Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, Vol 1

5f4088af3d55840809465a1b8ca15a3ed05e2748__300x0By Bards and Sages Publishing
Published: Oct. 15, 2009
Words: 43,560
Language: English
Each installment of the Bardic Tales and Sage Advice speculative fiction anthology highlights the amazing wealth of talent found in the speculative fiction genres. Originally a stand-alone anthology, the Bardic Tales and Sage Advice series has evolved to showcase the winners of the Bards and Sages Quarterly’s Readers’ Choice Awards and the Bards and Sages Publishing Annual Charity Writing Competition. 
In the debut book in the series:
As the gods prepare for their long sleep, a young woman must bear the burden of keeping their memory alive in “Winter of the Gods”. 
A Police Officer discovers you can ban the weapons of destruction, but not humanity’s destructive nature in “Netherlands Roulette”. 
A Young Man develops a new perspective thanks to a stolen antique in “The Glass Eye”. 
Enjoy these and other fine tales, then enjoy future installments in the series by visiting Bards and Sages.
-Information Taken from Kobo Books
This was quite a robust collection of varied stories and I enjoyed quite a bit. However this also has a larger selection of stories I just didn’t quite click with or understand the conclusion. This was interesting to me, as most collections I generally enjoy most of the stories. That said I enjoyed more than I didn’t so I ultimately had a good time with this collection.

My Favorites

Winter of the Gods by Elena Clark – The story starts slowly, introducing the characters, the world and the main conflict: What happens when your kingdom is conquered and you must forsake your religion? 
I really loved the world crafted here along with Yana’s journey. There are great details such as ‘She gave no indication of what she thought of women who had sunk down to doing men’s work.’ The more fantastical aspects of the forest and the wolves were lovely as well. It felt as if I were reading a dark fairytale.
The Luck Card by Jenue Brosinski – I wasn’t too sure about the start but I really love the twist this story took and the ultimate ending. Usually stories with luck/wishes end in a way you expect but this one took a different path.
In the Beginning by Jerry Kline – A cybernetic angel saves children in the post-apocalypse. This story went by fast and had a wonderful ending. 
Heroes by Anthony Cooke – Really short but to the point. Quickly paints a world and story about superheroes on the job.
Dragon’s Ire, Phoenix Flame – A story that starts out as a dragon hunt moves to a sorrowful tale of grief and redemption. The writing depicting Joshua from arrogant to humbled was excellent. I felt surprisingly moved considering the length of the tale. Not to mention the world and magic depicted was interesting. I loved how the phoenix fit in. 

I enjoyed but don’t have much to say…

I liked these stories/poems but either don’t have too much to say or don’t want to spoil the experience.
  • Reflexions by Deanna Marie Emmerson – A lovely epic poem, I appreciated the descriptions.
  • The Cat Lady by Melissa Herman – Nice set up, pacing and an excellent twist. There were some things in here that as a cat owner I related to too well.
  • The Face She Remembers by Swapna Kishore – Extremely short, but able to paint a picture before it ends.
  • The New Guy by Ashley Tamerline – A supernatural tale of Russell’s first day on the job. A brief, fun reminder of why magic doesn’t necessarily make everything better.
  • Pirates by Bob Quinn – A fun, piratey poem. Part of the fun for this was imagining a room of drinking pirates chanting this.
  • Again – Les Fleurs Du Mal by lynn Veach Sadler – I really like the world and atmosphere of this poem.
  • THEM by Mark Torrender – Even if you have a cool SciFi job, you may still hate your boss. 

I didn’t really click with these…

Maybe I didn’t like these or maybe I just didn’t understand them…
  • Through the Data Storm by David Lawrence – A person experiences various emotions in a comfortable prison. I feel like I get the general points but I don’t think this came together for me. 
  • Netherlands Roulette by Ross Raffin – A hard-boiled detective reminisces about violent cartoons while trying to solve a suicide. Another one where I could see various points but I didn’t quite grasp the ending. I also didn’t quite grasp if I was supposed to relate to the protagonist or not. Or perhaps that point was meant to be ambiguous. On the other hand its strange see a ‘kids these days’ story without everyone glued to smartphones but this story might predate that.
  • The Glass Eye – A young boy tries to get pictures with the girl he likes, but ends up with a trippy glass eye. I followed it until the ending, I’m still not 100% sure about that.
  • It Is… by Anthony Cooke – This is a poem. The concept seemed interesting but I don’t think I get it 100%.


Again, a lot of stories to love and perhaps you will get the ones that didn’t seem to click for me. So overall I give this a recommendation if it looks interesting to you.

-The Content Cr_Eater

Quick Bite: VULTURE BONES: Spec Fic from Trans & Enby Voices (Issues #1-2)

Vulture Bones is a quarterly speculative fiction magazine showcasing the voices of transgender and nonbinary writers.
Vulture Bones is what is left when everything useful is harvested, even the gamey meat of scavengers.
Vulture Bones is the name of a bald and genderless sharpshooter with thirteen enemies and one bullet left.
Vulture Bones is something morbid and foundational.
Vulture Bones is a wild ride.
Welcome to this Quick Bite (under 1000 words) regarding Vulture Bones Magazine! Vulture Bones is free to read online but you can purchase files for on the go reading. Each story is accompanied with an author interview about the story, which are also delightful and thought provoking to read. Lastly, I’m not going to mention content notes here as the magazine covers them. 
Let’s get started!

Issue 1

My favorite of the issue was “Manifestation of Romance in a Bottle” by Constance Bougie. Nico, the lady in waiting, tries to find a love potion in order to return the princex’s love. This managed to capture a fairy-tale feel while have a modern ending. I’m a sucker for updated fairytales. I also thought about the themes present long after. What is love and what is romance? Can you have one without the other? Although ultimately upbeat, I thought about this one long after.
Another one that hit me hard was “Pasta al Memoir” by E H Timms. Magical cooking is a minor theme that shows up in fantasy, but usually as someone who helps others. This time the story’s protagonist helps herself. Its a darker story, even if you understand her motivations.
The final story is “Howard Was a Dingus” by Kayla Scheiner. An unusual encounter with a horror. Sometimes the dialogue felt a little clunky but I overall enjoyed the concept and story. 
There is a poem called “The Ocean in the Shell” by RoAnna Sylver that has lovely deep sea imagery and a fun 1 page comic called “The Monarch” by Ash Garzilli. 
Issue 2
Another wonderful issue! 
“Blaze” by Andi C. Buchanan – An interesting take on fantasy creatures, tourism, and coming of age when you can’t leave home. I really enjoyed the aspect of growing up at home. 
“Through” by A.Z. Louise – A quick poem with a lot of horror imagery.
“She Don’t Fade” by Die Booth – A spooky, supernatural tale with a twist. I enjoyed the ending of this one.
“Flowers From The Bones” by C. B. Blanchard – I loved this one. The description was beautiful but accessible.  I also liked the dreamlike quality since this story involved the Fae.
“Light As A Feather” by A.E. Ross – Love ends at death… or does it? I loved this supernatural twist and the prose itself is lovely too.
“Handbook For The Newly Undead” by Sebastian Strange – An abstract/fantastical poem about transition. About the struggle to find ways that work for you and how in the end you will forget the starting awkward phase. An interesting way to spin the concept.
“The Glow” by Kayla Bashe – Overall I had a difficult time with this story, mostly due to the beginning throws a lot of characters at you (for a short story) and then you have to distinguish them and be invested when the feels happens. However I liked the overall concept. The world-building is well done and I love the mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements. I also liked the idea of found family discussing and over coming trauma together. I will probably try this one again sometime.
And that’s it for now. I really recommend trying these out as they are free and well-done. Thanks for stopping by!
-The Content Cr_Eater

Quick Bite: If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho

Welcome to this Quick Bite! Today I’ll be writing about Zen Cho’s free short story If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again.

Cover illustration and design by Shirley Jackson

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho, Edited by Joel Cunningham

Available for free from the Barnes & Noble website.

A hapless imugi is determined to attain the form of a full-fledged dragon and gain entry to the gates of heaven. For a long time, things don’t go well. Then, it meets a girl. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog presents an original short story by Campbell Award-nominated author Zen Cho.

Image & Information from Barnes & Noble

Since this is a short story and available for free, I’m not going to go over the plot. I’m just going to discuss how this story made me feel.

This reminded me of the better parts of Pixar’s UP but more in terms of how I felt than plot structure or characters. There’s comedy and frustration in the beginning. It is an exploration of loss in terms of life goals. Then the comedy melts into queer romance, and its quite heart-warming. I love how down to earth it was. The heart-warming feeling turns to sadness, grief and acceptance. The story ends on a bitter sweet note that suits it perfectly.

While the chronology isn’t the same, I felt like UP hit many similar notes. I’m not sure if its a strange comparison, but I can’t forget UP nor will I forget this short story any time soon. This will be a favorite short story of mine for a long time. I recommend this if you want an emotional roller coaster of mythology, queer romance, and never giving up on your goals while having the room to explore/reevaluate them.

I’ve never read any of Zen Cho’s work before, but now I’m adding her stuff to my TBR. This short story knocked it out of the park for me. I can’t wait to read more!

Thanks for stopping at this Quick Bite, hope to see you again!


© Jim C. Hines

Author Information

I was born and raised in Malaysia, and currently live in England.

I’m the author of a novel (Sorcerer to the Crown, Ace/Macmillan, 2015) and a short story collection (Spirits Abroad, Fixi, 2014). I also edited an anthology called Cyberpunk: Malaysia (Fixi, 2015). I’m a British Fantasy Award and Crawford Award winner, and was also shortlisted for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2013.

Image & Information from the Author’s website
Twitter: @zenaldehyde



Quick Bite: The Lilies of Dawn by Vanessa Fogg

Welcome to this Quick Bite, shorter posts on quick content. This time I’ll be taking a look at The Lilies of Dawn by Vanessa Fogg!

The Lilies of Dawn by Vanessa Fogg

Type: Novella

Genre/Tags: YA, Coming of Age, Fantasy, Asian, #ownvoices

Price (USD) / Length

ebook: $2.99
paperback: $7.99 / 76 pages

A sample and extensive purchase options (including DRM-free!) can be found at Annorlunda’s publishing site.

Cover Image from the Publisher’s Site

Sometimes our most important qualities are not the ones we recognize in ourselves.

There is a lake of marvels. A lake of water lilies that glow with the color of dawn. For generations Kai’s people have harvested these lilies, dependent upon them for the precious medicines they provide.
But now a flock of enchanted cranes has come to steal and poison the harvest. The lilies are dying. Kai’s people are in peril. A mysterious young man from the city thinks he might have a solution. Kai must work with him to solve the mystery of the cranes, and it will take all her courage, love, strength, and wisdom to do what she must to save both the lilies and her people.

This is a lushly written, lyrical fairy tale of love, duty, family, and one young woman’s coming of age.

Since this is a novella and I don’t want to spoil the ending, I will just quickly cover the stuff I liked. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like in this one, so this will be very positive!


Quick Bite: I’m No Superhero Chapters 13-23 by Erin Hayes, A Radish Serial

Cover from the App

Saving the world comes at a heavy price.

They used to call us Angels. Superheroes. We were five girls who wielded the power of the elements to vanquish the forces of darkness.

But we were betrayed by those we trusted and scattered across the globe. We had to go into hiding in an attempt to save ourselves.

If only it had worked.

Now, with our powers turning on us, the darkness is gaining power again. And we don’t have much time to figure out why none of the Angels who came before us lived past the age of eighteen.

My name is Ivy King, and I’m ready to watch the world burn in order to learn the truth.

Hi! Thanks for joining me on this Quick Bite. Today we’ll be going over Chapters 13-23 of I’m No Superhero by Erin Hayes. This is a serial available on Radish (link). The first chunk of chapters are free to read (more are released with time), so all you need to do is download the app (on both iTunes and Andorid) to check it out!

What is Radish? More on how Radish works here.

I’ve already commented on Chapters 1-8 and Chapters 9-12. If you want a spoiler-free preview, head on over to Chapters 1-8. If you continue, I will consider discussion of any story elements up to Chapter 23 fair game. So there are spoilers ahead!


Quick Bite: The Voyage of the White Cloud by M. Darusha Wehm

Hi all! Welcome to this Quick Bite, this will be a short review of the novel The Voyage of the White Cloud by M. Darusha Wehm.

Cover: The Voyage of the White Cloud by M. Darusha Wehm – A spaceship flies among the stars.

Can home be a place you’ve never been, a place no one has ever been?

The White Cloud is the most audacious experiment the human species has ever undertaken—to search for a new Earth. The ship and its crew exist for a solitary purpose—to reach a distant planet and establish a colony. However, the vast majority of people undertaking this journey will not live to see its result, nor were they part of the decision-making process to leave.

A novel-in-stories, following the many generations who make the journey, The Voyage of the White Cloud asks how you can find meaning as a slave to destiny, a mere stepping-stone in history.

These are the stories of the most ordinary people on a most extraordinary journey.

About the Author

Picture of the Author

M. Darusha Wehm
Darusha writes speculative fiction and poetry as M. Darusha Wehm and mainstream work as Darusha Wehm, and is the author of eleven published novels, several poems and many short stories. Originally from Canada, Darusha currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand after spending the past several years sailing around the Pacific.

-Information, Images and Purchase available from The price was free as of this review but due to CrowdPricing may be subject to change. DRM-Free.

So I’ve officially found a new favorite author! 😍 Honestly the summary and cover are a bit dry compared to the substance of this text. I felt so much reading this novel. This novel made me question a lot of my thoughts and attitudes, both good and bad.

This novel is a series of thematically and historically shared short stories. I really love that these slices of history feature the small, “unimportant” people. Traditional grand historical scale stories tend to involve a lot of big names. Its something I’ve been thinking about lately, how we prize big names over individuals and the negative things it can do to society overall. It creates a false mythos that only important people change history when regular people do as well. This books really articulates on this in such a thoughtful way. Its awesome to see the butterfly effect of people’s actions/interactions and how they accumulate over the history of the ship. 🤗

There is such a diversity of characters, both in marginalized categories and just in the general behaviors and attitudes of people. I really loved it and generally liked most people. But even when I didn’t like a character, I appreciated the story they had to tell. This novel is ultimately about the human experience. What if generations of people were trapped on a starship and couldn’t freeze themselves to sleep? Some people would love it, some people would hate it, it would be a mixed bag for most. This “normal” approach to people is something I really treasure in stories.

Also over centuries things would change drastically. Things one generation would find ground-breaking would be forgotten in another era. Mythologies over the original generation would develop and become fantastic. The way the ship’s people are organized would change, and the reasons would be lost to history. History would be rewritten to avoid embarrassment of the current head, etc. This novel is excellent at explaining why people do things and how this affects the grand scale of history.

I think my overall favorite part was when we finally see the Crew. I don’t want to spoil too much but I felt so seen. Usually wanting your own space is seen as evil or selfish, but here its just another part of the human condition.

I’m still thinking over the major theme of this story. The final lines of the book (before the poem) were a major emotional gut punch. But then I think of what occurred before then and here I am, still thinking. Honestly the final story paragraph might be my favorite words ever written in a story.

So, I highly recommend this if you like emotional Science Fiction. And also if you are okay with constantly shifting points of view, every chapter is a new person.

Opinions on what I just read or the author’s other works? Any similar recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by this Quick Bite. Hope to see you again!

Big Bite: A Spoiler-Full Deep Dive of A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins

Welcome, to this Big Bite! Here we’ll take a spoiler-full deep dive of
A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins.

If you want a spoiler-free preview, click here.

Basic Information

A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins / Una realidad más amplia: Historias desde la periferia bicultural is an anthology brought to you by The Mexicanx Initiative (with a little help from Fireside). The anthology, edited by Libia Brenda, includes 14 stories, presented in both Spanish and English, showcasing a variety of talent in The Mexicanx Initative, an effort spearheaded by John Picacio to sponsor Worldcon attending memberships and award them to fifty Mexicanx artists, writers, filmmakers, culture shapers, and fans.

Contributors include: José Luis Zárate, David Bowles, Julia Rios,  Felecia Caton Garcia, Iliana Vargas, Angela Lujan, Raquel Castro, Pepe Rojo, Alberto Chimal,  Gabriela Damián Miravete, Andrea Chapela, Verónica Murguía, Libia Brenda, and Richard Zela.

Free to download in ebook form and DRM-Free!

After that reminder, here is the run down. I don’t read/speak Spanish so this will just be about the English version. I won’t go into the backgrounds of the authors/translators as the anthology itself handles that quite well.

Also spoilers ahead!