Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Bestwick, Roth-Steyr (2020)

Simon Bestwick, Roth-Steyr. Black Shuck Books, 2020. Pp. 167. ISBN 978-1-913038-57-1. £7.99.

Reviewed by Rachel Verkade

In his blurb for this novella, Bestwick writes: “You never know which ideas will stick in your head, let alone where they’ll go.” I can sympathise. Sometimes you idly researching knitting techniques and end up joining a course on the care and husbandry of wool goats, sometimes you’re looking up antique pistols and end up writing a 200 page novella on immortal World War I artistocrats and their quest to save the monarchy. It happens. In Bestwick’s case, an idle writing exercise in which he decided to use the name of an antique pistol as the title of a story resulted in Roth-Steyr, and we are all the richer for it.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Rosenberg & Khmelevska, Arrival Mind (2020)

Louis B. Rosenberg, art by Anastasia Khmelevska, Arrival Mind. Outland Publishing, 2020. Pp. 35. ISBN 978-1-7356685-0. $9.95.

Reviewed by Cait Coker

As a child in the 1980s, I had a heavily illustrated book called How Things Work that explained the physical mechanics of everyday items as well as some architecture. One such spread included an extensive underground shelter through which a family would safely (it claimed) survive for several years following a nuclear blast. The cognitive dissonance of those playful drawings and their morbid reality which I experienced then recently returned upon reading Arrival Mind, a tract-in-verse on the dangers inherent in artificial intelligence. Designed as a storybook for adults, the volume’s format risks, however, undercutting the very message it wants to send.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Constelación #0.5 (2020)

Constelación Magazine, ed. Coral Alejandra Moore & Eliana González Ugarte. Sample issue 0.5 (2020). Online at constelacionmagazine.com.

Reviewed by Sonia Sulaiman

Constelación Magazine is a new, bilingual, magazine of speculative fiction publishing in Spanish and English. They have yet to launch their first issue, but there is a ‘sample issue’ available and what a sample! The sample issue contains two fiction pieces: “Makeisha in Time” by Rachael K. Jones, and “I, Crocodile” by Jacinta Escudos (translated by Eliana González Ugarte), as well as “Giving Back” a piece of non-fiction, and art by Gutti Barrios. For the purpose of this review, we’re only be looking at the two fiction pieces. Each includes its own trigger warnings.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Apparition Lit #12 (2020)

Apparition Lit, ed. Rebecca Bennett, Tacoma Tomilson, Clarke Doty & Amy Henry Robinson. Issue 12 (October 2020). Online at apparitionlit.com.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

The quarterly Apparition Lit has been arriving like clockwork for a couple of years now and it’s always a welcome sight. The issues are short—four stories and a couple of poems—but it’s enough to make a satisfying one—or two-sitting read, and it’s a reasonable length for the $2.99 price point. The magazine’s distinguishing feature is its themed issues. Smartly, the themes are abstract concepts such as “ambition” or “euphoria” rather than concrete objects like “dragons,” which prevents the stories within an issue from feeling repetitive. October’s theme was “satisfaction.” But how satisfying was it? Let’s have a look.