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 BolĂ­var

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #37 [May stuff]

Well, May at Shimmer Magazine is a special one for me this year. Why? Well, because maybe a story of mine is appearing there! Yes, after nearly 30 rejections I have finally landed at one of my favorite publications! As such, I’ve also saved myself a bit of work, as I won’t be looking at my own story. I will definitely be looking at the other May release, though, which is the cover story. It features youth and a rural environment where nothing really grows right. It circles around abuse and toxic masculinity and trying to find a nurturing environment when everything seems poisonous. It’s not exactly a cheery tale, but not without its hope, the implication that maybe, somehow, there can be something beautiful and right to grow out of a fallow field. So yeah, to the review!

Art by Sandro Castelli