Thursday, December 8, 2016

Quick Sips - The Dark #19

This issue of The Dark Magazine seems to me to focus on quiet desperation. Loneliness. Loss. Of two men who find themselves haunted by the dead. By those they have outlived. And who find their lives lacking something. Hope, perhaps. Or purpose. Both are looking for ways to escape the places they find themselves. Are seeking in some ways to exorcise their ghosts and find a way to move on. With…mixed results. There's a lot to like about these stories and a nice creeping dread that permeates both. So yeah, to the reviews! 

Art by Susanafh

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #79

Hey, it's one of my favorite moments this month at Lightspeed—I have made less work for myself by actually selling a story, so instead of the full slate of four pieces I'm only looking at those not written by me. It's not exactly a happy issue. The pieces all deal with a stifling darkness. With an oppressive violence and threat. With a situation that is bad and might just get worse, except for the power of people choosing to change. Or, at least, to change their actions. To change the story. To shift it away from being about war, about corruption, and about victimization. These stories all offer uncomfortable and striking looks into love and hate and the sea in between the two. So yeah, time to review! 

Art by Lovely Creatures Studio

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Quick Sips - Terraform November 2016

It's interesting in many ways to see where Terraform will go now that Trump is the president-elect. For quite some time a good number of the stories have dealt with possible outcomes from the election and now…well, and now that it's happened I wonder what line the publication will take. Certainly there aren't any quite so scathing as some of the stories that came out when Trump was only one Republican candidate of many. The stories this month offer much more…subtle critiques about what might be coming. Stories about the loss of the environment. About corruption. About hopelessness. They're quite appropriate stories, really, and certainly not the cheeriest bunch of SF tales. They're definitely stories worth spending time with though, and I plan on doing just that with some reviews! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Quick Sips - Tor dot com November 2016

It's another full month from Tor dot com (partly because I missed one from the last day of October, but still), and if last year is a guide then things will probably slow down considerably going into the holidays. But for now there's lots to look at with four short stories, one tie-in short story, and one graphic story. The pieces range pretty far, from standard sci fi adventure to more surreal contemporary fantasy to much more raucous historical fantasy. And there are some real gems this month, even if a few of the pieces left me a bit conflicted as well. It's an interesting group of stories that I'm going to get to reviewing. 

Art by Kevin Hong

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Okay, we've got our primary winners and are onto the main event! If you have time, please head over to Twitter and like (heart) your favorite. The winner will be my 2017 Liver Beware! graphic. Links are below! Thanks so much and cheers!

The finalists are:

Scaredy-Liver at the Hip Bar

Scaredy-Liver at Octoberfest

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Quick Thoughts - Looking Back, Looking Forward

Stare at the screen. Glance at tea (which is too hot to drink). Stare at the screen.

 It's been hard for me to create recently. My fiction, after having been fairly productive (and successful), is going through something of a slump. Surprise surprise, this has something to do with the election, and fear, and wondering what good what I do is in the face of what might happen. Wondering if it's worth it to keep pushing. To keep trying. It's weird that it comes at this time because it's a time when I'm asked fairly regularly to look back at 2016 and try to pull some good out of a very difficult year.

I stay busy. I have Quick Sip Reviews, of course, and contributing to Nerds of a Feather. And doing audio recommendations for Cabbages and Kings. And being asked to help kick off an interesting and hopefully-exciting short fiction discussion site, SFF Squee and Snark, with a fiction recommendation. And contributing to this year's Smugglivus over at The Book Smugglers (forthcoming). And putting out new content for my Patreon. I have two stories out this month, at Lightspeed Magazine and Dreamspinner Press, and am participating in a promo for the Dreamspinner story (forthcoming). And I'm contributing to a Best of 2016 short fiction thing at a rather well-known SFF publication, which involves lots and lots of voting. I've gathered up my #SFFfortheResistance. I'm getting ready to gather up my picks for the 2016 SIPPY AWARDS.

I feel pulled in all directions at once and like I can't keep up with much. Going onto social media has become hard. I'm trying to be supportive to all the various awesome projects and people out there but can't help but feel I'm letting people down. It's not burning out. I don't think it's burning out. I'm reviewing as much as I have been. More, even. And I enjoy it. It's just that I haven't been able to do much else.

Sometimes I wonder if I do so much to distract myself from medical bills and the fear of losing insurance because a huge number of people have decided that Millennials are the worst and need to be punished for…destroying America, I guess? I get to see fun articles like how "kids these days" are all claiming to be bisexual because celebrities and how stupid that is. I get to hear how "PC culture" is killing the nation, SFF, and science itself. This is all an attack. An attack by those with the most power against those with less because they feel threatened and can't be fucking decent people about it. Ever since the election I've been told that the problem is that people aren't "understanding" enough of white, straight, cis people and their problems. Like the problem has ever been that we're not listening to that group enough.

The tea is cool enough to drink now. It's some sort of sugar cookie herbal tea. It's very good. You know what I've been craving lately. Food. Sweaters. Time. A decent fucking television show I haven't seen before. At least the food I can afford and enjoy making. Now's the time to cook more vegetarian, I guess, because beans and vegetables are still rather cheap per pound. And a little spice can go a long way. I'm sure some relative will be all ready to say that I'm not really struggling because I can cook a fucking amazing meal. I can blister hardboiled eggs in oil with some turmeric and set them aside, drain most of the oil. Sauté an onion, add some jalapenos, add some tomatoes and chili powder. Add fish sauce. Halve the eggs and put them cut side down in the pan. Cover. Simmer. Serve over rice or couscous.

This post is a bit all over the place. I understand that and I apologize. My tea is gone and now I'm hungry. I…I've been looking back at 2016 a lot recently. Which is a heavy task, emotionally. No less so than looking ahead, though. We're at a difficult time. And we're just past Thanksgiving, which is a weird holiday but represents another call to take stock. To think what we're thankful for. As always, I am thankful for SFF. For those writing it, for those reading it. For those who think that I can belong in it. I think you belong, too. I hope to see you around for a long time, because I'm not going anywhere. Thanks for reading.

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Friday, December 2, 2016

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 11/21/2016 & 11/28/2016

I'm looking at two weeks of Strange Horizons content today, which means two stories and two poems. I also recommend checking out the nonfiction, but because of time and inclination I'm not going to be discussing those here. The fiction in these two issues both imagine catastrophic journeys and different worlds. Now, one is a science fiction piece and one a fantasy, so those mean very different things, but both stories show characters falling into situations they can't control and having to adapt. Having to dance with their circumstances and their fears and their emotions. And the poetry is about lust and distance and darkness. And together it makes for a fascinating issue that I should just review already. Let's go!