Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: APEX magazine

Science fiction and Horror Digest is a quarterly print magazine specializing in what could be termed Science-Horror. Jason Sizemore, the editor, found this niche in the small press market and Apex has evolved to publish authors such as Ben Bova, J A Konrath, James P Hogan and Tom Piccirilli.

Among the most paramount in this collection, Starfish by Steve Parker exudes the kind of science fiction feel that slides easily into the initiated mind. Immediately, we know we're in a future
Japan made famous by films such as Bladerunner: teeming masses of humanity lurch and bustle through neon hazes and rain-swept high-rises. A young couple, Petr and Katya, have just one last chance in which to escape the brimming city: an opportunity that is just 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 of fish , it becomes a viable commodity; almost a drug, and an underground war ensues that will see Petr and Katya gamble with their lives.
The story works well with its decadent Japanese setting; and there are certainly a couple of squeamish moments. A good, gritty read.

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

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

EV 2000 by Amy Greech is one of those tales that's prescribed but never fails to entertain: Artificial intelligence and technology developed with malign results; the day these stop being produced is the day I stop reading S/F.
Harold has just patented a new technology enabling blood donors the option of donating quickly and efficiently with no more aplomb than an exchange at the 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 original and 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 let us know until the end. This was 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 funny little treasure that rounds off the issue nicely; unfortunately, nothing can be said without giving anything away - a short essay by Gill Ainsworth also accompanies it.

Overall this issue surpasses the one before it: the front illustration promised something with a more sinister edge and it did not fail in that regard. Just as entertaining are the essay's at the end that are like glossy, tongue-in cheek epilogues. Apex Digest can only evolve from here.

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