Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, & Fran Wilde, The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, season 1: Serial/shared world. In 60s Prague, Soviet and American spies intrigue, but layered on top is the fight between the Ice and the Flame, competing groups of sorcerors trying to save and/or end the world, with tactics at least as underhanded as those of the Cold War spies. A Soviet spy/sorceress and an American spy are forced to work together on behalf of the Ice, after the American stumbles into something he really shouldn’t have and gets an elemental half-stuffed into him. Engaging enough.
Mishell Baker, Borderline: Millie’s suicide attempt cost her a budding directorial career and most of her legs; she’s learned to manage her borderline personality disorder a little bit, but certainly not enough to handle it well when she’s recruited for the Arcadia Project. Which happens to be a secret agency tasked with managing humanity’s relationship to the fae, who are the source of human creativity. Millie can be truly vicious, but she’s also a great observer, and I enjoyed the story a lot. If you know a lot about BPD you might find some of the infodumps a bit by-the-numbers, but I found them well-justified by her situation, which includes regular deployment of behavioral modification techniques.
Zen Cho, The Terracotta Bride: In the afterlife, rich people can buy their way into a nicer section of Hell. Siew Tsin, a girl who died very young and was then sold to a rich man as his second wife, endures her afterlife until the third wife arrives—this one an automaton. Siew Tsin’s lack of experience makes it hard for her to understand, but easy for her to be overlooked. Quirky short story.
Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology, ed. Tricia Reeks & Kyle Richardson: What it says on the tin—some heroes, some villains, including two stories titled “Origin Story.” Seanan McGuire, Stephanie Lai, and Carrie Vaughn’s were my favorites; I still don’t get Kelly Link. Matt Mikalatos’ “The Beard of Truth” was also really cute; in which people’s superpowers could often be dependent on particular circumstances or actions, e.g., worked only on Tuesdays or only when they stood on their heads.
R. Sikoryak, Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel: This is a work of genius. It reprints Apple’s iTunes terms and conditions, but each page puts some of the text into a reworked comic page. Flipping through inherently challenges your comics knowledge—I was better than I thought I might be at superheroes, I remembered the newspaper comics I hadn’t seen for years instantly, and I’m deficient at indies though some are distinctive enough to come through. And the contrasts between image and text are somewhere between hilarious and disturbing—for example, when the Family Circle page shows the mother surrounded by children harrying her and we see the list of things you can’t do with Apple’s services (infringe copyright, defame someone, etc.).