the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for July 2021

If you’ve known me for a while, you know I’m involved with Apex Magazine. I mostly do two things – Author Interviews, and as many shenanigans as the Editors will let me get involved with. Most recent super fun shenanigan was hosting Snap Judgment, a cross between The X Factor, The Gong Show, and speed dating. Check it out on YouTube!

Oh wait, maybe you haven’t known me for a while? Or you have, and we just haven’t talked about Apex Magazine?

Apex Magazine has is known for short fiction that is weird, surreal, and dark – sometimes this is straight up fantasy, sometimes it’s straight up horror, usually it’s somewhere in between. Oftentimes when I get to the end of an Apex story I’m either crying, exclaiming “holy shit!” or reading the story from the beginning to catch all the hints I missed and also just because I want to enjoy the story again. And no joke, the editor in chief, Jason Sizemore, has a titanium jaw.

 

I was going to give a short list of my favorite Apex Stories for you to sample, but this twitter hashtag of   #BackApexMag for reader favorites is better. and now I’m gonna spend all morning in that thread talking to other readers about how much I also loved their favorites!

Oh, audio more your thing?  We got your podcasts right here! Wanna just read the award winners? Here you go!

There are so many Apex stories that I can’t stop thinking about. Stories about siblings who love each other but also are slowly killing each other, stories about people who are looking for a human connection in a cold world, far future stories that play with language and what’s real and how to move forward, southern gothic horror stories, stories about freedom and family and escape and looking others and yourself in the eye.

And don’t even get me started on the non-fiction essays that are must-reads! 

 

Earlier this year in a blog post, I said something about how I love science fiction because it’s about how science works. But that I loved reading certain science fiction books because they were about how people work.

Apex stories are about how people work. I think that’s why they give me #allthefeels all the time.

Apex Magazine was completely funded through Kickstarter for our 2021 issues. And we’re Kickstarting all of 2022 too. What does the money go to? Paying authors, artists, paying for non-fiction essays, paying for hosting the podcast and website, and tossing a coin to the podcast producer, narrators, and staff.

Click here to Visit the Kickstarter Page

Thanks to the first 150 backers or so, the base funding is already secured – we’ll be doing at least 3 issues next year.

But I’d really love to do 6.

I’d really love to see the bonus Asian and Pacific Islanders Authors and Artists issue.

I want to keep reading fiction that makes me shout and cry, I want more authors to get discovered out the slush pile, I want to see more gorgeous artwork, I want the Apex family to grow. I want to keep emailing Jason with messages like “holy shit, that story!”, and get to interview more authors for the magazine, because I’m selfish.

What kind of backer rewards and extra stuff can you get through the kickstarter? Subscriptions, back issues, anthologies, MYSTERY BOXES (I want one of those!), mugs, stickers, bookmarks, Print magazine editions, holy crap there is a ton of cool stuff here!

You got questions about the kickstarter, the magazine, or questions for the editors? Throw ’em in the comments below, and I’ll nag/bribe* Jason and Lesley and the rest of the editorial staff to come on over and answer your question.

And holy shit, did you see this list of all the authors Apex Magazine has ever published? This is basically a list of all my favorite SFF authors who have published in the last 10 years, btw.

And here’s some recent Cover art, because it’s just damn perty.

This Sunday at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific, LIVE on YouTube, I’ll be hosting SNAP JUDGEMENT!

Organized by Apex Magazine, SNAP JUDGEMENT is a rapid fire critique show.  Think The X Factor, but for slush short stories.  As I read short story excerpts, the judges decide if they’d keep reading, or stop and not accept the story. Followed by a short critique period, of why they’d want to read more, or not.  I’ll have seen the excerpts before, but the judges won’t!   Here’s a link to the Apex Magazine website with more info!

it’s live television*   who knows what might happen!

*it’ll  be live streamed on YouTube. is that TV now?

Been reading lately too! 

Finished all three Machineries of Empire books by Yoon Ha Lee, and the series was even better this time. Since I wasn’t so focused on the main story, I was able to pay attention to the little details. and oh, so many little details! This trilogy is sharp, smart, and so many plans with plans. The subtlety! the long game!  Not to mention that Lee’s writing is unbelievably good  and I love ALL the characters so much! Except Kujen, I still think he’s an absolute bag of dicks. The first time I read this trilogy, I am pretty sure I didn’t pick up on anything that was actually happening in the last book.  sometimes, eh, sometimes I’m just not that bright. and I am always, always distracted by fashionable men. 

so yeah, if you haven’t read the Machineries of Empire trilogy, the books are Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem, and Revenant Gun, I highly, highly recommend them.  some pretty rough scenes at the end of Revenant Gun, just saying. 

On a lark, I picked up Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes 1.  This book is transcripts of the first season of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, before authors Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor knew Night Vale was going to become a thing.  Night Vale is a small town in the desert where all conspiracy theories are true, and all the weird shit that happens is completely normal. this is 100% my brand of absurd. 

I know someone has already done so, and is famous for doing so, but I want to read these episodes out loud. The wonderful thing about prose that was designed from day one to be read out loud is the sentences are short. Easy to read without running out of breath. Not too much to stumble over. This book is so fun, that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m avoiding reading it, because I don’t want to run out of episodes. I really enjoy reading these scripts! and there is illustrations! and notes from the authors! it’s so fun!

I think next I’m going to reread either The Narrator by Michael Cisco, Finch by Jeff Vandermeer, or China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh. I’m in a reread mood, what can I say?

 

 

And speaking of absurd, hubs and I are watching Rick and Morty. it’s delightfully absurd and offensive. If you’ve never seen Rick and Morty, imagine if South Park was actually funny, and then make the main character a jaded mad scientist and the other main character his nervous grandson, and you’re sorta getting close. My favorite part of the show is when something happens and my husband laughs.  If you think you might have a sense of humor similar to mine, give Rick and Morty a chance.  totally OK to skip the first couple episodes of season 1. 

We’re only in season 2, so don’t be putting any spoilers in the comments! 

 

in other news, the hostas are nearly done blooming, the viburnum (I think that’s what it is at least) is trying to bloom but isn’t getting enough sunlight, the purple coneflowers are still beautiful, and the yard has an amazing variety of mushrooms because nature is the coolest.  I hacked down that stupid thorn bush in the backyard.  the back screen door needs to have a new screen put it, so after watching a dozen youtube videos I feel confident we can fix it ourselves!

what have you been reading lately? 

seen any cool movies or cool tv shows lately? 

does Snap Judgement sound neat?

What’s fantastic about living in a small town that still has a traditional downtown? Free parking, AND you can go out to dinner and then walk next door to the gigantic bookstore! That’s exactly what we did the other night! Dinner was just ok, but the bookstore was fantastic. I brought home these goodies:

Hmm…  you know, I’m pretty sure I might already have a copy of Day of the Triffids?  but this edition looked so pretty I couldn’t say no.  When Dark Matter by Blake Crouch came out, I remember hearing all sorts of good things about it. And the whole Welcome to Night Vale thing,  that was such a big thing! sampling the first 5 pages of this book, I totally get why.   

I need to write a review of Jillian vs Parasite Planet.  I was telling my little niece about this book, I told her it’s about a girl who does “bring your child to work day”, and my niece says she’s  been to “bring your child to work day” with her mom, and it’s boring.  I can not wait to send her a copy of Jillian vs Parasite Planet and a bag of gummie worms!

what’s been stopping me from writing that review?  among other things, that I’m again obsessed with Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy. Everytime I reread this books, I fall in love with the characters more.  I’m nearly done with book #2, Raven Stratagem, which means I’m going to have to take the plunge and pick up Revenant Gun pretty soon.  Revenant Gun is a hard book for me to read. not hard, like the words are difficult, hard like lots of emotions and we all know that I sometimes fall too deep into stuff like that.  But anyway, if you’ve not yet had the pleasure of reading Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, I can’t recommend these books enough!  Also, Lee wrote bunches of short stories in this world if you want to get your feet wet (imho, the short stories are better if you’ve already read the three novels, but you do you). I really need to read Lee’s Phoenix Extravagant, just haven’t gotten there yet. 

 

oh, you like short stories?  Head over to Apex Magazine, where my review of The Best of World SF by Lavie Tidhar was recently posted.  Sorry in advance, that anthology is going to destroy your TBR. 

I’m loving every day of summer in the country so far.  the beautiful susurrus of wind through the trees, the frogs singing to each other, surprise day lilies blooming everywhere, so many cool (and very poisonous) mushrooms all over our backyard, and who knew hostas had such pretty flowers?  We have hummingbirds!  And super nice neighbors! Being a home owner, I’ve never been so tired in my whole life, but damn do I love living here.   

A story with no romance and friendships stronger than death is hella awesome.

A story with lots of sensuality and healthy relationships, also hella awesome.

I really can’t choose because I get so much satisfaction out of both.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you a bunch of hella awesome things about Benjanun’s Sriduangkaew’s Machine Mandate series:

  • The series is all novellas and short stories
  • it’s a series that all takes place in the same universe, but you can read them in any order.
  • Super kick ass ladies who don’t take shit from anyone
  • Queer representation
  • Sriduangkaew’s prose is fucking gorgeous, and her action scenes are cinematic
  • How the AI’s interact with humanity (and choose not to) is fascinating
  • hard scifi + healthy adult relationships, what?
  • Oh, and the sex is plasma hot

yes, yes, I know I’m behind, there is a ton of stories in this series that I haven’t read yet.

The stories all take place in the same far future world – humanity created AI’s and colonized vast sections of the galaxy. After many generations, the AI’s realized they could probably live a better life without humans, so they ditched us and created their own AI-run communities. Humans gotta human, so there’s plenty of warfare and private armies and political machinations and amazing spaceships and space stations and FTL travel, and plenty of alien creatures for us to do inhumane things to. It’s a big galaxy out there, surely there is plenty of place for people and AI’s to live and not get all up in each other’s business.

Of course everyone is all up in each other’s business. Of course the humans not-so-secretly want to get rid of all ,the AI’s and of course the AI’s are lying when they say “we just want to be left alone, we mean humans no harm”. Cue the drama, trickery, flirting, and revenge, cyborgs, and cinematic action!

The Alabaster Admiral, Admiral Anoushka, shows up in a handful of Machine Mandate stories. Sometimes characters who are up to no good will mention the Alabaster Admiral because they are desperately trying to stay off her radar, and in other stories the Admiral is one of the main characters.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.