Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Parrish ed., Clockwork, Curses, and Coal (2021)

Rhonda Parrish (ed.), Clockwork, Curses, and Coal: Steampunk and Gaslamp Fairy Tales. World Weaver Press, 2021. Pp. 200. ISBN 978-1-7340-5451-4. $15.95 pb/$4.99 e.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

Rhonda Parrish, the patron saint of short spec fic, is back with Clockwork, Curses, and Coal, the second in her Punked-Up Fairy Tales anthology series. Parrish is a prolific editor, and her new anthologies are eagerly anticipated by readers and writers alike. The first installment in this series, Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline, even netted a star from Publishers Weekly—a rare distinction for a small-press anthology.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Bestwick, A Different Kind of Light (2021)

Simon Bestwick, A Different Kind of Light. Black Shuck Books, 2021. Pp. 167. ISBN 978-1-913038-61-8. £7.99.

Reviewed by Rachel Verkade

If you are at all familiar with automobile racing, you will likely have heard of the Le Mans disaster, considered the worst catastrophe in the history of the sport. On the 11th of June 1955 during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, driver Pierre Levegh rear-ended the car of fellow competitor, Lance Macklin. Levegh’s Mercedes-Benz flew into the air, over the bern, and smashed into pieces upon hitting the ground. The flaming debris flew into the packed grandstands, killing 84 people and injuring 120 more. The accident resulted in ground-breaking safety measures in the sport, and in Mercedes-Benz withdrawing from racing for the next 34 years. Newsreel footage exists showing both the crash itself and its aftermath, but much of it was too graphic to be released. Considering the available footage includes images of gendarmes extinguishing flames on Levegh’s smouldering corpse, one can only imagine how horrific the lost films might be.

It is upon this framework that Simon Bestwick’s A Different Kind of Light is built.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Sokol, Zee (2020)

Su J. Sokol, Zee. Mouton noir Acadie, 2020. Pp. 178. ISBN 978-2-89750-255-3. $14.95.

Reviewed by Lisa Timpf

Montréal resident Su J. Sokol’s novel Zee follows the life of a girl named Zee from birth to young adulthood as she struggles to deal with her talent for ESP. Sokol’s book delves into the feelings and the experiences of the title protagonist, as well as the four adults who care about her. Zee is not the author’s first published work; in addition to several short stories, Sokol has also penned two other novels, Cycling to Asylum, which has been optioned for development into a feature-length film, and Run J Run, published in 2019 by Renaissance Press. Zee’s publisher, Mouton noir Acadie, is an imprint of New Brunswick-based Bouton d’or Acadie Publishing. Bouton d’or Acadie declares “inclusion, accessibility and diversity” to be core values. Zee aligns well with these those ideals, featuring racial diversity among its key characters, and depicting queer relationships in a positive and matter-of-fact light.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Apex #122 (March 2021)

Apex Magazine, ed. Jason Sizemore. Issue #122 (March 2021). $4.99.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

Apex, one of the champion racehorses of the SFF promag world, has been out to pasture for a couple of years, and many of us have been eagerly awaiting its return to see if it’s still a winner or if it’s lost that spark. (Yes, I have discovered metaphors. No, I will not apologize.) Well, I was in the press box, and I’m happy to report: Apex has still got it.

With one notable exception, the collection focuses on intimate, personal stories, often exploring people with marginal places in society, almost all women. The stories are mostly on the long side, speculative elements are given a back seat to the exploration of themes and emotions, which is the correct choice, though no doubt it will draw harrumphs from some of the hard-sci-fi old guard.