Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Quick Sips - Uncanny #21 [March stuff]

March brings a bit of spring to Uncanny Magazine, with three stories and three poems that feature music and rebirth and love and hope. These are also stories and poems that look at places, though. At haunted houses and magnificent cities and hometowns. That look just as closely at relationships. At the way that interactions build. How in big cities inspiration can seem to grow out of the creativity concentrated in one spot, synergize into something bigger and bigger. How in smaller towns isolation can give way to resentment and fear and depression, but where single gestures can come to mean the universe. These are stories of friends and family, poems of art and love and prayer. And without further delay, the reviews!

Art by Nilah Magruder

Monday, March 19, 2018

Quick Sips - Shimmer #42 [March stuff]

It’s…well, it’s a bit of a strange month of stories from Shimmer Magazine. From a train-riding competitive eater to a woman transforming into a deer, the stories are heavy on the odd and magical. In both stories, the main characters deal with a setting that forces them into a role that they resist. But that, ultimately, seems too strong to just shrug off. These are stories of family obligations and the weight of cultural norms. For me, at least, the stories use the strange to highlight how surreal the world can be at times for some people, how it’s logic shifts and twists to suit the wills of those with power. It makes for an interesting experience, and I’ll get right to the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Friday, March 16, 2018

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 03/05/2018 & 03/12/2018

Strange is indeed part of the name of Strange Horizons, so it should be no surprise that early March brings a bounty of weird stories and poems to the publication. From people living split lives between night and day, between genders, between husbands and wives, to a collector of moons, to a poem that’s also a game, to the boredom of immortals, the SFF on display in these two issues all take the familiar and give it a healthy twist. And yet in these strange takes on the world as we know it there’s a sort of carnival funhouse glimpse at humanity seen through new and interesting angles. Angles that might give us better insights into what it means to love and to yearn for. What it means to be alive, and be human, and struggle against all the ways we might fail, and dissolve. It’s a lovely collection of pieces that I’m going to get right to reviewing!

Art by Youheum Son

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Quick Sips - Nightmare #66

March is apparently a month for doomed dogs at Nightmare Magazine, where the pair of original stories explore systems of oppression, cycles of violence, and young girls who just want to have fun with their doggos. Which…doesn’t really work out well for them. At least, both stories look at the ways that societies can almost passively abuse young girls. The ways that expectations and obligations (girls always lie, girls must sacrifice, etc.) merely create opportunities for predators to prey on them. These are two uncomfortable reads, that feature a looming and omnipresent threat of violence from beings very willing (gleefully so, in fact) of following through. But before I give too much away, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Vukkostic / Fotolia

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Quick Sips - Apex #106

Three original stories bring a strange and decidedly dark flavor to March’s Apex Magazine. And front and center in many of the stories this month is the idea of observation. Of perspective. Of seeing and being seen. Of how large a role perception has in mapping reality, and how large a role it has in creating reality. The stories feature characters caught between larger forces. Trying to reach for a human connection while being pushed and pulled by very inhuman forces. It makes for a number of unsettling and grim moments, when humans fall victim to the machinations of others, where how people view the world doesn’t match how others want the world to be, and the results are violent and swift. And even when a person seems to hold out, there is an inevitability about the stories, that sometimes (perhaps often) humans just can’t stand up to the forces arrayed to steer the universe. To the reviews!

Art by Benedick Bana

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #138

March brings four short stories and a new novella to Clarkesworld Magazine. Which means for the second month in a row, the publication is bringing an original novella. It certainly continues the trend of including longer works at online (primarily, for there is a print edition) venues. The stories overall are, well, rather dark. To me, they focus a lot on corrupt systems and how sometimes there’s no real fixing them all at once. How what often happens is that people live and die, are crushed and ground to powder, for a long time before a bad system starts to improve. Not that it can’t improve, but that for many vulnerable people it doesn’t improve fast enough. Which makes for a slew of often very difficult stories, but ones that do hold onto a hope that things will get better, even if we don’t all live to see it happen. To the reviews!

Art by Arthur Haas

Monday, March 12, 2018

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus March 2018

GigaNotoSaurus offers up a beautiful short story for March that might have been a bit more appropriate for February and Valentine’s Day because it is adorable and wonderful and sweet and just good! I’m a sucker for romance, and so the focus of this story for me is refreshing, especially because it refuses to tread the same tired paths of angst and powerlessness that seem to dominate so many romantic story lines. It’s not without darkness or sadness, but it’s a story to me about the triumph of love and humans over despair, loss, and death. To the review!