Strange worlds exist in this anthology collection of early Apex Magazine work also titled Descended from Darkness. From post-apocalypse to deranged steampunk to far off worlds of talking animals, anything can pop up in each story leaving a reader not knowing what to expect as they begin another adventure through galaxies, bizarre futures, altered pasts, and much more. These stories disturb, move to emotion, horrify, enlighten and create a certain giddiness that is hard to keep up with. Each story deserves a long discussion and more thought but I'll highlight a few I enjoyed immensely.
From the beginning "Post Apocalypse" by James Walton Langolf plays off the title with mail arriving amidst the destruction of humanity in a zombie-like fashion. "These Days" by Katherine Sparrow continues the end of humanity trend but with a rock band still trying to play shows despite plague and destruction. The darkness does not let up as the horrifying "In the Seams" by Andrew C. Porter has miners discovering something beneath that ground that should not have seen the surface. This story was especially horrifying and has a great horror ending.
Lavie Tidhar wrote two stories for the collection, "Blankenjel" takes readers to a bizarre world with creatures of nightmare and a determined protagonist, "Dark Planet" explores worlds where aliens interact and a space explorer deals with his past and death. "Behold Skowt!" by Jason Heller trails the life of a wild and crazy graffiti artist do one last ultimate tag. "The Puma" by Theodora Goss revisits the island of Dr. Monreau to see what happens to characters after the uprising. It ties into the classic literature and explores other issues of science and morality.
"Waiting for Jakie" by Barbara Krasnoff revisits historical events in a time loop as a Holocaust survivor recalls a romance in her old age with an American soldier. "Starter House" by Jason Palmer asks what is would be like if humans were the parasites living in large creatures on a far off planet isolated from the rest of a warring human race, another really scary tale. "Organ Nell" by Jennifer Pelland explored the morality of a woman who grows extra organs on the outside of her skin that help save lives but leave her locked up as a medical experiment. "Clockwork, Patchwork and Ravens" by Peter M. Ball shows us a world of steampunk and genetic mutation that is both beautiful and grotesque.
All of these stories deserve readers and recognition and my short review does not do them justice. I have enjoyed a lot of Apex Magazine's recent fiction and am pleased to find that their backlog is full of horrifying and highly entertaining work. I look forward to reading the next three volumes of the collection and several novels that recently came out alongside the monthly magazine.