Apex #46, March 2013
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
The March issue of Apex concentrates on fantasy, and serves up a spectacular menu of good stories.
It starts out with William Alexander‘s “Death Comes Sideways to the Mall,” where Zoe casts her spells and reads the future from her kiosk in a shopping mall. Her friend Alexander shows up with a plan to bring death back to the mall, and the two of them arrange what is essentially a long practical joke. Alexander’s story scores by the characters and details and the hints that the mall is not really a shopping center, but something more metaphorical. It’s nothing particularly deep, but it is entertaining, with likeable characters.
Liz Argall contributes “Mermaid’s Hook,” where a mermaid finds a drowning man and, instead of leaving him for the crabs to eat, decides to rescue him. The strength of the story is in the characterization of the mermaid, who is more fish than human, and who sees everything from her own unique but logical perspective. It has a nice message about helping and paying back.
Sometimes you are innocently reading a story nodding along with what sounds like an odd conceit when it suddenly all comes together and leaves you amazed. I got that from Rachel Swisky‘s excellent “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.” It starts as a long poetic musing about the narrator’s lover becoming a Tyrannosaurus. It’s interesting, carried by the imagery and the conceit, but then, about four paragraphs before the end, everything comes into focus, showing the point of the entire exercise. It left me wide-eyed and touched by both the craft and emotion of the tale. This is a story that definitely should be up there when awards are given out and is one of the best short stories I’ve read in the past couple of years.
This is overall an excellent issue. If you haven’t read Apex, this is a great month to start, especially with “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.”