Friday, July 28, 2017

Queer Smut Reviews - Nasty: Fetish Fights Back, eds. Anna Yeatts & Chris Phillips

Welcome to the second installment of Queer Smut Reviews. So make sure you’re wearing your protective poncho and buckle in, because it’s a rather wild ride. I’m looking at a collection of short stories today, Nasty: Fetish Fights Back, edited by Anna Yeatts and Chris Phillips of Flash Fiction Online. It’s smut for a good cause, too, as a portion of proceeds go to Planned Parenthood (which is even more important now, given all the health things going down right now). There are 27 stories in all, which...wow. And full disclosure, I wrote one of them. So really I’ll only be mentioning 26 stories in this review.

Now, I tried to look more closely at the stories that were specifically SFF. That doesn’t mean I just skipped the rest, but you’ll probably notice that my reviews are more robust for the SFF stories. This is both because smutty SFF is exactly what I want to be looking at and because if I wrote long thoughts on them all my hands would fall off. It’s a rather great collection, though, and I definitely recommend that people pay attention all of the stories. Part of the reason I want to look at smutty SFF with a critical lens is much the same reason that this collection exists—to try and bring people together to resist the idea that sexuality and bodies are topics that don’t belong in polite conversation. Where the stories shine the most, I feel, is where they look at consent and transparency, people talking to people and negotiating to make sure everyone is safe and getting what they want. Where I think the stories falter a bit is when they neglect that.

But enough stalling—let’s get to the reviews!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Regular Sip - In Search of Lost Time by Karen Heuler

I’m back for a new Regular Sip review of a recent novella out from Aqueduct Press. My main familiarity with the press has actually been through WisCon, as the press until recently had produced small collections that would collect work from the Guests of Honor of the convention. And their table is always well worth checking out in the dealer room. This novella is part of a line of theirs called Conversation Pieces, which are typically small paperbacks meant to promote, well, conversation. And in that this novella is incredibly fitting, providing a dense and fascinating experience focusing on moral dilemmas and personal tragedies. But before I give too much away, I’ll just jump right into the review!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Quick Sips - Uncanny #17 [July stuff]

July finds Uncanny Magazine full once again, this time with three original stories, two poems, and two nonfiction pieces. And may of the pieces examine the idea of home. Of community. Of something encroaching, and how people react to that. In some of the pieces, how is a physical building, a place of healing and haunting. In some it is a neighborhood, or a country, or a place among the stars. Many of these works show people reaching for a home that is different, that is better, where change is possible, where injustice and corruption can be put aside at last. These are stories, poems, and nonfiction pieces that reveal stunning compassion and blistering resistance. They are sometimes tender, sometimes shocking, sometimes funny, and all in all an incredibly collection of SFF. So let’s get to the reviews!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Quick Sips - Apex #98

July’s Apex Magazine features a nice little editorial that celebrates the USA’s birthday in a rather nice way. And the stories it brings to the table are an interesting pair, keeping things firmly in the realm of science fiction, probability and time travel, rabbits and desperation. In both we find characters on missions. In the first, it’s a mission to make sense out of a random universe. In the other, it’s a mission to undo what is being perceived as a great wrong. The stories differ greatly and offer up some very different interpretations of dark SFF, but they offer up some interesting and rather philosophical points to ponder. And before I get to distracted, it’s time to review!

Art by Quentin-Vladimir Castel

Monday, July 24, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #38 [July stuff]

It’s a bit of a strange month at Shimmer Magazine, with two original stories that full embrace the weird. Whether that means imagining a world where mutant zombie-lizard-people face some Western-tinged gunslinging or a world something like 1920’s France where people are deconstructing themselves in the face of war, these are pieces that embrace SFF’s ability to be different. And they are stories of characters in turmoil, in pain, trying to make sense out of a world that doesn’t really make a lot of sense. These are story with action and with something distinct and rather undefinable about them and lacking the language to describe them in broad strokes, I’ll try to get to specifics in the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Friday, July 21, 2017

Regular Sip - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #230

Okay, so...this is something of a special review for me. Firstly (and most importantly), it's NEW BIRDVERSE OMG YAAAASSSS!!! Ahem. Aside from that, it's the longest title that I've read from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a stunning novella that is available for free both to read and to listen to (as a 5 hr podcast!). The second part of the novella is also appearing alongside a short story of mine, "Rivers Run Free," which of course I am not reviewing but hey, if you all want to read and review it, feel free! :D Anyway, this novella is one of my favorite reads, proving once and for all that one of the sexiest things in the universe is consent. So without further ado, the review!

Art by Jeff Brown

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #130

It’s a rather dark month of content at Clarkesworld, where the CW might well stand for content warning for most of the pieces. These are stories that take a look at the aftermath of harm. They look at post-apocalypses, post-traumatic plots that lead to further traumas. These are stories where, by and large, characters find themselves in situation they never asked for. Pressed into guarding a strange bridge. Woken from a space hibernation. Taken by raiders to do dangerous work. The stories are not as a general rule very happy. Instead they are full of violence and the looming threat of violence. But many of the stories are also full of hope and resistance. Some…not so much, but it’s a very interesting group of stories. Review time!

Art by Eddie Mendoza