Cover art by Irek Konior
Apex has always pushed boundaries and this magazine is a great example of their groundbreaking story choices. This issues had not one but two Trigger Warnings before stories, so not for the faint of heart. I enjoyed this issue because some of the stories made me think and left me so confused I had to go back around for another read to grasp them.
One of the tales that required caution was "Aishiteru Means I Love You" by Troy Tang, his first sale. The story captures the wild and absurdly vulgar language of message boards on sites like 4Chan and Reddit. The author also dreams a very real possibility for the future of internet pornography with a 3D rendering of a sexual partner. The violent acts in this story did leave me a bit shaken. Looking forward to more science fiction from Troy Tang.
All three of the short fiction winners for the Christmas Invasion contest were haunting taking different approaches that all worked out to give me holiday chills for such a warm December. "Reconstituted" by Marlee Jane Ward had a great horrifying invasion twist on teleportation.
"Memory Tree" by Jess Rausch is told through various perspectives on the effects of the internet trail we leave behind and that can be used to almost catch out essence. This story reminded me of this great Black Mirror episode "Be Right Back" and as our lives become more and more online, it does make me wonder what they will be able to conjure up from what we leave behind.
I was glad "She Gave Her Heart, He Took Her Marrow" by Sam Fleming was also a podcast because right after I finished it, I wanted to take it in again and it is always nice to hear a story while driving or working. This story deserves a second read with the mysterious Hedron who is a character as spooky as Freddy Krueger or Krampus. The Walk also seemed to be an intriguing disease and this story will stick with me for a while.
"The Phylactery" by Nick Mamatas delves into legacy and how it can spread and change as time passes. This story made me think of the names we leave behind and the deeds that shape the future.
"Nemesis" by Laird Barron is such a head trip of a story, I often found myself having to pause between each page break to review what I had just read. Even at the end, I was confused but I know it meant something, a superb reprint choice.
As always, the poetry is an added bonus. "Grotesque" by JJ Hunter gives a well, grotesque, view of a strange motherhood. "Myrrh, and the Sun" by Lara Ek is chilling apocalyptic poetry.
I always love when the nonfiction gives advice on fiction writing, and though I don't write historical fiction it is nice to see a piece that explains some of the finer details and gives good tips on how to research. Jennie Goloboy does a good job explaining what she wants to see and what to avoid in Shiny Boots and Corinthians.
Apex Magazine continues to impress and I really look forward to the extra long reader appreciation issue next month!