Thursday, April 10, 2014

Apex Magazine: Operation Fourth Story

First released this past November, Apex Magazine Issue 54 features stories from Bogi Takács, Vajra Chandrasekera, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, and Jim C. Hines; nonfiction pieces from Michael Damian Thomas and Lynne M. Thomas; an interview with Jim C. Hines; poetry from Alexandra Seidel and Rose Lemberg; and cover art by Galen Dara.

First of all, if (like me) you're not accustomed to reading magazines on your e-reader, I must say the presentation is stellar. It looks great, and works very well. In fact, it's very much like reading a short anthology. I've had some bad experiences with magazines, most of them PDFs that required the reader to magnify and scroll around, so the proper e-book formatting here was a very nice surprise.

The 4 short stories here offer a good mix of genres and styles. Recordings of a More Personal Nature by Bogi Takács is an interesting story about memories and stories, the power they hold over us, and the lengths we'll go to remember. The Jackal’s Wife by Vajra Chandrasekera was a fantastically odd tale about faery tale curses and  forbidden treasure, love and betrayal, and transformations (both spiritual and physical) with one of the greatest first lines I've read in a long time:

"It ended when Jack found her heart in the midden. It was undigested and wet with saliva, buried in thorny durian husks."

This is a Ghost Story by Keffy R.M. Kehrli didn't really work for me, more because of its structure than its story, but it still does some interesting things with ghosts.

Creature in Your Neighborhood by Jim C. Hines, on the other hand, was absolutely brilliant in its twisted, inappropriate glory. He offers us a very Sesame Street type world, populated by puppets and humans, and introduces a werewolf to the cast. It's a story that's both clever and very, very funny, with several moments that had me laughing out loud. I mean, just try singing one of Rolly's songs to yourself and see if you can keep a straight face:

Arms and legs, arms and legs,
Flying through the air.
Screams and screams and screams and screams
And corpses everywhere.

Hines really gets into the possibilities of such a world, and manages to make the death of puppets both terrible and terribly funny, with things like hollow point bullets, colored silver with crayons, leaving a mess of shredded stuffing and felt. I won't spoil it any further, but it really is a great story.

I'm not a fan of poetry, so I can't really comment on that, but the Thanksgiving fandom piece by Michael Damian Thomas & Lynne M. Thomas was a nice touch, and Maggie Slater's interview with  Jim C. Hines was a great piece as well.

αωαωαωαωαωαωαω

Operation Fourth Story is a 2 week showcase event (April 3rd to April 17th) by the folks over at Apex Magazine, featuring guest posts, reviews of past issues, and interviews with the Apex Magazine crew. Their goal is to generate 250 new subscribers, which will provide the revenue to add a fourth piece of original short fiction to every issue.

From now until April 17th you can get the next year (12 issues) of Apex Magazine for only $17.95 direct from Apex or through Weightless books. Each month you’ll receive a download link for the issue in the format of your choice and Voila! Apex Magazine just got mobile, living happily on your eReader. Sign up during Operation Fourth Story and not only do you get a free Apex eBook of your choice but, if they reach their goal of 250 new subscribers, one random subscriber will win a Kindle Paperwhite!

2 comments:

  1. Nice review. I read my first issue of Apex this week and what struck me was the good mix of stories and styles as well. Not to mention content like interviews and essays. Poetry pretty much went over my head too, though. But I was impressed overall.

    ~Mogsy

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  2. Wasn't that Jim Hines story totally hilarious? Probably one of my favorites of his.

    I'm new to the whole e-book thing, so I too wasn't sure how the formatting would be for me. I'm used to opening a magazine or anthology, looking at the table of contents, and flipping through till I find the page I want. In my limited experience, I've found that anthologies are easier to read electronically than novels.

    What a relief that the e-formatting for Apex was intuitive and easy to use! I read it on a Kindle App for Android, and the section pull down menu was a piece of cake, and I liked that I could zoom into the artwork. Huge plus for me returning to this magazine!

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