cover image Baffling Year One

Baffling Year One

Edited by dave ring, Craig L. Gidney, and Gabriella Etoniru. Neon Hemlock, $14.99 trade paper (132p) ISBN 978-1-952086-52-6

There are no false notes in this strange and dazzling anthology of 26 queer, speculative stories, selected from the first year of Baffling Magazine—which is particularly impressive given the wide range of tone, subject matter, and subgenre. Some stories, including “Velvet” by Nino Cipri and “From the Deep, the Music Rises” by Izzy Wasserstein, traffic in an unsettling kind of horror, while others, like “Earl Grey” by Jae Steinbacher and “Embrace of Memory” by Brian Rappatta, explore the intricacies of the human heart. Among the more experimental stories is “Cellars, Caskets, and Closets” by Maxwell I. Gold, a labyrinthine piece whose narrator descends into madness as they drag a casket through the “gutted ramparts” of their own consciousness. The collection begins and ends on hopeful notes; both “Merida, Yucatan: 2060” by Jewelle Gomez and “The Heart Is a Spare Part” by Hailey Piper deal with efforts to save a ravaged homeland. Any fan of queer speculative fiction will want to snap this up. (Aug.)