Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Samovar, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Samovar 4/22 Strange Horizons 4/18/22, 5/2/22, 5/9/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/5/22, 5/19/22

April also saw the release of a new issue of Samo­var, the sibling publication to Strange Horizons that specializes in speculative stories and poetry in translation. Among the works in the issue, Azrin Fauzi (translated by Ali Aiman Mazwin) captures a weird and compelling journey of three people on the island of Malaysia in “Panorama People ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Omenana, Samovar, and Analog

Omenana 4/22 Samovar 4/22 Analog 5-6/22

In its 21st issue, Omenana continues to bring a fascinating mix of fantasy, science fiction, and horror from African writers. “Madam Aisirhiowen’s Greatest Invention” by Amadin Ogbewe is an interesting story of a woman who transformed herself into a cyborg ruler. When we meet her she is deposed and staying with her great-granddaughter, build­ing something with her minions. It’s pretty ominous, but ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Kaleidotrope, Zooscape, Escape Pod, and Drabblecast

Kaleidotrope 4/22 Zooscape 4/22 Escape Pod 4/22 Drabblecast 4/22

I’ll start off with the Spring Kaleidotrope, which does a good job keeping to a few the­matic threads throughout the issue. Though the publication often leans into horror, there’s more of a focus on grief and loss with this group of stories and poems, with recurring ideas of alternate dimensions/universes and sacrifices of various kinds. Aimee Ogden opens the issue with ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Baffling, Fireside, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Baffling Spring ’22 Fireside Spring ’22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/7/22, 4/21/22

Baffling released a new issue in April, with seven flash-length works of queer speculative fiction. Ruth Joffre’s “A Girl Predicts the Future” kicked things off by offering Xochitl a choice, a menu of sorts for seeing into the future. The mercenary nature of the offerings is an interest­ing complication, something that prevents the aid offered from ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: The Dark and Nightmare

The Dark 3/22, 4/22 Nightmare 3/22, 4/22, 5/22

There’s quite a variety in the four originals of The Dark #83. In “Knotlings” by Aliya Whiteley, the narrator accepts her pain as a good thing. She rejoices when her son experiences the same affliction and, like her, vomits up “knotlings.” The mother teaches her son how to cope, but as he matures, he develops his own way of ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Flash Fiction Online, Fiyah, and GigaNotoSaurus

Flash Fiction Online 3/22, 4/22 Fiyah 3/22 GigaNotoSaurus 4/22

March’s Flash Fiction Online saw a return to John Guzlowski’s mini-novel series with “The Last Man on Earth Looks for a Friend – A Mini-Novel”. As with the first two stories in the series, this one focuses on life and death, on loneliness and grief. It’s an experimental, rather poetic story, and beautifully told. It was also the ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Uncanny, and The Deadlands

Tor.com 3/9/22, 3/16/22, 3/23/22, 4/13/22, 4/20/22, 4/27/22, 5/4/22, 5/11/22, 5/18/22 Uncanny 3-4/22 The Deadlands 3/22, 4/22

Near novella-length “Hearts of Stone” by Emma Newman (Tor.com 5/18/22) is a Wild Cards story about 18-year-old Kerry – who can turn living creatures into stone with a touch – joining up with Great Britain’s Sil­ver Helix as Stonemaiden. It’s great for those into George R.R. Martin’s shared universe, especially if they’ve kept up ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Shoreline of Infinity, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod

Shoreline of Infinity 3/22 Strange Horizons 3/21/22, 3/28/22, 4/4/22, 4/11/22 Escape Pod 3-4/22

Starting out with March’s Shoreline of Infin­ity, the publication has launched a new serial by Eric Brown, ‘‘Approaching Human’’. The first two chapters of the project introduce Xorn, an AI PI (artificial intelligence who is a private investigator) who uses his skills in and out of a vast virtual reality network to satisfy the ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: khōréō, Luna Station Quarterly, and Shoreline of Infinity

khōréō 3/22 Luna Station Quarterly 3/22 Shoreline of Infinity 3/22

Starting in on its second year, khōréō has another strong issue with five original stories. ‘‘Phoenix Tile’’ by Guan Un is a fun story about Ah Lok, a trickster demigod starting to fade out in Chinatown. He cons his way to the East Wind’s hangout, and mayhem ensues – possibly enough chaos to get him back on track. ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Apex #130, PodCastle, and PseudoPod

Apex #130 PodCastle 2/23/22 PseudoPod 3/11/22

Nine Theories of Time” by Spencer Nitkey leads off the six original stories of Apex #130. It is not so much a story as an eloquent meditation on time, life, death, and grief.

In the near future of “To Live and Die in Dix­ieland” by Russell Nichols, brothers Walter and Royce Mitchell develop a virtual reality platform, Dixieland, in ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews El Porvenir, ¡Ya!: Citlalzazanilli Mexicatl, a Chicano Sci-fi Anthology by Scott Russell Duncan, Armando Rendón, Jenny Irizary, eds.

El Porvenir, ¡Ya!: Citlalzazanilli Mexicatl, a Chicano Sci-fi Anthology, Scott Russell Duncan, Armando Rendón, Jenny Irizary, eds. (Somos en escrito Literary Foundation Press 979-8-409-93671-6, $10.00, 220pp, pb) May 2022. Cover by Polaris Castillo.

El Porvenir, ¡Ya!: Citlalzazanilli Mexicatl offers readers a surprisingly comprehensive look at what contemporary Mexican-American science fiction has to offer. With a mix of up-and-coming writers and sea­soned veterans of the genre, this anthology celebrates diversity ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Solarpunk, The Sunday Morning Transport, and Clarkesworld

Solarpunk Magazine 1-2/22, 3-4/22 The Sunday Morning Transport 3/6, 3/27, 4/3/22 Clarkesworld 4/22

I was sent the debut issue of Solarpunk Maga­zine, and I liked it so much I followed up with the second issue. While I tend to be skeptical of using “punk” as a suffix denoting various subgenres of speculative fiction, I’m more sympa­thetic to its use here. There’s so much news and so much of it is ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel by John Kessel

The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel, John Kessel (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-058-7, $45.00, 582pp, hc) June 2022.

I love big career-retrospective single-author collections, especially when the author provides notes on genesis and biographical context. John Kessel’s turn has come with The Dark Ride, a gathering of 20 stories from 1981-2021 that shows his command of a wide range of motifs and styles and his recurring ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fusion Fragment, Lightspeed, and Fantasy

Fusion Fragment 3/22 Lightspeed 4/22 Fantasy 4/22

March also sees the first 2022 content from Fusion Fragment, with their tenth issue. Jennifer Hudak kicks things off with the bittersweet “The Topogra­phy of Memory”, which finds a narrator returning home for the first anniversary of her brother’s death, only to find she can’t quite find her way. The story is weighted with guilt as the narrator navigates their own ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Hexagon, Fireside, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Hexagon 3/22 Fireside 3/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/10/22, 3/24/22

Hexagon Magazine opens its 2022 releases with its eighth issue, featuring five original stories. While the publication does publish stories in English and French (a trend I’ve been happy to note here and in publications like Omenana as well), all the works in this issue are English originals. All the works are also what I’d classify as fantasy, with some interesting ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: GigaNotoSaurus, Cast of Wonders, and Escape Pod

GigaNotoSaurus 3/22 Cast of Wonders 2-3/22 Escape Pod 3/22

The March story from GigaNotoSaurus is a wonderful take on space opera in “The Law of Take” by Isabel Cañas. Vis has risen from a childhood of poverty all the way to empress, all on the idea that she needs to take what she wants. Money, power, influence – and yet when it comes to love, taking what ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Future SF Digest, Clarkesworld, and Asimov’s

Future SF Digest 3/22 Clarkesworld 3/22 Asimov’s 3-4/22

Now more than ever I’d like to put the work of Future Science Fiction Digest front and center. Since 2018 it has been unusually strong in bringing voices from around the world to readers, both in English and in translation. As I write this the war in Ukraine is a few weeks old, and editor Alex Shvarts­man writes movingly in the Foreword ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Reckoning, Drabblecast, and Strange Horizons

Reckoning 1/22 Drabblecast 1-2/22 Strange Horizons 2/21/22, 2/28/22, 3/7/22, 3/14/22

Let’s start with the latest release from Reckoning, an annual journal dedicated to environmental justice. Their sixth issue is edited by poetry editor Aïcha Martine Thiam and prose editor Gabriela Santiago. The content is released online throughout the first half of the year, but the journal itself is as large as many an­thologies, and peppered with commentary on the state ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Slate Future Tense, Translunar Travelers Lounge, and The Sunday Morning Transport

Slate Future Tense 1/22 Translunar Traveler’s Lounge 2/22 The Sunday Morning Transport 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/27/22

The January story in Slate Future Tense is “If We Make It Through This Alive” by A.T. Greenblatt. It’s a really cool story about three friends who enter a road race to try to make it across America, Pennsylvania to California, in a post-collapse future. Crumbled infrastructure is only the start ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth

Fantasy 3/22 Lightspeed 3/22 Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth, Isa­bela Oliveira & Jed Sabin, eds. (Speculatively Queer) March 2022.

March’s Fantasy Magazine features a new story by Isabel J. Kim, who has been having a very strong year. ‘‘Christopher Mills, Return to Sender’’ focuses on death and resurrection as Chris awakens from his own personal hell, a giant mall without a smoothie place, thanks to the ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: The Dark, Apex, Nightmare, and Deadlands

The Dark 1/22, 2/22 Apex #129 Nightmare 2/22 Deadlands 1/22, 2/22 The Dark #80’s four original stories include ‘‘Thermophile’’ by Jack Klausner and ‘‘Intru­sions’’ by Margot McGovern. In the former, Lisa’s roomie Stu starts taking really long hot showers. And baths. And acting strange. His only excuse is that he likes the warmth. This is an idea that doesn’t quite turn into a story. In ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe, ed.

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe, ed. (Harp­erVoyager 978-0-06307-087-5, $28.99, 336pp, hc) April 2022.

Celebrity writing projects can be an iffy prospect. Writing is a particular craft, one that doesn’t necessarily translate from act­ing or songwriting, and the results can sometimes feel less like an act of creativity and more like a vanity project. That is absolutely not the case with Janelle Monáe’s The ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories by Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds. (Tordotcom 978-1-25076-891-9, $26.99, 400pp, hc) March 2022.

By now, many of us are already prepar­ing for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention next year in China. So it’s the perfect time for an anthology like The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories to hit shelves and tide us over until 2023.

Though Chinese publishers have ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Diabolical Plots, and F&SF

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2/10/22, 2/24/22 Diabolical Plots 2-3/22 F&SF 3-4/22

Beneath Ceaseless Skies also celebrated an an­niversary in February, putting out its 350th issue. To mark the occasion, two issues are stuffed with extra stories, all of them centered on a crossing of genres, on science fantasy, rather than on a theme. Yoon Ha Lee opens the festivities with “Bonsai Starships”, which weaves a narrative around a young ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Clarkesworld, Analog, and The Sunday Morning Transport

Clarkesworld 2/22 Analog 3-4/2022 The Sunday Morning Transport 1/23/2022

The first three stories in February’s Clarkes­world all feature an aspect of human life that I’ve long felt gets short shrift in science fiction in particular, but also in fan­tasy – parenting. I was complaining once (after I became a parent myself, naturally) that I just did not see many folks with kids in these stories, and someone (childless, I believe) ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Flash Fiction Online, Fireside, and Strange Horizons

Flash Fiction Online 2/22 Fireside 2/22 Strange Horizons 2/7/22, 2/14/22

At Flash Fiction Online, February is often dedicated to stories about love, and new editor Emma Munro keeps that tradition going. A small note for full disclosure that this issue contains a reprint of my own story, “A Lumberjack’s Guide to Dryad Spotting” (the story also appears as a reprint in Xenocultivars, which I’m also review­ing in this column). Some ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, PodCastle and Uncanny

Tor.com 2/26/22, 2/9/22, 1/26/22, 1/12/22 PodCastle 1/18/22, 2/8/22 Uncanny 1-2/22

If you’ve read the three previous Judge Dee stories by Lavie Tidhar, you are sure to enjoy the new one, “Seven Vampires: A Judge Dee Mystery” (Tor.com 2/26/22). You can enjoy it even if you haven’t chanced upon the series previously, but since the three earlier tales are easily found online, you have no excuse not catch ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Escape Pod, Cast of Wonders, and GigaNotoSaurus

Escape Pod 1/22, 2/22 Cast of Wonders 2/22 GigaNotoSaurus 2/22

Escape Pod saw its first release of the year in late January with “Payday Weather” by Matthew Claxton, which unfolds in a California ravaged by wildfire. Little speculative in that, but the story takes it further, imagines the shape technology might take to fill in the holes left in the social safety net. Mercenary fire sup­pression workers ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Metaphorosis, Apparition Lit, and Mysterion

Metaphorosis 2/2022 Apparition Lit 1/2022 Mysterion 1-2/2022

I’ve enjoyed every issue of Metaphorosis Magazine that I’ve picked up, and I always regret not getting to all of them. The February issue features two debuts, starting with “Freely Given” by Connor Mellegers. In Jean and Ev’s society, giving larger gifts grants you vastly increased social status, while laboring for wages is looked down upon. Joan sets up Ev ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, GigaNotoSaurus, Lightspeed, and Fantasy

Strange Horizons 1/03/22, 1/10/22, 1/17/22 GigaNotoSaurus 1/22 Lightspeed 2/22 Fantasy 2/22

The big news out of Strange Horizons as the year opens is the increase in poetry they’re publishing, doubling their poetic offerings every issue. For fiction, the year opens with “Broken Blue” by E.M. Faulds, a story about a recently divorced woman, Katie, her adorable Labrador, and the stranger who enters her life, filling up an ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel by John Kessel

The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel, John Kessel (Subterranean 978-1-64524-058-7, $45.00, 584pp, hc) June 2022.

In his insightful introduction to The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel, Kim Stanley Robinson grapples with the somewhat thorny question of how Kessel’s stories relate to the genres of the fantastic, and at one point he even invokes allegory, citing Kessel’s own musing about what ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Clarkesworld, Abyss & Apex and The Sunday Morning Transport

Clarkesworld 1/22 Abyss & Apex Q1 ’22 The Sunday Morning Transport 1/9/22, 1/16/22

Back in my usual haunts, January’s Clarkesworld opens with a story of grief, love, and food in “The Uncurling of Samsara” by Koji A. Dae. The narra­tor is part of a family that has historically provided food engineering for their generation starship, a very important job that keeps the population healthy and uplifts morale. ...Read More

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