Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #98

July’s Apex Magazine features a nice little editorial that celebrates the USA’s birthday in a rather nice way. And the stories it brings to the table are an interesting pair, keeping things firmly in the realm of science fiction, probability and time travel, rabbits and desperation. In both we find characters on missions. In the first, it’s a mission to make sense out of a random universe. In the other, it’s a mission to undo what is being perceived as a great wrong. The stories differ greatly and offer up some very different interpretations of dark SFF, but they offer up some interesting and rather philosophical points to ponder. And before I get to distracted, it’s time to review!

Art by Quentin-Vladimir Castel

Monday, July 24, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #38 [July stuff]

It’s a bit of a strange month at Shimmer Magazine, with two original stories that full embrace the weird. Whether that means imagining a world where mutant zombie-lizard-people face some Western-tinged gunslinging or a world something like 1920’s France where people are deconstructing themselves in the face of war, these are pieces that embrace SFF’s ability to be different. And they are stories of characters in turmoil, in pain, trying to make sense out of a world that doesn’t really make a lot of sense. These are story with action and with something distinct and rather undefinable about them and lacking the language to describe them in broad strokes, I’ll try to get to specifics in the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Friday, July 21, 2017

Regular Sip - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #230

Okay, so...this is something of a special review for me. Firstly (and most importantly), it's NEW BIRDVERSE OMG YAAAASSSS!!! Ahem. Aside from that, it's the longest title that I've read from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a stunning novella that is available for free both to read and to listen to (as a 5 hr podcast!). The second part of the novella is also appearing alongside a short story of mine, "Rivers Run Free," which of course I am not reviewing but hey, if you all want to read and review it, feel free! :D Anyway, this novella is one of my favorite reads, proving once and for all that one of the sexiest things in the universe is consent. So without further ado, the review!

Art by Jeff Brown

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #130

It’s a rather dark month of content at Clarkesworld, where the CW might well stand for content warning for most of the pieces. These are stories that take a look at the aftermath of harm. They look at post-apocalypses, post-traumatic plots that lead to further traumas. These are stories where, by and large, characters find themselves in situation they never asked for. Pressed into guarding a strange bridge. Woken from a space hibernation. Taken by raiders to do dangerous work. The stories are not as a general rule very happy. Instead they are full of violence and the looming threat of violence. But many of the stories are also full of hope and resistance. Some…not so much, but it’s a very interesting group of stories. Review time!

Art by Eddie Mendoza

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Nightmare #58

The July stories from Nightmare Magazine seem to me to be all about consent and victims. About the ways in which people seek their own gratification, their own wishes, without pausing to think about what they’re doing. Or, when they do stop, they still privilege their own wants over the safety of others. These are some complex stories that look at the ways that relationships fall apart and people can turn on each other, hurt each other, by not asking the right questions, by losing sight of those around them in their pursuit of what they want. These are some rather uncomfortable and violent stories, and yet the violence is pointed and impacting, revealing the systems in place that reward ignorance and punish empathy. It’s definitely a matter of degrees, though, and the stories show different kinds of hope in moving forward, in reaching for a world without these cycles of violence and abuse. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by grandfailure / Adobe Stock Art

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus July 2017

July’s long short story from GigaNotoSaurus explores war in a way that’s deep and moving and a bit weird, frankly. On an incredibly refreshing note, it’s a story about World War II that doesn’t involve Nazis, which I am always up for reading. It’s also a story that’s somewhat difficult to define, which is also something I appreciate. It’s not traditional fantasy and it’s not exactly historical science fiction. It’s some mix of things, a literary speculative history story that focuses on two sets of twins and how they handle the circumstances the war finds them in. And before I spoil too much, I should just jump right in to the review!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 07/03/2017 & 07/10/2017

It's another stellar two weeks of content as Strange Horizons moves into July. It's full of weirdness, with two original stories where magic is bleeding through into the more mundane world, where the main characters are looking either for escape through this magic or escape from this magic, and it makes for a wonderful pairing, where people find in the magic around them a pervasive danger and darkness, shattering any illusions that magic might be bright or safe. The poetry is at turns beautiful and rending, about connections and relationships. And there's even some wonderful nonfiction. I'm actually skipping one of the nonfiction pieces because it's more a review and I'm not familiar with the text, but I do very much recommend reading all of it. So yeah, to the reviews!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Quick Link - The Monthly Round June 2017

The Monthly Round is up now at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together. Go check it out.

For those not in the know, the Round is my monthly column where I pair my favorite stories from the month with tasting notes, thematically appropriate booze, and reviews. So if that sounds like something you're into, go give the full column a read. If you just want to know my favorite stories, those are below.


Tasting Flight - June 2017

“The Waters and Wild of Winter Street” by Jessi Cole Jackson (Book Smugglers)
 “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny)
“We Lilies of the Valley” by Sonja Natasha (Shimmer)
“Utopia, LOL?” by Jamie Wahls (Strange Horizons)
“Of Letters They Are Made” by Jonathan Edelstein (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Water like Air” by Lora Gray (Flash Fiction Online)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #229

It’s something of a treat from Beneath Ceaseless Skies this issue as there are two longer stories to sink your teeth into. And okay, one of those is a novella which is only half-released (though the entire piece can be listened to via podcast), but people, it is so good. So so so good. And both stories explore themes of difference and violence, systems of violence and learning and possibilities of freedom and escape. These are works that feature young people starting to come into their powers and finding that they have a lot to learn. But these are also characters who have been hurt and who are not quick to trust for very good reasons. Both have found or find that the world they live in is often unfair and brutal, and that provokes something equally intense in themselves. The stories are deep and expressive and offer up fantastic worlds to explore, though many carry within them dark shadows. But before I give too much away, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Jeff Brown

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #86

The July Lightspeed Magazine offers up a pair each of science fiction and fantasy short stories that balance hope and despair, pain and longing. The stories examine injustice, characters caught in moments that they want to escape, situations that are deeply unsatisfying. For some it’s a humanity that has lost its spark, and for others it’s a world that doesn’t allow them to be themselves. In some the pressure is external, a threat or invasion, and in others it’s the seeming-injustice of chance. Whatever the characters and whatever the stories, though, the pieces all examine what it means to be discontent, to be angry and hurting. To want change. And the stories differ widely in how that hope is portrayed, and how close the characters are allowed to come to it, but all the pieces are certainly interesting, and it makes for a fascinating issue I should just review already.

Art by Reiko Murakami

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online July 2017

It’s solidly summer time now and the July issue of Flash Fiction Online brings with it a mix of stories that burst with life and possibility even as they don’t overlook the grief and hurt that walk hand in hand with the brightness of summer. There’s magic that pulses through these stories, in the visions and hopes of the characters—a wish for a different world, the magic of wings, the consuming darkness. In all of the stories the characters must face that what they want, that where they want, might not fix all their problems, but most of the characters are determined to go anyway, to find whatever is waiting there, be it family or love or freedom. So let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Dario Bijelac

Monday, July 10, 2017

Quick Sips - The Dark #26

July has arrived at The Dark Magazine with a pair of original stories that deliver characters driven toward a singular goal. For one of the characters, it’s a release from an oppressive setting where he must constantly live in fear of his skin. For the other, it’s respect and power that he craves, that leads him down a rapidly darkening path. Both men face danger and face difficulty, but they handle things in very different ways. The stories show how the pursuit of a goal can be affirming or destructive, how it can work to free a person or chain them to a string of bad decisions. These are stories that show how both characters do not shy away from violence, but that they eventually have to make the decision of how that violence will define them. Will they overcome it, and find a more peaceful way out, or will they embrace it, and let it lead them toward their desires? It’s a great month of stories and I’m going to get right to those reviews!

Art by Vincent Chong

Friday, July 7, 2017

Quick Sips - Fiyah Literary Magazine #3: Sundown Towns

The third issue of Fiyah Literary Magazine has arrived and the theme this time is Sundown Towns, the practice where black people had to leave certain cities before sundown or face the prospect of arrest or mob justice. It’s a heavy theme and it shows in many of the stories and poems. These are pieces that look very closely at place, at the idea of home, that complicate how people can feel belonging when they are not truly safe, when they are never really in control of their spaces. Many of the stories deal with protagonists working in nearly-hopeless situations—being exploited and legislated against, being constantly in danger from forces mundane and supernatural. But the pieces all show what community and hope can do, how resistance and beauty still flower in the harshest of realities. The stories are at turns tragic and inspiring, and the issue as a whole is another phenomenal experience. So let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Geneva Benton

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Quick Sips - Tor dot com June 2017

It's just a bit of a short month for Tor dot com in June, with three original stories offering a nice variety of science fiction and fantasy and horror. The stories examine the damage left behind by abuse of different sorts, whether corporate, societal, or achingly personal. The stories look at loss—of freedom, of life, of security, and show how transformation is possible, how resistance is possible. In all of these stories I see characters who don't know quite what comes next, but who find that they might have access to a power that they didn't have before. That suddenly they are able to change something, even if it's only their own feathers. But it's a great mix of stories and I'll get to reviewing!

Art by Jon Foster

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Quick Sips - The Book Smugglers June 2017

Book Smugglers is back for its 2017 short story season! This year’s theme is Gods & Monsters and the two first stories up are a science fiction tale that definitely leans on some tropes surrounding gods—well, more like goddesses, and a contemporary fantasy full of heart and dark magic. These are stories that unfold across a galaxy rich with life as two women discover the joy of experience even as they run up against the limitations of it as well, or inside a world quite familiar, full of middle school dances and carrot cake as two sisters and their dads find out that there is more than dust bunnies lurking in the shadowy spaces of the globe. Both are stories about change and about moving on, about discovery but also autonomy, and they are a great way to kick off another year of stories from one of my favorite publishers. To the reviews!

Art by Sparrows

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Quick Sips - Fireside Fiction June 2017

July brings four original stories to Fireside Fiction, but with three flash fiction pieces the total word count is back down from where it's been the last few months. Still, the stories presented are full of fun flourishes and dark implications. Many of the stories are about technology, about the friction between convenience and oppression, the way that they can feed each other and fuel tragedy. There's a nice mix of styles and genres, though, from science fiction both near and far in the future to fantasy that images whole nations of clockwork people to one that explores a much smaller plot of land, though one teaming with magic and danger. And these are stories that carry with them a heavy darkness, none of the pieces really ending in the happiest of manners, instead flavoring every victory with a hint of fear and the promise of pain. But they are also beautiful stories that explore what it means to be live and long and reach for freedom. To the reviews!

Art by Galen Dara

Monday, July 3, 2017

Quick Sips - Terraform June 2017

It's another month of content from Motherboard's Terraform and I continue to not be sure what's going on with the release schedule. There's only one new piece out this month, but as it's the last chapter in the long-running Highwayman series, there's still a lot to digest. Now, this series has had some ups and downs for me personally, but it's continually told a captivating story with some interesting visuals and a great style. The ending certainly comes with a bang, leaving me to wonder that now that it has wrapped up, what might be on the horizons for the publication. But enough speculating—time to review!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Quick Sip Reviews Twitter AMA/Recstravaganza

I'm excited to announce the Quick Sip Reviews Twitter AMA/Recstravaganza for 7/9/2017!

I'm going to be holding a bit of an event in order to raise awareness of my Patreon and really just to have some fun connecting with people. The idea is that I will be available on Sunday, July 9th, for the world to ask me anything, but also to challenge me in another way--by getting SFF short fiction recommendation challenges. I'll let my graphic explain.

Yes, I like making graphics for things. But basically, if you've been wondering if there's a SFF short story out there that includes "lesbians" "whales" and "post-apocalypse" then ARE YOU IN LUCK! (btw, "We Who Live in the Heart" by Kelly Robson). Want "food" "horror" and "magic"? Try "Candy Girl" by Chikodili Emelumadu. Just send me three keywords and I will do my best to find you a short story that fits. I have no idea if this will work but I'm excited to try. To yeah, mark your calendars!


Friday, June 30, 2017

YEAR OF GARAK, Part 6: "Cardassians," "Profit and Loss," "Civil Defense," "Second Skin," & "The Way of the Warrior"

Yes, I made a Year of Garak graphic. It called to me. 
Welcome back! The year of Garak officially reaches its halfway point this month with its sixth installment. For those just tuning in, I've been looking at various Garak media, from short stories to novels to the original DS9 episodes. Basically, if it's got Garak, I want to examine it, because I love Garak and something needs to distract me from...other things 2017 has brought with it. If you want to catch up, here's links to the previous posts: January | February | March | April | May.

I'm joined again today by SFF poet, writer, and all around awesome person Nicasio Andres Reed. We're looking at a whole slew of episodes from DS9 so SPOILERS apply. Feel free to jump into the comments (they are moderated so it might take a little while for them to show up but I will try my best to check in regularly). Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the discussion!

Oh, and in case you don't remember from last time...

Nicasio Andres Reed is a Filipino-American writer and poet whose work has appeared in Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Shimmer, Liminality, Inkscrawl, and Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Comics Anthology. Nico currently lives in Madison, WI. Find him on Twitter @NicasioSilang.

And now, to the discussion!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 06/19/2017 & Samovar 06/26/2017

It’s another strong pair of weeks from Strange Horizons, including a brand new issue of Samovar, the SFF in translation project. All told, there’s one brand new story, two translated stories, one new poem, and five translated haikus. Together, these stories examine the role of technology and the shifting moods and beliefs of generations growing up with new experiences and new opportunities. The stories carry with them a heaviness that weigh down the characters, that make it difficult for them to connect and find meaning in their lives. They are isolated and desperate to make genuine relationships, to find intimacy, and yet again and again find themselves thwarted in the face of the changing world. These are some amazing and imaginative stories and poems that I’m going to get right to reviewing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #228

It’s another expertly paired issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies with two pieces that look at the power of ideas and the immortality of stories. They do so in very different ways, in very different settings, and with very different themes, but at their cores they share a belief that there are ideas and stories that can live on as long as a trace of them remains, and they can be dangerous when unleashed. The first story looks at translation and song and imagination set against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, where stories are identity and identity is threatened by the destructive nature of violence. In the second, the setting is more oppressive and systematically corrupt, and ideas and stories become weapons in a battle for justice. In both, the main characters struggle with their role in stories, either in their preservation and recovery or in their erasure and destruction. And in both the stories are the things that linger long after the death and loss and grief have faded. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Jeff Brown

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Quick Sips - People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination

It’s a bittersweet moment to announce that with this special People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories! issue, the publication is closing down. It’s certainly a sad moment to see FSI closing down, but this is one hell of a way to go out. There are four original stories that I will be looking at, but I very much encourage everyone to check out the reprints and the nonfiction, because it’s all amazing and you should do yourself the favor of reading it. The stories themselves seem to focus on the tenuous nature of safety and space. Many of the characters find themselves relatively happy despite being marginalized, despite being at risk of violence and bigotry. They find jobs that they like, and people who accept them, and a place to be, only to find that all of it can be taken from them, and that sometimes the only thing they have left is the power to lose the rest, to gamble it away in the hopes that everything is not completely lost. And I love how the stories work together and flow and I guess I should just get to the reviews!

Art by Victo Ngai

Monday, June 26, 2017

Quick Sips - Glittership Spring 2017 part 2

For this second half of Glittership’s Spring 2017 issue there’s still a lot to read and experience. There’s a bit more reprinted fiction than in the first half of the issue/releases, including “She Shines Like a Moon” by Pear Nuallak, which I’ve already reviewed here back in 2015 when it appeared in Lackington’s Skins issue. As such, I won’t be reviewing the story again, but I will definitely say people should check it out. Of the four remaining works, there’s one original story, one new poem, and two other reprints, and in case anyone was wondering it is all fucking good. I absolutely love that Glittership has added poetry and between the original and reprint fiction it’s definitely the publication to go to for gloriously queer content. I heartily point people toward their Patreon, especially if you want the awesome ebook delivered to you every quarter. Do it, people. Do it. But ahem, yeah, to the reviews!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #97

It’s a trio of stories this month at Apex Magazine, including one story in translation and two entirely new tales. The issues offers a nice range of darker SFF, never quite descending as deep as the publication sometimes goes but still keeping things dark enough to fit with the overall aesthetic of Apex. The stories are about oppression and the battle between the characters and themselves. Between them and their pasts, their presents, and their futures. In each, the character must face their decisions, even when they can’t remember making them, and decide how to move forward, whether to give in to the weight of what has happened or to blaze a new trail and strike out into unexplored territory. The characters all find different answers to question of how to proceed, and in doing so provide stories rich in mood and pathos while still remaining fun and moving. So let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Irina Kovalova

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #16 [June stuff]

Well it’s another busy month at Uncanny Magazine, with three original stories, two poems, and five nonfiction pieces. I was very tempted to just skip the nonfiction, I will admit, because of time concerns, but once I saw it was about Star Trek, food, resistance, and revolution, I kinda had to look at it more in depth. What’s here this month has a great focus on self-determination and strength and stories. About the ways that we write ourselves out of struggles in order to relieve the burden of having to act and the ways that we need to counter that. The stories focus on people being confronted with narratives that don’t leave room for them, where they are often ignored or marginalized, and how they seek to recenter and decolonize these stories to present a more just and more complete vision of the world. And the pieces all do this by subverting tropes and familiar structures and ideas to present wholly new and revolutionary messages. Time travel is revealed as more crutch than cure. Vampirism takes on wholly new levels when crossed with gender and transition. Narrative structure and voice itself is blurred as character and author and reader meet. It’s a lovely collection of works and an amazing call to arms for SFF readers who want to act and fight back against what perhaps is becoming the darkest timeline. So yeah, review time!

Art by Galen Dara

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #227

The latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies brings a pair of stories about relationships and conflicts, betrayals and healing. In each of the stories women seek to live in a world that is hostile, that doesn’t really let them be in peace. Whether it’s because of a long-standing conflict that they have to try and live through or an unjust government that they have to live under, the settings are drenched in the threat of violence and erasure. And only through coming together, helping each other, and trusting one another, can these women find strength in their love and security in the families they make of and with each other. These are stories of women getting shit done and taking on the systems of oppression in open and interesting ways, having faith in their partners and their own abilities to shape a more just and healthy world. So yeah, it’s review time!

Art by Jeff Brown

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #37 [June stuff]

June has arrived at Shimmer Magazine and it’s a month of relationships and yearning, distance and growth. Both stories focus on a central relationship and the power it has over those in it. For the first piece, it’s a budding relationship that brings meaning and nourishment for the people experiencing it, for the people unable to be together but still drawing nearer and nearer, more and more intimate. For the second piece the distance between the characters means that they can never really know what they might have had. And for all that it pushes the characters forward, inspires them and in some cases protects them, it’s a more haunting kind of relationship, defined by absence and not potential. Both are beautiful to watch unfold, though, and each offer their own flavors of hope, even when its bittersweet. To let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Monday, June 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 06/05/2017 & 06/12/2017

Strange Horizons kicks off their first two weeks of June with a pair of stories and a pair of poems. I have to say, the stories probably couldn't be more tonally different if they tried, but both broach on some heavy themes of loss, hope, and movement. The first, however, does so with a frenetic, almost saccharine cheeriness, and the second with a stark bluntness that drips with grief and pain. Both are beautiful in their own ways, but be prepared for perhaps some fictional whiplash. The poems resonate as well with feelings of having power wrested away, of being subject to another's whims only to perhaps take back some measure of control. Or at least expose the damage done. It's a challenging two weeks of content but, as always from Strange Horizons, very rewarding. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Rachel Khan

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Monthly Round - May 2017

The Monthly Round is up over at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together.

As always, it features my favorite SFF short fiction paired with booze and tasting notes and topped off with reviews. It's great. For just a list of the stories, here you go:

Tasting Flight - May 2017

“Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“They Will Take You From You” by Brandon O’Brien (Strange Horizons)
"The Heart's Cartography" by Susan Jane Bigelow (Lightspeed)
“Read Before Use” by Chinelo Onwualu (Uncanny)
“The Stars that Fall” by Samantha Murray (Flash Fiction Online)
“Bear Language” by Martin Cahill (Fireside Fiction)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #129

Okay, so it’s a very full month of content from Clarkesworld, with five original stories, all but one of them a novelette. And seeing as how many of the stories have something of a slower pace, this is an issue that might take people a while to get through (it certainly took me some time). he good news is that even if some of the stories are a bit slower and more ponderous, they are still very much worth spending some time with. The focus of the issue for me seems to be the aftermath of great harm and what responsibility the individual has in the face of collective cruelty, corruption, and violence. Each of the stories take a run at this core idea in different ways, from looks at the end of the world to more intimate apocalypses, but they are all emotionally resonant and interesting. So let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Matt Dixon

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus June 2017

Weighing in at a rather long novelette, the story from this month’s GigaNotoSaurus, is full of old hurts and distant stars. Unfolding in a space where things are lean and mean, it features a cyborg with a lot of emotional baggage and a plot that mixes action with some deep emotional beats. There are thuggish villains, corrupt space cops, smug conmen, and for those looking for a fast and fun adventure, it has exactly what you’re looking for. So let’s get to the review! 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Quick Sips - Nightmare #57

June has arrived at Nightmare Magazine and with it a pair of SFF horror stories featuring predators. These stories show just how different predators can be, one of them a woman shunned and isolated and hunting for a way to break out from her loneliness; the other the story of a man driven by his entitlement and desire to abuse. In both stories women are the ones targeted, women who are made into the objects of obsession and torment. The stories take two very different approaches toward a similar theme of manipulation, gaslighting, and abuse, and both are creepy as hell. June might be about the approach of summer with its long days and short nights, but it’s also about lengthening shadows and the rot that can hide in plain sight. To the reviews!

Art by agsandrew / Adobe Stock Art

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Sips - The Dark #25

June’s The Dark Magazine brings two stories of women living with the realities of their own vulnerability. In each, the female protagonist is unsafe. They are different, threatening because they have power or simply because they don’t fit in well enough in their society. And in both this vulnerability opens doors that should perhaps have been left closed, provides them with layers of tragedy and victims, death and skin and magic. The stories are very different in the SFF they reveal but both also show the hunger and the violence that being under constant threat can create. The sharp edge that these women hone within themselves, becoming in their attempts to not be prey a new sort of predator. So yeah, let’s jump right into the reviews!

Art by Lonely

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mapping Smutty SFF - Part 1: Getting Started

A while ago I tweeted a thread that got a bit of attention that was about the distance between “pro” SFF and what I call smutty SFF and how frustrating and disappointing it can be writing in the chasm between those two perceived genres, especially as a queer writer wanting to write queer characters. It was about feeling like I have to make choices when I sit down to write what mask I’m going to wear—what market I’m going to write toward. If I want to write a fun and pulpy queer romp, do I try to make it fit into the mold of “pro” SFF or do I try to get it to fit into the smuttier mold of romance/erotica. These are creative decisions as well as financial ones, and apparently I’m not the only one who struggles with the same worries, insecurities, and rages—the same compromises and capitulations.

So what do I do? Well, I write about it! So welcome to a new blog series of indefinite length and scope that will be looking to examine more the weird intersection of SFF and queerness. A lot of what I’m going to talk about is anecdotal—there will be a lot of me talking about what I’ve done, noticed, observed, experienced, etc. There will be some advice and there will be some warnings and there will be information both general and very, very specific. I’m going to try with most installments to look at markets that accept queer content of various flavors and pay. I’m also going to go through some of my though processes for approaching these markets and stories and what I’ve learned from reading many of them for a number of years now. It’s weird because I feel like a new writer still, inexperienced and madly paddling to try and stay above water and mostly failing. Even so, I want to offer what I can because I know how alone it can feel for someone in this place between forms and genres and expectations.

For now, I guess we’ll see how response to this goes, but I hope you’ll come with me as I talk a bit about smutty SFF. As a reader and a writer, there’s a lot to learn, and a lot of great stories to create and discover. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online June 2017

The three stories of Flash Fiction Online’s June issue present visions very close to the reality of our world. With women made of water and dragons that feed on guilt, perhaps, but still very wrapped up in the here and now, in the minds and traumas of people just trying to get by, trying to deal with what the world throws at them. These are pieces that show the value of community, of touch, of the possibility of healing. These are stories that center loss and violence but still, by and large, leave room for hope. And before I spoil them all too much, let’s get to the reviews!

Art by Dario Bijelac

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #85

It’s June at Lightspeed Magazine which I guess means science fiction that shows just how dangerous capitalism and technology can be and fantasy that shows the ups and downs of trying to steer a clear course in dealing with people. These are stories that show people either at the losing end of bad deals or seeing their careful plans fall apart. These are not wholly hopeless stories, though, and many of the pieces show that even though chaos seems inevitable, that preventing harm is in some ways impossible, there is still work to be done, and lessons to be learned, and a hope of healing and maybe, in time, improvement. So yeah, let’s get to those reviews!

Art by Randy Gallegos

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quick Sips - Lackington's #13

It’s a new issue of Lackington’s and this time the theme is Births. Which can seem like a scary theme (at least for me) but I love what the issue did with it, examining all sorts of births and all sorts of families and really providing some heart-rending and heart-warming stories about people searching for meaning and purpose often in very hostile situations, often in places where it might not seem worth it to try. And I love that these stories seek out a better way, even when they don’t find one. They reach, and in that reaching they are profound and beautiful and I should just get to the reviews!

Art by Random Dreaming

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Quick Sips - Tor dot com May 2017

Well, Tor dot com continues to put a nice amount of SFF short fiction this June, with two novelettes and three short stories. Mercifully for yours truly, the novelettes actually came out first and not on the last day of the month, so I got to do a reviewer happy-dance. And luckily for yours truly, these are some interesting and at times intensely dark stories that show the ways that the darkness swirls around us and takes shape. The way that it whispers to us. The way that it pulls at us and begs to be let in. These are stories of mutants and aliens, ghosts and shadows, and a buried sense of loss and violence. These are stories about the repressed returning, about alternates and news ways of thinking, and they are both beautiful and terrifying. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Robert Hunt

Monday, June 5, 2017

Quick Sips - Fireside Fiction May 2017

It's another fairly full month from Fireside Fiction, with about 16,000 words of fiction that moves from fantasy to science fiction with a fluid grace. These are stories that largely explore trauma and the looming threat of violence. There is an added focus on children here and the ways that their worlds are arrayed against them and the various ways they seek to protect themselves, not always successfully. The stories show characters moving around great and personal dangers and being unsure how to proceed, being made to make the decision of what to do when it's a very difficult decision to make. Some of the pieces are fun and some are decidedly dark and all of them are worth sitting down with so let's just get to the reviews!

Art by Galen Dara

Sunday, June 4, 2017

LIVER BEWARE! You're in for a Drunk Review of Goosebumps #4: SAY CHEESE AND DIE

[Hi all! Here's a new FREE installment of my ongoing Liver Beware! series of drunk Goosebumps reviews. At first I thought I would do all the odd-numbered reviews, but I think I might just skip around a bit, which means that this isn't review #3 but rather #4. If you enjoy this series or indeed anything that I do at Quick Sip Reviews, become a Patron and you can get access to all the Liver Beware! reviews plus other extras. Anyway, to the review!]

Friday, June 2, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 05/15/2017, 05/22/2017, & 05/29/2017

I'm taking things a bit easy with regards to the last three weeks of content from Strange Horizons. Meaning, I'm not looking at either of the reprints that appeared this week or the nonfiction that came out last week. I still very much to recommend you check them out, though. What remains is a single piece of original fiction and three different amazing poems. The works draw the reader into space, into the inky dark, and reveal glimpses of other worlds and possible fates for humanity. They revel in moments of crisis, in the quiet of important choices and the distance of dreams. Not all the works take the action far away from Earth, but there is a great mix of themes and experiences, flavors and styles. These are works to enjoy in the morning with coffee, surrounded by people but still, somehow, alone. So time to review!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quick Sips - Terraform May 2017

I'm still not sure exactly what's going on with Motherboard's Terraform. I technically missed a late excerpt release last month but May has been without another original release, though it does include another interesting excerpt. What's here is stylistic and rather strange, a series of stories within stories and layers within layers. The excerpts tease at interesting projects and provide a vivid and weird feeling that lingers. This is still very much science fiction with a sense of urgency, which is Terraform's goal, mixing planetary mysteries cyborgs and language with violence and the threat of violence. I'm still playing wait-and-see as to if the publishing schedule will even out, but until then I guess the reviews will continue!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #226

It might be summer now but the latest issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies imagines worlds much more in the grips of long winters. In both tales this issue we get to see people who are acting according both to their mission and their nature. People fall, or seem to fall, into very neat categories. Hunters and demons. Knights and maidens. The stories begin with a rather clear idea of who the good guys are and who the bad. But in both that idea is muddied as the characters seek to find out not just what those around them want but what might be locked in their own hearts as well. These are pieces that can get rather dark at times but keep their sights locked on a hope of freedom and a release from damaging cycles. So yeah, time to review!

Art by Ashley Dotson

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Regular Sip - HostBods by Tendai Huchu

Today I'm looking at a special project from Future Fiction featuring two stories by Tendai Huchu. One is a reprint and one is new for the ebook, HostBods. These are stories that both look at the boundaries of the artificial and the human, the virtual and the real. Both stories feature characters who are dealing with family and obligation while also trying to do right by those they care about. In both pieces, though, the environment is full of decay and corruption. The threat of violence and subjugation are real and present and provide the characters with a motivation to try and survive, to try and find a way to endure and, perhaps, reach a better place. These are two stories that take very interesting SFF looks at technology and the end of the world and I'll get right to the reviews!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Quick Sips - Glittership Spring 2017, part 1

People, Glittership now has POETRY!!! Rejoice! Queer speculative poetry is like the best so I am ALL ABOUT this decision, and especially with poetry being discontinued at Apex I love that a venue has re-upped on the form. Plus, you know, awesome SFF short fiction. Today I'm looking at half of the most recent issue, some of which is available online for free right now and some that will be available soon. I do recommend that if you like the publication you go and either buy the issue or become a Patron, which will also get you access to the back issues of the ebook as well. The stories are largely about challenge and about the strength it takes to keep going in the face of pain and loss and adversity. These are stories of people overcoming the tragedies in their lives and finding people who make going on easier. And along with the poetry the issue is one about hope in darkness, and the coming of light. It's an amazing issue that I will review presently!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

YEAR OF GARAK, part 5: "Face Value" & "The Lotus Flower" by Una McCormack, "The Calling" by Andrew J. Robinson

Hello and welcome back to the May installment of the Year of Garak. For those playing along at home, please feel free to check out the festivities so far with January | February | March | April. Today I'm flying solo and looking at a trio of stories surrounding everyone's favorite plain, simple Cardassian. Two of the stories are from the Deep Space Nine anthology, Prophecy and Change, while the other is half of the first Worlds of Star Trek DS9 book. The names should be familiar, as they're the two biggest influences on Garak in Star Trek canon. Andrew J. Robinson is the man behind the mask, the actor himself and author of A Stitch in Time, while Una McCormack has been prolific in bringing the story of Garak forward in time.

Chronologically, "Face Value" is the earliest of the stories, taking place during the last few episodes of the series while Garak, Damar, and Kira were trapped on Cardassia. "The Lotus Flower" is set after the events of A Stitch in Time but definitely before "The Calling." There will be spoilers for events in the show and novels, so for those not wanting that, #sorrynotsorry. I think the biggest take-away here is the abrupt change in tone from the end of "The Lotus Flower" to the beginning of "The Calling," and how "The Calling" leaves Garak as a character, person, and Cardassian. All of these stories help to flesh out Garak, though, and show how he deals with being back on a Cardassia that is much different than the one he'd hoped would be waiting at the end of his exile. So without further hesitation, to the reviews!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Quick Sips - The Archipelago Prologues

With the march of time and technology, the methods and mediums for telling stories can change rapidly. Though books and more traditional publications still dominate the market, there is growing room for alternative funding for stories, and one of the most popular recent additions to the landscape is Patreon. Already many authors use the site in order to bring stories directly to those willing to pay a small monthly cost. And now there’s a new project innovating Patreon storytelling—a joint venture featuring three writers sharing a setting but with audience participation and a unique feel. Archipelago reveals a speculative past where portals to another world have opened, and with them come brand new opportunities of exploration, exploitation, and disaster. The three authors all have very different takes on the style and tone of the project, but all of them work with each other, creating a gestalt that is more than the sum of its parts. It’s an ambitious undertaking, and a brilliant start, and I’m going to be looking at the prologue stories, all of which are free to read, so that you might whet your appetite for this interested new venture. There’s currently a Kickstarter as well as the ongoing Patreon, and I certainly encourage you to check out both. To the reviews!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Quick Sips - Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #32

It’s a new issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and it’s a rather full one with two short stories, two novelettes, and two poems. And everything has a lot to do with violence and cycles. Again and again we see settings that have been torn apart by war and strife, by carnage and murder, trying to find some way forward. Sometimes that means descending down into the muck and mire of killing, but sometimes that means being able to rise up and do something new and different. Sometimes that means finding hope in unexpected places and finally bringing destructive cycles to an end. Whatever the case, it makes for some great reading and I’m going to get to the reviews!

Art by Mark Molchan

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #225

May is off to a great start at Beneath Ceaseless Skies with a pair of stunning stories that center on the ideas of work and care, love and loss. The worlds that the stories introduce are full of brokenness, full of inequity, full of people dealing with bad situations and the whims of a universe that doesn’t really seem fair. For some, this means using the realities of the world to define what they should and should not expect. For others, it’s about standing in the face of the expectations and declaring that there are some things that cannot be sacrificed, even as some other things need to be. These are very difficult and wrenching stories that focus on hope and healing even as they reach for a place where the trauma might have been prevented entirely. So yeah, to the reviews!

Art by Ashley Dotson

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