Thursday, 28 January 2016

Best Of Apex Magazine Volume One - Lesley Conner & Jason Sizemore


Whether wandering down endless stairwells, searching for answers in the desert, or reaching out to the stars, for more than six years Apex Magazine has entertained readers with stories that are strange, beautiful, shocking, and surreal. Now, for the first time, editors Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner are collecting the award winning and nominated stories, those chosen by readers as Story of the Year, and their own personal favorites into one anthology.

A Veil that wipes the experiences of war from soldiers’ memories. A witch who faces down both God and the devil to save a soul. A swaying dance that crosses the galaxy to transmit a message. A vampire caught in a web of politics and law by his responsibility to his family. Within this collection, you will find 21 stories that explore what it means to love, to regret, to be human.

With stories by Ursula Vernon, Ken Liu, Rachel Swirsky, Sarah Pinsker, Rich Larson, and more, Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 brings readers some of the best stories Apex Magazine has published so far, chosen by editors Lesley Conner and Jason Sizemore.


Where to start? All the stories are good, that's why they're in this compilation but some were quite simply outstanding. Of the 21 stories I loved most of them, never an easy feat in an anthology, and I think there was one that I didn't really warm to.This is one of the best anthologies I've read for a while, it was a pleasure to read and get lost in. It became a nightly treat to sit down, relax and read a couple of the stories before switching off for the night and I'm now working my way through the Apex volumes I had on my Kindle because if there are any half as good this collection? Well, they must be pretty special.

Favorites included both stories by Ursula Vernon, rapidly becoming a favorite author for me! Jackalope Wives was beautifully written and reminded me of Charles de Lint's Coyote stories in a way. Pocosin, her other story included, about a dying possum god and the fight for his soul by God, the Devil and Death was an interesting take on Death but thankfully still involved drinking whisky. 

Candy Girl by Chikodili Emelumadu is almost enough to put you off candy for life! It's easy to see why it was nominated for a Shirley Jackson award as I don't think I'll be able to look at a Mars Bar in the same way ever again. If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky broke my heart and The Performance Artist by Lettie Prell freaked me out even thinking about the possibilities that her story brought up about transferring consciousness.

Armless Maidens Of The American West by Genevieve Valentine was compelling in that awful way as you thought about the fact the researcher in the story knew of enough 'armless maidens' in one section of the country to be able to consider setting up a research project.

Other stories involved aliens, dolls, SETI, vampires, the afterlife, veterans and strange books that appear to converse with you and are all worth reading but my absolute favorite stories were Still Life (A Sexagesimal Fairy Tale) by Ian Tregillis and L'espirit de l'escalier by Peter M Ball. Still Life was addictive reading about a clockmaker called Tink in a city called Nycthemeron and her developing fascination with Valentine, the consort of Queen Perjumbellatrix. Worth reading for the fantastical names alone Still Life tells the tale of time and love and how time literally flies for some but stands still for others. L'espirit de l'escalier was the heartbreaking tale of a grieving man, visiting the Endless Stairwell with the the ashes of his fiancee as they never got to visit whilst she was alive. This was my favorite overall I think but also scared the living daylights out of me as I've had a recurring dream about a bottomless staircase ever since I was tiny so it was weird to read about one after all this time.

If you're at all a fan of short stories then you definitely need to check this volume out. Lesley and Jason have put together a great collection of stories that kept me hooked all the way through. A special mention must also be made of the cover artist, Adrian Borda, whose “Life is a Dance in The Rain III” makes for an amazing cover and features mechanical items performing human actions. I'm off now to renew my subscription to Apex as I can't wait to read more fantastic short stories!

 
Best Of Apex Magazine - ed. Lesley Conner & Jason Sizemore
ISBN - 9781937009373
Publisher - Apex Book Company 
Release date - January 12 2016
Find - Goodreads | Book Depository

Many thanks to Lesley Conner and Apex Magazine for providing me with a review copy of Best Of Apex Magazine!

2 comments:

  1. You mentioned my favorites! I think my number one fave was L'espirit de l'escalier. Awesome collection!

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    Replies
    1. That was probably mine too, even though it did freak me out a bit because of the dream thing!

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