Annie reads the 2022 magazines

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Annie reads the 2022 magazines

joulukuu 12, 2021, 7:31 pm

Based on cover dates.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 2022, 11:38 pm

Short stories magazines:

Speculative fiction:
Asimov's: January/February
The Dark Magazine: January
Fantasy & Science Fiction: January/February
Lightspeed: January

Crime/Mystery fiction
Mystery Magazine: January

joulukuu 12, 2021, 7:31 pm

Other magazines and Journals

helmikuu 2, 2022, 9:42 pm

1. Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2022, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas

Type: Magazine
Original Language: English
Original Publication: 2022
Genre: speculative fiction
Format: ebook
Reading dates: 6 January 2022 - 8 January 2022

1 novella, 4 novelettes, 7 short stories and the usual articles and reviews make up for a pretty big magazine.

"The Art of Victory When the Game Is All the World" by Eugie Foster is one of those discovered stories which are published after the author's death and as such it is unclear how much it may have changed had the author lived. These can be hit or miss - depending on where the story was when the author died and who got to work on it after that. In a world which does not seem to have any correlation to our own, a caste of technicians creates "champions" - constructs who are formed by careful combination of aptitudes and impediments. Another cast sponsors the creations which are considered viable - and play a game, seeing how their lives evolve. That game is the pinnacle of the society - that's what everyone else exists for. People belong to a caste based on their own aptitudes - they get assigned into them, they make their vows and they are usually stuck in them. Until one of the best technician is asked to step up and attempt a promotion. We never learn who is who in that society - is that gods and humans or humans and a different form or something totally different. But it does not really matter. We get to live the life of one of the constructs, to be part of the game - and almost as a sideline, to be part of the life of the society that plays the game. In a centuries old way, life imitates art (and vice versa) and love ends up the ingredient that noone adds but that matters the most. The whole story is a play on the choice and destiny duality - and one can make their own decision if they want to fall on either side or find their own way.

The 4 novelettes are only comparable by their length.
"Animale Dei Morti" by Nick Dichario is a modern Italian fairy tale, set nowadays but using the conventions of the old time - complete with a witch, animated corpses and misunderstandings. It is one of my favorite stories in this issue - it should sound derivative but it does not and you cannot stop laughing at how anything the main character Marco tries makes things worse - trying not to break one tradition ends up messing up others; not thinking through the witch's conditions ends up costing him everything. And for all that, the tale never gets dark (and one wonders if some of the bad things were really that bad - that bride of his was not really someone you would wish to your worst enemy).

In "Bone Broth" by Karen Heuler, a secret society believes themselves to be connected to the giants who roamed the Earth in the olden days (tying aliens into the mix as well). Then a waitress somehow stumbles into it and seems to fall for all of it. The scary part is that I am pretty sure that there are people who may really believe in this kind of things - and not just inside of this story.

The third novelette, "Prison Colony Optimization Protocols" by Auston Habershaw leaves Earth and transports us to a penal colony on a station somewhere in the galaxy. An AI had really messed up but due to UN rules, it cannot be just disabled or killed so it is sent to try to optimize the systems of the penal colony. So what happens when an AI is punished? It finds a way around its punishment of course - in the most unexpected way. I really enjoyed this story - it found that path between humor and seriousness that is hard to stay on.

And the last of the novelettes, "The Gentle Dragon Tells His Tale of Love" by J. A. Pak is the kind of tale that does not hide anything - its title tells you what you are getting. An old dragon finds love for the last time and tells us the tale. Except the gentle maiden he finds is neither a maiden, nor gentle. And yet - love conquers all and the two broken souls find happiness. I hope the authors plans to add more stories to this world - there are so many more tales to be told - both about our dragon and about everything else.

The short stories were the usual mixed bag of stories that work and ones that have some ideas but somehow do not really manage to reach me.
"Ennead in Retrospect" by Christopher Mark Rose is a far future tale of a broken space craft and a knife which can split a person in two - their dark and light side. Except that this does not really make two complete people, especially for the ones who live with them. Add a child and a secret or three (which are obvious from the beginning) and the story makes sense but something just did not click for me.
In "Full Worm Moon" by Paul Lorello, a clan of people live at the outside of society and feeds with the memories of the departed - by eating the worms that eat their remains. What they get it return is not just memories though - they almost become the other people. And when a young man eats too many too early, he starts questioning his own life. It is a tale about belonging but you better not have your lunch when you are reading it.
"Proximity Games" by M. L. Clark returns us back to space - although a very different one. Families get selected to leave Earth, to go live among the stars, to conquer new worlds. It all sounds noble and nice but things are not as green as they look and one may wonder what really is better - to be left behind or to be selected. As for the stars - we are really not a very intelligent species sometimes. It is a nice tale of exploration and choices - not all of which are what they seem to be.
In "Salt Calls to Salt" by Maiga Doocy, Zelda is not allowed any real feelings or excitement - if she ever has them, her feet get covered in scales and she turns into a mermaid. So her aunt does anything she can to make sure that she is protected, with Zelda cooperating fully, knowing her own mother's fate. At least for the time being anyway. It is a sweet tale of growing up and deciding what is important in one's life.
The next story, "doe_haven.vr" by Cara Mast, throws us into the life of a young woman who finds solace into a virtual reality - until someone disturbs her there. It is a quiet tale about being able to connect with other people.
"The City and the Thing Beneath It" by Innocent Chizaram Ilo is written by a Nigerian (Igbo) writer and is set in Lagos where the week does not go exactly as the rulers of the country want it to - something falls from the sky and they are not happy about it (and despite everyone seeing it, they still try to claim it never happened). There are soldiers and violence and a Lagos which seem to be in our times but you hope it is not. It is a confusing tale - both the way it is told and what it tries to achieve.
The last story in the issue, "There Won't Be Questions" by Joe Baumann, gets us back to the magical - a boy finds out that if he wishes something very much, it can appear - even if there is a price to pay. Noone knows how or why, noone knows if these things get transported in space or if they get recreated or come from elsewhere. Mix up some young love which appears to be one-sided and the whole mess gets even messier. It is clear where the tale is going and it does get to its logical end. Ending it where it did end may leave someone unhappy but it works - because if it was continued, it would be a different story.

The three poems were way too modern for my taste (two by Bogi Takacs and one by Gretchen Tessmer). The cartoons were mildly entertaining - none really jumped at me as hilarious.

The usual columns:
- In the science section, Jerry Oltion explains how old things are dated (a bit simplified but not a bad explanation)
- The film review section is about a series I had not watched ("Raised by Wolves"
- Paul di Filippo's "Plumage from Pegasus" imagines a writing award in 2030 unlike any other (which as usual is a commentary on our reality).

And then there are the reviews:
- The Curiosities section goes back to 1976 (which is pretty modern for that column) to take a look at Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet. Charles de Lint manages to mention 4 books I had not read (and now I want to) - I own one, already read another ("Wayward Souls")) and Michelle West adds 4 more to my ever growing list (at least I actually had heard of 3 of these before - one of them is even home from the library). I have a suspicion that the 9 books will feature in my very near future... that's what happens when one finally get around to reading a full magazine.

Not a perfect issue and not all stories worked for me and even the ones that did work did not sparkle really but not a bad issue either. And no stories from long-running series which I had not read (no series stories at all as best as I can tell actually).

helmikuu 2, 2022, 9:43 pm

2. Mystery Magazine, January 2022, edited by Kerry Carter

Type: Magazine
Original Language: English
Original Publication: 2022
Genre: mystery/crime fiction
Format: ebook
Reading dates: 22 January 2022 - 24 January 2022

I am not sure if this magazine had decided yet if it will be called Mystery Weekly Magazine (although it was always a monthly magazine) or just Mystery Magazine - the last few issues had dropped Weekly from the cover but the Kindle file still has "Mystery Weekly Magazine" in its first positions.

The first issue for 2022 has 10 stories - 9 regular ones, 1 "Solve-it-Yourself" (with a solution in the next issue). None of them really sparkled but none of them was really bad either so a good enough issue.

"Nothing Nefarious, Just General Badassery" by Daniel C. Bartlett's narrator used to be an artist. These days he is married, has a kid and teaches art - one needs to eat and take care of their family after all. But when a friend calls with a tale of a buried treasure while the wife is out of town, he cannot resist and decides to help. Things get a bit more heated than expected (there is a treasure but it is also the 21st century and you cannot just find coins and sell them) and the day of innocent looking for treasure (for some value of innocent) turns into something completely different. And there is a fedora. The story works but it also felt overwritten.

"Noble Vista Blues" by Joseph S. Walker's protagonist on the other hand never had much chance - he took money from a criminal and then proceeded to steal from him. The story is mostly the backstory of how he got to this point and how he tried to make things better and it had a few twists and turns that were almost unexpected but the basic premise made it clear where the story is going.

"In the Beginning, the End" by Stephen D. Rogers is a clever little story which shows us two separate timelines - in one a man and a woman talk in bed, in the other a woman is trying to dig a hole. You think you know how these connect - until the very last paragraph when the story gets turned on its head.

"Bad Times at Big Rock" by John M. Floyd takes is to the Wild West and the frontier towns and shanties of the days long gone. A pair of outlaws terrorize one of those small towns until an unexpected hero stands up to them. Add a witch/seer/wise woman of a type which steers the action a little bit and it was an enjoyable story.

"All the Love You Can Handle for a Dollar" by Lamont A. Turner starts with a dead girl and a man accused of her murder. Except that nothing is as easy as it seems and the only person who does not appear to be who he claims to be is the man accused of murder. So it is down to a detective, Doverman, to find out the truth. This story reads like a pulp one - with Doverman being a bad-ass and trying to emulate some of the big pulp detectives. It did not quite work but it could have been worse.

"Superficial Appraisals" by K. R. Segriff is set in 1953, in a spooky hotel with real ghosts and an owner who is about to get the surprise of his life. He does - but then the ghosts get the surprise of their (un)life as well.

"A Perfect Spiral" by David Bart introduces us to a man who seems to always loose - a crash kicked him out from football (but he kept the girl), his small hotel which started great got overshadowed by a big one nearby and these days the town has a bet going on on when he will get even a single customer. And then the one he gets dies on them. Which turns out to be a bit of a good luck for the owners of the hotel because it allows them to start a new career - until things go horribly wrong there of course. The story actually start with the end - we see the final result at the very end but the moments before that are the story-opener.

"Out for Delivery" by Gregory L. Norris's main character Keith is a letter carrier who gets enamored by a woman on his route. When she appears to be in danger, he decides to do something about it - except that seeing a situation from the outside, even if you believe to know everyone because you see the mail they get, does not mean that you really know what is going on. That's the kind of story that cannot happen anymore (with most bills coming online only) and it feels more 1930s than 1980s based on some parts of it but something does not sound right. It is a nice story but that inability to place it in time seems almost planned - it just does not belong anywhere.

"Drive Through" by Keith Brooke is probably one of the strongest stories in this issue. What do you think if you see someone you know killing a man with their car? Carrie decides to protect Lucy - and that ends up being a really bad idea because as it turns out, Carrie never really understood what her place in Lucy's life was. A quiet semi-psychological story which makes you wonder if you really know what people think about you.

John H. Dromey's You-Solve-It story "Man Overboard" has an insurance detective looking after what appears to be a reckless action by a young man (who is now dead). But the more he looks into it, the less it looks like being either reckless or an incident. We shall see next month if I figured out what he did see and did not spell out.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 2022, 9:45 pm

3. Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 140, January 2022, edited by John Joseph Adams

Type: Magazine
Original Language: English
Original Publication: 2022
Genre: speculative fiction
Format: ebook
Reading dates: 30 January 2022 - 30 January 2022

The first 2022 issue of the magazine follows the usual pattern: 4 science fiction stories (1 of them a reprint), 4 fantasy ones (1 of them a reprint), a few reviews, a few interviews with authors from the issue and as the exclusive part of the ebook, an excerpt from a novel (I prefer a reprinted novella but I cannot get what I want every time). Nothing really shined but all stories were at least competent so it was a good issue.

On the science fiction side:

"Dissent: A Five-Course Meal (With Suggested Pairings)" from Aimee Ogden (724 words, ) - a quirky menu which ties food and real life issues from a dystopian world that sounds almost too much like our own. It is a nice appetizer for the issue but it is not my type of story - it is almost too tricky.

"Up Falling" from Jendayi Brooks-Flemister (3,560 words, takes place in a far future when humanity had been ravaged by decease and had messed up the planet and anyone who seems to be immune to the current set of issues is valuable - as a breeder for some, as a chance to make a medicine for others. Some people had escaped the ravaged world and are now trying to help the world - but that requires a child to defeat her own fears. It is a nice story about what people are capable of and I liked the fact that the author did not take the easy way out of the situation.

Leah Cypess's "On the Ship" (6,468 words,, originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction, May-June 2017) introduced us to Ava - a child living on a ship which is trying to find a habitable planet. Do ships have ghosts? And if they don't, then who is the red-haired woman which shows herself only to Ava? Not everything is what it looks like and while I expected a twist of some type, it was not what really happened in this story.

Lincoln Michel's "Cale and Stardust Battle the Mud Gobblers of Hudson Valley" (7,751 words, has one of those titles which make you think of superheroes and children's stories - except that it is anything but. Sometime in the future, New York is starting to disappear under the waves. So the politicians find a solution - move some of the land mass to the city - and the mud gobblers are sent to dredge the Hudson outside of the city and bring what they get downstream. Except that it is not just the river bottom that they dredge and the people who live along the river have a bit of a problem with it... at least for awhile. It is a cautionary tale of a future that may very well happen - and in some ways an exploration of power and opposition - when there are other choices, when there are other priorities, even what seemed important becomes just a nuisance.

On the fantasy side:

"In the Beginning of Me, I Was a Bird" by Maria Dong (5,446 words, narrator can jump between animals. It is unclear why they can do that or if it is common but we know that there is at least one more individual who can do that and that their initial jump was to escape from their old bodies which were taken over by a seed that fell from the sky. I liked the premise of the story but it felt like it went nowhere - there seems to be a love story (or a friendship?) in there and there is a lot of pretty language but... something just did not click properly for me.

"In the Cold, Dark Sea" by Jenny Rae Rappaport (716 words, is an origins tale for the sirens. Well executed and getting darker and darker as the story proceeds.

The narrator of "An Address to the Newest Disciples of the Lost Words" by Vanessa Fogg (3,383 words, is an old man who came back to finish an education in a world where a lost language is treasured and all its words are considered important enough to be studied - even if noone knows the language and there is a very limited number of words which had been found. If one had ever learned a foreign language, especially one whose phonology is very different than the one they are coming from, this story will resonate. The words here are a lot more complex, they seem to include movement and expressions and song but... the challenges are the same.

The last of the stories in this issue is the reprint of "Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death" by N. K. Jemisin (2,513 words,, originally published in 2019 in "A People's Future of the United States") in which has women fight dragons and the system by... cooking collard greens. It sounds almost comical but it somehow works and it connects resistance with food and tradition in a way you would not expect from a tale about dragons (and collard greens).

The excerpt from Tochi Onyebuchi's Goliath would have convinced me to add it to my TBR list (if it was not already there). The three reviews (two novels: Far from the Light of Heaven and The Misfit Soldier and an anthology Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue) achieved the same (although the Thompson book was already there as it got nominated for the Philip K. Dick award early this year). The 4 author interviews (Dong, Brooks-Flemister, Fogg and Michel) are a good addition as usual (and each of the 8 authors with stories had a brief "About the Author" section so you know where to look for more work by them if you want to read some).

The whole issue is available online for free here: (except for the excerpt - it is only in the ebook)

helmikuu 4, 2022, 2:20 pm

4. Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, January-February 2022, edited by Sheila Williams

Type: Magazine
Original Language: English
Original Publication: 2022
Genre: speculative fiction
Format: ebook
Reading dates: 31 January 2022 - 3 February 2022

2 novellas, 3 novelettes and 6 stories open the year for Asimov's (plus 4 poems and the usual complement of non-fiction articles).

"Snowflake" by Nick Wolven (novella) takes awhile to make you realize that it is actually a science fiction story. The narrator is Sam, the best friend of a singer, Coco, and the story Sam tells is the story of Coco - an almost washed out star who is trying to keep her career afloat, through addiction and new technology if needed. It is this new technology and throwaway references to other things which make that a SF story but at the heart of it is really a story of choices and deciding if pain is worth being removed from one's life. It's a chilling tale (and one that is way too believable).

"Goldie" by Sean Monaghan (novella) takes us to another living world where Earth scientists are trying to observe but not intrude. But can you do that for decades and not get attached? I loved the description of the biosphere of the world and I liked how the author handled the feelings of everyone - from curiosity to love (and everything in between).

"River of Stars, Bridge of Shadows" by A. A. Attanasio (novelette) takes a place on a ship traveling between the stars. Something went horribly wrong and the ship is slowly slipping towards its destruction. Deri, a young human, still in a bio-form unlike a lot of humanity and still really young in a world where people live a very long time, is on their first trip among the stars and now needs to deal with a talking snake (an artificial valet that presents as a snake for some reason), an ancient human, an entity who can see the future and a ship which may not make it (and in a time where noone really dies completely - with ultimate death). The background of the story is fascinating and the story itself works but something in its language just did not work for me - I don't mind authors getting inventive with their language but it felt a bit too much here.

"October's Feast" by Michèle Laframboise (novelette) is a story of survival. A ship goes across the stars looking for a new planet for its passengers. But they need to make sure they can survive there even if they lose everything they brought, even if Earth vegetation cannot work in that place. Thus the surveys - send a team of 2 people to find 3 local things that are edible and can provide nutrition. The story is one of those surveys - together with dealing with stories of old surveys, the history of what happened before, personal relationships and just being able to survive. It is a well done story, without really shining.

"Fasterpiece" by Ian Creasey (novelette) takes us to the future where a new technology allows people to enter fast time - a speeding of their internal clock so they can finish long tasks in very short actual time - while they actually live through the whole time. And of course it is the old arts and crafts that get their revival from that - a portrait that needs weeks to be done now feels like an hour or 3 for the model (while the artist can have the weeks they need to work on it); a carving that can take months can be produced in days (or hours) in the real world. Of course these new technologies did not come without a price - Birmingham got destroyed by nano-bots at some point and even if we do not hear about others, that was not the only disaster. And yet, humanity embraces technology and that includes artists such as Barnaby. But when everyone can take as long as they need and produce a huge amount of work for the real work, how do you get ahead? By making a masterpiece of course - and that's where Barnaby goes - which turns out to be a bit more complicated than one expects. Who would think that the love for plums and raspberries may end up the salvation from oblivion? It is a nice tale even if it feels like the "you live 10 years in hours" repercussions felt a little under-explored.

"Welcome Home" by Jendayi Brooks-Flemister (short story) is a cautionary tale about accepting things that are too good to be true. Theresa is on the verge of homelessness and losing her daughter because of it when she finds a place to live, costing a lot less than she would ever hoped for, in one of the modern complexes which have AI to control the home and to assist you. But when does assistance turn into dominance? I really liked the pacing in this story.

"The Roots of Our Memories" by Joel Armstrong (short story) takes us to a future where people don't just get buried - it had been discovered that the root system of hemlock can sustain thoughts and serve as a neuro-bridge so people get planted when they die - in cemeteries shadowed by the hemlocks whose root systems connect the death to computers so people can almost talk to the death. But the hemlocks are still biological entities and as such a disease can harm them and thus kill the death. And as usual, funding is hard. It is a nice story but I am not sure that it went anywhere - it resolved one character's problem but it feels unfinished. Or maybe I just wish that it had been a bit less about that one person and more about the world.

"Unmasking Black Bart" by Joel Richards (short story) takes the pandemic and runs with it. COVID-19 is in everyone's rear-view mirror. The only thing that survived were the masks - now used by everyone for all kinds of purposes - usually holo-mask that make you look like someone else - a younger version of yourself, someone famous (and dead - the only restriction - you cannot have a mask that makes you look as someone else who is still alive) or anything in between. So when Noah's high school reunion rolls in, it is not unexpected that they decide that the first night, as an ice-breaker, they will wear masks of themselves as they were at graduation. Meanwhile, someone robs a bank. The two stories connect in weird ways - and even at the end, you are not sure if you really know what happened. A nice light-hearted story of a future that may just happen.

"The Beast of Tara" by Michael Swanwick (short story) is a time traveling story on steroids - just when you think you know what s really happening and things get turned around again by yet another time traveler. It explores the usual problem of "can we change the past if we can go back" but puts a nice spin on it. Enjoyable read.

"Long-Term Emergencies" by Tom Purdom (short story) gets us to space in a far future where humans are being humans and there are still people who would get themselves in the middle of minor disagreements just so they can make a bigger fracas out of it. And just as is the case in our times, there is no real way to deal with these people rationally. It is depressing to think that we may be able to progress and live across the stars and still not lose that part of humanity. Depressing but not surprising or unexpected.

"The Boyfriend Trap" by Stephanie Feldman (short story) is a weird story which can be read either as a parallel worlds one or as something more on the fantasy side. A woman and her boyfriend go on a trip to a mountain hut so they can discuss their plans - she wants to move to Denver for a job (with him in tow), he wants for them to stay in Philadelphia. The whole thing gets into a bit of a weird stage when he seems to change abruptly. I really did not care about this story - the ending was good but...

The four poems were readable with "Robot Valentine" by Peter Tacy being my favorite (the rest are "Word Soup" by Anatoly Belilovsky, "Speech Lesson" by Robert Frazier and "Messaging the Dead" by Betsy Aoki.

Robert Silverberg talks about copyright and how it developed historically in his Reflections (under the title "Fifty Million Monkey Selfies"), James Patrick Kelly talks about bots and robots in science fiction in his and in the real world in his "On the Net" column (worth reading for the references to sites and mentioned books as usual), Sheila Williams uses her editorial to talk about last year's stories (because it is time for the Thirty-Sixth Annual Readers’ Award Ballot of course) and Peter Heck's reviews land a lot of books on my TBR pile. The reviews books:
"Rabbits" by Terry Miles (based on the podcast by the same name which had been on my "To listen" pile for awhile)
"Holdout" by Jeffrey Kluger
"Version Zero" by David Yoon
"The Minders" by John Marrs
"The Rain Heron" by Robert Arnott
"Hooting Grange" by Jeffrey E. Barlough
"The Saints of Salvation" by Peter F. Hamilton
"The Future Is Yours" by Dan Frey
"The Unfinished Land" by Greg Bear
"Hollow" by B. Catling
"Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas" by Emily C. Skaftun
"The Last Robot and Other Science Fiction Poems" by Jane Yolen

A good start of the year for the magazine even if I am not sure that there was any story that really stood out.

helmikuu 6, 2022, 11:37 pm

5. The Dark Magazine, January 2022, edited by Sean Wallace

Type: Magazine
Original Language: English
Original Publication: 2022
Genre: horror, dark fantasy
Format: ebook
Reading dates: 6 February 2022 - 6 February 2022

I am making some progress with my magazines this year... kinda.

The usual 4 original story in the first issue of the year

"Thermophile” by Jack Klausner:

A man suddenly start spending a lot of time in the bathroom - long showers, long baths. His roommate (who really wants to be more than that) is worried about the bills - she thinks she knows what he is doing there. Except nothing is as easy and things escalate... I wish the author had gone one step further an provided some kind of an explanation of what really happened - and how - I am rarely a fan of stories which only deal with the end results (and even for that, it needs some more data and less hand-waving).

"Intrusions” by Margot McGovern:

When you sleep in other people's houses without permissions, you sometimes need to deal with surprises - even if you don't believe in ghosts. The story is just spooky enough to make one wonder if there are ghosts or if someone is playing a trick (I vote for the ghost... or something else supernatural).

"Funny Faces” by Seán Padraic Birnie:

Did a little girl dream of monsters (and still dream of them occasionally) or did she see monsters in the supermarket? The story is almost claustrophobic but it was meant to be.

"The Lending Library of Final Lines” by Octavia Cade:

The crabs are coming for everyone - sooner or later everyone will die and they will take them - usually still alive. And if they do not want to feel the claws, they can get a piece of paper - the final lines of a book which when eaten allow people to live the lives in those pages - usually while dying a gruesome death. A new spin on "books make you live someone else's life" which actually works. The rest of the details of that world make the fate of the children in the Dickens novel look like paradise. My favorite story from this issue - by far.

The complete issue is available here: