Fantastic collection of shorts and stories! I love magazines and anthologies like this, as they give me a chance to find new authors to follow and adore.
A very good selection of fiction, and a great introduction to the Apex Magazine. If you're interested in SFF short fiction, then I think you'll find a lot to like in Apex.
Reading this collection was a great way to discover new authors, and overall the quality was pretty high! Very enjoyable.
It’s taken me months to finish reading this compilation of stories from Apex Magazine, because there was SO MUCH (48 stories!) to read and enjoy.
Some featured authors include. Tlotlo Tsamaase (with the wonderful Dreamports, which explores body tourism and privilege), Carson Winter (In Haskins, a tale about an incredibly creepy town, exploring gender roles), Marie Croke (To Seek Himself Again, a great queer story), Norris Black (An Incident at Hellpoint Prime, about—ugh—skin thieves), Joelle Wellington (Cottonmouth, a truly unnerving genre crossover with an enslaved ghost), Alix E. Harrow (Mr Death), Rachel Swirszky (Wake Up, I Miss You, which is a moving and unexpectedly upside-down story), Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Samsāra in a Teacup, which delighted me with AI as reincarnated people who inhabit things like tea boilers and brooms), Nina Munteanu (Robin’s Last Song, a wonderful and hopeful tale with climate change, a Blind protagonist, genetic modification, birds, and loads of cool science), and Stephanie Kraner (Hank in the South Dakota Sun, about a sentient train (!!), which I have never come across in my reading).
There is so much to please all kinds of tastes: science fiction and fantasy and all the gradation between, horror, simple speculative fiction, gender-benders and all kinds of queer stories, explorations of death and grief, Indigenous Futurism, Afrofuturism, annd even a story about an AI god-figure in Godmother, by Cheryl S. Ntumy.
I loved the diversity of writers and that in the stories they presented. There was so much amazingly imaginative and inventive work! I know I’ll be going back to my favourite stories over and over.
Thank you to NetGalley and to Apex Book Company for access to this fantastic ARC.
Apex Magazine has a reputation for delivering great stories, and this collection is no exception. What a wonderful lineup! As with any collection of this type, it's a mixed bag -- some really great stories in here, some just middle-of-the-road. However, all of them were worth reading and I enjoyed them all. I also discovered some new authors that I will be following. Highly recommended for fans of short fiction!
I love reading collections like this and discovering new authors, and this was just what I was looking for! Some were great, some not so much, but they all can't be winners :)
Thanks so much NetGalley and Apex Book Company for this fantastic arc!
Apex Magazine 2021 edited by Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner is a fantastic collection from one of the best literary magazines online today. These stories are beautiful, fun, heartbreaking, entertaining, and worth your time. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions that follow are mine alone.
Review: Apex Magazine 2021
Apex magazine is an excellent science fiction/fantasy (SFF) magazine. It prints short fiction from the SFF field from established and new authors. Editors Sizemore and Conners put together a book full of their 2021 stories, and it’s fantastic. In Apex Magazine 2021, Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conners have collected their stories from 2021 in one massive package. I like Apex, and while I don’t read every issue, I read stories from there. Again, I’m not great at reading the short fiction field, but I’m trying to be better. So, the chance to review Apex Magazine 2021 was too good for me to pass. Sure it’s a year behind, but it’s a start. And oh what a start it is. Apex Magazine 2021 features 48 excellent short fiction offerings.
Forty-eight stories filled with creativity, wonder, and joy are too much for me to review; so, this review is for the whole collection, even if I single out a few stories. As a whole, Apex Magazine 2021 blew me away. Whether established names in SFF short fiction, like Rachel Swirsky, E. Catherine Tobler, Charles Payseur, etc. or authors that are new to me like Renan Bernardo or Tlotlo Tsamaase, this book is filled with entertaining fiction. The offerings are varied enough that readers will get a good idea about the tastes of Apex’s editors. Swirksy’s dreamlike story delights. Cassandra Khaw’s story reminded me of a fairy tale. Charles Payseur delivers a flash fiction story full of holiday horror for Christmas time. Renan Bernardo tells a story of destruction and community.
Apex Magazine 2021 is 48 unique stories, and any SFF fan will find multiple that they enjoy in this collection. As with any anthology, the tone, style, and perspectives vary quite a bit. The only theme is that these stories came from Apex in 2021, but that doesn’t mean it’s a messy pile of stories. On the contrary, it’s a lovely buffet of creativity and imagination.
"Mr. Death" by Alix E. Harrow
When I read this story, I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, ready for my yearly physical. I finished it there in those uncomfortable chairs surrounded by the sick and those annoyed it was taking to so long to get called back. I couldn’t stop looking at it from the moment the narrator gets his assignment. In 2021, I became a father, and it changed me in many ways. Stories about dying kids are now exponentially more horrifying. Yet, the care Harrow gives to the subject kept me glued to the page. When I finished the story, I just sat there in a state of awe. I was so wrapped up in the world of the story that I missed the first time the nurse called my name to take me back to the exam rooms. The narrator is a form(?), a splinter(?) of death. He’s one of the ferryman who take the souls from the land of the living to the beyond. But he wasn’t always a ferryman; he was once a living man, a father himself. The difficult task of a child’s passing has fallen to him. Does he help the child cross over?
Harrow’s story is amazing, and she did some wonderful worldbuilding to support it. I loved the idea that former humans get to help souls cross into the afterlife. But Harrow also gives them a bureaucracy and rules. It’s fantastic.
For me, this story shone heads and above all the others. It’s the best short story I’ve read since “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. It hit me hard in the feels, and, though I’m new to parenthood, “Mr. Death” tugged those strings in the most scary and yet satisfying way. This might be the best story – period – that I’ve read since “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. It’s a story that I wish I could forget just so I could experience it anew all over again. Thank you Alix E. Harrow, and thank you Apex magazine. It’s a story I’ll never forget.
Apex magazine had a great year in 2021. These 48 stories offer something for each and every SFF fan. When reviewing SFF and horror novels, I’ve said that we’re in a golden age of content. Apex Magazine 2021 shows that SFF & horror short fiction is also in its own golden age. This is a collection that shouldn’t be missed. Highly recommended.
As always, spectacular! I love Apex because I can always find new authors that are writing fantastic fiction!
A lot of on-the-nose stories for modern issues but all good ones, mostly 4 and 5 stars. Given the number of stories included in this volume, I've chosen to focus on one from each issue (121 through 128).
Mr. Death by Alix E. Harrow - Beautifully sad and, as always, beautifully written. Harrow has a way with the written word that bewitches and really draws the reader into her worlds. This story especially is one to pull the heartstrings, and maybe even make your eyes a little watery. It did this for me, at least.
The Amazing Exploding Women of the Early Twentieth Century by A.C. Wise - Dreamy and feminist, and somehow feels both real and fantastical. Very interesting mythology and world-building as well. I'd be into a full novel in this world - but that's not to say it doesn't work as a very effective short. Reminiscent of The Nevers (HBO), to the point I googled if there was any connection... none that I could find, which works for me because this was far better. I just really want more!
DEMON FIGHTER SUCKS by Katherine Crighton - Short, sweet, and horrifying (or sad?). It hit me with the suddenness of the ending and left me wanting more, but it works to have ended as it did. I think some won't like it because of how it's written (a YouTuber talking to the camera and her streaming audience) but it's similar to content I regularly enjoy so it didn't feel unusual to me.
What Sisters Take by Kelly Sandoval - Terrible (not the story or writing, the feeling) and sad and so, so different. I was startled when it ended and yet not? I found I both understood (as a big sister) and didn't understand what I just read. A wonderful and unique fable. Reminds me a bit of a modern Aesop tale.
Gift for the Cutter Man by D. Thomas Minton - An utterly unique futuristic dystopia tale with Victorian Gothic vibes. It's dark, suffocating, and upsetting and it's so very creative and well written. Another one that I'd love to see expanded into a full-length novel. Just dark and fascinating.
An Incident at Hellpoint Prime by Norris Black - Outer-space alien horror! Loved it! If you're into Alien or Dead Space (heavily vibes from both), you'll also love it!
In Haskins by Carson Winter - Another incredibly different story. Unsettling from the get-go, as if written by someone who had only just heard of humans but never actually met one... but then at the same time knew them better than we do ourselves. Which rather works with the subject matter. Like a twisted Ray Bradbury.
The Synchronism of Touch by Gabriela Damian Miravete (translated by Sally McCorry) - A bit dry and on the nose, this is a cautionary folktale involving themes of man-made environment catastrophes and pandemics, and also friendship :) Well-written enough to have me seek out the author's other works, it almost feels like an epic even though it's a short story. It reminded me a lot of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's similarly themed (but more exciting) movie, Synchronic.
An overall incredibly strong collection of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror that introduced me to several new authors I'm looking forward to reading more from, as well as some real treats from old favorites!
An interesting magazine of short stories. Reminded me of when you could find such magazines at any bookstore; Ellery Queen, Science Fiction and Fantasy, etc. This was full of more science fiction and dystopian stories than I usually read but all were very well written.
My favorite by far was one titled, “Mr. Death” by Alix E. Harrow. Death is sent to collect the soul of a young child, so much like the one he lost before he died he wonders if he can fulfill his commitment. Excellently written.
Thanks to @netgalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
A great anthology featuring different types of speculative fiction short stories. I requested it because I read the name of Alix Harrow and got more than i expected as all the story are at highly level.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine
[Blurb goes here]
Simply put: amazing!
These are stories from Apex Magazine, published from January to December 2021.
After reading an anthology, I usually rant about the majority of those being 10 percent good stuff, 20 percent not-so-good, and the rest just plain bad. It's a common occurrence. That's why, after having a go at "Apex Magazine 2021," I was speechless. This is an amazing compilation of stories, beginning to end.
I won't go into detail here, giving you a heads up. Why? Simply put: this is a collection of stories you'll have to discover on your own, no little intros, no spoilers.
The beautiful prose of each tale, combined with the writers' vast imagination, makes this book a must for...I was about to write "for horror fans," but that's not it. There's something for everyone between these pages. Be it Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy, and so on.
Some will scare you, some will leave you with a lump in your throat (if not tears in your eyes,) others will leave you in awe.
This is, by far, the best collection of short stories I've ever read.
Give it a chance, you won't regret it!
Thank you for the advanced copy!
A nice mix of short stories, still the best genre for sci-fi. I could do without the editor's self-congratulatory notes, but the author notes were great. Readers' views will vary, but I liked about 65% of the stories here, some of which have been anthologized elsewhere.
I couldn't finish the stories from the first issue, couldn't get interested in them, feel anything, and most left me just confused. I wanted to enjoy them, there were some very good ideas here and there, but I did not.
This anthology is, in a word, the pinnacle of speculative fiction. Including all the stories from issues #121-128 published by Apex Magazine in 2021, from issue 121 to 128, adding to each story a note by the author or/and the editor, it’s full of top-quality fiction and, always, superbly edited writing. A lot of the stories lean towards science fiction, there are more than a few nods to politically sensitive themes (racism and homophobia principally), combining, in a sense, both emotion and intelligence into diverse narratives that will please any socially aware thinking person. From the get-go, you get a bunch of deep and simply mouth-dropping stories, ‘Root Rot’ by Fargo Tbakhi, ‘Your Own Undoing’ by P H Lee, ‘Love, That Hungry Thing’ by Cassandra Khaw and, of course, the memorable ‘Mr. Death’ by Alix E. Harrow. If you enjoy these tales, then the whole volume will surely astound you.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!
This edition was brilliant, it give us issues 121 to issue 128 and we are showed the covers to each issue, the stories go from speculative fiction to horror, my favourite were the sci-fi ones, i did enjoy very much the tale of a lonely spaceship that had to chose their next captain, but I don’t really like to give specifics because when talking about short stories I think that gives the story away and that can spoil the story to other people.
I really believe that this volume could be a perfect present to give someone this Christmas, I would suggest from older teens up, since the stories are short and this is a compilation of magazines, it feels shorter than it really is and its worth of reading. But to tell the truth I did skip a couple of stories that I wasn't enjoying that much so I give to this volume 3,5 stars.
Thank you NetGalley and Apex Book Company for the free ARC and this is my honest opinion.
This collection is great for people who love surreal sci-fi and are looking for new and varied voices covering the genre. It’s hard to rate a collection of stories since it’s always a bit of a mixed bag. Overall nearly every story in here was at the very least interesting and felt fresh. I would give almost all between 3 and 5 stars apiece, so settling at 4 stars overall feels right.
Note: ebook provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
This anthology includes all the original fiction published by Apex in 2021, from issue 121 to 128. It does not include the editorials from each issue, which was slightly disappointing, but it does come with a bonus author's or editor's note for every individual story.
The only thing I've read from Apex before this happened to be Mr. Death, the same month it was published and before it became highly popular with the Hugo nomination. I enjoyed that one, so when I saw this anthology, I was very curious and excited to find out what else Apex has to offer. It turned out though, that as much as I appreciate the quality of all their stories, the general style might just not be for me. After going through three out of the eight issues, my favorite is still Mr. Death. There are a few pieces here and there that I liked better than others, but overall I wasn't too thrilled with how heavy-handed the stories were on social and political themes. I suppose someone who's more socially aware than I am would enjoy this much more.
I'm still giving it three stars though for the stories that I did like, and one day I might pick it back up to finish the rest of the issues.
In their own words, Apex Magazine is “an online zine of fantastical fiction” and are “Strange. Surreal. Shocking. Beautiful.” A check to all of the above. They have done such an amazing job compiling some of the best short stories I have ever come across. They cover such a huge range of topics and genres that there is something for everyone. Not to mention, the cover art of each magazine is stunning!
Here are just a few of the stories.
Las Girlfriends Guide to Subversive Eating by Sabrina Vourvoulias(Issue 122)
-I haven’t come across anything like this short before. It actually links to an interactive site where you can go through and experience it, complete with a playlist.
Mishpokhe and Ash by Sydney Rossman-Reich(Issue 123)
-I found this story to be very heartbreaking and amazing. Set during WW2 in Hungary, it tells the tale of a Golem and her creator. This was a deeply personal story from the author and I am happy I got to read it.
Marked By Bears by Jessie Loyer(Issue 126)
-As an animal lover and as a human, this brought a tear to my eye. A futuristic musing on the past sins of humans against animals.
One last thing I’d like to say is the sheer amount of stories you receive is incredible. There are so many more stories I could talk about but I doubt anyone will read a dissertation masked as a review. Apex has received another fan and reader! I’m excited to see what else comes out.
Thanks to NetGalley and Apex for my copy to review!
A wide mix of stories both in quality and variety. I haven't read Apex before, so I came at this in a neutral way. This collection is OK, but not great. I think a lot of sci fi readers will like this.
Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!