Welcome to issue #70 of Apex Magazine!
Being a speculative fiction magazine, the fiction rightfully serves as our focal point. This month we have some fantastic original work by Shannon Peavey (“A Beautiful Memory”), Thoraiya Dyer (“Houdini’s Heart”), the legendary Nina Kiriki Hoffman (“Where I’m Bound”), and Rati Mehrotra (“Charaid Dreams”). But of particular interest to me is our monthly essay, “A Whole New World” by Mark Allan Gunnells.
Mark’s essay discusses the evolution of homophobia he’s encountered in horror over the past 15 years. It is a fascinating…and depressing read. He details editorial feedback for some of his submitted work, and I get the sense that Mark has heard the editorial crutch of “I’m cool with the homosexual content but it will offend our readers” more times than he lets on.
Full disclosure: Apex Publications published a zombie novella titled Asylum written by Mark about five years ago. It’s a traditional zombie tale, in that it features a group of disparate people trapped in a building during a zombie outbreak. I won’t lie, the plot isn’t anything mind-blowing. The writing is, however. Mark populates the novella with a cast of desperate, scared, and fascinating characters.
All but one character in the book is gay. There are also a couple of well-done sex scenes, including a memorable blow job in the book’s climax.
When I accepted Asylum and requested no edits to the plot, Mark wrote me back. To paraphrase, he asked, “Are you sure? There are a lot of gay characters.” Mark, a gay man, was apprehensive about how readers would accept the sexuality of the characters. I wrote back to tell him I was sure.
I deserve ZERO praise for publishing Asylum. It was no act of bravery on my part. I did not worry about alienating our readers. My stance as publisher and editor has always been that if the story and the writing is of high enough quality, readers will enjoy it.
The book has been our bestselling novella since the inception of Apex Publications.
Neither Mark nor I are naïve enough to think that there isn’t a small segment of hateful people who won’t pick up a book with a lead gay character or that has a hint of non-hetero sexual activity. They’re the same ignorant souls that bemoan the diversification of science fiction, claiming that “pink” publishers are pushing agendas down their throats. That is nonsense and a sad case of playing the victim.
In truth, authors like Mark Allan Gunnells only seek equal footing on the publishing playground. As Mark points out in his essay, we’re getting closer to achieving equality, but we still have a long way to go.
Enjoy the issue!