Welcome to issue 129!
Putting together this issue has been a bit of a scramble. Several major events converged this month that consumed much of the Apex team’s time and availability: the holidays, bonus issue 128, Worldcon (DisCon III), the stress around the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
And yet …
… I feel like this is one of the strongest issues we’ve published thus far.
Yes, I know I say that nearly every issue. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel that way at that moment, though. In this one, familiar faces return along with several first-timers to our pages.
Our lead work of original fiction is by frequent Apex Magazine contributor Lavie Tidhar. His latest, “It Happened in ‘Loontown,” is a fun crime-noir drawing on the style of Raymond Chandler and filled with characters full of hot air.
“City Lights” by Yilun Fan (translated by S. Qiouyi Lu) was originally a selection by Francesco Verso for his guest-edited International Futurists issue. Due to word count limitations, we agreed to move it to issue 129. It’s a story about the beauty of dancing, memory, and authority. It is our first Yilun Fan story and, hopefully, not the last.
Thematically, “Sheri, At This Very Moment” by Bianca Sayan deals with memory and our inability to let go of the things and people we love. It’s a bittersweet tale layered with regret and hard choices.
Rich Larson is one of my favorite writers, so when “What Una Loves” dropped into my reading queue, I was delighted. Rich’s fiction with Apex has always had a more visceral vibe than most of his work elsewhere. “What Una Loves” continues this trend as the story’s main character takes part in a reality show where the audience votes for what happens next. A grisly read that examines the nature of privacy, poverty, and our salacious desire for entertainment.
Former Apex Magazine international fiction editor Cristina Jurado returns this time as an original fiction contributor with “Lamia” (translated by Monica Louzon) Part of the beauty of this story is the slow discovery as the plot unfolds, so I don’t wish to spoil it with any descriptions. Cristina is an exciting writer who has gained loads of acclaim overseas, and I expect will be filling award lists before long on this side of the globe.
M. Shaw is another Apex Magazine first-timer. We’ve mostly stayed away from publishing COVID-related fiction since our relaunch (with “The Niddah” from issue 121 by Elana Gomel a notable exception). It’s hard to make something interesting out of a thing that has completely upended our lives and refuses to go away. With “The Cure for Loneliness,” M. Shaw turns this feeling of “it’s never going to end” into a fascinating meditation of how our loneliness (and the pandemic) is a growing monster that has moved into our homes and forcibly become a part of our lives.
Our classic fiction this month is “O2 Arena” by the talented writer/editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and “That Rough-Hewn Sun” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (a novelette set in her Her Pitiless Command universe).
We welcome C. S. E. Cooney back into our pages with the essay “Tie Me to the Mast (Metaphorically Speaking): Social Writing in the Age of the Pandemic.” Mercedes M. Yardley shares her perspective as the mother of a child with Williams Syndrome and autism in “The Importance of Presenting Disabilities in Literature.”
Our interviews this month are with M. Shaw, Bianca Sayan, and cover artist Luka Brico. A. C. Wise contributes her regular short fiction review column, and we offer a pair of book reviews for a couple of interesting titles.
Finally, the latest episode of the Apex Magazine Podcast features a fun narration of Lavie Tidhar’s “It Happened in ‘Loontown.”
Apex Magazine welcomes Alyson Grauer to the team. Aly is stepping into the role of podcast producer and host. Listen to the new podcast to get a taste of what Aly brings to the show.
This issue marks the last regular appearance for a long-time contributor—Russell Dickerson. For years, Russ has been our primary interviewer of cover artists. As an artist/writer himself, he provided valuable insight into the works of the amazing artists we’ve featured over the years. We wish Russ the best and thank him for his years of work!
You’ll notice that the cover and title page lists Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner as editors. Our roles as editor-in-chief and managing editor, respectively, have not changed. But Lesley and I are now, officially, co-editors of Apex Magazine.