ARB Recommends is a regular column of ARB that covers seasonal catalogs from indie, trade, and academic publishers, highlighting the kinds of books our editors, contributors, and readers want to read. As a publication devoted to radical critical engagement with the world—and devoted to reviewing books and media that do this—it only makes sense for ARB to support publishers by showcasing the work they and their authors do.
AB Recommends also serves as a “what to review” guide for those interested in contributing to ARB. Like what you see here? Reach out to us to review it!
ARB takes a look at Neon Hemlock’s 2020 novella series plus an edited collection of queer post-apocalyptic tales. Neon Hemlock is a boutique SFF press publishing queer chapbooks (as well as candles!).
Stone and Steel
2020 Novella Series
September 2020 / $12.99 / 92 pp.
In Stone and Steel, when General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ wellbeing and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.
“Stone and Steel is a sharp and sexy story of love, loyalty and magic. Eboni has given us a world where Black Queerness reigns supreme, and our world is better for it.” — Danny Lore, co-author of Queen of Bad Dreams
“An intimate story of cruelty, love, and duty bound up in an immensely lush and complicated magical world, one far bigger than the story can even hint at. You won’t forget Odessa and Aaliyah, and you won’t forget their people.” — Premee Mohamed, author of Beneath the Rising
“This queer, elementally themed world should appeal to fans of Laurie J. Marks’ Elemental Logic series.” — Booklist
“This will be an easy pick for anyone looking for queer, Black speculative fiction—and for fantasy fans more broadly.” — Publishers Weekly
2020 Novella Series
September 2020 / $12.99 / 135 pp.
In Yellow Jessamine, shipping magnate Evelyn Perdanu controls the dying city of Delphinium with trade deals and secrets. But when mysterious sickness sparks death and obsession, all leading back to her, Evelyn’s brittle existence is strained to breaking. She retreats to her estate, amidst paranoia and poisonous secrets, intent on rooting out this plague before it destroys everything she has built.
“This story of witchery and death unfurls itself one petal at a time until you will be happy to lay yourself amongst its whispering tendrils and just breathe it in.”
— Jordan Shiveley, Dread Singles
Cradle and Grave
2020 NOVELLA SERIES
April 2020 / $12.99 / 118 pp.
In the distant dystopian irradiated future of Cradle and Grave, Dar Lien is a professional scout for scavenger runs into the Scab, a ruined urban-zone badly infected by heavily mutagenic phenomena called the Change. When Yusuf and the mysterious Servertu employ her for an unorthodox run into the Scab, she finds herself embroiled in a conflict she didn’t expect.
“Cradle and Grave is a taunt, stunningly imaginative addition to post-apocalyptic literature. I was hooked from page one by Lien and a world that walks the fine line between body horror and biopunk with ease. Ow has an incredible talent for descriptions that draw an entire picture in just a few words, be it of the monsters that hunt the protagonists on their journey or a tender relationship.”
— Lina Rather
Queens of Noise
2020 Novella Series
April 2020 / $12.99 / 88 pp.
In Queens of Noise, Mixi fronts the Mangy Rats, a motley found family of queers, crust punks and werecoyotes. Mixi and their band know they’re gonna win the Battle of the Bands final showdown, no matter what it takes. But to make that happen, they’ll also have to contend with poser goths, murderous chickens, and a bullshit corporate takeover ruining the best bar in town.
“A queercore dirtbag ballad with sharp teeth and a soft heart.”
— Nino Cipri
Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die
Dave Ring, editor
September 2020 / $17.98 / 256 pp.
Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die is an anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction centering queer joy and community in the face of disaster. What does hope look like when everything is lost? Now, more than ever, we need to revel in the bright spots amidst the darkness.
The twenty-three stories (and two poems) contained here, as well as the roleplaying game Dream Askew by Avery Alder, imagine queer community in myriad futures interrupted by collapse. Post-apocalyptic futures glittering and bleak, challenging and eerie.
Glitter + Ashes is here to hold up a torch. Come gather round the fire.
“This well-edited anthology is remarkably tonally cohesive, united by a fresh view of the apocalypse and themes of community, mutual care, and self-actualization in the face of adversity. Readers both queer and otherwise will find much to love in this joyful celebration of difference and the power of choosing tenderness in a tough world.” — Publishers Weekly