“The Beast at the End of Time” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Reviewed by Eric Kimminau
According to Jason Sizemore, Editor-in-Chief for Apex Magazine, this issue “is rich with imagination and strange worlds.” Hopes and expectations are high. Let us begin.
“The Beast at the End of Time” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew paints an eerie picture of the future where automated creation run amok has reimagined the world to near extinction. Upon the re-awakening of the Architect, Nabaat, and her return to the last survivors, she knows who her enemy is that has brought the world onto its historic path and she knows where she must go to see its imagined conclusion. The third generation of her past lover, Enmaten, accompanies her, along with a pearlescent lynx to what Enmaten hopes is humanity’s survival but which she fears may lead to its finale. This story is truly full of imagination, albeit some which seemed contrived and over the top, but the only two possible outcomes still serve to lead one towards the end of the world. “It tosses its head, indifferent and incurious, serene in its animal completeness.”
“Anabaptist” by Daniel Rosen begins simply enough. We are given two Amish space travelers, living their simple life in a simple colony on a remote planet. Until the day the sun does not rise. Ephraim and Jakob travel to see Bishop Yoder (their father?) and it is decided that the younger brother, Jakob, will travel outside their known world to discover the meaning behind the missing sun. Several days later the sun reappears but Jakob does not return. Eventually, Ephraim knows he cannot live alone without his brother and he too must travel beyond their borders, even though it may be forbidden, to find out what has happened to his brother. Again we have a story full of both strange distant worlds and boundless imagination that ultimately leads to something greater and expanding. To God’s Will. But is it a commentary on the path to God being outside organized religious belief systems or is it a commentary that the path can only be found by going outside to see that you must return to your roots to find it? A very cool story.
“The Four Gardens of Fate” by Betsy Phillips is an interesting tale of the darkness which comes from being able to read the future. Not your run of the mill charlatan palm reader, but having “The Gift,” the ability to see the future. Kayla, a young black girl, and other members of her family have The Gift. It intertwines her fate with that of her departed uncle and with Jimmy Campbell, a horse racing farm owner who isn’t above eliminating a perceived threat, in this case, Kayla’s uncle, who happens to now be buried under a McDonald’s parking lot for trying to tell Jimmy the future of his horses (none would ever be winners). The Gift isn’t all sunshine and roses and every use (such as seeing the winning lottery numbers) can have dire consequences. Knowing what will come next and how it will happen doesn’t make it any better or any easier. Imagining you know your fate can be just as dangerous and just as troubling.
I have enjoyed Apex Magazine. It was full of strange worlds and imagination and met all of the expectations brought to the table. I hope you find this issue as intriguing as I have.
Eric Kimminau is a BBS geek turned IT professional seeking those of like mind and character with whom I may share in wit and wisdom.