Monday, January 23, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #14 (January Stuff)

Uncanny has kicked off the new year with an issue that reminds me of all the reasons that I love SFF. These are intensely original works that begin to break down what it means to be human. What it means to be different. What it means to live in a world that isn't really safe. Where things can do suddenly and terribly wrong and where sometimes people are forced to fight because the world is not fair, is not organized in a way that gives them room to breathe. It's a wrenching and emotionally heavy issue that tackles some very difficult and dark topics—assault, suicide, intolerance, violence. And yet there is a fire burning through these pieces that unites them, a contagious spark that, if you're not careful, might start a fire within you, as well. So let's get to the reviews!

Art by John Picacio

Sunday, January 22, 2017

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2016! The "Time to Run Some Red Lights" Sippy for Excellent Action!!! in SFF

Welcome back to the Second Annual Sippy Awards! The short SFF awards that no one wanted is still going on for some reason! I've shipped my favorite relationships. I've shivered in fear of my favorite horror. I've bawled until I was nothing but a husk of raw feels. And now I'm back again. I'm better than ever! Because it's time to get exicted!

SFF has the power to tug at our hearts, but it also has the ability to get our heart pounding. To get our blood hot and our fists clenched. There's a lot of SFF that tends toward the cerebral side of things, but there's also SFF out there that sweeps everything onto the floor, tips over the table, and uses it for cover in a sudden blaster battle. And today I want to look at the stories that shoot first. That jump out into the open air without a parachute. That drive a hundred miles an hour in heavy traffic because there are cyborg-ninjas on motorbikes who will destroy the future unless you get the enchanted chinchilla back to his home dimension.

Ahem, well maybe not exactly that last one. Still, these are stories that do that cool slow walking away as the explosion happens. That tell the others to go on ahead and then ready their shotgun, waiting for the enemy to round the corner. It's time for…

The "Time to Run Some Red Lights" Sippy 
for Excellent Action! in Short SFF

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Quick Thoughts - Some Gay Lumberjacks, I Guess

So apparently January has been a little busy. Rants and Sippy Awards and with everything happening I've been a little neglectful to come on here and talk about some of my recent publications. So today I'll be talking about my last two pro SFF stories, "The Death of Paul Bunyan" and "A Lumberjack's Guide to Dryad Spotting."

Art by Dario Bijelac

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #216

The first issue of 2017 from Beneath Ceaseless Skies is, well, it's not exactly the happiest of issues. Both of these stories feature protagonists thrown into situations where they aren't in control. Where they lose people important to them. And where the very worlds around them roil with chaos and conflict. And in the midst of that there are moments of compassion, of hope, only to be lost, only to be taken away. And so the stories become about how the characters cope or how the characters fail to cope. These are stories filled with trauma and the whispering of secrets, and if you're looking for happy endings, well… To the reviews! 

Art by Jinxu Du

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #92

It's January at Apex Magazine and that means another oversized issue full of wonder and darkness. It makes a huge amount of sense to kick off the new year with an issue like this, because if it's your resolution to try out some excellent SFF, this issues makes a strong argument why this publication is worth your time and attention. Apex's thing is dark SFF, and this issue shows that in many varieties, from violent darkness to humorous darkness to lyrical darkness to adorable darkness. The stories and poems in this issue weave a fairly comprehensive tapestry of the work that Apex does, providing space for dark stories that aren't necessarily crushing (though they can be). These are pieces that take a skeptical look at the nature of humanity, that don't flinch away from looking at the truly awful things people are capable of. Still, these are largely enjoyable stories that lift and flow and entertain, and I'm going to jump right into reviewing them! 

Art by Aaron Nakahara

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Regular Sip - "The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist" by S.L. Huang [Book Smugglers]...Plus Giveaway!!!

This comes a little late as my last review from 2016 (probably), but I really didn't want to miss out on reviewing this novelette from The Book Smugglers. I'm all about fairy tale retellings, especially ones that complicate (and queerify) classic tropes and ideas. Here the story of "The Little Mermaid" becomes something quite different. If you're looking for something that conforms to the Disney version, look elsewhere (though I love this version of Ursula, fwiw). If you're looking for a layered narrative that is dark, emotional, and imaginative as fuck, then sit down as I get to this review!

This is also the very first time that I'm running a giveaway for a story (I'm really stretching my blogger wings now). So definitely check out the link below the review because FREE BOOK! Seriously, the book looks beautiful and the prose itself more than lives up to it. Do it!

Art by Kristina Tsenova

Monday, January 16, 2017

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 01/02/2017 & 01/09/2017

It's the first two issues of the new year and Strange Horizons has certainly kicked things off with a bang, providing two stories and two poems that capture the strange, the nebulous, and the mythic. The stories especially are told with a scarcity of dialogue and more the feel of fairy tales, dark and twisting reflections of our world. And all of the pieces take an interesting look at form and style, pushing the boundaries in their scope and their execution. These are stories that certainly live up to the Strange in Strange Horizons and challenge even as they subvert. And over and on top of all of that, they are also beautiful, lyrical SFF visions that I'm just going to review already!