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Apex Magazine Issue 68

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Apex Magazine is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field. New issues are released on the first Tuesday of every month. Edited by Jason Sizemore and Sigrid Ellis. TABLE OF CONTENTS FICTION: Pocosin — Ursula Vernon Multo — Samuel Marzioli Anarchic Hand — Andy Dudak John Dill Apex Magazine is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field. New issues are released on the first Tuesday of every month. Edited by Jason Sizemore and Sigrid Ellis. TABLE OF CONTENTS FICTION: Pocosin — Ursula Vernon Multo — Samuel Marzioli Anarchic Hand — Andy Dudak John Dillinger and the Blind Magician — Allison M. Dickson The Sea Half-Held by Night — E. Catherine Tobler (eBook/Subscriber exclusive) NONFICTION: Words from the Editor-in-Chief — Jason Sizemore Interview with Ursula Vernon — Andrea Johnson Interview with Cover Artist Emma SanCartier — Russell Dickerson Clavis Aurea: A Review of Short Fiction — Charlotte Ashley The Other: HP Lovecraft, Alien, & Ghost Stories: Monstrifications of Dunbar's Number — DeAnna Knippling POETRY: Doors — Alina Rios The Poe Twist — Armel Dagorn Before My Father Vanished — Wendy Rathbone NOVEL EXCERPT: Straggletaggle — J.M. McDermott (eBook/Subscriber exclusive) Cover art by Emma SanCartier.


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Apex Magazine is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field. New issues are released on the first Tuesday of every month. Edited by Jason Sizemore and Sigrid Ellis. TABLE OF CONTENTS FICTION: Pocosin — Ursula Vernon Multo — Samuel Marzioli Anarchic Hand — Andy Dudak John Dill Apex Magazine is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field. New issues are released on the first Tuesday of every month. Edited by Jason Sizemore and Sigrid Ellis. TABLE OF CONTENTS FICTION: Pocosin — Ursula Vernon Multo — Samuel Marzioli Anarchic Hand — Andy Dudak John Dillinger and the Blind Magician — Allison M. Dickson The Sea Half-Held by Night — E. Catherine Tobler (eBook/Subscriber exclusive) NONFICTION: Words from the Editor-in-Chief — Jason Sizemore Interview with Ursula Vernon — Andrea Johnson Interview with Cover Artist Emma SanCartier — Russell Dickerson Clavis Aurea: A Review of Short Fiction — Charlotte Ashley The Other: HP Lovecraft, Alien, & Ghost Stories: Monstrifications of Dunbar's Number — DeAnna Knippling POETRY: Doors — Alina Rios The Poe Twist — Armel Dagorn Before My Father Vanished — Wendy Rathbone NOVEL EXCERPT: Straggletaggle — J.M. McDermott (eBook/Subscriber exclusive) Cover art by Emma SanCartier.

30 review for Apex Magazine Issue 68

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    A pocosin is a particular type of swamp, and in this swamp lives a particular type of witch whose native habitat is the stories of Ursula Vernon. She is old, she is cranky, she is kind-hearted. You don't want to mess with her, not even if you're the Devil. A pocosin is a particular type of swamp, and in this swamp lives a particular type of witch whose native habitat is the stories of Ursula Vernon. She is old, she is cranky, she is kind-hearted. You don't want to mess with her, not even if you're the Devil.

  2. 5 out of 5

    The Shayne-Train

    What a beautifully written short story this was! Down on the swamp, an aging witch must confront powers both heavenly and, you know, the other, to give an old god that she doesn't even care about his dying wish. A great premise, absolutely exquisite dialogue, and heartfelt descriptions of an ecosystem that may soon be beyond us, due to "progress." What a beautifully written short story this was! Down on the swamp, an aging witch must confront powers both heavenly and, you know, the other, to give an old god that she doesn't even care about his dying wish. A great premise, absolutely exquisite dialogue, and heartfelt descriptions of an ecosystem that may soon be beyond us, due to "progress."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    A dying 'possum god asks sanctuary at the cottage of a swamp witch. Reluctantly, the witch must speak to both god and the devil on the ancient deity's behalf. Vernon wonderfully captures the feeling of an authentic folktale here. it's also a bit reminiscent of 'Anansi Boys' or 'American Gods' Neil Gaiman. A dying 'possum god asks sanctuary at the cottage of a swamp witch. Reluctantly, the witch must speak to both god and the devil on the ancient deity's behalf. Vernon wonderfully captures the feeling of an authentic folktale here. it's also a bit reminiscent of 'Anansi Boys' or 'American Gods' Neil Gaiman.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Athena

    Gorgeously paced, pulsing in time with the life in a witch-woman's swamp: a short story about gods, devils, witchblood, dying and death, with fly-tying. A mud-encrusted gem of a tale. Read for free at Pocosin-Apex Magazine Gorgeously paced, pulsing in time with the life in a witch-woman's swamp: a short story about gods, devils, witchblood, dying and death, with fly-tying. A mud-encrusted gem of a tale. Read for free at Pocosin-Apex Magazine

  5. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    http://www.apex-magazine.com/pocosin/ http://www.apex-magazine.com/pocosin/

  6. 5 out of 5

    Quick Sip Reviews

    Quick Sips - Apex Magazine #68 Today I'm looking at Apex #68, which as always is a nice mix of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. I always think of Apex as being the go-to place for dark speculative stories, and this month is no exception, with enough creepy and bloody to keep things moving along nicely. Stories: "Pocosin" by Ursula Vernon (5000 words) A story about a witch helping out an old possum god to die, this one is all about the mood, the tired witch fed up with the work of doing good. Fending Quick Sips - Apex Magazine #68 Today I'm looking at Apex #68, which as always is a nice mix of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. I always think of Apex as being the go-to place for dark speculative stories, and this month is no exception, with enough creepy and bloody to keep things moving along nicely. Stories: "Pocosin" by Ursula Vernon (5000 words) A story about a witch helping out an old possum god to die, this one is all about the mood, the tired witch fed up with the work of doing good. Fending off God and the Devil from taking the possum god, the witch wants a break, but things like this keep happening, and because she has a sense of right and wrong, and because she has the power to help, she lets herself be pulled out of her rest. I loved her reactions to everything, the world-building that the story manages where there are these forces at work and Maggie, the witch, is caught in the middle. And I rather like the message, that doing the right thing takes work, and that you shouldn't give up even if it's hard and thankless, but sometimes you do make a difference and sometime you do get a reward of sorts, even if it's only a break and some booze and a promise that there's more work to do. "Multo" by Samuel Marzioli (3770 words) A creepy story about a childhood fear returning. A man is contacted by an old neighbor and reminds him of an encounter with a ghost when he was young. There's something about immigration going on here, as well, with the main character being an immigrant as well as the ghost that tormented him as a child. The ghost attached itself to an old woman first, causing her to become withdrawn, haunted. And then it attaches to him, or maybe it's all in his head. That part of the story is very well done, that question of whether this is real or not. Obviously it could just be his fear, that as a child he believed the stories and now as an adult he remembers that uncertainty and it bleeds over, causing him to doubt, to see what isn't there. But then, it's also possible that it's real, that this is happening and a ghost has found him. But it's a classic fear of the dark story, a fear of the unknown, one influenced by stories from a different country. It's an interesting piece and contains a nice amount of creepiness. "Anarchic Hand" by Andy Dudak (3300 words) This story is a bit of a trip, because it operates with a disoriented narrator in the form of the mind of a cryo-perserved woman woken as a mental infection. It makes more sense than I can properly describe, but it's still a learning curve, and most of the story is simply explaining the situation and the main dilemma, that Dimia, the narrator, has to make a choice of what to do in her new situation. She's not alone in infecting a man's body, and she can either join a group that want to take over him entirely to go where they will in his body or can use him to enter into a place where more consciousnesses like hers have gathered. There really isn't a good option here, and Dimia changes her mind a bit. To be honest, I don't think I really followed enough to understand if her choice in the end was better or worse than anything else., Maybe it was neither. Maybe that's the point. It's an interesting idea, but it took a lot to simply understand what was going on, and I can't help feel it would have been better suited as a much longer piece, so that the actual story could play out more and the exposition wouldn't have been so overwhelming. "John Dillinger and the Blind Magician" by Allison M. Dickson (4900 words) A fun story featuring John Dillinger and Prohibition Era wizards and some violence and double-dealing. Not exactly a subtle story, but there's enough there to keep things interesting, wondering what the moral option is when Dillinger wants magic assistance in getting out of the life. Things aren't quite what they seem, and it all makes sense in the end, though it's a bit convenient, everything sort of falling together very neatly but without the mess that would have made it a bit more interesting. Again, it's fun, and the lightest of the stories in the issue. I'm not the hugest of fans of the time period, but I like the world-building and this feels more like a sample of a longer work than anything else. It works, but begs for more. Poetry: "Doors" by Alina Rios A poem of short lines and short small stanzas, this one puts me in the mind of being outside at night. Something is going on with trees, though whether the "you" of this poem is a tree or is a person who sort of becomes a tree is a little hazy to me. I'd probably come down more on the side that the "you" is a person and the dreamlike quality of the poem is a way of saying that the "I" of the poem has traveled through a door where things are not quite the same, and not quite safe. It has a nice mood, but I found it a little hard to parse. Perhaps my lack of experience with poetry showing... "The Poe Twist: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe" by Armel Dagorn A fun and kinda creepy poem about playing hide-and-seek in the dark while evoking some Poe to get the job done. It brings together a lot of nice elements from Poe's stories, the darkness, the throbbing of the heart. That it is framed as a game, and a children's game (though not one being played by children), is nice and adds some mystery. Another poem with shorter lines, leaving more unknown, unsaid, it works pretty well. It never really bothers to clear up the relationship between the hider and the seeker, but that central mystery is what makes the poem most interesting, imagining if this is something kind, tender, or dangerous, violent. Good stuff. "Before My Father Vanished" by Wendy Rathbone A poem about a gift given to a person by their father, this one is more strictly science fiction than any of the others. And also good at capturing the way the "I" in the story is trying to hold onto this trace of their father. They cling to it, and yet it cannot last, and breaks, and is only reclaimed in part, in pieces. Like dealing with loss of parents, with the loss of memory, what remains is still real and still important, but so is the realization that breaking the string of crystals didn't break what the person's father was. The father remains at the end, and the "I" seems to grow a bit, realizing that things keep going, that there are some things that are never lost. Non-fiction: "The Other: HP Lovecraft, Alien, and Ghost Stories: Monstrifications of Dunbar's Number" by DeAnna Knippling This is a fascinating look at the Other and monstrosity, a topic that is ever-recurring in speculative fiction. From Frankenstein and even before, it's something that really infuses not only the majority of horror but the majority of science fiction and fantasy as well. Orcs? Aliens in general? It's a great piece on how the Other becomes externalized and internalized, how it is contrasted between the in-group and out-group. Really interesting stuff to read, especially for nerds who can't help but drawn parallels between different sources. Something that brings up Lovecraft, Alien, and The Thing in the same breath is an article that I have to tell people to go and read. Also, yes, Jones the cat and "insufficient mass." There would need to be tiny face-huggers and tiny aliens. Which they should really do. Because that would be terrifying. Have they done that? Maybe in the terrible AvP movies? I never saw any Alien related movie since the first AvP. I feel okay about that, but the questions remain. Anyway, go read this and think about things. And stuff!

  7. 4 out of 5

    ShingetsuMoon

    Horror seems to be more of a theme in this issue which isn't really my thing although I must say that each of the authors did a great job setting up and delivering each of their stories. I loved the novel excerpt contained here and definitely plan to look into the book More on my own. Great fiction pieces offer insight into how to set up a great monster in a story. Traditional or non traditional. And the short story review section will no doubt give readers a slew of other stories and magazines t Horror seems to be more of a theme in this issue which isn't really my thing although I must say that each of the authors did a great job setting up and delivering each of their stories. I loved the novel excerpt contained here and definitely plan to look into the book More on my own. Great fiction pieces offer insight into how to set up a great monster in a story. Traditional or non traditional. And the short story review section will no doubt give readers a slew of other stories and magazines to check out.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aleksandra Gogić

    Only read Pocosin — Ursula Vernon.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Very much love.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sami Sundell

    What to do when a god crawls on your porch to die? For Maggie Grey, it's her sad duty to make sure the possum god gets a decent death, for she is a witch. Pocosin reminds me a lot about Vernon's Jackalope Wives, which won a Nebula Award this year. The main character is an old woman who is wise beyond her years. The style is similar, the story flows peacefully and includes occasional philosophical ponderings. I can't really put my finger on why, but the story left me completely cold. The dying god What to do when a god crawls on your porch to die? For Maggie Grey, it's her sad duty to make sure the possum god gets a decent death, for she is a witch. Pocosin reminds me a lot about Vernon's Jackalope Wives, which won a Nebula Award this year. The main character is an old woman who is wise beyond her years. The style is similar, the story flows peacefully and includes occasional philosophical ponderings. I can't really put my finger on why, but the story left me completely cold. The dying god is a side note which could've been interesting, but isn't. Maggie's visitors could've been interesting but aren't. The story could've had an intriguing hook but doesn't. From what I've seen in other reviews, some people read this as a story about confronting death of a loved one. I just didn't make the connection. Neither did I make the connection with Sojourner Truth that some people make - that's probably down to cultural differences. I finally also realized Vernon is the creator of Digger, a comic which I've had in my bookmarks for years, which I really want to like - and which I never get around to actually reading. It seems her style of building stories just doesn't match my preferences.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Soorya

    Evocative, slightly sad story about an aging witch and a dying possum god who asks her for sanctuary. There's a wonderful sense of place here, and the characters shine. I was originally leaning towards 4 stars. But there was something about it, an echo, that kept drawing me back - and it was so wonderfully evocative and poignant even on a second read. Bumping it up to 5. It's free to read here. Evocative, slightly sad story about an aging witch and a dying possum god who asks her for sanctuary. There's a wonderful sense of place here, and the characters shine. I was originally leaning towards 4 stars. But there was something about it, an echo, that kept drawing me back - and it was so wonderfully evocative and poignant even on a second read. Bumping it up to 5. It's free to read here.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kavya

    My review for this story is two parts - the pitch that brought me to it, and a quote from the story itself. Someone of r/fantasy pitched this as - "If Granny Weatherwax wandered into American Gods" And this quote - “Needful,” she said thickly. “That’s being a witch for you.” “No,” said Death, “that’s being alive. Being a witch just means the things that need doing are bigger.” Can be read for free at http://www.apex-magazine.com/pocosin/ My review for this story is two parts - the pitch that brought me to it, and a quote from the story itself. Someone of r/fantasy pitched this as - "If Granny Weatherwax wandered into American Gods" And this quote - “Needful,” she said thickly. “That’s being a witch for you.” “No,” said Death, “that’s being alive. Being a witch just means the things that need doing are bigger.” Can be read for free at http://www.apex-magazine.com/pocosin/

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    Review for 'Multo' by Samuel Marzioli only - 3 stars 3 stars: Interesting, a potentially scary story - it was almost there for me. It had enough moments to give me the heebee-geebees, but enough moments to take me out of the story. Review for 'Multo' by Samuel Marzioli only - 3 stars 3 stars: Interesting, a potentially scary story - it was almost there for me. It had enough moments to give me the heebee-geebees, but enough moments to take me out of the story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    A.J.

    I have to admit, I think this story was about something that I missed. And I don't care. It was amazingly well written, and beautiful. If Granny Weatherwax wandered into American Gods, I think this story would be the result. I have to admit, I think this story was about something that I missed. And I don't care. It was amazingly well written, and beautiful. If Granny Weatherwax wandered into American Gods, I think this story would be the result.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Ruth

    This was a beautiful short story. The world is so full and complete. I feel like I could stumble upon this place somewhere, and I feel like I would recognize it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    MB (What she read)

    Found here: http://www.apex-magazine.com/pocosin/ Found here: http://www.apex-magazine.com/pocosin/

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mosca

    Yet again, another gem by Ursula Vernon.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    A very minor god is dying, and just wants to die in peace. A swamp witch has to go head to head with God and the Devil to give him the death he wants.

  19. 5 out of 5

    SA

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anita Kendall

  21. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Smith

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mia

  24. 4 out of 5

    C C

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marrella

  26. 5 out of 5

    Spf

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dedra

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elena

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

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