Apex Magazine #109, June 2018

Monday, 25 June 2018 17:29 Christos Antonaros
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Apex #109, June 2018

Three Meetings of the Pregnant Man Support Group” by James Beamon

Suzie Q” by Jacqueline Carey

Reviewed by Christos Antonaros

In the short story “Three Meetings of the Pregnant Man Support Group” by James Beamon, we read about a pregnant man in distress. What got him into this situation is the alien visitors who offer technology in exchange for men who can bare their offspring. While he is pregnant with his alien baby, Nick faces a society of prejudice that treats him like he has sold his soul to the devil, even though it wasn’t his choice. But above all he, experiences separation anxiety, which comes from the fact that the alien mother will take his baby away as soon as it is born.

Nick is not the only one, though. Many men are going through the same struggle and agony, and they all meet to discuss it in a pregnant man support group. Nick’s fear, anxiety and the special connection with the baby that grows in him unravel in scenes full of dynamic dialog and highly-emotional reactions. Although the image of a pregnant man who walks sideways like a crab makes me feel uncomfortable the character-focused plot kept me interested.

Next comes the short story “Suzie Q” by Jacqueline Carey. We meet Suzanne, a Summoner of saints and angels, recently expelled from Holyfields, the academy for Summoners. Before she enrolled in the academy, she fought her inner demons daily, those created by many abusive incidents in her early life. During her time in academia, she battled demons disguised as friends and lovers. Outside Holyfields, and while she is expelled, she fights real demons that haunt every Summoner. Despite her struggle, Suzanne has many protectors, such as small angels and Susie Q, her second personality.

The setting was so nicely introduced that after a couple of paragraphs, I wanted to know more about this world of Summoners and harvesters of souls. By narrating in first person Suzanne’s backstory, the author explains the reasons that made Suzanne a promiscuous girl. Suzanne’s language and memories are raw and in some points might be considered inappropriate, but they are necessary to make this fantasy story more realistic.

Even though Suzanne summons saints and angels, or fights demons effectively even when she is homeless, her most heroic trait is her desire to protect a little alien boy as if he was her son. This desire demonstrates in a dark manner Suzanne’s hope to save an innocent part of her, which was butchered and prejudiced years before.