As you all know (or should know), Apex Digest is the next big thing in Horror-SF. After much pleading and cajoling, I finally got the editor to set up an online issue at Fictionwise, making it possible for everyone who lives in the Wrong Continent or Other Axis to access the magazine. (There's a moderate amount of tongue-in-cheek here. I know you, Human, can tell, but there are a lot of confused Reptilian Humanoids and literal-meaning Nazis out there who don't always get it)
What follows is a review of what I've read so far of issue #9. I'm pacing myself to make it last. I'm not a reviewer and I'm not objective if I can help it, but I've read a bit and I know what I like.
The issue opens with The Sum Of His Parts, by Kevin J. Anderson no less. Playing off the Frankenstein monster theme, Anderson explores the origin of the monster's organs and their respective owners Although the ending is predictable, each character sketch is fascinating enough to make the story interesting.
In The End Of Crazy Katherine Sparrow shows us what happens when people don't study their pharmacology. Just kidding. This is a classic medical dystopia "meds gone wrong" story about a cured schizophrenic who has to stop taking the miracle drug when she gets pregnant. Horror readers will love the insanity theme, but what scared me was the subtext, dealing with loss of freedom and medical ethics.
Lavie Tidhar is everywhere these days, including Apex and his story Gunslinger of Chelem has that unmistakable Tidhar feel. A detective who polices people's dreams, a gunslinger gone amok who kills his victims in a dream only he controls... Perfect ingredients for a different kind of western. A great story full of that Tidhar whimsical groove that makes him editor's pet in so many mags.
Mary Robinette Kowal has a sick mind and Locked In, one of the shortest stories of this issue, is also the one I've found most terrifying so far. It's another medical dystopia about a paralyzed man who cannot communicate with the outside world. When his family finds a way to get through to him, the result isn't what he imagined.
Projector is a well written story by Daniel LeMoal. It's written in 1st person, which is clearly one of the main strengths of the story, since the protagonist is a sassy junky that readers will love, no matter what he does. The plot about drug addicts forced into a hit job is spiced up by the supernatural powers of the intended victim. Disaster is imminent, but when you're touching bottom, there's not much further that you can sink.
Today's last story is At the 24-Hour, by William F. Nolan. I have a strong feeling that it was written tongue-in-cheek, using traditional horror tropes to get a good smirk out of the reader. This subtext keeps the story moving despite the predictable ending.
That's it for today. Overall, this was my favorite issue of Apex (I haven't read all of them, so you're allowed to contradict me). Normally in a magazine you find three or four stories you love and one or two that don't do much for you. Not here. All of the above are strong stories, and if I were forced to pick one, I'd have a hard time. My personal favorites are Locked In, Projector and Gunslinger of Chelem, but I can't honestly say that the other ones are less good. This is personal taste, not reviewer objectivity. If you thought you were going to find objectivity in this blog, someone probably sent you here for it on April 1st.