Apex Magazine Issue 138

While this issue originally came out in May, I waited to post it until all the stories in it were available for free online. That way, you are able to read any that pique your interest. And here are the stories with brief reviews.

The issue opens with “The Relationship of Ink to Blood” by Alex Langer. In a fascist world at war, I warehouse manager catalogs and maintains all the personal effects of the regimes victims. In fact, he has conversations with them, talking with and befriending them. He has a particular affinity for one victim who refuses to speak with him. This is an amazing story that touches on what Hanna Arendt termed the banality of evil. (My rating: 5/5)

Ncheta” by Chisom Umeh tells of a human world that is awash in virtual reality so much that it is affecting the parallel world of the gods. In fact, it is beginning to encroach on that world of those gods as they struggle to do something about it. An interesting premise that ended up not that interesting to me. (My rating: 3/5)

Despite the fact that an alien race nearly wiped out humanity, the titular mother in “Thank Mother for Your Life” by Mary G. Thompson saves an alien child and cares for it as her child. These creatures crave others of their own kind, so the mother arranges with another foster mother for their alien children to meet. This is not a good idea. This tale is told from the perspective of the alien child and is a fascinating look at how decisions are made. (My rating: 4/5)

In an immigrant neighborhood, five dogs go missing each leaving a pool of blood behind. Then children start to disappear without a trace in “Chupa Sangre” by Tre Harris Salas. No one seems to know what is going on. But the narrator’s abuela is pretty sure she knows and sets a trap. A story of family and the immigrant experience, it will touch you deeply. (My rating: 4/5)

The narrator of “A World Unto Myself” by P.A. Cornell can in his old android when he gets a new one. But he just can’t bring himself to do that. So he just leaves it on a bench in the scrap yard where it gets a new an unexpected life. An interesting take on repurposing old tech. (My rating: 4/5)

In “Lady Koi-Koi: A Book Report” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, a Nigerian high school student is assigned a text reflecting the experience of his colonizers. Rather than writing that book report, he writes one about his encounters with a ghost calling herself Lady Koi-Koi that better reflects his own experience. (My rating: 3/5)

My least favorite story of the issue was “Measure Twice, Cut Once” by K.R. March. I found it confusing a little muddled. It is the story of a group of enslaved dressmakers conspiring to poison those who will wear the dresses they are forced to make. (My rating: 2/5)

A woman repeatedly emerges from the sea trying to remember something that she finally remembers in “Smoke Fire Wind Sea” by Valerie Kemp. The writing here is superb. Lots of imagery and emotion that communicates the confusion and pain until it becomes clear what is going on. (My rating: 4/5)

Is it possible to shift a memory from one person’s brain to another? That is the question explored to great effect in “A Mastery of German” by Marian Denise Moore. The narrator is asked to take over a project at work and kill it. But as she starts to find out more about it, she wonders if she should. (My rating: 4/5)

The final story has a super long title. It is “An Inventory of the Property of the Escaped Suspect, Confiscated at the Time of Her Arrest Following the Incident on Ash Street, with Annotations by Acting Sheriff Helena Fairwind” by Tim Pratt. Its format is unique as is exactly what is says it is. The story is told through the inventory of a suspect’s property and the reports about what happened. A unique and enjoyable twist on storytelling. (My rating: 4/5)

To sum up, there were ten stories in this issue for an average rating of 3.7. When I first subscribed to Apex Magazine, I wasn’t sure about it. It’s focus is on darker fiction. I didn’t think that was my thing. Turns out there is a lot of good, short, dark fiction out there. Give it a try.

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