RogerBW's Blog

Strange Horizons, September 2019 14 October 2019

Strange Horizons is a weekly on-line magazine edited by Vanessa Rose Phin.

Everything is available in HTML from the magazine's site. I'm collecting all five of September's issues here because that's about the size of collection I feel happy to review in a single blog post.

2 September

The Head by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur: a woman finds a head floating in her toilet, formed from her body waste. And it follows her to other toilets… I assume the author is trying for phantasmagoria, but it's so obviously trying to be weird that for me it loses its effect. That might be an artefact of translation, I suppose.

Guests from the Sky by Ji Yun, translated by Yi Izzy Yu and John Yu Branscum: a man becomes a fairy's lover, wastes away and dies. Be content with your lot, peasant! Still, this is apparently a story from 1798, and the translators are at pains to draw parallels with 1950s tales of alien abduction.

9 September

And Now His Lordship is Laughing, by Shiv Ramdas: slightly interesting magic but it's set against the Bengal Famine of 1943, which was entirely because the British were greedy and for no other reason at all. Naked polemics are dull.

The Joy, by Sarah Shirley: blank verse that's really more of an ultra-short story. I rather like it.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar, by Adri Joy: unlike the blatant praise I've seen elsewhere, points up some of the shortcomings of the novella as well as its good aspects. Which makes me more interested in reading it. [Which I have since done.]

A Year Without a Winter edited by Dehlia Hannah, by Octavia Cade, is an excoriating review of what might be a decent short-story collection if it weren't weighed down by all the badly-written non-fiction by people who have plenty of money and time to travel to Antarctica or Tambora but, even in the context of an anthology about climate change, don't see how that might not be a great idea or how other people might not have those options.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, by Electra Pritchett, makes this fantasy set in 1920s Mexico sound fascinating. (And I've liked Moreno-Garcia's short fiction elsewhere.)

16 September

This is How, by Marie Brennan, is a series of snippets of the life of a monster, showing how it might become something else. It's an unconventional style of narrative but I rather like it.

Europe at Dawn by Dave Hutchinson, by Catherine Baker, has a hard job in reviewing this fourth and final book in a series. Baker does well contextualising it as post-post-Cold-War spy fiction, but when I read this I'll start at the beginning.

Monster Portraits by Del Samatar and Sofia Samatar, by Nicole E. Beck, was never likely to win me over given previous experience of Sofia's writing, but does a decent job of letting the reader know what they'll be in for.

The Green and Growing by Erin K. Wagner, by Stephen Case, makes the book sound as if it spends too much time deconstructing the idea of the well-intentioned white saviour in a post-colonial narrative to get round to telling an actual story.

23 September

"In Technicolor: A Roundtable on the Future of Diversity in Speculative Fiction" by Nisi Shawl, Linda Addison, Crystal Connor, Eileen Gunn, Greg Herren, Maria Nieto, Sumiko Saulson, Rain Graves, and Tristissima et alia: feels like coming in half-way through an argument, or actually a bunch of different arguments. Most of the writers talk more about their own hobby-horses (and particularly about the future of AI, not in fiction) than about speculative fiction. This may well be great for someone, but I'm not that person.

"The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling" by Nibedita Sen makes the book sound really fascinating. I am likely to give this a try.

"Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi" by Matt Hilliard does a good job of putting the story in context with Rajaniemi's other work and with SF that explores similar ideas.

"AfroSFv.3, edited by Ivor W. Hartmann" by Rachel Cordasco also sounds interesting, though my experience with African SF generally hasn't been positive.

30 September

"Replacement" by Isa Prospero: favela kids sell their body parts for cash. Good atmosphere, but nothing but atmosphere.

"Progression" by Heitor Zen: the narrator has an angel sharing their flat, and this is why he has to run away… no, it doesn't hold together, and being told out of order just makes it more obvious.

"Spider" by Sérgio Motta is another that's atmosphere over everything else.

"Ajé" by H. Pueyo at least has some characters – the hidden magicians who transfer magic so that it doesn't get too concentrated. Mostly it's about terrible domestic situations and giving up, but after the last three stories at least it has a recognisable plot.

"High Hopes" by Kali de los Santos is a fairy tale of a hopeless and pointless revolution, and I'm not even sure that the author realises it.

"The State of Play of Brazilian SFF" by Jana Bianchi traces the history of SF in Brazil (struggling against macho nonsense, even more than in other places) and summarises the current big names.

"3%" by Preeti Singh makes this TV series sound like a Brazilian ripoff of Battle Royale or The Hunger Games, but apparently the characterisation is solid and it goes rather further into self-analysis that one might have expected.

"Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac, translated by Roy Kesey" by Abigail Nussbaum sounds like biopunk with quite a lot of bad sex and underdeveloped female characters; not much fun, I suspect.

"Collision: Stories by J. S. Breukelaar" by Cynthia C. Scott: a combination of "doesn't quite work" and "like Kelly Link when it does work" is enough to put me off from this collection.

There are things I enjoyed in this month's offerings, but nothing I'm likely to nominate for an award.

Previous in series: Strange Horizons, August 2019 | Series: Strange Horizons

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1