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! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

THE SIPPY AWARDS 2016! The "There's Something in My Eye" Sippy for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF

Welcome back to the Second Annual Sippy Awards! The short SFF awards that no one asked for is here again because I said so, dammit! I've shipped my favorite SFF relationships. I've kept the lights on for my favorite SFF horror. So now it's time to examine yet another dimension of SFF short fiction.

Okay so yes, as a reviewer I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Part of the joy of engaging with stories is being effected by them. Is following where they lead, intellectually and emotionally. So for me stories that can move to tears are incredibly valuable. They hit and they hit hard. They draw blood.

They also inspire. Each of these stories can be a lesson in empathy. In really trying to understand what the characters are going through. Their grief and their loss and, through it all, their hope. More than anything else, it's the hope that gets me, that moves me, that breaks me and put me back together again. There is despair, yes, and pain. Sometimes far too much pain. Some of these stories are bleak. But none of them are without hope. And so while they all make me a large puddle of feels, when I solidify again I am the stronger for it. And that's why I love these stories, and why I can say without shame that these are the stories that made me cry the most in 2016. Yes, it's time for…

The "There's Something in My Eye" Sippy 
for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The 108 Recommendations of Destiny (2016 Edition)

Yes, that is a Suikoden reference, for any wondering. But welcome to my 2016 recommended reading list! Now, I'm kind of lazy, I will admit. This list really isn't new. It compiles all twelve of my 2016 Monthly Round choices and gives them to you as one large list. But, as The Monthly Round represents my favorite stories from each month, this mega-list does stand up pretty well. There's probably stories that I would add because some months were really packed and it was very difficult to pick, but I think that for now this is a pretty good place to start for my recommended reading list for 2016. If you're looking for more, then you'll just have to check out The Sippy Awards. So yeah, enjoy!

The Quick Sip Reviews Long List (aka my fave reads of 2016)

"While I Wait" by Layla Al-Bedawi (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
"Spirit Tasting List for Ridley House, April 2016" by Alex (Rachael) Acks (Shimmer)
"Das Steingeschöp" by G. V. Anderson (Strange Horizons)
"Under Dead Marsh" by Julia August (Lackington's)
"The Old Man and the Phoenix" by Alexandria Baisden (Apex)
"The Marvelous Inventions of Mr. Tock" by Daniel Baker (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"Muse" by Nicola Belte (Flash Fiction Online)
"Choose Your Killer" by Abhishek Bhatt (Mithila Review)
"Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies" by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
"Director's Cut" by Matthew Bright (Harlot Media)
"The House That Jessica Built" by Nadia Bulkin (The Dark)
"Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes" by Vajra Chandrasekera (Strange Horizons)
"Nothing But the Sky" by Gwendolyn Clare (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"1957" by Stephen Cox (Apex)
"Breaking Water" by Indrapramit Das (Tor)
"The Life and Times of Angel Evans" by Meredith Debonnaire (The Book Smugglers)
"Braveheart's Homecoming" by Dilman Dila (Mithila Review)
"The Mama Mmiri" by Walter Dinjos (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"The Exemption Packet" by Rose Eveleth (Terraform)
"The Artificial Bees" by Simon Guerrier (Uncanny)
"Butter-Daughters" by Nin Harris (Sockdolager)
"Morning Cravings" by Nin Harris (Lightspeed)
"Tower of the Rosewater Goblet" by Nin Harris (Strange Horizons)
"The Automatic Prime Ministers" by Kate Heartfield (Lackington's)
"Vesp: A History of Sapphic Scaphism" by Porpentine Charity Heartscape (Terraform)
"The Venus Effect" by Joseph Allen Hill (Lightspeed)
"A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover from the Bottom of the Sea" by Ada Hoffman (Strange Horizons
"The Scrape of Tooth and Bone" by Ada Hoffmann (GigaNotoSaurus)
"The Indigo Ace and the High-Low Split" by Annalee Flower Horne (Mothership Zeta)
"Can't Beat 'Em" by Nalo Hopkinson (Uncanny)
"The Marriage Plot" by Tendai Huchu (Omenana)
"The Calculations of Artificials" by Chi Hui, translated by John Chu (Clarkesworld)
"Nobody Puts Baby in a Chamber" by Alexis A. Hunter (Mothership Zeta)
"Life in Stone, Glass, and Plastic" by José Pablo Iriarte (Strange Horizons)
"The City Born Great" by N.K. Jemisin (Tor)
"Love Letters on the Nightmare Sea" by Rachael K. Jones (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles" by Rachael K. Jones (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"All Souls Proceed" by K.J. Kabza (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Girl Who Escaped From Hell" by Rahul Kanakia (Nightmare)
"Rooting" by Isha Karki (Mithila Review)
"Ndakusuwa" by Blaize M. Kaye (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
"Breathe" by Cassandra Khaw (Clarkesworld)
"Some Breakable Things" by Cassandra Khaw (The Dark)
"Everything that Isn’t Winter" by Margaret Killjoy (Tor)
"Fragile Insides" by Jason Kimble (Orthogonal: Code)
"All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray" by Gwendolyn Kiste (Shimmer)
"Whaling With Clowns" by Chris Kuriata (Unlikely Story)
"Postcards from Natalie" by Carrie Laben (The Dark)
"Superior" by Jessica Lack (The Book Smugglers)
"Espie" by Richard Larson (Terraform)
"The Book of How to Live" by Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Bereyyar" by Rose Lemberg (Uncanny)
"Their Black Regalia" by Darcie Little Badger (Fantasy)
"Her Sacred Spirit Soars" by S. Qiouyi Lu (Strange Horizons)
"The Drowning Line" by Haralambi Markov (Uncanny)
"Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands" by Seanan McGuire (Uncanny)
"Now Watch as Belinda Unmakes the World" by Lynette Mejía (Flash Fiction Online)
"Angel, Monster, Man" by Sam J. Miller (Nightmare)
"Things with Beards" by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
"Plantation | Springtime" by Lia Swope Mitchell (Terraform)
"Plea" by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Lightspeed)
"Talking with Honored Guests" by Alexander Monteagudo (Fantasy Scroll)
"How High Can Your Gods Count" by Tegan Moore (Strange Horizons)
"Old Customs" by Rajiv Moté (Unlikely Story)
"You, an Accidental Astronaut" by Sonja Natasha (Mothership Zeta)
"u wont remember dying" by Russell Nichols (Terraform)
"The Company" by Sanya Noel (Omenana)
"Creation" by Sara Norja (Flash Fiction Online)
"Omoshango" by Dayo Ntwari (Lightspeed)
"Godfall" by Sandra M. Odell (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Afrofuturist 419" Nnedi Okorafor (Clarkesworld)
"Screamers" by Tochi Onyebuchi (Omenana)
"The Mourning Hour" by Anya Ow (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Three Points Masculine" by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed)
"Unauthorized Access" by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed)
"The Four Gardens of Fate" by Betsy Phillips (Apex)
"The Sweetest Skill" by Tony Pi (Beneath Ceaseless Skies
"Painted Grassy Mire" by Nicasio Andres Reed (Shimmer)
"Kid Dark Against the Machine" by Tansy Rayner Roberts (The Book Smugglers)
"Fylgia in the City" by Ian Rose (Plasma Frequency)
"The Sky, Falling" by Anton Rose (Terraform)
"A World Alone" by Lauren Rudin (GigaNotoSaurus)
"The Gentleman of Chaos" by A. Merc Rustad (Apex)
"The Cedar Grid" by Sara Saab (Clarkesworld)
"A Menagerie of Grief" by Kelly Sandoval (Flash Fiction Online)
"None of This Ever Happened" by Gabriela Santiago (Nightmare)
"The Sound a Raven Makes" by Mathew Scaletta (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Chimera" by Gu Shi, translated by S. Qiouyi Lu and Ken Liu (Clarkesworld)
"What Pada-Sara Means to the Elephant" by Jeremy Sim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"The Jeweled Nawab Jungle Retreat" by Priya Sridhar (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"That Which Stands Tends Toward Free Fall" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Clarkesworld)
"Standing on the Floodbanks" by Bogi Takács (GigaNotoSaurus)
"Toward the Luminous Towers" by Bogi Takács (Clarkesworld)
"Songbird" by Shveta Thakrar (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Singing Soldier" by Natalia Theodoridou (Shimmer)
"Terminal" by Lavie Tidhar (Tor)
"America, America" by Okafor Emmanuel Tochukwu (Flash Fiction Online)
"The Portal" by Debbie Urbanski (The Sun Magazine)
"Polyglossia" by Tamara Vardomskaya (GigaNotoSaurus)
"The Tomato Thief" by Ursula Vernon (Apex)
"War Profiteering" by M. Darusha Wehm (Mothership Zeta)
"A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers" by Alyssa Wong (Tor)
"Rabbit Heart" by Alyssa Wong (Fireside Fiction)
"Secondhand Bodies" by JY Yang (Lightspeed)
"An Ocean the Color of Bruises" by Isabel Yap (Uncanny)
"Hurricane Heels" by Isabel Yap (Book Smugglers)
"Love Out of Season" by Caroline M. Yoachim (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
"Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station" by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)


Friday, January 13, 2017

The Monthly Round is Up!

Hey all, get ye to a nerdery and check out my December picks for The Monthly Round. Speculative short fiction reviews paired with booze and up RIGHT NOW at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together.

For those who just want the picks, I've included them below. But seriously, you know you want to know what booze to drink while reading these amazing stories...

Tasting Flight - December 2016
"The Venus Effect" by Joseph Allen Hill (Lightspeed)
"Hurricane Heels" by Isabel Yap (Book Smugglers)
"Their Black Regalia" by Darcie Little Badger (Fantasy)
"Das Steingeschöp" by G. V. Anderson (Strange Horizons)
"The Jeweled Nawab Jungle Retreat" by Priya Sridhar (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"A World Alone" by Lauren Rudin (GigaNotoSaurus)

Shots (flash fiction):
"Spirit Tasting List for Ridley House, April 2016" by Alex (Rachael) Acks (Shimmer)
"Can't Beat 'Em" by Nalo Hopkinson (Uncanny)
"A Menagerie of Grief" by Kelly Sandoval (Flash Fiction Online)