Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Winter & Moses (edd.), Split Scream #1

Carson Winter & Scott J. Moses, Split Scream, volume one. Dread Stone Press, 2022. ISBN 978-1-7379-7402-4. $12.99.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

Novelettes and novellas, the red-headed stepchildren of the book world. Too long to place in a magazine and uneconomical to publish on their own, they languish on hard drives, making an occasional appearance as the flagship piece in a single-author collection, but otherwise neglected. Which is a shame, because they’re my fictional first love. About the same length as a TV episode or a graphic novel, they’re a lean, focused form of storytelling, just the right length to fully explore a single arc without needing to detour into subplots. They’re a convenient airport-or-dentist size and they’re nice for those of us who have a bad track record of finishing full-length novels.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #363 (2022)

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed. Scott H. Andrews. Issue 363 (August 2022). Online at beneath-ceaseless-skies.com.

Reviewed by Christina De La Rocha

If you tried to reverse engineer the contents of Issue 363 of the literary adventure fantasy online magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, you might find a writing prompt in your hand: tell a tale of thwarted immortality. That probably isn’t actually the origin of the two new stories published in the issue, of course. It’s more likely that an editor decided that these two new stories belonged together because of that similarity at their core. Either way, what’s interesting is that these two new stories taking thwarted immortality as a premise are nothing like each other.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Fireside #103 (Summer 2022)

Fireside Magazine, ed. Brian White. Issue 103 (Summer 2022). Online at firesidefiction.com.

Reviewed by Christina De La Rocha

Fireside Magazine was—and, yes, I must sadly say was—a online publisher of short stories, poems, and novels. Founded in 2012, it’s had a respectable 10-year run, at first based on crowdfunding, then on subscriptions. But now Fireside’s operations are now winding down. Issue 103 (Summer 2022) represents the magazine’s final offering of stories to the world.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Iovino, Skybound (2021)

Lou Iovino, Skybound. LAB Press, 2021. Pp. 304. ISBN 978-1-7371-7460-8. $15.99.

Reviewed by Don Riggs

Lou Iovino’s Skybound is a real page-turner. The chapters are short, often end on cliffhangers, and shift back and forth among a handful of subplots. The often breathless pace of the plot is appropriate for the rapid unfolding of dire events in an apocalyptic scenario, matching form to function. To call Skybound a promising first novel is not to give it a backhanded criticism; it is to welcome a new speculative fiction writer into the field with anticipation of more to come.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Oliveira & Sabin, Xenocultivars (2022)

Isabela Oliveira & Jed Sabin (edd.), Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth. Speculatively Queer, 2022. Pp. 210. ISBN 978-1-7366182-2-6. $19.99.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

Confession time: I wanted to submit to this one, but something came up, where “something” is “my own laziness.” But, having read it, I’m now glad I didn’t submit, because I probably would have dragged down the average. When Speculatively Queer launched last year with the triumphant It Gets Even Better: Stories of Queer Possibility, it stepped into an under-served market: Full-length queer SFF short stories. Consequently, a lot of us have been keeping an eye on it. Xenocultivars, its sophomore publication, is a very strong follow-up, and a sign that Speculatively Queer may be a formidable new contender.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Timpf, In Days to Come (2022)

Lisa Timpf, In Days to Come. Hiraeth Books, 2022. Pp. 80. ISBN 978-1-0879-2712-1. $10.00.

Reviewed by Jason Kahler

A reader’s response to In Days to Come, Lisa Timpf’s slim collection of poetry, will depend on his or her attitude toward a few things:

  • Poetry in general.
  • Haibun specifically (more on those in a bit).
  • The role of poetry in the SFFH space.

I love poetry, and I love science fiction, so I’m all for bringing the two together. Overall, readers will find plenty to enjoy in Timpf’s book. There are enough poetic moments, what noted poetry critic Clive James called “little low heavens,” to make readers feel like the time they share with the book was time well-spent. Casual or new poetry readers will enjoy finding poetry doing things they didn’t know poetry could do. More critical poetry fans will appreciate Timpf’s book, too, though they may be able to identify some places where the book’s weakest elements don’t live up to the promise of its strongest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Sein und Werden, (Spring/Summer 2022)

Sein und Werden, ed. Rachel Kendall. Spring/Summer 2022 issue. Online at www.kissthewitch.co.uk/seinundwerden/sein.html

Reviewed by Julie Reeser

Sein und Werden Spring/Summer 2022. If I were you I'd… . click on these bad boys… Contents ContributorsSein und Werden, per their onsite manifesto, is a quarterly online and occasional print journal whose goal is to invoke Werdenism, a term coined by the editor to encompass her modern aesthetic vision of “being and becoming” taken from the Expressionists. Each issue is themed, and this one starts with a prompt of “If I were you…” This is carried cutely by the home page where you are directed to a choice between two arrows: content or contributors. The overarching or underlying philosophy of the works chosen revolve around Existentialism, Surrealism, and Expressionism.

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?