Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Quick Sips - Shimmer #41 [January stuff]

The first issue of 2018 is a strange one for Shimmer Magazine, with two stories that seem to dwell on moments of understanding between humans and…other entities. Whether a rabbit or something a bit more monstrous, the stories examine how the characters react from having a moment of contact with some being on a different plane with them. The stories revolve around wounds, around hurts, and around the question of what comes next. How do people move on, and how do they hope to heal? And, perhaps more so, how do they deal with having their vision of the world so fundamentally altered by the introduction to a completely different perspective? The stories are immediate and visceral and dark, so let’s shine a light on them with some reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Monday, January 22, 2018

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #136

January brings five original stories to Clarkesworld Magazine (3 short stories, 2 novelettes), and for me the issue seems to draw heavily on mysteries. At least, many of the stories involve characters dealing with either having been lied to, or finding that their understanding of the world is fundamentally flawed. Or, really, a combination. For most of the stories, the main characters are driven by a desire to figure out what exactly is going on around them—how they’re being manipulated, how they’re being used. For many, knowledge is kept away from them, and for many of them it’s kept away indefinitely. The few that manage to cut through the barriers between them and an understanding of what’s happening to them do seem to find a measure of healing in that, seem able to move on and forward. Those that can’t, who are kept from knowing the truth, fare less well, locked in someone else’s agenda, stripped of their ability to consent to their own lives. There’s a lot to explore, so let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Artur Sadlos

Sunday, January 21, 2018

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2017! The "Time to Run Some Red Lights" Sippy for Excellent Action!!! in SFF

Welcome back to the Third Annual Sippy Awards! Some part of you might be wondering, “why?” The answer: to celebrate short SFF across different styles that make excellent use of various elements to shine as examples of why I love this field. There’s no panel of judges or voting population, just me and my inflated ego and love of short SFF. Given how most short SFF awards focus on length, I wanted to look instead at how stories use different elements to stand out and be powerful. This year I’ve already shipped some excellent relationship, cowered before some excellent horror, and bawled from the some emotionally devastating reads. Which means today it’s time to put the pedal to the metal with...

The “Time to Run Some Red Lights” Sippy Awards 
for Excellent Action! in Short SFF

The name comes courtesy of the outrage that followed the original release of The Fast and The Furious. No joke, I remember a bunch of articles about how, upon leaving the movie, people were basically much more likely to speed and engage in...not good decisions. Likewise, I’ve seen studies about how listening to music effects how we drive. So I wanted to find the stories that left me feeling amped up. That made me to go fast and take chances. In a weird sort of surprise, most of them are from the very beginning of 2017. Not sure what that means, but there you are. In any event, please make sure your seat belts are securely buckled and that your tray tables are in their full and upright position. In 3...2...1...GO!!!!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus January 2018

Weaving together nostalgia, storytelling, and the magic of the Big Top, the January short story from GigaNotoSaurus offers a walk down a memory lane that is in danger of crumbling to nothing. It follows a man who defines himself by what he used to be, who has lost a bit of himself as he has lost the role that gave him meaning. Without it, he is fading in some ways. Until someone finds him in order to give him what he gave others—a shot at immortality. It’s a story that blends styles while evoking a very specific voice in speculative fiction. Before I give it all away, though, to the review!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #242

Beneath Ceaseless Skies opens up its 2018 fiction with a duo of musical and magical pieces. Focusing on harmony and discord, inspiration and creativity, the two pieces find characters whose professional ambitions are somewhat at odds with how their society treats them. They are good at what they do, driven by the art and the joy of music and yet finding that at every turn they need the patronage of powerful men in order to be taken seriously. In order to be safe. And both stories explore what happens when being safe stops being motivation enough for staying silent, and what happens when the right song bursts forth into the world. To the reviews!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

X Marks the Story - January 2018

X Marks the Story is now live at The Book Smugglers. This is the spiritual successor to The Monthly Round and covers five recent short SFF stories that I loved from late 2017/early 2018.

So thrilled to have my column go live. Please go check it out at The Book Smugglers! Links to just the stories are below:

“When The Night Blooms, An Artist Transmutes: A Three-Act Play” by Nin Harris (published in The Dark Magazine #31, December 2017)
“The Weight of Sentience” by Naru Dames Sundar (published in Shimmer Magazine #40, November/December 2017)
“The House at the End of the Lane is Dreaming” by A. Merc Rustad (published in Lightspeed Magazine #91, December 2017)
“The Heaven-Moving Way” by Chi Hui, translated by Andy Dudak (published in Apex Magazine #104, January 2018)
“The Epic of Sakina” by Shari Paul (published in Fiyah Literary Magazine #5, January 2018)

Cheers!
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 01/01/2018 & 01/08/2018

After a brief break for the holidays, Strange Horizons returns with its first two issues of 2018, each with a new story and new poem to enjoy. The pieces are wonderfully paired, story and poem working together to provide interesting and complex one-two punches. It’s something I very much appreciate as a reader, the issues holding together and complicating the individual pieces, allowing for a deeper reading than would otherwise have been possible. The first issue seems more about magic and growth, of children learning the dangers of the world and trying to overcome them. The second issue is more about refugees, from either wars or climate, people displaced and vulnerable, preyed upon and in need of kindness and rest. It’s a strong start for the year, so without further delay, the reviews!