Apex Magazine # 81, February 2016 (magazine review).

February 10, 2016 | By | Reply More

It’s February, so it’s time for Apex Magazine # 81. As always, the first thing to hit you is the cover art and I do like this month. It’s by David Demaret who manages to impress not only by what’s depicted but by the suggestion there’s an awful lot more just out of view. The picture is titled ‘The Observatory’ and there’s more about it in the interview with the artist.


One of the things I like about ‘Apex’ is the interviews with the various contributors. It’s usually interesting to learn more about the back story of a particular piece, whether it’s a story, poem or cover art. In this edition, there is also an interview with the author Benjanun Sriduangkaew but first there’s the editorial piece from Jason Sizemore. What got my attention was his inclusion of the opening sentence of Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s story ‘The Beast At The End of Time’. I read it and thought oh, the prose is a bit verbose. Will the rest of the story be like that? Indeed it is. To put this into context, here’s the opening sentence: ‘As the world marches towards the guillotine of its finale, the sleeping best shakes loose the slats of its painted unthought and licks the tang of dénouement from its fangs.’ I suppose it’s also about style and personal taste but I found this writing style tended to hide what is a good story. While the interview with the author follows the story in the magazine, it may be prudent to read this first before reading the actual story. Sriduangkaew explains a few things in the interview which makes the story clearer.

The next short story is ‘Anabaptist’ by Daniel Rosen. It is a classic type of Science Fiction short story that I do so like. There are two brothers living on a farm when one day the sun doesn’t come up. The story depicts what they do after this startling event. As you may expect, things are not quite what they seem. I can’t say too much more without giving away some spoilers. For me this was the best item in Apex # 81 as it is very well written. There are some interesting characters in there, too.

There are poems from Mike Jewett and Crystal Lynn Hilbert before the next short story ‘The Four Gardens Of Fate’ by Betsy Phillips. This is an excellent story about people who can see the future. Each person has to discover their own way to understand the portents that they see. The title comes from the four gardens of Fate, one living, one dead, one formal and one wild. What distinguishes this story is that being able to see the future is no guarantee of happiness and wealth. In fact, it’s more likely to bring the opposite.

I’m not one who usually dwells on poems but ‘The Arrhythmia’ by Heather Morris piqued my interest. The first line reads: ‘I keep my heart in a box.’ And, while it is an interesting poem, what got my attention was a note in the brief biography of the author. This states that Heather Morris is a cyborg librarian and this is her first published poem. The person in the photograph looks human but with the progress of technology who can tell?

The next short story is actually quite a long one being 13,300 words. It is ‘On The Occasion Of My Retirement’ by Nick Mamatas. While the basic idea behind the story is very good, I’ll have to admit I didn’t enjoy it. Again, it’s a question of personal taste and viewpoints. To me, there are elements of racialism and homophobia which aren’t needed for the central idea behind the story. In essence, there is a magical statue to which some people are condemned to eternal torment. A really clever person if they have their wits about them may be able to escape but it won’t be easy. Dr. Gorden Ewing is being retired early and it’s not as if he wants retirement. After cleaning out his office, he decides to make a little money by selling the strange statue he has. From this point onwards, things take a turn for the worse for Dr. Ewing as he discovers the real nature of the statue. I should mention there a lot of sex and reference to sex in the story along with white male domination. It is perhaps better positioned in ‘Playboy’ magazine than ‘Apex’ as, compared to the other content, it is out of context.

This month’s novel excerpt is from ‘Glitch Rain’ by Alex Livingston and I’m glad to see they have provided a brief introduction to set the scene as it were. The only problem is that none of the things mentioned in the introduction are in the excerpt! While quite short, the excerpt provides enough to get my interest. It is set in the near future and two low level operatives have been engaged by a client to erase all traces of his attendance at a semi-illegal party in real time. Things go to plan until a ‘gray man’ is spotted by one of the operatives at the party at which point the excerpt ends. There’s a mixture of new and existing technologies in play and it does look as though the story has potential. It’s the type of story I like but I’m a little nervous that it might be a different story to the one mentioned in the introduction.

To wrap up, I would have to say for me this edition was a bit of a mixed bag. The two short stories ‘Anabaptist’ and ‘The Four Gardens Of Fate’ were well worth the cover price. The other content items might be to your liking, depending on your personal preferences. I notice that there’s also a pod caste of ‘The Four Gardens Of Fate’ available from the ‘Apex’ website which is an added bonus.

Andy Whitaker

February 2016

(pub: Apex Publications. Emag. Price: £1.99 ISSN: 2157-1406 ASIN: B005ANGWV8)

check out website: www.apexbookcompany.com/collections/apex-magazine-all/products/apex-magazine-issue-81/


Category: Magazines, MEDIA, Scifi

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About AndyWhitaker

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties.

My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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