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Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest - Vol. 4 by (Apex Publications LLC Winter 2005 / ) - Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest
Table of Contents: Fiction: The Serpent Was More Subtle (reprint) by Tom Piccirilli * A Jack Grimm Adventure: Walk Among Us by Bryan Smith * Symbios by JA Konrath * Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me by Eugie Foster * Babysitting by Christine Murphy * Burn Rate by Phill Jones * Erasure by Jennifer Pelland * Seize the Day (this issue's Parting Shot) by Bryn Sparks Poetry: Poem for Stephan Hawking by Gary C. Wilkens Interviews: Mary Doria Russell interviewed by Alethea Kontis * Barry Maher interviewed by Jason B. Sizemore Non-Fiction: The New Shoggoth Chic: Why H.P. Lovecraft Now? by Amy H. Sturgis, PhD. * Geek Chick Summers: A Life at Conventions by Alethea Kontis * Healthy Competition by Gill Ainsworth * Book Reviews

The Winter 2005 issue of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest is the second one I've read and the stories all got a very good from me. "Walk Among Us" by Bryan Smith is another story about his monster hunter Jack Grimm. Assisted by people with special powers, he hunts down and destroys monsters. In this story, they are of a very different type but not less horrifying. Tom Piccirilli's "The Serpent Was More Subtle" is a reprinted story from 1999 but worth reading. The lead character in this story goes after the most dangerous of adversaries but this has a very different ending. "Oranges, Lemons and Thou Beside Me" by Eugie Foster is about a soldier returning from war that finds some surprises waiting for him at home. "Symbios" by J.A. Konrath is the story of the survivor of a spaceship crash. What he must do to survive makes for a very chilling story. In "Burn Rate", Phill Jones gives us a nasty little tale of a man chasing down a serial killer who take pieces of fat from the victims. "Erasure" by Jennifer Pelland tells us of a woman who has had her memory erased to forget the traumatic murder of her family. As usual, all is not what it seems. "Babysitting" by Christine W. Murphy is an okay little story about a human man forced to babysit alien children. This is not a cutesy, humorous tale. The penultimate story, "Ghost Chimes" by Nancy Fulda, is the winner of Apex's first annual short fiction contest. It's not really a supernatural tale but does tell us about Alicia, whose mother lives on through the wonders of computer technology and the problems that causes. The last story is an "Apex Parting Shot". "Seize the Day" by Bryn Sparks starts out as a classic fantasy quest story but the end has a distinctly different twist.

I liked this issue. The stories were good as were the non-fiction features. I recommend that you subscribe.

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - April 2006 by Gordon Van Gelder (Ed.) (Spilogale, Inc. April 2006 / ) - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 2006 issue
Table of Contents: Novelets: Gardening at Night -6- Daryl Gregory * Iklawa -42- Donald Mead * The Moment of Joy Before -122- Claudia O'Keefe Short Stories: Starbuck -92- Robert Reed * Cold War -106- Bruce McAllister Departments: Books to Look for -32- Charles de Lint * Books -36- James Sallis * Films: "Stay Away! For God's Sake...!" -86- Lucius Shepard * Science: Weirder Than You Think -111- Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty * Coming Attractions 121 * Curiosities 162 Michael Swanwick * Cartoons: Arthur Masear (31, 85), S. Harris (105), Bill Long (160) * Cover by Maurizio Manzieri for "Iklawa"

The April 2006 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is another fine issue. All the stories in it got a very good from me. I was especially impressed with "IKLawa" by Donald Mead. This novelet is Mead's first professional publication and a great way to start. Set in Africa at the time of the Zulu uprising against British rule, it centers on Cetshwayo, the king of Zululand and the successor to Shaka. The lead character must resort to supernatural means to try to defeat the British. This makes for a good story and Mead also provides us with some actual history after the story ends. Donald Mead is someone to watch and kudos to F & SF for publishing him. In "Gardening at Night", Daryl Gregory gives us a nice little hard science tale about a group developing machines to find landmines. The head of the group is suffering from TB and has his own agenda. The third novelet, "The Moment of Joy Before" by Claudia O'Keefe, is a lyrical story about a woman living in West Virginia with her mother and daughter because of economic problems but there is something else going on. She gets visits from a stranger that she can't remember and then things really take a turn for the worse.

The issue is rounded out by two short stories. "Cold War" by Bruce McAllister, a short tale set in the days of Sputnik about a boy whose father shows him something more interesting than that first artificial satellite. The other story seems odd to read at this time of year but it is for the April issue after all. "Starbuck" by Robert Reed is of that nice little subgenre of science fiction, mainly "baseball science fiction." Starbuck is a minor league pitcher in a future time. He finds a way to maintain an edge as a pitcher in a sport wherein the owners like to see home runs. I loved the story and can't wait until baseball season begins again.

All in all, this was another great issue for the best magazine on the newsstand (or bookstore).

SCIFICTION by Ellen Datlow (Ed.) (SciFi Channel Nov/Dec 2005 / ) - SCIFICTION, Edited by Ellen Datlow at www.scifi.com
Stories Reviewed: The Man Who Would Be Kong by Andrew Fox - 11/30/05 * The King of Where I Go by Howard Waldrop - 12/07/05 * The Emperor by Lucius Shepard - 12/14/05 * Boz by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - 12/21/05 * The Dope Fiend by Lavie Tidhar - 12/28/05

Alas, these are the last stories that will be published on the SCIFICTION site. Scifi.com has decided to do other things that they think is more important than publishing some of the best short fiction of the past five years. I sincerely hope someone will have the sense to hire Ellen Datlow for another gig.

I wish I could say I loved all these stories but I can't. In the case of the first one, "The Man Who Would Be Kong" by Andrew Fox, I fully admit it's a very personal thing. The novelette is about an old man who claims that he was King Kong, a man in a gorilla suit, in the classic 1933 movie. He is of course, a fraud, but the story treats him sympathetically and gives him a measure of redemption. It's a nice enough story and cleverly written but I could not sympathize with such an old fraud. There really was someone like this and I had nothing but contempt for him. The story does give full credit to Willis O'Brien and Marcel Delgado as the real men behind the beast but I could just not enjoy this tale. And don't get me started on that inferior remake. The other story that I found a little disappointing but still pretty good was "The Emperor" by Lucius Shepard. In this novella, The Emperor is a mostly mechanized strip mine in Alaska. Things go wrong and its few human minders must survive. I just found some of the perils that they faced a little unlikely and contrived. It still was a pretty good adventure story, though.

The other three stories I enjoyed a great deal. "Boz" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch was a nice little Christmas story about an introvert named Boz and his Christmas alone on a spaceship with hundreds of other passengers in a deep sleep. It's a clever little twist on a man being improved by visits from spirits. Even the name "Boz" is a reference to Charles Dickens and a clever one.

I also really liked the story that would be the last one published on this site. "The Dope Fiend" by Lavie Tidhar is an atmospheric novelette, set in "between the world wars" England. The lead character is called Tzaddik and is a fallen Immortal who must battle a bad "angel". The story features some real gangsters of the era and was very exciting. Both these stories got a "very good" rating from me.

But my favorite story of the group and one that I will consider for a Hugo nomination is by that master of short fiction, Howard Waldrop. "The King of Where I Go" is a wonderful little novelette that starts in 1954, when a young boy named Franklin's sister is stricken with polio. She survives and winds up doing paranormal experiments at Duke University. Waldrop gives us his usual clever ending in this wonderful story.

So we bid goodbye to SCIFICTION. The stories will still be posted there for a while. Read them while you still have a chance.

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