September 2016


And then one day, it’s October.

I don’t know how this has happened, but September is over. It wasn’t a super-eventful month, but it also wasn’t too terrible as far as these things go. I read some stories, read some books, watched some movies, and listened to some (not much, actually almost none) music.

The stories

I read 39 short stories in September. And I liked a bunch of them:

  • “Scent” by Maria Haskins (Flash Fiction Online)
  • “Prophet to the Dogs” by Bethany Edwards (Escape Pod)
  • “See the Unseeable, Know the Unknowable” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed)
  • “Talking to Dead People” by Sarah Pinsker (F&SF)
  • “The Voice in the Cornfield, the Word Made Flesh” by Desirina Boskovich (F&SF)
  • “Rooms Formed of Neurons and Sex” by Ferrett Steinmetz (Uncanny)
  • “The Old Man and the Phoenix” by Alexandria Baisden (Apex)
  • “The Warrior Boy Who Would Not Suffer” by Abhinav Bhat (Apex)
  • “Houston, Houston, Do You Read James Tiptree” by Rachael K. Jones (Nature)
  • “Delta Child” by Malon Edwards (Fireside Fiction)
  • “Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left” by Fran Wilde (Shimmer)
  • “The Flight of a Village in the Midst of War” by Daniel Ausema (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight” by E. Lily Yu (Uncanny)
  • “Your Body by Default” by Alexis A. Hunter (Fireside Fiction)
  • “Lucite” by Susan Palwick (Asimov’s)
  • “The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles” by Rachael K. Jones (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “The Invisible Stars” by Ryan Row (Shimmer)
  • “La Héron” by Charlotte Ashley (reprinted at Podcastle)
  • “My Mother’s Death — A Sonnet” by John Guzlowski (reprinted at Fantastic Fiction Online)
  • “Standard Loneliness Package” by Charles Yu (reprinted in Sorry Please Thank You)

The books

In September, I read two books: Stay Crazy by Erica L. Satifka and Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente. I thought the former was an impressive debut novel and the latter, while not the best thing I’ve read by Valente, is full of a lot of playful and poetic writing.

The movies

I watched ten movies in September:

  • Dope

  • Straight Outta Compton

  • Catwoman

  • The Man Who Fell to Earth

  • Star Trek Beyond

  • San Andreas

  • Anomalisa

  • F for Fake

  • Arq

The music

August 2016


How is it the end of the first week of September already? August went by very quickly.

I spent several days of it in Kansas City, MO, attending the 74th annual Worldcon (or MidAmeriCon II). After last month’s Readercon, where I wasn’t necessarily firing on all cylinders, I was maybe a little nervous about this one. It’s also the first really big con I’ve ever seriously been to.

(I mean, there was that comic book/sf/Star Trek convention I attended in…oh, I want to say 1988 or ’89? I was there only for a couple of hours, with my very bemused father, and I don’t remember much of it, beyond a lot of Trek costumes and my youthful enthusiasm at obtaining what in retrospect isn’t a particularly worthwhile comic. Oh, and a panel where, as near as I recall, Forrest J. Ackerman and Isaac Asimov amused themselves by being slightly dirty old men and celebrating one of their birthdays.)

Anyway, I had a lot of fun at Worldcon. It was not without its nervousness — I think I lasted all of five minutes at the late-night Tor party — but everyone I met was really great, and I attended some terrific readings and panels. I’m almost certainly going to next year’s in Helsinki.

(And yes, I was at that panel. It was exactly the trainwreck that’s been described. Which is a shame, really, because it could have been a very interesting discussion, worthy of much debate. That it seems to have been the only major controversy at the con, and that it was handled so quickly, is, I think, a real testament to the MidAmeriCon II organizers.)

So what else happened in August?

I read some stories, read some books, watched some movies, and listened to some (not much) music.

The stories

I read thirty-four short stories, and I think I only counted one that I heard read at Worldcon, rather than read myself. (I mean, if I’m going to count podcasts in my one-a-day habit, readings have got to count too.) Anyway, my favorites included:

  • “You Are Not a Metaphor” by Marina J. Lostetter (Flash Fiction Online)
  • “The Time Cookie Wars” by Benjamin C. Kinney (Flash Fiction Online)
  • “Those Brighter Stars” by Mercurio D. Rivera (Lightspeed)
  • “The Finest, Fullest Flowering” by Marc Laidlaw Nightmare)
  • “Red House” by Gavin Pate Nightmare)
  • “First Light at Mistaken Point” by Kali Wallace (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Assassin’s Secret” by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed)
  • “An Ocean the Color of Bruises” by Isabel Yap (Uncanny)
  • “The Gentleman of Chaos” by A. Merc Rustad (Apex)
  • “Jesus Has Forgiven Me. Why Can’t You?” by Betsy Phillips (F&SF)
  • “My Grandmother’s Bones” by S.L. Huang (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “Exquisite Corpse” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “Thundergod in Therapy” by Effie Seiberg (Podcastle)
  • “Between Dry Ribs” by Gregory Norman Bossert (The Dark)

I also really enjoyed the two stories I read in Jeffrey Ford’s A Natural History of Hell collection: “The Word Doll” and “The Angel Seems.” Both of them appear to be doing very simple things at first — the former is actually more short meta-fiction than short story — but both are doing much more interesting things under the surface. I said this on Twitter, but it bears repeating: I mean this in the best possible way, but Ford’s stories are kind of fucking with my head.

The books

I finished three books in August:

  • Experimental Film by Gemma Files
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  • Clockwork Phoenix 5 edited by Mike Allen

I’d read most of the Clockwork Phoenix collection earlier in the year, and I’ve mentioned some of the stories previously. Even when I didn’t love every story in the book, I loved the weird mix that Mike was going for, similar but different to the sometimes disquieting, sometimes dreamlike tales he publishes in Mythic Delirium. (Full disclosure: I had a story in that magazine last year.) The collection really is a uniquely impressive mix of stories.

I read Experimental Film for a book club…that actually met while I was at Worldcon. I probably would have gotten around to it anyway, though. There’s demonstrable proof that I’ve enjoyed Files’ writing in the past, for one thing, and I picked up a copy last year at Readercon. (Or maybe World Fantasy? I’m pretty sure I picked it up last year, along with her short story collection, last year at a con.) And I liked the book a lot — maybe less for what it has to say about film than about human interaction and storytelling. For instance, this:

…you’d be infinitely surprised what people will accept as a miracle, so long as it gives them something they really want: forgiveness of sin, unconditional love, the idea that your wounds make you special. That doing you art — your work — can help you save your own life.

I’m still not sure what my book club thought about it.

And finally I read The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, which is the sequel to a book I read earlier in the year, also for my book club. Like that book (The Fifth Season), this one is genuinely remarkable. If I was less gobsmacked by it, that was only because the rich world that Jemisin has created was slightly more familiar this time around, and there was maybe less for me to puzzle out as a reader. But her writing is just staggering, and there were lots of passages that left me breathless. Like, for instance, this:

Yes. It’s all so understandable, really, when she thinks about it. The way of the world isn’t the strong devouring the weak, but the weak deceiving and poisoning and whispering in the ears of the strong until they become weak, too. Then it’s all broken hands and silver threads woven like ropes, and mothers who move the earth to destroy their enemies but cannot save one little boy.

Seriously, it’s hard to imagine not nominating this for a Hugo next year. I’m just disappointed I’ll likely have to wait another year for book #3.

The movies

I watched six movies in August.

  • Green Room:

  • Keanu:

  • Suicide Squad:

  • Om Shanti Om:

  • Trick ‘r Treat:

  • The Nice Guys:

The music

I didn’t listen to a lot of new music in August, or at least not enough that made enough of an impression to make me want to include it on my monthly mix. But here, for completeness’ sake, are the three songs I did include on that mix:

July 2016


I don’t know what happened to July, but I have it on reasonably good authority that it’s over.

I went to Readercon (for the second time) last month, and while I had a really nice time and attended some great panels and readings — and bumped into some really nice people — I think I was a little out-of-sorts for a lot of the time, maybe a little under the weather, and I was definitely a less active participant than I would have liked to have been. This month, in just a couple of weeks actually, I head out to Worldcon (for the first time), and I’m committed to being friendly and more actively involved.

I don’t always do well with that, but that’s the plan. There should be lots to see there, if nothing else.

Speaking of nothing else, that’s pretty much the rest of what happened last month. There was good and there was bad, but mostly it just went by ridiculously quick.

But I read thirty-six short stories (and one two books) and saw ten movies, so there was that at least. Also just a tiny little bit of music.

The stories

  • “The Last Sailing of the Henry Charles Morgan in Six Pieces of Scrimshaw (1841)” by A.C. Wise (The Dark)
  • “Magnifica Angelica Superable” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Lightspeed)
  • “The Blameless” by Jeffrey Ford (A Natural History of Hell)
  • “The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery” by Cat Valente (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “Jonas and the Fox” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Mountains His Crown” by Sarah Pinsker (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “Sabbath Wine” by Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Two Bright Venuses” by Alex Dally MacFarlane (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor (
  • “Pathways” by Nancy Kress (Clarkesworld)
  • “Something Borrowed, Something Blue” by Gwendolyn Kiste (Three-Lobe Burning Eye)

The books

ETA: I actually read two books, and I really liked the second of them…but for some reason forgot to mention it. That book was A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. My review over at Goodreads:

A Head Full of GhostsA Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. One of Tremblay’s smartest moves is his choice of narrator, the (mostly) (unintentionally) unreliable Merry. I don’t think the book would have been half as effective if not seen through her not-always-comprehending eyes. The book is maybe a little too long, and there are some small parts of the plot that seem questionable, but it’s a serious look at the horror genre, and specifically exorcism, and where evil actually comes into play. In some ways, it’s a horror novel that made me feel a little guilty about enjoying horror novels.
View all my reviews

I finished one book, which The first book I read for a monthly meetup group. And…well, I didn’t much like it. As I wrote in my Goodreads review:

HexHex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m being generous here. It’s an interesting set-up, and one that almost works for a while, but I was actively not enjoying the book by the end. This never felt like a real place, with real people, and maybe some of that’s an artifact of the translation and moving the story to America, but it kept me at a real distance. There are plenty of disturbing ideas here, but there’s a big difference between that and haunting images, much less ones that are tied to genuine human emotion. The book creeped me out plenty, but it never scared me, despite near-constantly telling me how unbelievably scared the townspeople supposedly were. (The town might feel a mounting dread, but I rarely did as a reader.) The book has lots of upsetting images, but that’s all they are: upsetting. They don’t go any further than that. A witch with stitched-shut eyes is genuinely creepy, absolutely, but in the end she’s not used in service of an interesting story. I stumbled over a lot of the writing, thought it took way too long to tell what story it had, and by the last few chapters just didn’t care.
View all my reviews

The movies

  • Real Life:

  • House:

  • Spotlight:

  • Lost in America:

  • Alfie:

  • Harmontown:

  • Midnight Cowboy:

  • Everybody Wants Some:

  • Room:

  • The Hidden Fortress:

The music

There wasn’t much, but for the sake of completeness:

June 2016


How is June over already? That makes not one bit of sense, and yet there it is. It’s already July 4th weekend.

I published a brand new issue of Kaleidotrope, which I’m really proud of, and managed to do some writing (and submitting) of my own. So that was good.

I also read thirty-four short stories, in June, saw six movies, and read just one book. Plus, like always, there was some music. Here’s the breakdown of all that:

The stories:

I read thirty-four short stories in June. I accidentally skipped a day, but I made it up and then some (well, a little some). My favorites included:

  • “And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” by Margaret Ronald (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps” by Julia August (Grendelsong)
  • “We Ride the Stillness” by Deborah Walker (Grendelsong)
  • “The Drowning Line” by Haralambi Markov (Uncanny)
  • “The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R.” by Benjamin C. Kinney (Strange Horizons)
  • “1957” by Stephen Cox (Apex)
  • “The Bog Girl” by Karen Russell (The New Yorker)
  • “Things With Beards” by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “A Windowless Kitchen” by Trevor Shikaze (Liminal Stories)
  • “.identity” by E. Catherine Tobler (Clarkesworld)
  • “Innumerable Glimmering Lights” by Rich Larson (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “The Middle Child’s Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale” by Mari Ness (Fireside Fiction)

The books:

Though I’ve been poking in and out of some books lately, I only managed to actually finish reading one in. But it was a book I really, really loved: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s just such a beautifully told story.

The movies:

  • The Trouble With the Curve:

  • Hail, Caeser:

  • Zootopia:

  • Zoolander:

  • Stake Land:

  • The House That Dripped Blood:

The music:

Not much to say about this. I put together a playlist each month, of songs I especially liked listening to — usually if they’re new, or new to me — and this June’s:

And that was the month.

May 2016


So what happened in May? Not a whole lot, but you know what? There’s not a whole lot that’s wrong with that.

I read thirty-five short stories, saw eight movies, and I somehow managed to read four books — five, actually, if you count a four-issue graphic novel. (And ignore the fact that the others were very short novels.) I even listened to a little music.

It wasn’t too bad. Even our team’s move into the lonely, dark downstairs office at work couldn’t put a damper on a pretty decent month.

The stories:

I read thirty-five short stories in May, beyond those I was still reading for Kaleidotrope. I figured I needed to make up for the three days I accidentally skipped in April. My personal favorites — and there were actually quite a lot of them — were as follows:

  • “The Men from Narrow Houses” by A.C. Wise (Liminal Stories)
  • “All the Colors You Thought Were Kings” by Arkady Martine (Shimmer)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)
  • “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire (Uncanny)
  • “Three Points Masculine” by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed)
  • “.subroutine:all///end” by Rachael Acks (Shimmer)
  • “The Behemoth Beaches” by Maggie Slater (Apex)
  • “Deathlight” by Mari Ness (Lightspeed)
  • “The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch” by Seanan McGuire (Lightspeed)
  • “The Sound of Salt and Sea” by Kat Howard (Uncanny)
  • “Left the Century to Sit Unmoved” by Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons)
  • “You Can’t See It ‘Til It’s Finished” by Joseph Allen Hill (Liminal Stories)
  • “The Right Sort of Monsters” by Kelly Sandoval (Strange Horizons)
  • “When She Was Five” by Fraser Ronald (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
  • “Team Invasion” by David Tallerma (Liminal Stories)
  • “The Signal Birds” by Octavia Cade (Liminal Stories)
  • “Suicide Bots” by Bentley A. Reese (Shimmer)
  • “Once I, Rose” by A. Merc Rustad (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “Furnace” by Livia Llewellyn (Weird Fiction Review — reprinted)
  • “Through Earth and Sky” by Gwendolyn Kiste (Bracken)
  • “Wednesday’s Story” by Wole Talabi (Lightspeed)
  • “The Blood That Pulses in the Veins of One” by JY Yang (Uncanny)

Liminal Stories is definitely a new publication to watch, and I really like what they’re doing so far. But lots of my regular haunts had extremely good issues, Uncanny especially. Honestly, of the thirteen other short stories I read last month, only a couple of them are what I’d call duds. And we don’t talk about those.

The books:

I read five books, but with the possible exception of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, which has a lot of lovely things to say about a lot of things, I can’t claim to have really loved any of them.

Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child has its moments, as does Siri Hustvedt’s The Summer Without Men, but both are too slight and under-developed to really be satisfying. Hustvedt’s book maybe has more interesting things to say, ultimately —

— but that’s in part because it reads more like a patchwork of essays than a novel.

Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples’ graphic novel — and that’s generous, given how sloppily it hangs together, but also given how incomplete it is — also has its moments. And Staples’ art, which I’ve enjoyed so much in Saga, is often stunning. But yeah, it’s kind of a malformed story that was obviously cut short after four issues by the publisher.

But even that was better than Benjamin Black’s The Lemur, which was such a disappointing non-starter of a non-story. It’s less a whodunit than a whocaresit.

The movies:

  • The Invitation

  • Captain America: Civil War

  • Hush:

  • The Five Deadly Venoms:

  • The Witch:

  • 1408:

  • X-Men: Apocalypse:

  • Marnie:

The music:

My monthly playlist was actually quite short in May, for whatever reason. Still, you’re free to listen to some of the songs I enjoyed listening to last month: