Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Mithila Review #15 (2021)

Mithila Review, ed. Salik Shah. Issue 15 (March 2021). Online at mithilareview.com.

Reviewed by Christina De La Rocha

Mithila Review, founded in 2015, is a science fiction and fantasy magazine based in India but international in scope. This is a promise Mithila absolutely delivers on, for not only does it contain stories from all over, the magazine’s own gaze looks firmly out from its non-Western corner of the world and this is a wonderful thing. About half of the stories in the magazine are told from an Indian perspective and it’s a delight to read the stories that look out at the future and the effects of global events through the eyes, hearts, and experiences of people and places many of us are not used to inhabiting in fiction, given the Anglosphere’s publishing industry’s gatekeeping in favor of white, Western authors. It helps that the stories, articles, and poems in Mithila Review lean into the literary and are written handsomely and at times in an English that is perfect yet non-Western in tone. This deepens the flavor of these works and befits a magazine that is named for a distinct geographic, cultural, and linguistic region with ancient roots that is now split by the border between India and Nepal and grappling with attempts at political control and cultural and linguistic assimilation from two different countries.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Killjoy, We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow (2022)

Margaret Killjoy, We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow: And Other Stories. AK Press, 2022. Pp. 248. ISBN 978-1-849354-75-2. $18.00/£14.97.

Reviewed by M.L. Clark

In an episode of her podcast Live Like the World Is Dying, Margaret Killjoy reframes the concept of eco-nihilism as something that creates room for personal agency amid the inevitability of climate change. If we embrace the fact that climate change is already here, and that we cannot prevent all the horrors ahead, does this not lighten our burden as individuals? Are we not then freed up to focus on what we can do and save, instead of trying to do and save it all?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

McCarty, More Modern Mythmakers (2022)

Michael McCarty, More Modern Mythmakers: 25 Interviews With Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers. Crystal Lake Publishing, 2022. Pp. 274. ISBN 978-1-957133-14-0. $15.99.

Reviewed by Jason Kahler

Michael McCarty has published dozens of books, especially non-fiction work about genre writers and artists. Crystal Lake Publishing is a relative newcomer, but they’ve already started distinguishing themselves by having a good eye for talent and publishing books that enhance the horror and science fiction community. More Modern Mythmakers is a strong collection of interviews that are a testament to McCarty’s access and eye, and the book would make a nice addition to your shelf, but it has some shortcomings that make it less than completely successful for a book of its kind.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Neptune Frost, dir. Williams & Uzeyman (2021)

Neptune Frost, dir. Saul Williams & Anisia Uzeyman. Swan Films, 2021. Starring Elvis Ngabo, Cheryl Isheja, Kaya Free. 110 minutes.

Reviewed by Francesca Forrest

Neptune Frost, a mystical sci-fi musical set in Burundi and filmed in Rwanda, is the creation of codirectors Saul Williams (a songwriter and poet) and Anisia Uzeyman (a director and actor). It draws on Williams’s albums Martyr Loser King (2016) and Encrypted and Vulnerable (2019) and was financed via a 2018 Kickstarter campaign.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Duncan, Irizary & Rendon, El Porvenir ¡Ya! (2022)

Scott Russell Duncan, Jenny Irizary & Armando Rendon (edd.), El Porvenir, ¡Ya! – Citlalzazanilli Mexicatl: Chicano Science Fiction Anthology. Somos en escrito Literary Foundation Press, 2022. Pp. 220. ISBN 979-8-40993-671-6. $10.00 pb / $2.92 e.

Reviewed by M.L. Clark

There’s a freewheeling energy to the introductions to El Porvenir, ¡Ya!, a 2022 Chicano science fiction anthology edited by Scott Russel Duncan, Armando Rendón, and Jenny Irizary. Both pieces, one by Ernest Hogan and one by Duncan(-Fernandez), proclaim with great celebratory fanfare the distinct possibilities and resurgence of the “Latinoid imagination” in contemporary science fiction. The absence of Latino rep in preceding sci-fi did not escape these editors’ notice, either, and the collection promises to introduce characters and contexts that illustrate the science-fictional nature of existence already intrinsic to many Latino communities living in blended, mestizo realities, especially in North America. How can there not be worth in celebrating, discovering, and cultivating as many of their imagined futures as possible?

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Barnett, The Dark Between the Trees (2022)

Fiona Barnett, The Dark Between the Trees. Solaris, 2022. Pp. 350. ISBN 978-1-78618-797-0. $24.99/£15.99.

Reviewed by Rachel Verkade

As a Canadian, coming to England has been an interesting experience. Much of Canada’s history prior to the arrival of the European settlers has been forgotten or deliberately lost. So coming to a country where we can walk freely through Neolithic ruins and 2000 year old Roman coins are routinely dug from the river mud is… odd. It is a place that is rife with mystery and secrets—and the potential for horror.

The Dark Between the Trees opens with a group of five academics making their way to an ancient woodland. They are there searching for the remains of a troop of 17th century soldiers who disappeared within its boundaries. The historical record describes the Parliamentarian battalion fleeing from an ambush, battered and demoralised, and then experiencing impossible horrors. Disappearing and reappearing landmarks, changing light… and the inescapable feeling of something following them. Two men deserted, and managed to stumble their way out of the woods and into the nearest village, where their strange story was written down into history. Their companions were never seen again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Penumbric #V.6 (April 2022)

Penumbric Speculative Fiction Mag, ed. Jeff Georgeson. Vol v issue 6 (April 2022). Online at penumbric.com.

Reviewed by Christina De La Rocha

The April “2k22” issue, entitled “Experimental Realms,” completes the second full year of publication of Penumbric following a fifteen-year hiatus. “Experimental Realms” is also one of Penumbric magazine’s roughly annual special “art and prose” issues. There is certainly no shortage of either (plus poetry) in the issue; 78 numbered pages thick, it features nine speculative fiction tales, six poems, and, including the cover, seven works of art as well as panels and notes relating to the webcomic Mondo Mecho.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Saxey, Lost in the Archives (2022)

E. Saxey, Lost in the Archives. Lethe Press, 2022. Pp. 220. ISBN 978-1-59021-723-8. $16.00.

Reviewed by Cait Coker

“Archives” is a surprisingly bendy term these days, currently popular as an academic theory of textual collection and collation that has staggeringly little to do with the reality of physical materials hosted in libraries, records offices, and various institutions. As an actual archivist who spends real time up to her elbows in odds and ends in various levels of process, it’s a topic I can get a bit cranky about. E. Saxey, author of Lost in the Archives, is a queer academic who clearly knows the feeling; their debut collection spans the past, present, and future, this plane and other planes, and gracefully and effortlessly bounces between soft romance, cynical academia, and both hope and pessimism for our cloudy future.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Wolford (ed.), Mothers of Enchantment (2022)

Kate Wolford (ed.), Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. World Weaver Press, 2022. Pp. 217. ISBN 978-1-7340-5456-9. $15.95 pb/$4.99 e.

Reviewed by Julie Reeser

The best part of fairy tales for me isn’t the reversal of fortunes or the justice delivered. For me, it’s always been the slantwise magic that follows rules we can’t see—an early form of magical realism wherein the burdened and despairing characters find relief. This wild magic often arrived in the form of a fairy godmother, subverting the ill-fated mothers and scary stepmothers sprinkled like blood stains over the pages. The fairy godmother feels deserved and arbitrary at the same time, allowing a reader centuries in the future to believe that they, too, might one day be magicked into a gorgeous gown and a happily ever after. And as Wolford points out in her introduction, “many people transform our lives with simple generosity and kindness.” We all have that magic within us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Mythaxis #29 (Spring 2022)

Mythaxis Magazine, ed. Andrew Leon Hudson. Issue #29 (Spring 2022). Online at mythaxis.co.uk.

Reviewed by Christina De La Rocha

Mythaxis Magazine, if you haven’t previously had the pleasure, is currently a quarterly online magazine of speculative fiction that feels like a glimpse into the internet we could have had, had we not allowed it to turn into a virtual shopping mall, a brewer of bullying, and a weaponized spreader of disinformation. Free to read and free from advertisements, Mythaxis is a labor of love that will take you strange places and feed you amazing ideas just because excellence is an excellent endeavor. The stories that Mythaxis serves as a portal to are exactly the sorts of stories you hope you would be true enough to your ideals to produce, if you had that kind of talent. Or, at least that’s how it feels to me. People with talent should be doing great things with it, not just the same old thing, averagely, already done by everyone else.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Henry, The Quarter Storm (2022)

Veronica G. Henry, The Quarter Storm (Mambo Reina #1). 47North, 2022. Pp. 287. ISBN 978-1-54203-391-6. $13.49.

Reviewed by Julie Reeser

Veronica G. Henry is not from New Orleans and does not practice Vodou, but she consulted experts for both, and this careful consideration shines in details and authorial voice in her mystery novel The Quarter Storm. Unlike many past representations of Vodou, Henry focuses on the history and faith, and leaves the fetishization behind. This second book is a departure for Henry from the dark fantasy of an evil carnival, and instead brings characters who could easily be found during a walk through your city, and a murder that feels ripped from the headlines. (I originally assumed this book was self-published due to the surprisingly neutral and forgettable cover for the ebook; 47North turns out to be an imprint of Amazon Publishing, and they offer their acquistions through Kindle Unlimited—which is how I found it—as well as paperback and audio editions.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Pampuro, Wish List and Other Stories (2022)

Amanda Pampuro, Wish List and Other Stories. Alien Buddha Press, 2022. Pp. 107. ISBN 979-8-78138-337-5. $10.44.

Reviewed by Jason Kahler

At least one lifetime ago, I took a graduate class covering rhetoric and technology. It was a great class with a great professor and classmates whose company I enjoyed. One evening we were discussing the ability of technology to track us, and I mentioned my frequent customer fob for the gas station I frequented. I hadn’t thought of it before, I said, but a so-inclined Speedway marketing manager would have been able to figure out an awful lot about me based on what I bought at each station I visited. About where I lived. About where I visited. How many kids I had and their approximate ages (because who in their right mind buys four slushies at one time?). What days I attended class. The approximate day the doctor told me to stop drinking slushies. A general idea of what kind of car I drove. It was a scary reminder of all the information I happily turned over just to earn a free slushie after every fifth purchase.