Cover art by Matt DavisJust before the next issue comes out, I finished the massive customer appreciation issue 80 of Apex Magazine full of awesome stories thanks to an awesome drive in which I managed to pick up every past issue to see the history of stories from this great publication.
Jumping right into the short fiction, there were two amazing Ursula Vernon stories, an author at the top of her game. "The Tomato Thief" returns readers to the world of the award-winning "Jackalope Wives" and Grandma Harken, a great fictional character. This story is long and entertaining with a great ending though not quite the revelation that her previous story brought. The desert is such an interesting setting, and I hope to go back.
The other story by Vernon is the twist on an old folktale in "Razorback". I felt so sorry for the hog and the witch's quest to reunite with it, a truly moving story. If you have a love of animals like me, this one may be tough to read.
"The Open-Hearted" by Lettie Prell showed the whims and frenzy of fashion trends while also pointing the horrors of body modifications that fill me with horror just thinking about becoming a natural thing in fashion. This story conjures up some disturbing images, enjoyed reading it and listening to it on the podcast.
"Soursop" by Chikodili Emelumadu didn't quite click with me but explored some interesting concepts. "That Lucky Old Sun" by Carrie Cuinn told a wild mother-daughter tale mixed in with a nuclear apocalypse. So many stories in this issue, I almost forgot "Bones of the World" by Jennifer Hykes that spins a witch yarn that will give you chills.
The final two reprints were both excellent. "Kutraya's Skies" by Dave Creek reminds me of some classic sci-fi I've read and has a bit of a twist in where the plot goes. "Riding Atlas" by Ferrett Steinmetz is just crazy and disturbing. It goes weird place but I liked it.
The poetry is captivating as always. I really liked "RX-200 Series: It's Everything You Need" by Samson Stormcrow and "Automaton" by Bianca Spriggs. All of these poems are worth a read and a few hours of contemplation. I am getting more and more hooked to science fiction and fantasy poetry. The form and the genre go so well together.
The interview are insightful as well as the nonfiction piece. I'm looking forward to that "Paper Tigers" novel by Damien Angelica Waters. This mammoth issue is more than worth it, and I appreciate Apex magazine generosity in sharing these awesome pieces and look forward to the next issue coming out tomorrow!