Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Gold, anOther Mythology (2023)

Maxwell I. Gold, anOther Mythology. Interstellar Flight Press, 2023. ISBN 978-1-9537-3624-6. $14.99.

Reviewed by Lisa Timpf

anOther Mythology is a collection of horror prose-poetry re-imagining myths from a queer perspective, penned by Maxwell I. Gold, a five-time Rhysling Award nominee, and twice Pushcart nominated Jewish American author of prose poetry and short stories in cosmic horror and weird fiction. Gold’s books include Oblivion in Flux: A Collection of Cyber Prose from Crystal Lake Publishing and Bleeding Rainbows and Other Broken Spectrums from Hex Publishers. With this background, it’s not surprising that he is able to craft a compelling collection that is often humorous, sometimes darkly so. Publisher Interstellar Flight Press is an indie speculative publishing house that aspires to spotlight “innovative works from the best up and coming writers” in science fiction and fantasy, so this different approach to mythology is right up their alley.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Dark #105 (February 2024)

The Dark, ed. Sean Wallace & Veronica Giguere. Issue 105 (February 2024). Prime Books. $1.99 or online at thedarkmagazine.com.

Reviewed by M.L. Clark

Whispers in the dark are an excellent site for horror, and offer an important medium in the four stories of The Dark’s February issue.

In “Some There Be That Shadows Kiss,” the “whispers” are more figurative: set in the late 16th century, gossip and aspersions cast on anyone who might explain the suffering a town faces. In this case, witches are real, but also not nearly the worst kind of monstrosity that a human being can face. Communal betrayal, spousal harm, parental abandonment… We do such awful things to one another, then have the audacity to spin the cause as evil spirits, no? James Bennett’s tale is a bit more challenging to read than the others this month: not just because of the older language it leans on, but also the allusive nature of much of it. If one embraces the flow, though, the result is a read that, for all its history, has surprises in store.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Clarkesworld #209 (February 2024)

Clarkesworld, ed. Neil Clarke & Sean Wallace. Issue 209 (February 2024). Online at clarkesworldmagazine.com.

Reviewed by Storm Blakley

Science fiction has long been a vehicle for exploring sentience; the dizzying variety of it, exploring the most fundamental emotions and needs, placing every aspect of humanity and sentience under a microscope to see what we can learn. Clarkesworld’s February 2024 issue tackles religion and belief, addiction and alien/artificial intelligence, climate change and conflict, immortality and isolation, and everything in between.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The Dark #104 (January 2024)

The Dark, ed. Sean Wallace & Veronica Giguere. Issue 104 (January 2024). Prime Books. $1.99 or online at thedarkmagazine.com.

Reviewed by M.L. Clark

The first 2024 issue of The Dark brought us assemblages: entities created out of smaller pieces—sometimes to sinister effect, sometimes to appease a greater menace, and sometimes with good intentions that soured. In all cases, the emerging assemblage speaks to a common struggle or ache in our lives, and that’s where the horror strikes deepest: in the knowledge that these patchwork creations aren’t so far removed from our reality after all.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Yoo, Small Gods of Calamity (2024)

Sam Kyung Yoo, Small Gods of Calamity. Interstellar Flight Press, 2024. Pp. 151. ISBN 978-1-953736-28-4. $9.99.

Reviewed by Julie Reeser

Small Gods of Calamity is a debut novella by Sam Kyung Yoo, who has had a short but illustrious career publishing stories in magazines such as Fantasy and Strange Horizons, with work showcasing themes of East Asian folklore and ghosts. This foundation has served them well for this strikingly emotional urban fantasy, set in Seoul, a landlocked city. Kim Han-gil is investigating an apparent suicide when he smells the sea. This is his first clue that his past has once again caught up with him, and that the death at his feet is something much more sinister. Because that smell isn’t actually the sea, it’s a spirit.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Kaleidotrope (Autumn 2023)

Kaleidotrope, ed. Fred Coppersmith. Autumn 2023 issue. Online at kaleidotrope.net or on Kindle.

Reviewed by Storm Blakley

Kaleidotrope’s Autumn 2023 issue offers a wonderful collection of fantasy, sci-fi and a little horror. Each poem and story held, for me, a reflection on very fundamentally human needs and ideals, from a delightful array of differing perspectives.

This issue opens with “A Place We Used to Visit” by Bennett North. It is a time travel story, but not at all in the way I’d expected; it was wonderfully done. If we had the chance to go back, to avert a tragedy, would we? Knowing that that would mean we no longer become the person we are, would we? I think most of us would like to think so, but we can never really know until we’re in that situation. North does a wonderful job expressing the fear and confusion the protagonist feels, and how frightening that decision would truly be.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Seize the Press #8 (2023)

Seize the Press #8, ed. Jonny Pickering and Karlo Yeager Rodríguez. Issue 8 (September 2023). Online at seizethepress.com.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

’Tis autumn, the season of death and endings and remembering things you swore you’d get around to sooner, and that makes three good reasons for me to review the new Seize the Press. You know, the maggot sex one. But is the maggot sex any good, one must ask, or is it merely in there as a selling point for the sort of people for whom such a thing is a selling point (myself, I freely acknowledge, among them)? Let’s find out.

Monday, November 06, 2023

Cahill, Unicorn Death Moon Day Planner (2023)

Zachary Cahill, Unicorn Death Moon Day Planner. Red Ogre Review & Liquid Raven Media, 2023. Pp. 74. ISBN 979-8-8600-3593-5. $14.99.

Reviewed by Julie Reeser

Over the last few years, I’ve established a personal habit of spending time each morning planning my day with a view toward my yearly goals and reading poetry. When I saw the Unicorn Death Moon Day Planner by Zachary Cahill, I anticipated an experience born of this complimentary companionship—a planner interspersed with art and poetry to inspire—it seemed the perfect match. Zachary Cahill has quite a few projects and titles under his writerly belt, including a graphic novel, a debut novel, a directorship, and being editor-in-chief of Portable Gray. Both his art and poetry have been shown in several prestigious settings.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Nightmare #131 (August 2023)

Nightmare Magazine, ed. Wendy N. Wagner. Issue 131 (August 2023). Online at nightmare-magazine.com.

Reviewed by Jason Kahler

Full disclosure: A little ways back, I attended a Clarion West workshop facilitated by Nightmare’s Managing/Senior Editor Wendy N. Wagner. She was knowledgeable, insightful, and enthusiastic about our work and about making us better writers. I finished the workshop full of ideas and appreciation for the work Wagner is doing in the writing world at large. I am pleased to say I would have enjoyed the August 2023 issue of Nightmare if I’d never met her.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

TFF Reviews: some changes coming

The TFF Reviews site, which has run on an open submissions basis for 18 years (15 of them on the current blog platform), is changing focus. 

Our reviewers are now invited to write about online speculative magazines and fiction sites, of which we circulate a monthly list of titles not recently covered. Priority will go to free-to-read venues, but sites that require subscription or purchase will be listed if publishers are able to provide free access or copy. Please feel free to email nonfiction@futurefire.net to suggest a magazine for our regular listing.

Our reviewers will also be welcome to write about any small press genre titles they come across and consider worth reviewing, especially anthologies, collections, exhibitions or performances—with a focus on work from (or that can be talked about from) underrepresented or progressive perspectives. However, TFF Reviews will not be accepting suggestions of new publications to review other than magazines. Please remove our nonfiction address from circulation lists and promotions, as we will *not* list any books, novels, collections and anthologies, or pass along freebies to reviewers.

We currently have a small team, so reviews are likely to be sporadic for the moment.

If you would be interested in reviewing online zines and indie or small press short fiction alongside the TFF Reviews team, please drop us a note at nonfiction@futurefire.net to introduce yourself and any writing or criticism credentials you may have.

  • Formal qualifications or experience are not necessarily required, but a passion for speculative literature and willingness to be open-minded and analytic in your appreciation of it are essential.
  • We are unable to pay for reviews; like all other TFF staff, reviewers work on a voluntary basis.
  • There is no minimum frequency of reviews expected for any member of the reviewing team.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Weinstock, Mad Scientist’s Guide to Composition (2020)

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to Composition. Broadview Press, 2020. Pp. 246, ISBN 978-1-5548-1445-9. $15.55.

Reviewed by Don Riggs

I have taught from Weinstock’s Mad Scientist’s Guide to Composition for three years now, and have found it to be extremely useful in presenting the basic principles of academic writing for students, including what instructors call the “mechanics” of writing, including punctuation, paragraphing, and transitions; finding and using sources for research papers (helpfully called “Graverobbing” with a nod to Victor Frankenstein); preliminary stages like brainstorming and outlining; “Conducting Experiments” as a way of developing strategies for informing, persuading, and evaluating; and in a stirring chapter, “The Monster Lives!” providing approaches to revising, peer review, and retroactive outlining; and finally, “Placating Ghosts,” or documenting sources “to Avoid Angering the Dead… and the Living.” In other words, a very conventional approach to forming and formulating an argument… but presented in the guise of horror movie tropes.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Raglin (ed.), Shredded (2022)

Eric Raglin (ed.), Shredded: A Sports and Fitness Body Horror Anthology. Cursed Morsels Press, 2022. Pp. 274. ISBN 978-1-73695-327-3. $13.99.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

First off: I am not a sports person. The closest I come to a sports horror story is being stuck on the bleachers in the freezing rain waiting for my sister’s track meet to finish. So I wasn’t initially real drawn to Shredded. However, I have full faith in Eric Raglin as a horror editor. Can he overcome my inherent indifference to athletic events? Let’s find out!