The End of the End of Everything April 23, 2014 The End of the End of Everything Dale Bailey How do you face ruin? Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites.
From The Blog
April 19, 2014
Announcing the 2014 Hugo Award Nominees
Tor.com
April 18, 2014
Wings Gleaming Like Beaten Bronze: Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky Trilogy
Liz Bourke
April 17, 2014
Gaming Roundup: PAX East Edition
Pritpaul Bains and Theresa DeLucci
April 16, 2014
Victorian-era Magical Societies, Telepathy, and Interplanetary Space Travel
Felix Gilman
April 13, 2014
Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”
Theresa DeLucci
Showing posts by: Brit Mandelo click to see Brit Mandelo's profile
Tue
Apr 15 2014 2:00pm

Since it happens to be poetry month, the time seems more or less just right for talking about the transitional last print issue of long-running speculative poetry magazine Mythic Delirium. It’s issue #30, and in honor the magazine’s Kickstarter funded shift to digital publication and a new format, editor Mike Allen had gathered up a retrospective from the past fifteen years’ worth of issues—poems ranging from the first from their first issue, to the most recent MD poem to win a Rhysling Award.

It is an interesting sort of project, a goodbye to the old and a remembrance of the past that also happens to be signaling a fresh start for the magazine, with different guiding principles and a radically different format. I look forward to seeing what the Allens (Mike and Anita) do with the upcoming magazine, but for now, there’s the retrospective issue and the poems in it.

[A review.]

Tue
Apr 15 2014 12:00pm

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. In my last installment we returned to Lightspeed Magazine to look at a few recent stories; this week, I’d like to shift focus to another magazine I haven’t talked so much about: Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Their April issue contains two stories, “Golden Daughter, Stone Wife” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew and “At the Edge of the Sea” by Raphael Ordoñez.

I feel like I keep running into stories by Sriduangkaew—I know I’ve covered at least a few in this column series! Seems like this is a good year for her work, too, because I have enjoyed the majority of those stories. A name I hadn’t encountered before, though, was Ordoñez, who according to good ol’ ISFDB is a fairly new writer (first professional publications in 2013). His work has appeared primarily in past issues of BCS.

[Onward.]

Wed
Apr 2 2014 2:00pm

Steles of the Sky Elizabeth Bear In the concluding volume of Elizabeth Bear’s gripping and immersive Eternal Sky trilogy, following Range of Ghosts (reviewed here) and Shattered Pillars (reviewed here), the webs of alliances, betrayals, and enmities that have grown up alongside the complex and rather large cast of these novels must finally come to a head. Re Temur and his band of allies seek to defend his claim as Khagan against the armies of his usurping cousin and to end the havoc wrought by al-Sepehr across the myriad kingdoms of the continent—no short order for a somewhat ragtag group of wizards, deposed rulers, and refugees.

Steles of the Sky has a great deal of momentum and expectation to live up to, and ultimately, it more than fulfills those expectations: it’s a powerful, fast-paced, provocative conclusion that maintains the series’ delightful and unique balance between the epic and the intimate. Building on the strengths of the prior volumes—their diversity of cast, the rich tapestry of different characters and cultures that create this world; the grit and realism of suffering paired with the small and necessary pleasures of strong bonds (romantic and platonic) and shared experience; et cetera—this final installment concludes what is perhaps, to my eye, the most significant epic fantasy published in the last decade.

[A review.]

Tue
Apr 1 2014 12:00pm

Lightspeed Magazine issue 46 Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. In our last installment, I talked about the winter issue of small magazine Ideomancer (12.4) and its three lyrical short stories. This time around, I’d like to talk about a few more pieces of short fiction, these from the most recent issue of Lightspeed Magazine: two original stories, “How to Get Back to the Forest” by Sofia Samatar and “A Different Fate” by Kat Howard,“ as well as one reprint, ”Turnover" by Jo Walton.

These three stories all share a structural similarity, though their thematic centers are quite different, and that’s their open-endedness paired with a particular sort of self-reflexivity. Each story is an exploration of an idea and/or occurrence without a concrete resolution; each is structured primarily around the protagonist thinking about or reflecting back on this thing, be it (in the case of the Walton story) an idea for the future or (in the other two) a haunting occurrence in the past.

[A discussion.]

Tue
Mar 18 2014 5:00pm

Hal Duncan Rhapsody Notes on Strange Fictions Hal Duncan, in Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fictions, turns a critical eye to the genre of SF—considering not just the turf wars and definitional spats, but also the deeper functions and facilities of the “strange fiction” mode in literature. Employing sardonic and often cutting analysis delivered within convincing theoretical frames, Duncan deposes various received-wisdom ideas about the genre and offers in their place a well-reasoned, thorough conceptualization of what it is we’re talking about when we talk about SF.

Rhapsody, though it is Duncan’s first long-form critical work, is a strong and elegant—and sometimes wickedly crass—project, complexly argued and incisive while also managing to remain eminently readable and engaging.

[A review.]

Fri
Mar 14 2014 1:00pm

Scruffians Hal Duncan Scruffians! by Hal Duncan, releasing in early April from Lethe Press, is a wickedly entertaining collection of short fiction fantastical and queer in nature—full of “scruffians and scamps and sodomites,” with some pirates and fairies besides. These stories range from comedic romps to lyrical and meditative explorations on the nature of meaning-making, while Duncan’s engaging and clever voice resonates throughout as a strong thread connecting the various different sorts of pieces.

Duncan has published two chapbooks of short fiction—An A to Z of the Fantastic City (Small Beer Press) and Errata (New Sodom Press)—but Scruffians! is his first full-length collection of short stories, containing work published from 2005 onward. Two of the fifteen stories collected are original to the book: “How a Scruffian Gets Their Name” and “The Shoulder of Pelops.” The first several stories also form a neat group of their own, continually expanding and recursively building the mythology and potential of the titular Scruffians.

[A review.]

Thu
Mar 6 2014 11:30am

Lambda Literary Awards The 26th Annual Lambda Awards nominees have been announced, including the LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror category. The Lambda Awards, as the press release says, “celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2013.” The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Monday June 2, 2014.

All of this year’s nominees are published by small presses; four of the nominees by Lethe Press, whose books are often part of the Queering SFF conversation. Another, Mary Anne Mohanraj’s The Stars Change, was reviewed in this series last year.

[And the nominees are:]

Tue
Mar 4 2014 3:00pm

ideomancer magazine 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 two stories from the February issue of Clarkesworld Magazine—one reprint, one original to the issue. This time around, I’d like to shift focus to a small but long-running magazine that I haven’t yet talked about: Ideomancer.

Ideomancer has been publishing imaginative fiction quarterly since 2002, and is currently run by the inestimable Leah Bobet as publisher and editor alongside a team of associate and departmental editors. Volume 12 Issue 4 (from December 2013) features three short stories: “Thread” by A. Merc Rustad, “The Mammoth” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, and “The Last Summer” by Michael Matheson. The issue also features poetry and reviews.

[Onward.]

Sat
Feb 22 2014 9:00am

Joanna Russ birthdayWhile researching for We Wuz Pushed: On Joanna Russ and Radical Truth-Telling, I developed a passionate engagement with Russ’s astounding, provocative body of work—and I had intended, at the time, to write her a letter upon completion of the project to thank her for her contributions to feminism, science fiction, and queer scholarship. Unfortunately, on April 29th 2011, Joanna Russ passed away; I had not written or sent that letter.

So, I go back to that initial desire now, to celebrate Russ’s birthday and the imprint her writings left on me, the SF genre, and the wider community of scholars and critics in which she participated.

[Read More]

Tue
Feb 18 2014 12:00pm

Clarkesworld February 2014 Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. Last installment, we talked about a couple of recent short stories by Ursula Vernon and Benjanun Sriduangkaew. This time around, I’d like to talk about two pieces from the February ’14 issue 250 of Clarkesworld: one a reprint, “Infinities” by Vandana Singh, and one original to the issue, “Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable” by Cat Rambo.

The Singh story was first published in her collection The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories and also reprinted in several places including Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection. This is the second time I’ve read it, and the first time—to my knowledge—it’s been available online. As for the Cat Rambo, it’s also science fictional, but in a very different sense; it’s interesting to see these two stories paired in the same issue (alongside other solid pieces as well by Natalia Theodoridou, An Owomoyela, and John Barnes).

[Onward.]

Tue
Feb 4 2014 6:00pm

One of Prime Books’ most recent collections, Handsome Devil: Stories of Sin and Seduction takes on the task of gathering together tales about incubi and other “handsome devils.” I often find these themed collections hit-or-miss, depending on the subject matter—I, for example, do not care much about zombie stories—but this particular theme seemed intriguing enough. As the collection’s editor, Steve Berman, notes in his introduction, this is a fraught but itself seductive topic for people from far in the past up to today.

These stories of seduction and “sin” range from the playful to the extremely dark; given the topic, it’s no surprise that a few of these stories cover uncomfortable territory in terms of consent and violence. For the most part, however, these are stories about desire and magic, stories where there is a cost for getting what you want—but sometimes it’s worth paying. And that idea, of the cost of magic, is a familiar one in plenty of fantastical stories.

[A review.]

Tue
Feb 4 2014 12:30pm

Apex Magazine Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. Last time around I discussed the novella Cry Murder! In a Small Voice by Greer Gilman, published by Small Beer Press. For this week, there are a couple of recent short stories I wanted to talk about: “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew in Clarkesworld (Dec. ’13) and “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon in Apex (Jan. ’14).

Benjanun Sriduangkaew is a Thai writer whose name has been coming to my attention more and more, recently—in fact, I discussed one of her stories from Clockwork Phoenix 4 in a previous SFS post. She often writes complexly gendered characters in equally complex science-fictional settings, and “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” is another of these sorts of stories. Ursula Vernon, on the other hand, is a familiar name to many already: she’s the person behind the comic Digger, which won a Hugo in 2012 for Best Graphic Story. “Jackalope Wives” is a prose piece—traditional short fiction, if you will—and it also deals with gender and the cost of wants, though in a different way.

[Onward.]

Fri
Jan 31 2014 12:30pm

The Hollows Kim Harrison The Undead Pool Rachel Morgan is back in the penultimate volume of Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, older and wiser after the large-scale catastrophes of the past several books. The Undead Pool begins with a cluster of problems: magic is misfiring with deadly repercussions in waves across Cincinnati, the undead vampire masters are asleep and not waking up, and tensions between humans and the other species—not to mention between those other species themselves—are on the rise. And then there are Rachel’s personal issues, her relationship to elf Trent Kalamack and her standing in the ever-after as a demon not the least of them.

Harrison’s Hollows novels are some of the better urban fantasy offerings out there. The world-building is complex and solid, decidedly science-fictional despite its supernatural aspects, and the cast of characters is immensely engaging. Though sometimes comedic or playful—these books are often adventurous romps—Harrison maintains a core concern with the ongoing growth and development of the characters and their world.

And, on those scores, The Undead Pool doesn’t disappoint.

[A review]

Mon
Jan 27 2014 3:00pm

Red Caps Steve Berman Being a queer teenager can be tough—particularly when you have to deal with strange magic, or vampires, or trying to make a relationship work in the complicated ecosystem of high school. The stories in Red Caps, all queer YA and some speculative, deal with these issues and more. Red Caps reprints much of Berman’s work from 2007 onward, including stories originally appearing in Ellen Datlow anthologies such as Teeth and The Beastly Bride. There is one piece original to the anthology—“A Calenture of the Jungle”—as well as illustrations by various artists scattered among the thirteen tales within.

Berman is often recognized for his role as head of Lethe Press (there’s an interview with him from the early days of QSFF, here), or as editor of anthologies such as Heiresses of Russ: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction and Wilde Stories: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction. However, as regular readers of young adult fiction in the genre will know, he also writes quite a bit; his novel Vintage: A Ghost Story was a nominee for the Andre Norton Award in 2008, and he has also published two shorter collections of stories prior to Red Caps.

[Onward.]

Tue
Jan 21 2014 4:00pm

Cry Murder! in a Small Voice by Greer GilmanWelcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. In the last installment we discussed a few short stories published throughout 2013 that I hadn’t yet had a chance to talk about. This time, I’d like to discuss a novella, published as a chapbook in September by Small Beer Press: Cry Murder! In a Small Voice by Greer Gilman. In simple terms, Cry Murder! follows Ben Jonson—yes, that Ben Jonson—as he attempts to solve and stop the murders of player-boys in London.

In more complex ones, it’s about transformation, trauma, and the supernatural; gender, the stage, and the ghosts of history. It’s probably no surprise that I adored it. Between the richly realized setting, the clever haunting of the text with the poets and playwrights who loom large in the English tradition, and the stunning prose, I was enamored from the first—and my appreciation didn’t dwindle as I kept reading.

[Onward.]

Fri
Jan 17 2014 1:30pm

As Red Delicious makes abundantly clear from the start, Siobhan Quinn the werepire has a lot of problems: monster hunting ex-priests, succubi, and her own mile-wide self-destructive streak to name a few. When her handler and keeper, Mr. B, tells her to look into the missing daughter of one of Providence’s oldest necromantic families, things do not go well, possibly because she’s no detective and possibly because there’s far more at stake than the apparent disappearance. The story that follows is, of course, of questionable provenance—as Quinn frequently reminds the reader, she lies constantly—but it is entertaining.

Red Delicious follows on the heels of 2013’s Blood Oranges (reviewed here), of which I was fairly fond. These novels are a fine balance between parodying urban fantasy and being urban fantasy: a little grim and a lot tongue-in-cheek, Quinn as narrator never allows the reader to forget for particularly long that they’re reading a book, with all of the regular fourth-wall breaking that that implies.

And she’s not particularly fond of the genre that her book falls in, either.

[Read More]

Tue
Jan 7 2014 1:00pm

Short Fiction Spotlight John Chu The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. Last time around we talked about two recent novelettes from Lightspeed (one by Christopher Barzak and one by Ken Liu). In this installment, still looking at the wide world of short fiction periodicals, there are a few more stories I’d like to draw a little attention to: “Stage Blood” by Kat Howard, “Karina Who Kissed Spacetime” by Indrapramit Das, and “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu.

When I say recent, of course, I’m being slightly generous: the Chu story was published on Tor.com in February, while the Howard and Das pieces are both from this past summer (in Subterranean and Apex Magazine, respectively). But as the season nears for recommended-reading (and awards ballots) I’ve been doing some brushing up on pieces from earlier in the year. These were the ones, out of the bunch, that I most wanted to chat about this week.

[Onward to the discussion.]

Wed
Dec 18 2013 10:00am
Original Story

Few things can be as terrible as to get your heart’s desire.

This original short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “The Writ of Years” by Brit Mandelo]

Tue
Dec 17 2013 1:00pm

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. Last time around we discussed a new Ted Chiang novelette, “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling.” To continue that theme, this week I’d like to talk about two more recent novelettes—both, in this case, published in Lightspeed—that have caught my eye: “Paranormal Romance” by Christopher Barzak and “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” by Ken Liu.

Generally, I’m fond of the novelette. It’s a length that seems to lend itself, as plenty of people have argued before me, to speculative fiction: long enough to explore, short enough not to sprawl. These are both on the short end of the novelette spectrum, of course, but I think they’re also both solid stories—though in somewhat different ways.

[A discussion.]

Tue
Dec 3 2013 3:00pm

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. While we’ve been discussing quite a lot of anthologies, recently, the periodicals have continued publishing great work—and this week, I can’t resist talking about a story that has been attracting plenty of well-deserved attention: “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling,” by Ted Chiang, published in the Fall 2013 issue of Subterranean Magazine.

Chiang, winner of multiple Nebula Awards (as well as Hugo Awards, Locus Awards, and a fistful of other accolades), is not a remarkably prolific writer—so, it’s always a delight to see a new piece of work from him. The fact that this novelette is free to read online is doubly nice. And, triply-nice, it’s also very good.

[A discussion.]