Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 04/17/2017 & 04/24/2017

There's another two weeks of content from Strange Horizons and it's...actually rather manageable. One new story (and a flash fiction at that) and two new poems make for a fairly quick read, but the content is still in keeping with the high quality expected from the publication. The fiction is heavy with the weight of tragedy and hope and scarcity and hunger, and the poetry is reaching toward different worlds, toward things that seem and perhaps are out of reach. These are pieces about the distance between pain and numbness, between hope and despair, and the pieces all explore how people can keep going despite bitter circumstances. So let's get to the reviews!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quick Sips - Mithila Review #8

As always, there’s a lot to see in the latest issue of Mithila Review, which seeks to look a bit at visual arts. For original fiction, there’s one flash, one short story, and one novelette, and there are nine different poems, not to mention a reprint and a load of nonfiction that I will leave you to discover on your own. What’s here, though, and what I’m looking at in my review, does an amazing job of showing people coming into contact with the unknown. Shows people who assume based on the narratives they have been told about the nature of the world. And who find that they can’t accept those narratives. That only by challenging the stories that other people tell about the world can its nature truly be revealed. The poems expand on this as well and everything works together wonderfully to create an issue that is cohesive and sharp. But I guess I should just get to the reviews!

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

LIVER BEWARE! You're in for a Drunk Review of Goosebumps #1: WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE

Greetings! As some of you know, I've been running drunk reviews of the original Goosebumps series on my Patreon. It's...lots of fun. Now, six months later, I want to start bringing some of the fun to whole world. As part of unlocking some of my Patreon goals, I will now be releasing all odd numbered Liver Beware! reviews here on QSR after six months Patron-exclusivity. For those who enjoy this series, though, please consider becoming a Patron to gain immediate access to the reviews as they come out as well as full access to all of the liver-destroying goodness. Anyway, that said, let's get to it!


Friday, April 14, 2017

The March 2017 Monthly Round is Live!

Head over and check out my March 2017 Monthly Round now at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together.

There have been some changes, and I go over them in brief detail there, but the main thing is that I'm moving to do just the 6-story Tasting Flight and dropping the Shots. As fun as they were, they were a lot of work and I wanted to further refine the column so it is what it is. Plus I got a new graphic! Anyway, as always, just the picks are included below:

Tasting Flight - March 2017

"The Cold, Lonely Waters" by Aimee Ogden (Shimmer)
"It Happened To Me: I Melded My Consciousness With the Giant Alien Mushroom Floating Above Chicago" by Nino Cipri (Fireside Fiction)
"You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych" by Kathleen Kayembe (Nightmare)
"Terra Nullius" by Hanuš Seiner, translated by Julie Nováková (Strange Horizons)
"If We Survive the Night" by Carlie St. George (The Dark)
"Suddenwall" by Sara Saab (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

There you have it! If you want the full reviews, notes, and booze pairings, go over and check out the full piece. Otherwise, Cheers!

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #127

It’s another month of Clarkesworld Magazine that focuses (at least in the original fiction) entirely on science fiction. But more than that, this issue looks at what makes people human, and what makes people not human, and how all of that ties together into something shocking, beautiful, and complex. The stories focus on different people who either have drifted from humanity or never were human. For some, that not being human is a lack that they feel, and for some it is a source of strength and identity. For all the stories, though, there is a focus on how people can bridge the gap between where they are and humanity, and reach for something like justice, like compassion, like cooperation. These are some great stories, including a surprise novella and another interesting (and really weird) translated piece, so let’s get right to the reviews!

Art by Eddie Mendoza

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online April 2017


Where last month’s Flash Fiction Online was all about scares and horror, this month turns things around quite sharply, offering up three original stories that are weird, fun, and full of whimsy. WHIMSY I SAY! These are stories that explode with charm and cuteness, with worlds that are bent in strange ways. Discarded clothes that want to be adopted into new homes, luck that runs bad or good according to a set formula, and beauty pageants where the contestants are all plants—the premises are refreshingly and a bit ridiculously speculative, and offer an invigorating breath of levity into the mix. So without further delay, let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #83

This issue of Lightspeed Magazine definitely skews a bit more science fiction than fantasy, even in the stories that appear in the fantasy section. Exploring the space where magic meets science, the stories show just how…energetic SFF can be, and just how subdued and ponderous. The stories are balanced well, from a piece that takes a screaming look at the possible end of the world on the eyeball of a giant god to a heartwarming story about the allure of time travel and the problem of being too caught on the question of "what if?" These are stories that look at people reaching back to try and find some way to fix things that might not be broken. That feature characters trying to find, amidst their own hesitation and fear and regret, some way forward. And before I give too much away, let's get to the reviews!

Art by Odera Igbokwe

Monday, April 10, 2017

Quick Sips - Fiyah #2 Spilling Tea

It's the second issue of Fiyah and the theme this issue is Spilling Tea. Actual tea does feature in a number of the stories, but more than that is a sense of conversation and community. There are stories about families and about bridging distances. In space, yes, but also in ideology and culture. In perspective and time. About creating connections between people that might act as lifelines to keep people from plummeting to their doom. The stories capture a sense of awe and wonder, as well, revealing distant worlds and magic right under our noses. There's action and there is humor and there is also a lot of heart, an emotional weight that stayed with me long after I put the issue down. These are seven short stories that deliver one hell of an SFF roller coaster so keep your arms and legs inside the blog at all times and let the reviews begin!

Art by Geneva Benton

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Quick Questions: A. Merc Rustad

Hello and welcome to the second installment of Quick Questions, everyone's favorite interview series they don't remember exists! I'm here today with short fiction writer extraordinaire A. Merc Rustad to talk stories, time travel, AND SO MUCH MORE! But before we begin, let me introduce...


THE PARTICIPANT




A. Merc Rustad is a queer non-binary writer who lives in the Minnesota. Favorite things include: robots, dinosaurs, monsters, and tea. Their stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Apex, Uncanny, Shimmer, and other fine venues, with reprints included in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, Wilde Stories 2016, Heiress of Russ 2016, and Transcendent 2016. Merc likes to play video games, watch movies, read comics, and wear awesome hats. You can find Merc on Twitter @Merc_Rustad, Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/mercrustad) or their website: http://amercrustad.com. Their debut short story collection, SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROBOT, is out from Lethe Press in May 2017.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Quick Sips - The Dark #23

For the original fiction in this issue of The Dark Magazine, I might say that the theme is hauntings. At the very least, the two new stories look very closely at the ways that people can haunt and be haunted. The way that places and situations and especially relationships can link people, tie them together, and not always in a very good or healthy way. These stories explore how the dysfunction and abuse between people can create a story of haunting, a situation where people become trapped in a place, or near a person, and lose the ability to escape. There is a gravity to pain and torment, lies and longing, and the issue does a great job complicating that. But before I ramble on too long, to the reviews!

Art by Aleksandra Grahovac

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quick Sips - Motherboard's Terraform March 2017

There are only two stories (that I found) from Motherboard's Terraform this month, but they pack a nice one-two punch of near-future worries. In one, art and artificial intelligence meet in a mesmerizing tale of gaze and intent. And in the second, masculinity is indeed so fragile, and apparently needs to enforce a gun culture that requires compliance or death. The pieces look at characters struggling with their environments, with the artifacts of a culture that is harmful. And things in both…don't really go as expected. It's a pair of interesting stories that I'm just going to jump right into reviewing!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Quick Sips - Fireside Fiction March 2017

It’s a rather full month from Fireside Fiction as their publishing model has moved a bit away from issues and toward more regular, weekly content. It’s not exactly the most conducive to reviewing, as it means waiting and wondering if more stories will be coming out, but that particular blow is one probably more unique to me and the blow is softened by a month packed with great SFF. Weighing in well above the 10K in stories they shoot for, the four stories out explore a multitude of worlds and situations, from a Rome that never fell to a Chicago shadowed by a giant alien psychic mushroom. The stories explore the ways that people react to corruption and to weird situations, and how they adapt and overcome and fight for what they feel is right. And since there’s quite a bit to get to this month, I’ll get right to the reviews!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #222

There’s not exactly the strongest of thematic links that I could tease out with the two stories in the latest Beneath Ceaseless Skies, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t excellent windows into fantastical worlds. The stories look at the weight of place, at long conflicts that seem unwinnable, and in how hope often comes with the newer generations. Both stories do feature people, parents, fighting for a better world for their children and at the same time needing their children to carry on the fight, and to bring the fight to a close. These are stories about sacrifices and bargains and difficult decisions, and the idea that only when everyone is free can anyone be free. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Ward Lindhout

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quick Sips - Tor dot com March 2017

First I guess I have to talk about Tor dot com's March project, Nevertheless, She Persisted, which features eleven pieces of flash fiction all centered around that idea, that quote. These are stories that hit and hit hard, some of them blisteringly defiant and some of them steeped in despair. The stories (and poem) show the many facets of the idea of persistence. The power of it and also the crushing nature of having to persist, and persist, and persist, ever and always. The stories run across a wide range of speculative genres and it's wonderful to see the authors taking this central idea and being inspired by it. Using it to say something new and interesting. Making a statement on our current situation and refusing to look away from the uncomfortable truths of it. So yes, it's a wonderful project and makes for a some surprising start to Tor's March.

That's not all that the publication got up to, though. Oh no. This would have been a full month even without the eleven flash stories, as there are also three short stories and two novelettes to look at. And wow. These are some gorgeous pieces that take on some deeply uncomfortable themes and manage to find glimmers of hope even in the most devastating of loss and corruption. They are stories of ghosts and magic, bodies and wars. And before I get too lost in describing them, why don't I just get to the reviews!

Art by Scott Bakal