Okay, we've got our primary winners and are onto the main event! If you have time, please head over to Twitter and like (heart) your favorite. The winner will be my 2017 Liver Beware! graphic. Links are below! Thanks so much and cheers!
Stare at the screen. Glance at tea (which is too hot to drink). Stare at the screen.
It's been hard for me to create recently. My fiction, after having been fairly productive (and successful), is going through something of a slump. Surprise surprise, this has something to do with the election, and fear, and wondering what good what I do is in the face of what might happen. Wondering if it's worth it to keep pushing. To keep trying. It's weird that it comes at this time because it's a time when I'm asked fairly regularly to look back at 2016 and try to pull some good out of a very difficult year.
I stay busy. I have Quick Sip Reviews, of course, and contributing to Nerds of a Feather. And doing audio recommendations for Cabbages and Kings. And being asked to help kick off an interesting and hopefully-exciting short fiction discussion site, SFF Squee and Snark, with a fiction recommendation. And contributing to this year's Smugglivus over at The Book Smugglers (forthcoming). And putting out new content for my Patreon. I have two stories out this month, at Lightspeed Magazine and Dreamspinner Press, and am participating in a promo for the Dreamspinner story (forthcoming). And I'm contributing to a Best of 2016 short fiction thing at a rather well-known SFF publication, which involves lots and lots of voting. I've gathered up my #SFFfortheResistance. I'm getting ready to gather up my picks for the 2016 SIPPY AWARDS.
I feel pulled in all directions at once and like I can't keep up with much. Going onto social media has become hard. I'm trying to be supportive to all the various awesome projects and people out there but can't help but feel I'm letting people down. It's not burning out. I don't think it's burning out. I'm reviewing as much as I have been. More, even. And I enjoy it. It's just that I haven't been able to do much else.
Sometimes I wonder if I do so much to distract myself from medical bills and the fear of losing insurance because a huge number of people have decided that Millennials are the worst and need to be punished for…destroying America, I guess? I get to see fun articles like how "kids these days" are all claiming to be bisexual because celebrities and how stupid that is. I get to hear how "PC culture" is killing the nation, SFF, and science itself. This is all an attack. An attack by those with the most power against those with less because they feel threatened and can't be fucking decent people about it. Ever since the election I've been told that the problem is that people aren't "understanding" enough of white, straight, cis people and their problems. Like the problem has ever been that we're not listening to that group enough.
The tea is cool enough to drink now. It's some sort of sugar cookie herbal tea. It's very good. You know what I've been craving lately. Food. Sweaters. Time. A decent fucking television show I haven't seen before. At least the food I can afford and enjoy making. Now's the time to cook more vegetarian, I guess, because beans and vegetables are still rather cheap per pound. And a little spice can go a long way. I'm sure some relative will be all ready to say that I'm not really struggling because I can cook a fucking amazing meal. I can blister hardboiled eggs in oil with some turmeric and set them aside, drain most of the oil. Sauté an onion, add some jalapenos, add some tomatoes and chili powder. Add fish sauce. Halve the eggs and put them cut side down in the pan. Cover. Simmer. Serve over rice or couscous.
This post is a bit all over the place. I understand that and I apologize. My tea is gone and now I'm hungry. I…I've been looking back at 2016 a lot recently. Which is a heavy task, emotionally. No less so than looking ahead, though. We're at a difficult time. And we're just past Thanksgiving, which is a weird holiday but represents another call to take stock. To think what we're thankful for. As always, I am thankful for SFF. For those writing it, for those reading it. For those who think that I can belong in it. I think you belong, too. I hope to see you around for a long time, because I'm not going anywhere. Thanks for reading.
I'm looking at two weeks of StrangeHorizons content today, which means two stories and two poems. I also recommend checking out the nonfiction, but because of time and inclination I'm not going to be discussing those here. The fiction in these two issues both imagine catastrophic journeys and different worlds. Now, one is a science fiction piece and one a fantasy, so those mean very different things, but both stories show characters falling into situations they can't control and having to adapt. Having to dance with their circumstances and their fears and their emotions. And the poetry is about lust and distance and darkness. And together it makes for a fascinating issue that I should just review already. Let's go!
People looking for a happy, uplifting read, turn back now. This issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies might be the darkest and most horror-laced of all the issues I have read of the publication. These stories are well paired but fuck are they not entirely appropriate if what you want is to curl up in a warm sweater and enjoy life. These stories are pits of darkness taunting you to look inside. And if you do, if you answer to the voice calling out from the black, there is no real light at the end of the tunnel. Just a growing and gathering darkness that consumes and destroys, that twists and turns. That asks: in a place where justice is dead, what will grow from the rotting remains of its corpse. So yeah, with that warning in place, let us descend to the reviews!
November's issue marks the last of 2016 for Fireside Fiction and it closes the year with equal measures joy and sorrow. Rather a fitting end to a very conflicting year, certainly. The stories all evoke the past in different ways, whether by spinning a tale laced with an older-style adventure or settling into grief and loss looking back on life or fitting characters into a tradition that has been going on since there have been roads crossing. These are incredibly different stories, but they share certain links beyond that they appear in the same space. They all create complex characters concerned with family and with place. With tradition and complicating tradition, putting their own twist on what has come before. And, of course, they are all quite good. So yeah, to the reviews!
There's a new issue of Omenana out and you should read it. The publication is going through some changes, moving to a more robust website, adding some new ventures (like reviews), and the fiction remains strong and brilliant. These are stories that look at magic and at tragedy, that show loss but also people gaining things. New abilities. New hopes. New understandings of the world they live in. These are not always easy stories—they are dense and they are occasionally uncomfortable—but they are resonating stories. Stories that inspire and complicate. And I should get to reviewing them!
Today I'm looking at the latest novella from The Book Smugglers. This is part of a new initiative that they are running and if this work is anything to go by, it is going to be awesome. The piece overall unfolds across five chapters. Five sections. Five fairy tales. And as that is the case, I decided that my review would look at each section in turn. Be warned, because of the linked nature of the story, SPOILERS ABOUND after the first section. So yeah, to the review!