the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘science fiction

this blog post is part of Apex Magazine’s Operation Fourth Story. If Apex picks up enough new subscribers this month, they’ll be able to include a fourth original story in future issues, and how awesome would that be! Click here for more info about Operation Fourth Story. Already a subscriber? click here. But don’t just take my word for it,  check out these other recent Apex Magazine blog posts:

Books, Bones, and Buffy interviews Cameron Salisbury, Managing Editor

Two Dudes in an Attic reviews Issue 55 (Dec 2013)

Bibliotropic reviews Issue 58 (March 2014)

Lynn’s Book Blog reviews issue 57 (Feb 2014)

Over the Effing Rainbow reviews issue 59 (April 2014)

Beauty in Ruins reviews issue 54 (Nov 2013)

Genre-Bending reviews issue 55 (Dec 2013)

new!  Bibliosanctum reviews issue 58 (March 2014)

apex 58

And for those of you who would like to take my word for it, here are my thoughts on issue 58, the March 2014 issue:

I’m yet another newbie when it comes to short fiction magazines. I’ve subscribed to Asimov’s for maybe two years now, and have picked up the occasional promotional issue of short fiction magazines at conventions and bookstores and such. But these new fangled electronic magazines you say? Read it on my phone or e-reader, you say? say WHAT?

Once I got over the omg this magazine is on my phone thing, I suddenly realized omg this magazine is on my phone, this is wonderful! I don’t need to worry about it not fitting in my purse or getting all mangled in my purse (a part of me is still mourning that poor, poor issue of Asimov’s that I shoved in my purse and it got completely mangled by my keys), or it getting soaked in the mailbox (the fate of too many Asimov’s). okay, so having Apex Magazine on my phone is pretty neat. And hello gorgeous cover art! Julie Dillon is one of my favorite artists! ok, so it’s pretty to look at, as portable as chapstick, and easy to navigate, but what about what’s in it?

Each issue of Apex Magazine includes a short note from the editor, a few short stories, poetry, interviews, and a non-fiction essay about issues that are near and dear to genre fans. The March issue opens with a short essay from Editor Sigrid Ellis (who I recently interviewed), where she talks about crossroads, the fine line between flying and falling, thresholds, and breaking through those thresholds, deciding if we are falling or if we are no, flying. She’s not just randomly talking about decision trees, she’s introducing you to what lies in the pages ahead. Characters in transitions, characters who are standing at the precipice, people at the cross roads of what will define the rest of their life. And you know what? Falling or flying, it’s up to the person in the air to decide which verb applies to them.

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fry APEXApex Magazine is know for feeding your need for weird, speculative, surprising, sometimes shocking, and always satisfying short fiction.

And now they want to feed that need even more.

Lesley Conner explains it best on the Apex Magazine website:

So far 2014 has been a good year for Apex Magazine. We have a new editorial team, led by Editor-in-chief Sigrid Ellis, submissions and web readership are at record levels, and yearly subscribers are on a steady rise.

With this in mind, we’ve decided we want to take the magazine to a new level. We want to make it bigger and better than it already is. We want to give you more.

Launch Operation Fourth Story!

Over the next two weeks (April 3rd to April 17th) we’re going to be showcasing Apex Magazine – and short fiction in general – here on the Apex blog and across the web. Every day we’ll have guest posts from authors, editors, and bloggers about the importance of short fiction. Several bloggers will be reviewing issues of Apex Magazine, and there will be guest posts and interviews with the Apex Magazine crew popping up everywhere.

Our goal is to get 250 new subscribers. If we meet this goal, then we’ll have the revenue to add a fourth piece of original short fiction to every issue. That means more stories from the authors we love, more new talent being found amid the slush piles. It means Apex Magazine will bigger and better than ever.

Click here to visit the Apex Blog and read the rest of the press release. There are links to subscription options,everything you need.

 

 

I’ll be posting about Apex Magazine, I’ll be linking to others who are posting about Apex Magazine, it’s gonna be an Apex themed party. (and Apex throws a hell of a party, trust me, I’ve been to one!)

so, discussion time in the comments:  what’s your favorite thing about short fiction? What are some of your favorite short stories?

 

gemsigns USGemsigns by Stephanie Saulter (®Evolution Book 1)

published in the UK April 2014, US May 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Jo Fletcher books!)

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Plagued by an often fatal syndrome, it was the miracle of genetic manipulation that allowed humanity to survive and to ensure that future generations would live in a world safe from disease, from birth defects, and from congenital conditions. The corporations known as Gemtechs who developed these life saving technologies were quick to realize that their boon to society was directly linked to vast profits and additional technological developments. Children born under the auspices of the Gemtechs were designed with vast genetic manipulations, everything from extended eyesight to super strength, to savants of all kinds. The property of a Gemtech from the day of their birth, they knew nothing except a life of indentured servitude.

Until now.

Gemsigns takes place  a year after the Declaration, the piece of legislation that gave the Genetically Modified People (known as “gems”) a modicum of human rights and the legal ability to separate themselves from their parent Gemtechs and integrate into regular society. Forced to display their “gemsigns”, usually naturally florescently colored hair,the gems know every instant of every day that they are different, and that normal humans see them as inferior, dangerous, and other. The big question is, are they as human as you and me? Because if they are, don’t they deserve human rights?

Dr. Eli Walker has been hired to research the situations of gems who are integrating. After generations of forced servitude (let’s just call it what it is: slavery), how are the gems handling finding a job that meets their abilities, or paying their rent? Are they becoming too dependent on social services? After one particularly violent interaction where a norm child was killed, can any gem even be trusted around normal children? Dr. Walker has his work cut out for him, and the European Conference on the Status of Genetically Modified Humans is right around the corner. This will be a landmark moment for the gems, either providing them full human rights, or solidifying their legal permanent status as slaves. Legal status aside, is humanity ready or even able to accept as equals those they have seen as inferior?

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survivalSurvival (Species Imperiative #1), by Julie Czerneda

published in 2004

where I got it: purchased used

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Just because we’ve traveled to the stars and met with aliens doesn’t mean everyone wants to travel to the stars and hang out with aliens. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Mackenzie Connor  is perfectly happy to study salmon at the Norcoast research facility, working with other quirky research scientists and grad students.  Why should she care about aliens, outlying human colonies, or a dead spot in the galaxy, when all her salmon are doing just fine?

Let me save you a lot of reading by simply saying Julie Czerneda’s Survival is damn near perfect. There is no possible way to cram all the awesome of Survival into one review, so I won’t torture us by trying. But by all means, keep reading. Excellently researched and presented hard science fiction, characters in difficult situations, betrayal, aliens, and genocide, it took me a while to write this review because my brain was so Wow’d by the implications of what I’d read.

As there’s a big blue alien on the cover of the book, it’s no spoiler to tell you that an alien, a Dhryn to be specific, visits Norcoast. Instead of being flattered that the first Dhryn to ever visit the Earth has chosen her research facility to visit, Mac is less than thrilled to have her meticulously timed research interrupted by a huge alien name Brymn.  When I first met her, Mac reminded me of Dr. Ellie Arroway from Carl Sagan’s Contact. Both women are so very focused on their fields of research, that they take it as a personal insult whenever someone tries to interrupt their studies.  And it’s not just an alien who visits Norcoast, it’s the entourage of political hanger ons and the media, all stomping all over the place. So much for this season’s salmon spawning research.

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2014-03-11 21.05.42The Door Into Summer, by Robert Heinlein

published in 1956

where I got it: paperback swap

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I’ve been in a reading slump lately.  Books seem to feel the same, not much has grabbed me lately, I seem to have burned myself out on epic fantasy for a while, and damnit, there is still two feet of snow on the ground. I need some nice weather, and  I need a book that reads like a sunny day, something that’s fun as hell and won’t demand anything of me in return.  I need a door into summer.

Does that cover art look familiar? if you’ve got this printing, do NOT read the blurb on the back. It spoils the surprise.

Dan’s cat Pete hates the snow.  In the winter, the cat still wants to do his business outside, and will insist that Dan open every door in the house. Because Pete’s pretty sure that one of these cold winter days, one of those doors will  be a door into summer.

The year is 1970, and Dan Davis is a brilliant engineer, but a horrible judge of character. Knowing he hasn’t got a head for business, Dan and his friend Miles go into business, with Miles doing all the accounting and paperwork, and Dan making all the inventions.  It was going swimmingly until the gorgeous Belle showed up. It was hysterical to me how Dan describes Belle in engineering-talk.  Belle plays both men for fools, gets Miles to do her dirty work, and in a sneaky round about way convinces Dan to go for Long Sleep. Dan is happy to leave this sorry, heartbroken world behind, so long as his beloved cat, Pete, can go in the coffin with him.  He even comes up with a foolproof plan to make sure the one human being he still cares about, a little girl named Ricki, will be taken care of financially.

The Long Sleep isn’t death, it’s a hypethermia of sorts. You pay an insurance company to put you in hypothermic hibernation, and you wake up 5 years later, ten years later, or whatever period of time you choose. Maybe the world won’t suck as bad, maybe a cure will have been found for whatever is killing you. Doesn’t matter the reasons, companies have found they can make a fortune offering the service, and consumers are drawn in by the idea that they can invest some money, take the long sleep, and be millionaires when they wake up. What could possibly go wrong?

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exodus towersThe Exodus Towers by Jason M. Hough (Dire Earth, book 2)

published in 2013

where I got it: borrowed from a friend

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This is the second book in Jason M. Hough’s Dire Earth Cycle, and due to some very important plot points revealed at the end of the first book in the series, The Darwin Elevator, there will be unavoidable spoilers in this review for the first book.

 

The Darwin Elevator was fun, but it certainly wasn’t my favorite book. Friends of mine kept telling me to give The Exodus Towers a try, that the series got better.  And they were right.  This second novel is far and away better than the first. The pacing is tighter, the characterization is better, the alien technologies are described better, the stakes are higher, the tension is built in a more effective way, it’s just a much better written book all the way around.

 

At the end of the first book, a second elevator plunged to earth, landing in Belem, Brazil.  The stations and levels that escaped the Darwin elevator were able to attach to this new elevator, and since then, Tania Sharma and Skyler Luiken have been slowly but surely building a new colony.  Hampered by a low population but helped by  mobile towers that protect from the Subs virus, it’s slow going.  Skyler spends most of his time on the ground scouting, and Tania is up in the elevator.  She takes comfort in group decisions, being cautious with their limited resources, and not taking action until a sure course is decided on. Skyler on the other hand, is comfortable making snap decisions with incomplete information.

 

Tania has lived the protected life of an orbital scientist, where if it takes two weeks to come to a decision it won’t really matter, whereas Skyler is more used to running from Subs and needing to grab scavenged cargo as fast as possible.  I enjoyed watching the two of them play off of each other, and I appreciated the time Hough took to really develop their personality differences.  So many times, they are both right, or both wrong, and sometimes they even see it.  There is some obvious chemistry between the two of them, but Hough keeps their relationship complicated instead of taking the easy route of allowing them an easy or simple romantic relationship.  

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While you are waiting with baited breath for the two book reviews I’m working on, check out these give aways. Because we all need more books, right?

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My Shelf Confessions is giving away a copy of The Book of Apex, Vol 4

And speaking of Apex Books, they are giving away a copy of Midnight, by Mari Adkins

Win a 5-pack of cozy mystery novels from My Bookish Ways, and while you’re over there, enter to win a copy of The Troop, by Nick Cutter

In celebration of World Book Day, Over the Effing Rainbow is giving away a limited edition, signed copy of Sebastien de Castell’s debut Traitor’s Blade.  an autographed, numbered copy? holy crap!

traitors blade

like Tad Williams? Tachyon Publications is giving away an ARC of The Very Best of Tad Williams

Win a copy of James. S.A. Corey’s Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist

There’s a copy of Hounded by Kevin Hearne up for grabs through Goodreads. While you’re over there, make sure to enter for a copy of Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Outherbound

Over at She Wolf Reads, you can win a copy of Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong!

intrigued by A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias? I am.  Let’s go win a copy over at Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

a copy of Jaime Lee Moyer’s debut novel Delia’s Shadow is being given away at Rainy Day Ramblings

 

 

no book reviews or interviews ready.

So you get photos instead.  Here be book pr0n.

Broken Kingdoms Jemisinoh hell yeah! As a tease I had it sitting on my desk at work.  SO wanted to start reading it, but had to, like, work.  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the  only Jemisin I’ve read so far, and thanks to that book I will forever buy anything with her name on it.

Defenders McIntoshWill McIntosh has a new book coming out soon in May from Orbit!  Creative cover design of Love Minus Eighty and the unusual binding of this ARC leads me to wonder what incredible cover design is in store for the finished copy of Defenders?  And speaking of Defenders, I also have

asimovs april may 2014Which features McIntosh’s short story Scout, which is connected to Defenders. Also? I fucking love Robert Reed. I have an e-arc of The Memory of Sky which I can’t wait to start reading! And by the way, Scout made me cry at the end.

Hollow World sullivan

I’ve never read any Michael Sullivan, what does every one think of him writing scifi? This baby comes out from Tachyon in April.

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This interview is part of the Book of Apex Blog tour.  Want to win a copy of the book for yourself? Click here for some give aways!

What a great experience to get to interview Tim Susman, author of Erzulie Dantor (read the story here, read my review here).  I knew that Tim was involved with small press publishing, but until now I had no idea it was his press that published Ursula Vernon’s Hugo Award winning Digger!  How cool is that?  You can learn more about Tim at his website, but before you click on that, let’s do the interview, ok?

TimSusman

LRR: Your story “Erzulie Dantor” takes place in a disaster ravaged Haiti. Can you tell us what inspired this story?

T.S.: My sister-in-law organized a relief effort from the hospital in Denver where she worked and went with them to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. We followed the pictures and stories she sent back, which painted a vivid picture of the devastation and desperation there. That was in the back of my mind when I was researching werewolves of different cultures and found the Haitian je-rouge. It was a mysterious creature in legend and also on the Internet; I could find very little about it. So it occurred to me that where there is disaster and tragedy, there are also people willing to take advantage of the disorientation of others. From there, a story about jealousy and voodoo took place, and when I found Erzulie Dantor in the pantheon of Haitian gods, I had the last piece of the story.

LRR: What is your favorite type of fiction to write? Are there certain ideas or themes you enjoy writing about?

T.S.: I have in the past couple years written science fiction, fantasy, contemporary fiction, mystery, and horror…but if you pin me down to one, I like writing contemporary fantasy. A lot of my longer fiction is written with anthropomorphic animal characters (“furry” stories, about which more below); no matter what the setting, it’s always the characters that push me to finish stories. My works often involve questions of self-discovery or self-actualization, especially in the areas of sexuality or creative inspiration. I don’t like “message” stories, but I think that the best works do contain something that the reader can take away to make his or her life better, and that’s something I try to include in all my work.
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As the Book of Apex Book 4 tour continues, I find myself interacting with more and more of the authors, be it on twitter, or reading their guest posts and interview on other blogs, or interviewing them here.  I’ll let you in on a little secret about how I come up with interview questions: I check out the author’s website. I read their recent blog posts, I look at different projects they are involved in, I wanna know what their deal is.  After a quick glance through Cecil Castellucci’s website, I e-mailed a friend of mine and said “have you looked at her website? this woman is awesome!”.  The more I looked at Cecil’s site and everything she’s involved with, the more often I found myself picking my jaw up off the floor. This woman is involved with everything, she does everything, she’s passionate about literature and storytelling and youth literacy programs. She does everything.  It’s inspirational, is what it is.

Wanna know more about Cecil Castellucci? Of course you do!  let’s get to the interview!

cecil-castellucci-author-2013

LRR:  I’m not usually a fan of zombie stories, but I really enjoyed your Apex story, “Always The Same. Until It Is Not”.  Did I interpret it right? Is the guy a zombie? And what inspired this story?

 C.C. Yes!  You got it right.  He is a zombie.  To be honest, I’m a little freaked out by zombies.  They really are creepy.  Writing this story was a way for me to try to confront my fear of zombies.  I tried to think of it as a way to own my fear.  The idea came after I’d talked with an acquaintance who writes for The Walking Dead.  I swore I’d never watch the show.  Then she sort of challenged me on that because she knows I like a good story.  I started thinking about how it’s always an infection that takes over like wildfire and then descends the world into a nightmare.  I thought, what if I switch what “infection” and “descent” means?  So in this story the infection is humanity and the descent is the rise of it.  It’s sort of the after of the after.

LRR: I’m also a huge fan of your short story “We Have Always Lived on Mars” (Tor.com May 2013). What inspired this story, and without spoiling the ending, can you tell us how you hit on that twist?

 

CC: Oh, I’m so glad that you like that story! I think it’s safe to say that Mars has always been a place where we humans have longed to settle.  It’s close enough to us that we could actually go there, but far away enough that if something happened there or here it’d be hard to get to or get off of.  Right now, there is a lot of Mars love and attention with things like that Mars One and us landing Curiousity on Mars and the Mock Mars missions that they have on Earth in Antarctica, Northern Canada and Utah.  It was a combination of these things that inspired the story.  I wondered what it would be like to be a girl born on Mars who had been cut off from Earth, living in a colony that had no room to grow because it had no supplies with which to expand.  I can’t say more than that or I’ll spoil it!

tin star cover

LRR: Congratulations on your soon to be released Tin Star! What’s the quick elevator pitch for  Tin Star?

 

CC: Tin Star is the story of a girl named Tula Bane, a colonist from Earth who gets abandoned on an alien space station by the charismatic cult leader of her ship at the brink of a Galactic war.  She’s the only human there and human’s are not well liked.

LRR: You’re incredibly active in your local community, hosting teen writing workshops at the library, being continually active in the local arts scene, even reading at local elementary schools.  Can you tell us a little about your passion for the local arts scene and especially  youth fiction and reading?

wrinkle in time

CC: Yes it is true that I am super active in the LA literary scene.  I am very passionate about reading and literacy because I love stories and I really believe that books and stories allow us to see past the boundaries of our day to day life.  It allows us to dream and stretch and grow and travel and see possibilities for different ways of living.  That is especially important when you are in low economic circumstances.  I work at a Title One elementary school doing read aloud to first and second graders.  I’ve been doing it for 12 years now, working with the same two teachers and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I read books, this year it’s The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo to the first graders and A Wrinkle in Time with the second graders.  We take forever reading the book because I stop and talk about every little detail and we use the book to talk about how stories are told, style, history, science, everything!  As for the LAPL Teen Author Reading series that I run, there is one in NY and I know a lot of authors here, so I work with Mary McCoy at LAPL and we coordinate the series together.  I thought LA needed one!  Also, I co edit the LA Review of Books YA / Children’s section.  Mostly we run essays and thought pieces about young people’s literature.  I do these things because I am passionate about young people’s literature and these are ways that I can get our field to be sitting at the big kids table in the larger literary world.  Also, because I think that we fall in love with reading when we are young and that is when we become life long readers.

LRR: You manage the fascinating “Letters for Kids”, where kids get a letter in the mail from an author. What a fantastic idea! What other authors are involved in this, and what’s the most creative letter that has been sent?

 

CC: It is a great idea!  Stephen Elliot who runs the Rumpus asked me to coordinate the Rumpus Letters for Kids, after the wildly succesful Letters in the Mail for adults.  It’s kind of a perfect thing, because I think our sweet spot is about 6 -10 and that’s a perfect age to be getting letters in the mail.  By they way, you don’t have to be a kid to subscribe, anyone can subscribe! Even classrooms!  You get a letter from middle grade author twice a month.  It’s great fun!  Some of the authors who have written letters are Rebecca Stead, Susan Patron, Natalie Standiford, Lisa Yee, Janet Tashijian, Arthur Slade, Bobbledy Books.  They are so good!  I have a few favorites, but of course, it’s hard because they are all so different!  But Adam Rex did an original comic story. (you can see it here http://therumpus.net/2012/12/letters-for-kids/ )  Sherri L Smith wrote an original short story and this guy Nolan O’Brien did an amazing thing with circles.  It’s truly a brilliant thing, and I would have totally subscribed to Letters for Kids when I was young.

plain janes

LRR: Your graphic novel Plain Janes was a kick-off publication for the  D.C. Comics Minx imprint. The imprint didn’t last, but Plain Janes did very well. Would you consider doing graphic novels again? 

year of the beasts

CC: Of course!  And I still have!  For the record, Vertigo reprinted The Plain Janes, so it’s still available.  And you can still get the sequel Janes in Love.  I have actually written many other comics!  I did a hybrid novel called The Year of the Beasts with Nate Powell.  It’s alternating chapters of prose and graphic novel.  I also had a ghost story in Vertigo’s ghost anthology, a comet story in the SPACE anthology over at IDW, an Aquaman/ Mera love story in the Young Romance issue #1, I wrote Green Lantern: The Animated Series issue #11 and most recently I had a comic book for little kids called Odd Duck illustrated by Sara Varon on First Second.  Upcoming in early 2015 I have a graphic novel called Pearl in the Rough illustrated by Joe Infurnari out on Dark Horse.  It’s about a girl who rides the rails in 1932 with an old hobo.  So I’d say that at this point I consider myself a YA author and a comic book writer!

odd duck

well, that’s what I get for not researching Cecil enough on her website. Otherwise I would have known about Odd Duck, Year of the Beasts, and her other graphic novels.  Don’t make the same mistake I did!  Learn more about Cecil on her website, or by following her on twitter.


About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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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.