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

Apex Magazine #85, June 2016

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Apex #85, June 2016

"Folk Hero" by Mary Pletsch

"Cuckoo Girls" by Douglas F. Warrick

Reviewed by Jody Dorsett

The 85th issue of Apex has two original short stories.

"Folk Hero" by Mary Pletsch

This is an interesting bit of Mil-SF that when done correctly examines our, or a, culture. War puts cultures under stress and brings out the best and the worst. This story examines the stuff behind myths and legends and how we get caught up in them and how, so often, they perpetuate themselves.

My only complaint, and it is probably because I spent so many years in the military, is that the rank of one of the protagonists is used to identify different periods of time, which is a good way to use it. However, the one protagonist shows up in the same time period with different ranks. The ranks are used to identify flash backs and they need to be consistent.

"Cuckoo Girls" by Douglas F. Warrick

First, I'm going to congratulate the author for getting the weapons correct.

This is an interesting bit of horror. The story revolves around monsters that kill all but one girl in a family and then let them escape to be hunted later. Through the internet, or chance encounters, these girls on the run meet each other and occasionally team up.

The author writes in many layers here. The feeling of being on the run, the sense of doom but the desire to fight back is palpable. However, the story is also able to examine other issues. People are more complex than simple fight or flight. There's two sentences that exactly reproduce something I've heard often when introducing members of oppressed groups to firearms. I'll let you read it; it examines the complexity of the issue in stunning pithiness.

The ending is done in a manner that some people love and that others don't. You think there is a final conclusion, but there is no certainty in it. The way it concludes is interesting in that you’d never see that coming.