Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quick Sips - Mothership Zeta #6

Well I guess I got a little confused because I thought Mothership Zeta already was on hiatus. The good news is that I was wrong and here's a whole new issue packed with stories to read. The bad news is that I was only off by an issue and this _does_ represent the last from the publication for a while, though I hope not forever. It's a wonderful mix of stories, though, that explore the idea of fun in SFF as well as look at hope and possibility. Many of the stories here are about opportunity, after all, and about life. About those moments when the world seems to open up, with all the fear and all the hesitation that goes along with it. But that shows, in those moments, the hope for humanity, that people are willing to work for a better future. For a better world. That people, even when perhaps they shouldn't, will reach out with compassion. Will keep reaching out. And the stories all look at how we as humans reach out in hope and fear, and how we try to find meaning in a world that is often harsh, and often dangerous. Time to review!

Art by Elizabeth Leggett

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #219

Beneath Ceaseless Skies specializes in second world fantasy as well as some historical fantasy, so it's no great surprise to find that the two stories in this issue build up some incredibly original and visually stunning settings that twist expectations and conventions. From a world that is an enormous cliff to an ocean plain where aquatic-dinosaur riders roam and cause trouble, readers are treated to journeys through strange and at-times unsettling places where violence lurks in every shadow. These pieces feature characters hoping to return home and unable to do so, balancing their weariness at the constant travel and struggle with their resolve to keep going, to keep pushing forward. These are some great stories that mix moments of action with quieter moments of contemplation and grief. So let's get to the reviews!

Art by Florent Llamas

Monday, February 27, 2017

Quick Sips - The Sockdolager #8 Women of War

February has decided that it's going to be very full of fiction, and contributing to that is a special Women of War issue of The Sockdolager. Now, the issue actually contains eight stories, but three of them are reprints and because of time I'm not going to review those, though I do very much recommend people check them out. As it is, there are five stories seeing their first publishing and they definitely capture the theme well. Women are front and center here in all aspects of war—as soldiers definitely and as revolutionary, as monsters and nurses and victims and mothers. These stories focus on family and love and conflict and blood, and they are at times difficult to read because of the unflinching look they take at war. At what it means to go to war, especially for women. It's a wonderful collection of stories, and I'm going to charge right into my reviews! 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

YEAR OF GARAK, part 2: DS9 episodes "The Wire," "In the Pale Moonlight," & "Afterimage"

Welcome back to The Year of Garak!

Lat time I looked at a tie-in novel that explored the relationship between Garak and Sisko and also followed up on "In the Pale Moonlight," and so I thought it would be worth pursuing to look at some of the DS9 episodes that informed that novel and also will inform a lot of the works coming after this. Namely, the trio of "The Wire," "In the Pale Moonlight," and "Afterimage." These are some of the strongest Garak episodes, and I'm very luck to be joined by fellow Garak enthusiast and writer Nicasio Andres Reed to discuss all things Garak. Warning, this is a fairly long post. And only one part of a much longer conversation that we'll be having throughout the Year of Garak. So get comfortable and settle in for what I hope is an interesting examination of these episodes and the character of Garak.

Oh, and in case you don't know my guest today:

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.

so without further delay, let's delve into the episodes!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Quick Sips - Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #31

With the giant novella-length epic poem done with, this latest issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly brings things back to basics with four original stories and two poems (of much more modest length). The stories build up worlds filled with magic and darkness, where there are things lurking at the periphery, at the edges of the world, in the blank space of maps. The stories look at characters who are seeking something. Themselves or a much-deserved rest or gold or even escape from certain death. And none of the characters find the situation easy. The stories embrace their magic and their mayhem as the character work against the monsters and circumstances arrayed against them and attempt to wrestle some sort of victory from the jaws of defeat. These are fun, sometimes thrilling pieces that build very different world, especially once the poetry gets added in, but it's also a strong issue that does a lot right. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Jereme Peabody

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #93

Love is in the air for Apex Magazine's February issue. Er, well…maybe not exactly love. What's sort of like love but awful, horrifying, and uncomfortable? Well, the issue is probably first and foremost concerned with the loss of agency. With the way that (mostly women but also other) people can be stripped of their autonomy. Their will. Their bodies. Their souls. The way that they can be made into dolls and puppets and controlled. So okay, maybe the story's not about love so much as about people and things that mistake abuse for love. Who think that love means cutting away what makes a person human. It's a difficult issue with a wide range of stories, some hopeful and some…decidedly not. But that's the nature of dark SFF, so let's just get to the reviews! 

Art by Adrian Borda

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quick Sips - Lackington's #12 (Animals)

The latest issue of Lackington's has a theme of Animals to it. And while it does feature a number of precocious and mischievous characters, this isn't exactly an issue I'd recommend giving to a young child as a diversion on a rainy day. Unless you want some very interesting conversations (and maybe therapy) later. The issue is full of stories that twist the unexpected, that show that just because there are talking animals in a piece doesn't mean they're all going to be sweet. Many of these are dark. And violent. And beautiful. The prose flows in good Lackington's style and the themes approach justice and human (and animal) nature, as well as loss, and dissolution, and expectations, and roles, and…well, you get the idea. It's a big issue full of characters and beasts great and small. And it's time for me to get to my reviews! 

Art by Pear Nuallak