Perfect by Haddayr Copley-Woods
Steel Snowflakes in My Skull by Tom Piccirilli
The Cultist’s Son by Ferrett Steinmetz
Repairing the World by John Chu
Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary by Pamela Dean (eBook/subscriber exclusive)
The Violent Century (extract) by Lavie Tidhar (eBook/subscriber exclusive)
Cogs by Beth Cato
Unlabelled Core c. Zanclean (5.33 Ma) by Michele Bannister
Tell Me the World is a Forest by Chris Lynch
Aristeia by Sonya Taaffe
Resolute: Notes from the Editor-in-Chief by Sigrid Ellis
Interview with Cover Artist Mehrdad Isvandi by Loraine Sammy
Interview with Ferrett Steinmetz by Maggie Slater
After Our Bodies Fail by Abra Staffin-Wiebe
Cover art by Mehrdad Isvandi
Thoughts: Issue 59 of Apex Magazine is filled with stories that really invite you to stretch your mind, some going a little too high over my head, others hitting me full in the face and rocking me backward. Ferrett Steinmetz’s The Cultist’s Son was deeply disturbing, violent and evoking a very visceral reaction from me in the way where I can’t tell if I liked it or not no matter how good it actually was. Tom Piccirilli’s Steel Snowflakes in my Skull was delightfully ambiguous about the ending, and was one of those stories that left me unsure as to whether I fully understood it or not. Haddayr Copley-Woods’s Perfect, though, was exactly what it says on the box: perfect, and very thought-provoking and insightful.
And Pamela Dean’s Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary made me want to track down more of what she’s written so I can bury myself in her writing style again. I’ve heard her work praised before but hadn’t read anything she’d written, or at least not that I’d been aware of, but now that I have I definitely want to see more. Ditto Lavie Tidhar with the excerpt of The Violent Century; I have read some of his stuff before, but I very much want to read the whole of that book now!
As with the previous issue I reviewed, I don’t feel entirely qualified to comment much on the poetry. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy poetry, or that none of the poems in here spoke to me (in fact, Chris Lynch’s Tell Me the World is a Forest was brilliant, and Beth Cato’s Cogs was one of the pieces that left me blinking and trying to fully wrap my head around what I’d just experienced), but poetry is such a hard thing to deconstruct sometimes, and I have little practice with it, and beyond “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it,” I find I’m pretty lousy with reviewing poetry.
I do want to take a minute to express my love of Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s After Our Bodies Fail, which talks about how medicine has advanced from the days of placing leeches sometimes in a person’s body to now being able to print out mechanical prosthetic hands from 3D printers, and talks about the Spoon Theory of trying to manage one’s health when it’s not optimal. It got me thinking of Sarah Chorn‘s Special Needs in Strange Worlds series on SF Signal, and it made me appreciate how more information about disabilities and health care is getting out there, especially in the genre community. So awesome.
Mehrdad Isvandi’s cover art was, in a word, striking. At first glance it looks like nothing more than an anthropomorphic tiger putting on a suit, a fantastical enough idea on its own. Until you notice the zebra mask on the dresser. To me it seemed like a more poignant version of “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” using less common animals to demonstrate the same idea… until my brain attached another layer of meaning to it in the fact that it almost looks like the tiger’s getting dressed for work, professional clothes needed to set a good impression and thus hide his true nature in order to pass as something else. Now I admit that’s probably my own interpretation getting slapped onto the artwork there, but even so, that idea is something I’ve struggled with a lot in the past, hiding myself in order to pass for ‘normal’ in public, and to see artwork that captures that sentiment so well for me was incredible, and very moving.
After reading this issue, I’m sure that I made a good choice in getting a subscription to Apex Magazine. I may not enjoy every single in the issues, but what I do like outstrips what I don’t, and even what I don’t enjoy still gets me thinking. I’m going to be looking forward to this magazine at the beginning of every month, and I can’t wait to see what will be coming in the future!