Cover art by David Demaret
A much quicker read than last month, while issue 81 lacks the girth of issue 80, this magazine has some great stories and poetry that boggled, bended and altered my mind. I found the stories challenging in a good way and even learned some new words, which is always nice.
I got to the poetry first learning what a calabash was from Mike Jewett's dark poem "Calabash". I thought long and hard about my heart inside my chest, not lost in a closet with Heather Morris's "Arrhythmia". I recalled an old tale but saw it in a new late with "Little and Red" by Crystal Lynn Hilbert. Finally, I was transported briefly to a fantasy of freedom and myth with "Paper Unicorn" by Laurel Dixon.
In the short fiction, Benjanun Sriduangkaew's "The Beast at the End of Time" shows the end of a strange world where there is not much familiar to grab a hold of while at the same time feels like a very human story. The language is beautiful and poetic and with changes of viewpoint and an awesomely twisted setting, this story is worth another read to fully comprehend, then possibly a third read just for the language.
The podcast story is fun to listen to and read. "The Four Gardens of Fate" By Betsy Phillips mixing fortune-telling and family to tell an exciting story of fate and redemption. I especially liked the tense shifts as this story does work with a future being seen first and then experienced. I would recommend checking this one out on the podcast either before or after reading it.
I'm always amazed how in such a short space a story can take me on an adventure that feels so epic, and "Anabaptist" by Daniel Patrick Rosen was such a story. This story has religious elements mixed with science fiction all while capturing a insightful coming-of-age adventure.
The reprint of Nick Mamatas's "On the Occasion of My Retirement" starts out as a college speech but, like many stories that appear in Apex, takes a mind-bending twist into a new realm all the while discussing some deep stuff of signs and thought and conventions and what I took for granted at reality. I was glad to have come across this story in here and look forward to checking out more of Mamatas's writing.
The "Glitch Rain" chapter of the upcoming novella by Alex Livingston definitely drew me in with an update cyberpunk world and the cool hackers often found in these stories. I recalled liking "Proximity", another Livingston story from an earlier issue, a lot.
Another great issue of Apex finished too soon, fortunately there is a lot to reread. Looking forward to next month's issue already!