The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die. Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum.
From The Blog
April 17, 2015
Spring 2015 Anime Preview: The Hellish Life of a Pizza Delivery Boy
Kelly Quinn
April 16, 2015
The Disney Read-Watch: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Mari Ness
April 15, 2015
Recasting The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Stubby the Rocket
April 15, 2015
The 10 Strangest Transports in Non-Driving Games
N. Ho Sang and Peter Tieryas
April 14, 2015
An Open Letter to HBO from House Greyjoy
Theresa DeLucci
Thu
Mar 26 2015 2:00pm

Rich and Strange: “The New Mother” by Eugene Fischer

Asimov's Welcome back to Rich and Strange, where we’re taking a turn towards print again: this week’s story, “The New Mother” by Eugene Fischer, headlines the current issue of Asimov’s, making it the first Asimov’s story I’ve read before seeing it nominated for an award. It’s good to be reminded that, as much as I discover loads of amazing stuff in online venues, and as much as the gratification of reading and sharing stories online is instant, there’s staggeringly good stuff an extra click or two away.

Full Disclosure: Fischer introduced me to Gunnerkrigg Court and for this I will be forever grateful. He’s a good friend and I’ve had the privilege of seeing early drafts of “The New Mother,” as well as suggesting emendations to it. I’m delighted to see its quality recognized by Asimov’s, giving me the opportunity to crow about its many felicities here.

[Read More]

Thu
Feb 26 2015 10:00am

Rich and Strange: “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander

Lightspeed 57 Hereabouts on Rich and Strange, I like to keep things from getting same-y—odd streak of tiger/beast-lover stories notwithstanding—since part of my project with this column is to broaden my own reading as well as comment on the stuff I like. So I’m delighted to add a no-holds-barred pulp action cuss-fest to the roster with Brooke Bolander’s amazing “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead,” from this month’s issue of Lightspeed.

Full Disclosure: I’m a columnist for Lightspeed; my first column there will appear next week. Brooke Bolander and I follow each other on Twitter and share a passion for cucumbers so intense that it may well lead to some sort of unexamined bias in her favour.

[Knock that shot back before you get shot in the back]

Thu
Feb 19 2015 3:00pm

Rich and Strange: “Tiger Baby” by JY Yang

Burnt Bright Artwork copyright © 2015 by Likhain

Happy Lunar New Year, readers! This week’s rich, strange story briefly features the event, which is actually a very happy coincidence, as I was reading the most recent issue of Lackington’s for this column anyway.

Full Disclosure: JY Yang was almost completely unknown to me before I met her at LonCon3, shared a panel with her on Writing SF/F in Non-Western Modes, and listened to her say super smart things. Now I follow her on Twitter so as to see her saying more smart things.

[Read More]

Thu
Feb 12 2015 12:00pm

Rich and Strange: “In Loco Parentis” by Andrea Phillips

Circuit brain

I first became aware of “the Singularity” as a thing around the time when everyone seemed to be sick of talking about it, when the subject as a spur to storytelling seemed exhausted. As a consequence I lacked a crowd of enthusiasts telling me to read this or that, or explaining its intricacies to me in depth; my knowledge is cursory at best, and my ability to relate its relevance to this other thing I really want to talk about is limited. But here goes.

I’m utterly fascinated by stories that look at humans as augmented by or enmeshed with computers in our current smartphone / smartwatch / wearable camera context. There’s a keen difference to me between that idea of the Singularity as inevitable sublimation of humanity-as-we-know-it, and taking stock of the ways in which we’re already entwined with our intelligent technologies to the degree that everything’s changed, but everything’s also pretty much the same.

Enter “In Loco Parentis” by Andrea Phillips.

[Read More]

Mon
Feb 9 2015 5:00pm

Closing Up Shop: Cherry Bomb by Kathleen Tierney

Cherry Bomb Siobhan Quinn Caitlin Kiernan Kathleen Tierney Recently released from Roc, Cherry Bomb is the last installment in the Siobhan Quinn novels—Caitlin R. Kiernan’s parodic urban fantasy arc, written under the pseudonym Kathleen Tierney. Following on the heels of the satirical and engaging Blood Oranges (2013, review here) and its sequel Red Delicious (2014, review here), Cherry Bomb is a ghoul-infested and horror-inflected closer.

Quinn has been out of the paranormal loop for some time, lying low in New York, until she meets and gets involved with a young woman—Selwyn Throckmorton—who’s got a world of trouble coming down on her head. Another eldritch artifact and planes of being far beyond (or below) the basic mortal sprawl are unfortunately involved, and Quinn’s stuck once again in the middle.

[A review.]

Wed
Jan 28 2015 3:00pm

Sewing Machine Battles: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memory Elizabeth Bear reviewElizabeth Bear’s newest novel Karen Memory takes a different direction than her last several projects: it’s a steampunk romp set on the west coast during the late 19th century, narrated by the titular character, a young woman who works as a “seamstress” in a high end bordello.

One night, she helps (along with her housemates) to rescue two young women who have escaped the crib brothels down by the port—one the rescuer, one the rescue-ee. The incident brings the already-strained relationship between our antagonist, Peter Bantle, and the house’s Madame to a head; and, not long after, murdered women begin appearing around the city—also bringing to town the Federal Marshal Bass Reeves.

There are also dirigibles and steam-powered sewing machines like exoskeletons, of course, and the wider conflict over the future of the West lingers in the submerged layers of the narrative as well. There’s a mix of actual history and invented, real places and people and imaginary, that adds a certain depth to the fun—plus, there’s also a diverse cast, from our protagonist’s love interest Priya to the Marshal and his posseman.

[A review.]

Wed
Jan 7 2015 3:00pm

Rich and Strange: “The Boatman’s Cure” by Sonya Taaffe

Ghost Signs Sonya Taaffe Happy New Year, and welcome back to Rich and Strange, where I look with some depth at short fiction that has astonished and delighted me. This week I want to draw your attention to Sonya Taaffe’s novella “The Boatman’s Cure,” included as the concluding portion of her just-released poetry collection Ghost Signs, from Aqueduct Press.

Full Disclosure: I would be honoured to consider Sonya Taaffe a friend, but for the fact that she keeps my heart in a salt-encrusted bottle on her window-sill, and will insist on giving the bottle a shake whenever she knows I am reading her words.

[Read More]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 4:00pm

Rich and Strange: “Nkásht íí” by Darcie Little Badger

strange horizonsWelcome back to Rich and Strange, a weekly reading of marvellous short fiction from around the web. Today’s review takes a look at “Nkásht íí” by Darcie Little Badger, published this week in Strange Horizons.

This week in Full Disclosure: nothing to declare! Except that this story is beautiful and hooked me from start to finish.

[Read More]

Wed
Dec 10 2014 3:00pm

Rich and Strange: “No Vera There” by Dominica Phetteplace

Clarkesworld Issue 99 This week on Rich and Strange we head over to Clarkesworld, a venue that became one of my early favourites for online reading but that I’ve inexplicably been neglecting recently, to read Dominica Phetteplace’s “No Vera There.

Full Disclosure: I had never read or heard of Dominica Phetteplace before her good friend Christopher Caldwell recommended this story on Twitter. Christopher Caldwell is also my good friend and I have eaten his jambalaya, which is superb.

As it happens, so is this story.

[Read More.]

Wed
Dec 3 2014 1:00pm

Rich and Strange: “A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone

This week I want to review a story published here at Tor.com, because in addition to being elegantly written and intensely engaging it taught me something about the way I read short fiction.

Full Disclosure: I am writing this review of a Tor.com story on Tor.com! Circles are closing! Streams are crossing! But far more perniciously than that, Max Gladstone and I have dirt on each other. We share a Dark and Terrible Secret. It’s entirely possible that if we were to become enemies instead of friendly acquaintances we could mutually assure each other’s destruction.

Thank goodness I loved this story.

[Read More.]

Wed
Nov 12 2014 1:30pm

Rich and Strange: “Stalemate” by Rose Lemberg and “Bonsaiships of Venus” by Kate Heartfield

Lackington's Issue 4 A new issue of Lackington’s magazine, edited by Ranylt Richildis, went up this week, book-ended by two searingly beautiful meditations on the relationship between aesthetics and utility. This week on Rich and Strange, I want to talk about Rose Lemberg’s “Stalemate” and Kate Heartfield’s “Bonsaiships of Venus,” both far-future science fiction stories told in awe-inducing language. They’re also two stories that fit together in a way that delighted me into much-needed catharsis after a hard week of reading very upsetting fiction.

This week in Full Disclosure: Ranylt Richildis and Rose Lemberg are good friends and have both published me in their respective zines in the past (Lemberg edits Stone Telling), and I’m friendlily acquainted with Kate Heartfield.

[To the micro/macrocosm!]

Wed
Nov 5 2014 11:00am

Rich and Strange: “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” by Maria Dahvana Headley

Welcome to Rich and Strange, a weekly spotlight on short fiction I’ve thoroughly enjoyed! This week I want to look Maria Dahvana Headley’s “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White,” appearing in the inaugural issue of Uncanny Magazine.

It’s occurred to me that, given the permeable nature of professional relationships in our genre, I might change the name of this column to Full Disclosure, since I’m often hard put to find stories I love written by people or appearing in venues to which I have absolutely no connection. It’s a natural state of affairs in genre that we read a thing we love, meet the person who wrote it at a convention, strike up an acquaintanceship that becomes a friendship, and then find that we’re reading the excellent work of people we now chat with on a regular basis. So it goes – but I’ll always state those connections up front when they occur.

So for instance, this week in Full Disclosure, I reveal that I read “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” for Uncanny’s podcast (and was paid to do so); that I supported Uncanny’s Kickstarter; and that Headley once bought me a salad at Readercon. Personally what I think you should take away from this is that I loved “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” enough to tediously itemize the above because as we all know it’s actually about ethics in short fiction journalism.

[It was a tasty salad.]

Thu
Oct 30 2014 9:30am

Rich and Strange: “Witch, Beast, Saint” by C. S. E. Cooney

Grooming Earlier this autumn I was infuriated enough by a bigoted and incompetent review of a talented writer’s work that I decided to review it myself. The result was Rich and Strange, a commitment to review short fiction on a weekly basis, focusing on work in magazines that I’ve especially loved. I reviewed three stories—Sam J. Miller’s “We Are the Cloud,” Alyssa Wong’s “Santos de Sampaguitas,” and Kate Hall’s “The Scrimshaw and the Scream”—before taking Tor.com up on the invitation of running the column here.

Partly in honour of Liz Bourke’s Sleeps With Monsters column but mostly just because it’s dazzling, the first story I want to single out for praise in this venue is C. S. E. Cooney’s “Witch, Beast, Saint: an Erotic Fairy Tale.”

[Read More]

Tue
Oct 7 2014 2:30pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: The James Tiptree Award Anthology (Part 2)

James Tiptree Award AnthologyWelcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. In our last installment, we discussed some stories from the first half of The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 (2005), edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin and Jeffrey D. Smith. As I noted last time, the Tiptree Award anthologies are a mix of nonfiction, novel excerpts, and short stories that, as the introduction says, “seduce or repel you. Instruct and surprise you. Push you around a bit. Take no prisoners. Make no apologies. […] stories for women. And stories for men. And stories for the rest of us, too.”

So, this week, I thought we’d finish off our discussion with the some stories from the second half of the collection: “Looking through Lace” by Ruth Nestvold and Karen Joy Fowler’s “What I Didn’t See.”

[Onward.]

Tue
Sep 23 2014 3:30pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: The James Tiptree Award Anthology (Part 1)

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. In our last installment, we discussed the final issue of Subterranean Magazine and were sad to see it go.

This time around, I thought I’d switch gears; we’ve been covering a lot of recent magazine publications, but less on the “not-so-recent stories” front. So, for the next two installments, I want to talk about some of the stories collected in The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 (2005)—edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin and Jeffrey D. Smith, it collects a variety of stories that “expand and explore gender” along the lines of the titular annual award.

[Onward.]

Wed
Sep 17 2014 3:00pm

Devouring a Book from Cover to Cover: Monstrous Affections, Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant

Monstrous Affections anthology review Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales is an original anthology edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, containing over four-hundred pages of stories—some dark, some silly, some intense—that approach the theme of the “monster” from a variety of angles. It’s a hefty tome featuring popular names like Paolo Bacigalupi, Nathan Ballingrud, Holly Black, Nalo Hopkinson, Alice Sola Kim and more, as well as several folks who are fresh to me. It’s even got one short graphic story by Kathleen Jennings.

Link and Grant are a dynamic and talented editorial pair—their press, Small Beer, publishes books I love with a statistically significant success rate; their previous anthology work is also strong—and Monstrous Affections is a solid addition to their oeuvre. It’s equal parts playful and sharp-edged, fooling around with tropes and clichés here while weaving disturbing and intimate fictions there. And as a part of a conversation on the generic conventions of “young adult” fiction, this is also a fascinating text—in part a challenge, in part a celebration.

[A review.]

Tue
Sep 9 2014 12:00pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: The Last of Subterranean Magazine (Summer ’14)

Subterranean Magazine final issue Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. In the last installment, I discussed a handful of flash stories from Daily Science Fiction; this time, I want to return to a publication I’ve discussed here a few times before—Subterranean Magazine. Except this turns out to be the last time I’ll be doing so, because the Summer ’14 issue is their last. It’s a real shame, since Subterranean tends to be a great purveyor of dark, weird fiction at lengths other places don’t tend to publish; I’ll miss it quite a bit.

But, as for this last issue: there are nine stories, one posthumous. More or less all of the names represented are regulars, the folks whose work I have looked forward to seeing in these pages—but, space and time being what they are, of the bunch I’ve chosen two stories: “West to East” by Jay Lake and “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)” by Rachel Swirsky.

[Onward.]

Fri
Sep 5 2014 9:00am

Last Run: The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison The Witch with No Name The thirteenth and final novel in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, The Witch With No Name, returns one last time to the world of Rachel Morgan and her associates—and there are plenty of things to wrap up, from interspecies politics and survival to the more personal stuff like Rachel’s complex relationships with her chosen family. In this installment the question of vampires’ lost souls is finally on the table, while the conflict between elves and demons is also coming to a potentially catastrophic conclusion. As Rachel struggles to create a better and more inclusive world, or die trying, the threads Harrison has been weaving for years all come together.

The series’ first book, Dead Witch Walking, came out in 2004—so this has been a decade long journey for readers who’ve been around since the beginning. And, with the release of this book in September, it’s done. So, how’s it stack up?

[A spoiler-free review]

Tue
Aug 26 2014 10:00am

Unlocking John Scalzi’s Lock In

Lock In John Scalzi review

You know who’s going to love Lock In? John Scalzi fans. If you fit into that category, stop reading and just go buy the book. Read this article later. If, like me, your relationship with John Scalzi is complicated, keep reading.

Once, I loved Scalzi’s work. I found it witty and charming, with a perfect blend of action, humor, and drama. Once, I found his work indulgent and repetitive, with an overreliance on one voice and one perspective to carry the day. In both instances I was convinced I knew who John Scalzi was as a writer.

With Lock In, it’s time to reevaluate again.

[Unlocking Lock In]

Wed
Aug 20 2014 5:00pm

Short and to the Point: We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

We Are All Completely Fine Daryl Gregory review We Are All Completely Fine, recently released by Tachyon Publications, is a fresh novella from Daryl Gregory—clocking in at under two-hundred pages, it’s more or less an afternoon’s reading. The conceit of the piece is that the characters are all part of a therapy group for the “last survivor” (read: Final Girl, Final Boy) of supernatural catastrophe or violence; it’s a fairly metafictional mashup between a Lovecraftian universe and the more staid/predictable world of horror film.

I’m generally pleased to see presses—generally independent or small, like Tachyon—tackling the work of publishing stand-alone novellas; it’s an interesting length and form that doesn’t get as much show-room as it could use. So, while I’m perhaps outside of the general audience for much straight-up horror fiction, I thought I’d give this one a look; the story’s self-referential slyness and Gregory’s talented prose were also motivating factors.

[A review.]