Saturday, April 3, 2010

Apex Magazine

Among the most paramount in this collection, Starfish by Steve Parker exudes the kind of sci-fi feel that slides slickly down the gullet. Right off the bat, we know we're in a future
Japan made famous by outings such as Bladerunner: teeming throngs of humanity lurch and bustle through neon hazes and rain-swept high-rises. A young couple, Petr and Katya, have one last chance to escape the brimming city: an opportunity as illegal as it is perilous. In this future, earth has become galactic, with a sophisticated form of underwater creature making first contact. Such a species is abhorrent to the idea of human's pillaging their oceans for fish ... and thereafter it becomes a viable commodity (almost a drug) ushering in an underground war that will see Petr and Katya gamble with their lives. Its decadent Japanese setting is a boon, with more than a few squeamish moments. A good, gritty read.

Next follows Inspiration by literary giant Ben Bova. Bova takes on the theme of time travel and adds a twist: his protagonists are nearly all legends from the past. (HG Wells and Albert Einstein, to name a few). At times it can be jolting, but by the conclusion all strings are neatly wrapped up.

Away by Robert Dunbar is a puzzling mix. On one hand it has the tried-and-true ingredient of a shifty, clandestine human operation; you'll keep turning pages just to find out what the hell is going on. On the other hand there is little illumination. A man has awoken in a room with no idea whom he is or why he's there at all. Minor clues are offered, and by the finale you'll either be smiling or gritting your teeth  ...

EV 2000 by Amy Greech is one of those tales that's prescribed but never fails to entertain: artificial intelligence developed with malign results. Harold has just patented a new technology enabling blood donors the option of donating efficiently with no more aplomb than an exchange at a bank teller. With shades of stories like Demon Seed and Electric Dreams, EV 2000 is decidedly creepy.

With a demonic blend of revenge and time-travel, J J Davis gives us Wall of Delusion: here, the time travel aspect is fresh with our main guy Scott (after committing a double homicide when he finds his wife in bed with another) undergoing radical new therapy involving nano brain-machines and memory. Although we assume this takes place in the future,
Davis doesn't draw back the curtain until the end. My only gripe with an otherwise rewarding tale.

Lastly, we have Scotch on the rocks by William F Nolan. With a subject matter that's close to my heart (UFO's), this is a comedic treasure rounding off the issue nicely. A short essay by Gill Ainsworth accompanies it.