Graggonspeak January 2021

Welcome to Graggonspeak Monthly! This column has two purposes: to shine a light on select short fiction and poetry from the genre field and to share genre related news and commentary. The bigger sibling to this column, Graggonspeak Quarterly, appears in Space & Time Magazine’s regular publications and focuses on book reviews. Both are maintained by Contributing Editor, Austin Gragg.

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Welcome back! I took a hiatus in the chaos of 2020’s end. But the monthly articles are back. You can expect to find a few choice short fiction/poetry recommendations and a few nibbles of genre news and other things of interest here. The monthlies will now go up near the “middle weekend” of each month. I’m sure the “news and stuff” section will grow a little each month and the fiction and poetry recommendations will sit around two each, give or take, month to month. If you have things to recommend for the next monthly piece or my quarterly book reviews in the magazine – write in! I love hearing from fellow genre fans!

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FICTION AND POETRY SPOTLIGHT

Metaphorosis Magazine – January 2021 Issue

“Superbloom” by Lynne Peskoe-Yang is a vivid and engaging piece, albeit quiet and mostly calm. The story follows “K” and “D” – both involved in the observation of an ever-growing lichen in the ocean. The story starts with a phone call, revealing the phenomenon has grown across a great and concerning distance. The lichen’s intellect becomes a question as it takes on a way to communicate. Earth suffers because of its growth. In many ways, this story feels like a spiritual sibling to Chiang’s 1998 “Story of Your Life” (later adapted to film in Arrival,2016).

“Superbloom” is timely without trying. The themes: isolation during chaotic tragedy and failed communication between vastly different beings – are both deeply felt. Yet nothing is overstated. The prose here sits somewhere between pulp and purple in a delightful way.

Who is this story for? Readers who like science in their science fiction, characters with academic backgrounds, stories that ask big questions, and don’t mind the story “concluding” rather than “resolving” will thoroughly enjoy “Superbloom.”

This story is free to read on the Metaphorosis website.

Apex Magazine – Issue 121

“Love, That Hungry Thing” by Cassandra Khaw is an evocative story about long lost gods and an all-consuming love. Khaw has set this story in what can only be described as a dreamscape. The story focuses on a conflict we’re maybe not meant to understand entirely – but our main character’s desires and passion are so vividly alive on the page, the conflicts of the world and the circumstances drawing these conflicts are little more than set dressing. But that’s not to say the world, which seems to float around the reader as it does the characters, isn’t extraordinarily enticing. It is. In the most dreamy, lovely, horrifying, “I need to read this again” kind of way. This story seeps with precious oddity.

There’s also a lot under the hood of this story. The clearest, most concise worldbuilding you’ll be handed with clarity is found on page 46 of the issue in a small paragraph distinguished by scene breaks. This small description of the story’s universe feels like a reflection on our world right now and maybe the author’s hopes for a more united humanity. This desire for unity is felt throughout the piece but doesn’t romanticize the concept.

Who is this story for? Readers who enjoy taking their time to pour over lovely prose, readers who don’t mind lifting a little more worldbuilding weight on their own, and folks who enjoy character centered pieces with dreamy landscapes reminiscent of lands built by Gaiman or Ellison in their more otherworldly works.

Buy the Apex #121 issue to read now; it will be free to read online at apex-magazine.com on 1/26/21.

Strange Horizons – January 11th

“In Which the Deer, Unwittingly or Not, Moves In” by Nikki Caffier Smith carries its title hook into a strange town of missing fathers and questions their town’s name. This poem is sure to evoke a strange sense of place/setting in the reader.

Uncanny Magazine – January/February 2021, Issue Thirty-eight

            “Kalevala, an untelling” by Lizy Simonen is a concrete poem which rightly interrogates gender norms in its retelling, or rather untelling, of mythology. The shape of this poem seems daunting on first glance but doesn’t hinder the reading in the slightest. This poem is sure to entertain narratively while evoking thoughtful questions.

GENRE NEWS & STUFF

  • The 2020 HWA Diversity Grant Recipients Announced!
  • Sarah Gailey’s Coup Self-Care piece was quite helpful to me and many others stressing out about the recent damages to our democracy.
  • Speaking of the dumb coup attempt, but also not to rehash it, Chuck Wendig wrote a piece (which seems to align quite well with how I’ve felt about the whole thing) in his blog post: “I Want To Say Something, But I Don’t Know What.”
  • SFWA Grand Master, James Gunn passed December 3rd, 2020. Here is SFWA’s In Memoriam.
  • Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show “…will take place in Tolkien’s Second Age era, millennia before the events of “The Hobbit.” This news is a relief to many fans who worried the show would try to reboot the classic Peter Jackson adaptation – which was recently rereleased in a 4k remaster (which only touched up effects, and avoided a “Star Wars special edition” treatment). More at Indiewire.

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You too, can speak the language of dragons! Write to Austin at graggonspeak@gmail.com or send mail to PO Box 4195 Independence, MO 64051. Publishers and writers seeking reviews, please query before sending materials.