Behind this gorgeous covers lies a brilliant collection of short stories and poetry that were full of sorrow, mortality, yet bright spots of hope for forsaken futures. The 88th issue of Apex Magazine has some of the best short fiction I've read all year with entries from Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Abhinav Bhat, Alexandria Baisen, and a reprint by Mike Barretta. The nonfiction touched on interesting topics like the story behind the eye-catching cover and an interview with the writer of a Gene Roddenberrry biography. Apex Magazine continues to publish great work that leaves me thinking about the human condition and the future of our world.
The post-apocalyptic poem "The Amenities of Heaven" by Marchell Dyon shows how much world-building can be packed into a few words, mournful and hopeful. Winged siblings experience ostracism in Zachary Riddle's fantastical poem "Wingless". Far off lands and buried treasure lay in "The Mouth of the Cave" by Brandon Marlon. Fly high above with "The Storm Creatures" by Christina Sng. All of these short poems have big imaginations.
"The Old Man and the Phoenix" by Alexandria Baisden touches on grief and hints at a greater fantasy world as it explores mortality and the difficulty of moving on. A phoenix is reborn but what happens to the bonds it makes with mortals as they succumb while it rebirths.
"The Prince Who Gave Up Her Empire" by Benjanun Sringduangkaew explores gender and prophecy with an entire kingdom at stake. Combining sensual cannibalism and shape-shifting giants, this story uses a great spark of imagination to explore real issues of significance while making me think of questions like are we what are destinies say we will be or can we change our identity? I always look forward to reader Benjanun's work and this story did not disappoint.
"The Warrior Boy Who Would Not Suffer" by Abhinav Bhat turn repetitive poetry into a story of piety and the fear of mortality. As a young man faces his demise due to a wound, he is challenged by an old man that may be a messenger of from the god as more disturbing things lurk in the harsh landscape.
The reprint "War Dog" by Mike Barretta from the anthology War Stories, a book I've been meaning to pick up, has gene-spliced humans and infectious fungi overruled and persecuted by a Christian government that uses technology to prevent the spread of blasphemy. The world hear is bizarre and terrifying and a story of love rests in the middle.
Another great issue of Apex Magazine, and I'm finally up to date. Now I need to read some of the great books I picked up at WorldCon like Stay Crazy and The Kraken Sea.