Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Zooscape, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, and Black Cat Weekly

Zooscape 8/22 Anathema: Spec from the Margins 8/22 Black Cat Weekly 8/13/22

Zooscape’s August issue continues the mission of showcasing furry speculative fiction, and pulls no emotional punches with its opening story, “The Best Way to Pro­cure Breakfast” by Dana Vickerson. In it, a cat named Pho is hard at work trying to get his human to stick to the script of feeding him. Something is wrong, ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Samovar, Strange Horizons, Drabblecast, and Diabolical Plots

Samovar 7/25/22 Strange Horizons 7/18/22, 8/1/22. 8/8/22 Drabblecast 7/22, 8/22 Diabolical Plots 8/22

The end of July also brought an issue of the specu­lative translation publication Samovar. In it, Chen Chuncheng (translated by Jack Hargreaves) presents a strange and almost bucolic story of a person who manicures clouds so that they always appear fluffy and appealing in “A Cloudcutter’s Diary”. The titular cloudcutter is in something of ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and F&SF

Fantasy 8/22, 9/22 Lightspeed 8/22, 9/22 F&SF 9-10/22

August’s Fantasy brought a number of works dealing with the power of stories and narratives, including the complex “The Tails that Make You” by Eliza Chan. Written in second person, you are a woman with tails, a huli jing, and though for some it can be a mark of pride and power, for you it is clouded with shame, ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Flash Fiction Online, Worlds of Possibility, and GigaNotoSaurus

Flash Fiction Online 7/22 Worlds of Possibility 8/22 GigaNotoSaurus 7/22

August brings some editorial additions to Flash Fiction Online, where publisher Anna Yeatts joins Emma Munro as co-editor-in-chief. As for the fiction itself, it’s a strong issue, including Adam Piñon Kerkman’s ‘‘Moon Eater & Housekeep­ing’’, a deep and beautiful piece that looks at the hidden people of the world, those who don’t have power and are cut ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Baffling, Fusion Fragment, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Cast of Wonders

Baffling 7/22 Fusion Fragment 7/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/28/22, 8/11/22, 8/25/22 Cast of Wonders 7-8/22

I’m starting this month with July’s Baffling, which features seven stories with LGBTQIA+ elements. The issue opens with a mix of messy fun and danger with Fruzsina Pittner’s “The Serpent Crouches in the Heart of the Unravelling”. Written in second person, you are cast as a kind of dimensional fixer, a witch

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Fireside, and GigaNotoSaurus

Fiyah 7/22 Fireside 7/22 GigaNotoSaurus 7/22

Magazines this year must have gotten the memo that I really like food-centered speculative fiction, because Fiyah’s latest issue is food and cuisine themed. In Lina Munroe’s “The Usual Way”, Danae wants to recreate a recipe of her mother’s in order to capture some of the magic her mother wielded before she died. As she works with her aunt to perfect ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Diabolical Plots, Flash Fiction Online, and Kaleidotrope

Diabolical Plots 7/22 Flash Fiction Online 7/22 Kaleidotrope 7/22

July’s Diabolical Plots had a strong pair of sto­ries, including Andrew K Hoe’s “Heart of a Plesiosaur”, which finds two orphaned siblings practicing bringing inanimate representations of animals to life, if only for brief amounts of time, and competing against others to see whose animations are most impressive. The magic in the piece is fascinating, limited to children ...Read More

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

Escape Pod 6/23/22 Strange Horizons 6/9/22, 6/13/22, 6/20/22, 6/27/22, 7/4/22, 7/11/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/30/22, 7/14/22

Moving over to Escape Pod, June saw the release of “Love and Supervillains” by Caroline Diorio, which finds in Rosalind a narrator who was mostly just trying to enjoy her life through personal independence and lots of casual sex until the guy she hooked up with turned out to be a ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Trepass, Decoded Pride and Cast of Wonders

Trespass (Amazon Original Stories) February 2022. Decoded Pride 6/22 Cast of Wonders 6/18/22

I’m starting off today reaching back to Febru­ary, when Amazon.com released a set of origi­nal stories under the theme of “Trespass.” As a whole, the project looks at the intersections of the human world and a wild, non-human world – not necessarily a natural world, but one that is decidedly outside human influence and, at times, understanding. ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and F&SF

Fantasy 7/22 Lightspeed 7/22 F&SF 7-8/22

Moving into July, Fantasy features a number of works that border on science fiction. Stories of stars crafting solar systems and futures where government authori­tarianism leads to water riots, mass deportations, and interments. For all the science fictional touches, though, Fantasy finds ways to focus on fantasy, as in Sabrina Vourvoulias’s “The Memory of Chemis­try”, which follows the life of a ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: GigaNotoSaurus, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod

GigaNotoSaurus 6/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/2/22, 6/16/22 Escape Pod 6/22

June’s GigaNotoSaurus explores complicity and empire in Sid Jain’s “To Revolt is to be Undone.” The story finds Mythili becoming aware of the atrocities authored by her country and its ruling party. Here ignorance of the terrible truth is not a passive act, and she must decide how much of her own safety to risk as she uncovers more ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Hexagon, and Diabolical Plots

Strange Horizons 5/16/22, 5/23/22, 5/30/22, 6/6/22 Hexagon Summer ’22 Diabolical Plots 6/22

Finding a poem by R.B. Lemberg is always rea­son to celebrate, so I was cheering when I came across their latest in May’s Strange Horizons. “The broken hill and the breath” is a power­ful piece about long cycles of harm and healing, about a grove of fruit trees and a fragile peace unfolding around disaster and ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Black Cat Weekly, Fusion Fragment, and Cast of Wonders

Black Cat Weekly 4/9/22, 4/15/22 Fusion Fragment 5/22 Cast of Wonders 5/22

I’m starting out this month reaching all the way back to April with two issues of Black Cat Weekly. Though primarily a reprint publica­tion, there are occasional originals as well from editor Cynthia Ward. Of the two in these issues, I was a bit more taken by “It Gazes Back” by Jayme Lynn Blaschke & Don ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Anathema, Lightspeed, Fantasy, and Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa

Anathema 5/22 Lightspeed 6/22 Fantasy 6/22 Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, Rachel Zadok, Karina M. Szczurek & Jason Mykl Snyman, eds. (Catalyst 978-1946395573, $16.95, 260pp, tp) September 2021.

Anathema officially enters 2022 with their May issue, which opens with Choo Yi Feng’s strange and haunting “Plastic Bag Girl”. In it, said girl recycles trash along the shore and turns it into animated animals to entertain ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: GigaNotoSaurus, Cast of Wonders, and Flash Fiction Online

GigaNotoSaurus 5/22 Cast of Wonders 5/22 Flash Fiction Online 5/22

May’s GigaNotoSaurus story is “In the Time of the Telperi Flower” by David-Christopher Galhea, which on one level follows the harrowing story of an expedition to see a strange, time-bend­ing flower. The story is framed, however, as an annotated account of that expedition as told by its guide, embellished and published posthumously by an unscrupulous publicist, and ...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: Diabolical Plots, Lightspeed, Fantasy and F&SF

Diabolical Plots 3/22, 4/22 Lightspeed 5/22 Fantasy 5/22 F&SF 5-6/22

April Fool’s Day brought a special extra story to Diabolical Plots, and fans of the Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Turtles might want to check out Josh Strnad’s “Food of the Turtle Gods”. Then, in “She Dreams In Digital” by Katie Grace Carpenter, an intelligent starship tries to keep a garden alive following the loss of ...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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Kaleidotrope, Fireside, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Diabolical Plots

Kaleidotrope 1/22 Fireside 1/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/1/22, 1/13/22, 1/27/22 Diabolical Plots 1/22

 

Another quarterly ushering in the new year is Kaleidotrope, whose winter issue features ten original short stories and seven poems. The tone of the publication tends toward the grim and hor­rifying, though often wrapped around a gooey heart. For instance, “Seven Times Seven” by A.C. Wise finds Jax, a child of an abusive father ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Fantasy, Nightmare, and F&SF

Lightspeed 1/22 Fantasy 1/22 Nightmare 1/22 F&SF 1-2/22

January’s Lightspeed leans decidedly grim to kick off the new year, with a majority of the original fiction opting away from happy endings. It’s a trend that will continue in sibling publications Fantasy and Nightmare (though that last certainly makes sense, given the Nightmare’s horror focus). In Lightspeed, though, Aimee Ogden’s flash fiction “Dissent: A Five-Course Meal (With Suggested Pairings) ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: khōréō, Baffling Magazine, Analog, and Asimov’s

khōréō 11/21 Baffling Magazine 1/22 Analog 1-2/22 Asimov’s 1-2/22

Hello and welcome to my first column as a short fiction reviewer here at Locus. I plan to cover a mixture of print and online publications, filling in as I can around the existing short fiction coverage. My aim is to engage deeply with the works I cover, and hopefully provide readers with something of a roadmap to stories they’ll truly ...Read More

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