Review: Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer’s Hummingbird Salamander is a departure from his last few novels: a realist thriller about “Jane Smith,” a woman who finds a taxidermied hummingbird and through this discovery becomes embroiled in an “ecoterrorist” plot.

In this blog entry, I review Jeff VanderMeer’s newest novel, Hummingbird Salamander, focusing on protagonist Jane Smith.

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Stelliform’s Faves, Part 1

With our first two books in print or at-the-printer, and our next two on the decks (surprise! book #4 will be announced soon!), we’re looking to the climate and social justice related books we love, reading them backwards in a ring of fire to conjure up more environment-focused submissions for Stelliform Years 3 and beyond. Just kidding, we’re sharing them here so you can get to know us a little better — what we love and what kinds of stories we’ll likely publish in the future.

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Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

This past month, I (Selena Middleton, Stelliform Publisher and EIC) read Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians alongside my friend and invaluable Stelliform helper and fellow English PhD, Kristen Shaw. Since our conversations often fall into fairly nerdy literary analysis, we thought we would share our thoughts about The Only Good Indians in the form of the conversation that we might have had if the pandemic had not prevented an in-person meeting. What follows is our conversation-review of SGJ’s novel, which was published by Saga Press in July 2020.

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Review: The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

This creepy bit of sylvan horror is the kind of thing we’d like to see in our slush pile: a story about the inhabitants of an anarchist commune in Freedom, Iowa, who summon Uliksi, a blood-red three-antlered deer god, in order to deal with their hierarchy problems. Uliksi “turns predator into prey” when he “hunts those who wield power over others”.

Though Uliksi is originally summoned to deal with a violent sociopath who has seized control of the commune, the summoners soon realize that the act of summoning an “endless spirit” to dispatch Freedom’s unwanted leader results in the deer god’s gaze falling, inevitably, upon them.

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Review: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

P. Djèlí Clark’s The Black God’s Drums is fast-paced and fun, with characters that play off each other’s quick-witted banter. The world created in this novella is a slightly off-kilter version of our own, with recognizable politics (where the bad guys are Confederates singing songs about Andrew Jackson) juxtaposed with airships and mind-numbing “drapeto gas” which keeps a slave economy running after emancipation. But the part of this book that is so interesting to us is the orisha magic wielded by main characters Jacqueline (or Creeper) and Anne-Marie, magic which connects the narrative so strongly to place.

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Review: The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

Both rage and hope can be detrimental to developing the kinds of responses to the climate emergency that we need to restructure society (and the kinds of stories we tell ourselves). Certainly, rage can motivate, but it can also turn on itself; hope can push relentlessly toward unrealistic, unachievable goals when good-enough is right in front of us. Bolander’s novelette is certainly a rage-packed pill that is, at times, tough to swallow; but it is easier if the book’s moments of beauty are not overlooked.

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