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

Apex Magazine #75, August 2015

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Apex #75, August 2015

Brisé” by Mehitobel Wilson

Coming Undone” by Alexis A. Hunter
It Is Healing, It Is Never Whole” by Sunny Morain
Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale” by Damien Angelica Walters

Reviewed by David Wesley Hill

The first story in the August issue of Apex, “Brisé” by Mehitobel Wilson, is a moody horror tale about a dancer consumed by stage fright and in a loveless marriage to an abusive man. While recuperating from a career-ending ankle injury, which may or may not have been self-inflicted, Erin becomes increasingly isolated and depressed and spends her days “drifting from room to room.” She loathes her husband, Richard, and she hates herself for her fear and for the life choices she's made. Then Erin begins to notice something strange about her reflection. Whenever she sees herself, the image is a little different, as if she is looking at another woman, a “self she could become, or should have been all along,” and Erin becomes obsessed with transcending the limitations of the life she has chosen and with discovering all that she could be. As might be expected from a horror treatment of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, the conclusion of this melancholy story is both enigmatic and bloody.

Next up, “Coming Undone” by Alexis A. Hunter, is a short-short SF story about a woman who is born lacking several limbs. When Natasya learns that the Marine Corps augments recruits in order to build better soldiers for the war against the Gambazi, Natasya enlists in the service and eventually becomes 78% augmented, with “two robotic legs, two synthetic arms, a DNI chip in my skull.” Then, unfortunately, she contracts the incurable Gambazi Virus, and Natasya literally starts coming undone in this quick read and paean to the joy of being a cyborg.

In “It Is Healing, It Is Never Whole,” by Sunny Moraine, the nameless, genderless narrator exists in a strange purgatory, a shipping depot somewhere beyond everyday existence. The narrator's job, and that of their fellows, is to collect the souls of suicides that come tumbling from the sky, to “catalog them, contain them, and load them” onto a mysterious train with an unknown destination. Souls are usually featureless gossamer wraiths but the narrator collects one different from the others in that it has eyes, and the narrator keeps the soul instead of lading it on the train. What follows is a melancholy and eloquent allegory, a somber meditation on life, death, and suicide well worth reading.

An old elephant is the voice of “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale” by Damien Angelica Walters—an omniscient old elephant, who sees and hears everything going on around him in the decrepit circus, “even the secret thoughts not meant to be shared.” He shares them, though, and we learn of the evil Ringmaster with a penchant for popcorn and whips, of the “pale and lachrymose” Contortionist, and of the cruelly sequined Mirror Twins, who yearn to be free of the bizarre sideshow. A quirky, surrealistic story of dysfunction and redemption.