The Book of Apex, blog tour
The book of Apex. Volume 4 of Apex Magazine. Edited by Lynne M Thomas
A great collection of stories that will appeal to varying tastes. I won’t attempt to review them all because that would just be too much for one post but will try to give more of a flavour of what is contained here and look at the stories that particularly appealed to me.
The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne Valente
The series gets off to a great start with a story by Catherynne Valente about a demon. A demon who lives amongst the people of the small town of Sauve Majeure. Gemegishkirihallat, or Agnes if that’s too much of a tongue twister! Apparently an innocent old woman, growing her own produce and baking her own wares. Of course during puritanical times people begin to look askance at others who may be slightly different and judge them harshly and so Agnes, having green fingers, and being such an expert baker comes under scrutiny. Surely she isn’t such an innocent old woman, there can be only one explanation. Agnes is surely a witch! There is a certain sort of delicious irony here. A demon, who is banished from hell, sent to purgatory (which living amongst us lesser mortals must surely be) only to be convicted as a witch and accused of trying to consort with the devil. All told in the beautiful voice of Valente. A lovely twist to this demon’s tale with the message ‘be careful what you wish for because the grass is not always greener’.
The 24 Hour Brother by Christopher Barzak
The 24 Hour Brother is somewhat of a sad story basically about a boy who is born and experiences his full life during one twenty four hour period. This is a short but quite gripping tale that grasps you from the moment that the baby is born, and is discovered to have already grown a tooth. Within a matter of minutes the baby has become a toddler and shortly after is running down the corridors of the hospital where he was only moments before born. I did feel again that there was a message in this story, one primarily about the shortness of life, the way it passes so quickly and should be enjoyed fully.
The Leavings of the Wolf by Elizabeth Bear
This story is about letting go. A recently divorced woman who is trying to come to terms with being single and at the same time trying to shed the extra weight she gained during the bitter split. Every morning she runs around the campus where she works. Usually followed by the crows which have become attached to her during her study of them and now follow her movements. On one particular morning she finds herself on a track not previously traversed and winds up on a beach, accosted by a God! In order to recover she will need to sacrifice something that she’s been holding onto for the wrong reasons.
Sweetheart Showdown by Sarah Dalton is a futuristic tale which focuses on a beauty contest. The contestants use all sorts of weird and wonderful tricks to enhance their appeal to the audience, even mind control, and the grande finale involves a fight to the death for the two remaining ‘would be’ Sweetheart winners. Imagine Running Man meets Miss World where the contestants have more than sharp words on their tongues and a swish of their luxurious locks is likely to prove fatal. Have the contestants been brainwashed? Do they really seek to win at all costs? Just how far will one person go in order to be the most beautiful? Beauty is skin deep after all.
The Silk Merchant by Ken Liu
In which a young man seeks to discover the secret of a beautiful silk cloth. In doing so he will fall in love and discover that some riches come at too high a price. And, there are spiders! I’m just saying… Very easy to read with lovely writing.
Sprig by Alex Bledsoe
An enchanting tale about a young boy who becomes separated from his parents whilst at a summer fair and befriended by a lovely young woman dressed as a fairy. Fairies hidden in plain sight. Plastic wings and glitter. Do you believe in fairies? Maybe they’re more real than we care to know. I love tales like this because they make me want to believe in the extra ordinary.
Waiting for Beauty by Marie Brennan
A re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast. Beautifully told, enchanting and twisted! Yep, definitely twisted. Don’t be thinking of reading this to the kiddies for a bedtime story.
It would be very easy to run on at great length about this book, just trust me, it would be far too easy and so I will spare you and leave something for you to discover. There are such a lot of stories to choose from. Dark stories about satanic worship, horrible tales of rot and decaying bodies, strange tales of labyrinths of death and dreams of masked balls tempered with dark humour, particularly thinking here of Trixie, the Godess of Smiting who rides into the fray on a palaquin carried aloft by magnificent, flatulent pandas. Beware all jerks and dickheads….