Friday, August 24, 2012

Wilkins & Berman (edd.), Heiresses of Russ 2012

Connie Wilkins and Steve Berman (edd.), Heiresses of Russ 2012: The Year's Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction. Lethe Press, 2012. Pp. 287. ISBN 978-1-59021-159-5. $18.00.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

This is the second annual Heiresses of Russ anthology of lesbian SF, collecting stories first published in 2011. Despite the naming of recently deceased Joanna Russ in the series title, this anthology is not full of the aggressive, uncompromising, acerbic feminist science fiction she was famous for, but is rather a mixed and representative selection of different styles in queer SF with lesbian protagonists. By the nature of the collection it is hard to identify a single theme in this volume, but many of the stories share a tendency common in lesbian writing: fairly uncomplicated love stories with happy endings are preferred over angst-ridden or treacherous romances; this slightly clichéd, optimistic simplicity, sometimes classified as twee or idealized, is only as escapist as the worlds without overt homophobia that also occur often in queer fiction. Of course, by no means all of the stories in this collection are in any sense romances, and there are exceptions to this tendency; sometimes, indeed, the divergence from simplicity and innocence is the twist in the story. Like last year’s, this anthology is a mixed bag with some excellent pieces, more good than mediocre, and none really terrible. Most importantly, this collection of fourteen stories is an impressive gathering of speculative fiction, regardless of the theme or the reader’s tastes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nightmare (2012)

Nightmare (2012), dir. Nic Collins; starring Nicholas Wicht, Pete Navis, Alexandra Leopold.

Reviewed by Paul Wilks

Nightmare, a short sci-fi film directed by Nic Collins, is a monochrome thriller that broods with paranoia and intrigue, even from the first scene. It tells a story of Carl, a man who has sinister and violent dreams that each feature a brutal murder. However, the dream scenarios then quickly then happen in real life and Carl is motivated to kill the killer before the next murder occurs.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Jungle Jim #12 (2012)

Jungle Jim Magazine #12 (May 2012). Pp. 34. ASIN B00839I6WY. $2.99.

Reviewed by Peter Damien

Jungle Jim is a fascinating magazine to me, for two reasons. First, it is wholly African in origin, and although it is published worldwide (as anything can be in this wonderful digital age), its heart, soul, and papers themselves are all African. It is fiction and ideas from another place, about another person’s home. It’s a form of lazy world-travel. The second reason is that Jungle Jim is a particularly distinct magazine, in every sense of the term. It is visually distinctive, the voices contained within—whether the stories work or not—are very entirely themselves. It doesn’t feel like other magazines. It reminds me of nothing so much as Alan Moore’s underground magazine Dodgem Logic, and indeed Jungle Jim reminds me of all the other magazines which inspired it. It feels like it could’ve been an underground magazine in the 1980s, and that’s exciting. It has a punk-rock atmosphere about it, at least to me.