparently that means dipping back into the realm of fairy tales. Or, at least, fairy stories, as this month’s almost-a-novelette piece features an interesting take on the story of Tam Lin, who has gotten in a bit deep with a certain fairy queen and has made a few hasty bargains in order to try and get free of the messy situation he found himself in. Add to that a neatly rendered world of construction and underwater reconnaissance, and it’s a winning recipe for romantic mishaps. Like with all fairy tale retellings, it lives and dies by how it updates the themes of the original while adding new visuals, new voices, and a new style. And before I give away too much, let’s get to the review!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 05/01/2017 & 05/08/2017

May opens with a pair of stories and a pair of poems from Strange Horizons, all of them interested in the lines between achievement and destruction, success and oblivion. The stories look at two strikingly different situations stitched together with a thread of oppression and the looming threat of violence. These pieces are about struggle, whether through art or through organized action, and show characters moving according to their inner drives and needs. The poetry is interesting because both pieces take on an almost archaic feel in order reveal very modern concerns and warnings. There's a lot to see and experience with all this content, so I'll just jump right into the reviews!

Art by Matthew Filipkowski

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Queer Smut Reviews - Show Yourself To Me by Xan West

Welcome to the first ever Queer Smut Reviews! Way back in April of 2016 I sort of joked about moving the site to cover solely queer smut. I say sort of joked because this isn't something where I'm like "Queer smut, isn't that ridiculous, haha!" I write queer smut. I read queer smut. I think that it is both important and artful, no less so than the stories that we would call "just" SFF. Which is another reason that I've wanted to look at it, because I do believe that the divide we put up between SFF smut and SFF is largely artificial and harmful.

I'm not going to stand here, though, and defend queer smut's many problems, or be an asshole to ace/aro people for whom the emphasis on relationships and sex is not at all what they want to read. I will say simply that SFF smut has no more or less issues than the rest of SFF but receives a disproportionate amount of derision from all quarters. These complaints are not all without merit, as queer smut is dominated not by concerns about presenting queer relationships accurately or to be affirming for queer readers but rather to cater to the tastes of the readership, which is largely (but certainly not exclusively) white straight ciswomen. Still, there are stories that are being told in SFF smut that are being told no where else, and for people looking for representation not just of sexualities but of sex, smut is one of the very few places to find that.

For me, writing and reading about queer sex has helped me come to terms and make sense of my own identity. First through fanfiction, but more and more through published original works. Again, this is not to knock fanfiction, as it provides a largely anonymous place for people to write all kinds of stories, but I do think that writers should be paid for their work, and I think that part of that means telling and paying for original stories, and seeking out where these stories are being told and sold. Which, in turn, has pushed me to want to start this project, where I will be looking at published SFF romance and erotic romance and erotica short fiction.

My first entry into this feature is looking at three stories from the (oh glod incredibly hot) short fiction collection Show Yourself To Me by Xan West. (and I must say that Corey Alexander aka Xan West, who is a tremendous resource and advocate for writers and queer people in general, is currently in danger of becoming homeless and I hope you will consider helping out here and/or going out and buying this collection). I actually came across the collection from a recommendation from Bogi Takács (and/or Rose Lemberg) and thought it looked interesting. And, of course, I started reading it in an airport. Now, I'm pretty used to reading sexy-times so doing so in public isn't usually an issue, but wow, let me just say that this collection is steamy! I mean, very much so, and yet the stories also show an awareness and emphasis on consent and care. Let us just say that I had to take numerous breaks to cool down because I CANNOT OVERSTATE THE STEAM!