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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Apex Magazine #35, April 2012

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Apex Magazine #35, April 2012

“Love is a Parasite Meme” by Lavie Tidhar
“The Second Card of the Major Arcana” by Thoraiya Dyer

Reviewed by Sherry Decker

“Love is a Parasite Meme” by Lavie Tidhar is written like a brief, fictional memoir. The style is lovely and there is raw beauty to the story, even though the characters, Job and Eve, have survived some kind of total world catastrophe. They share love, but they refuse to use the word. They have decided to forget most words. Perhaps that is their personal form of protest,

Reading this made me wonder, what would I do if I never saw other people ever again? What if I wandered from city to city, trying to track down the source of a mysterious sound, or distant music? What would I say if I saw someone? Where would I go if my only partner vanished? I suspect a chronic insanity would spread like mold.

“He wanted to tell her, that last time, that you could forget the word for love, but the feeling itself could still be there. Language only describes things that already exist.”

This reads like a vignette, without a true beginning or a clear ending, but I enjoyed it.
“The Second Card of the Major Arcana” by Thoraiya Dyer is a lengthy riddle. A spirit or resurrected idol is traveling as a Shi’ite woman in Sunni territory. She says, “I need directions to the one who is wiser than I. Thus might I return to the God with a refutation in hand.” Although some people she meets recognize her words as scripture, they are unable to complete the riddle and they suffer brutal, unmerciful consequences.

The spirit-idol strikes down almost everyone she meets until she finally tracks down the professor-priest who once erroneously released her from an ancient temple and from her ancient form comprised of fire, water, basalt and limestone. He too challenges her and fails, and the wandering spirit-idol discovers who knows the riddles and their true meanings.

Interesting, but the purpose of the story is never clear. It is an adventure in the midst of a riddle, surrounded by ancient ideology. It did keep me reading, though.