Words from the Editor-in-Chief

September 7, 2021

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Jason Sizemore is the owner and editor-in-chief of Apex Magazine and the Apex Book Company. You can follow him online via his Twitter feed @apexjason.

Welcome to issue 125! This month we bring you a varied group of dark and disturbing fiction. We have everything from questionable beauty health regimens to a chilling Southern Gothic witch’s tale.

The Apex team finished its 2022 Kickstarter campaign. It was an exhausting, but productive 30 days. We made our initial funding goal in eight days, but then things slowed and we were worried about securing funds for all six issues and other stretch goals. In an exciting down-to-the-wire finish, we received a large, generous pledge from a backer in the literal final minute of the project to reach our stretch goal of publishing a special Asian and Pacific Islander issue of the zine. In the end, our backers contributed $26,000 to the Kickstarter. Apex Magazine thanks you for your support and promises to make 2022 as awesome as 2021!

Having said that, we truly do hope this will be our last Kickstarter for the zine. You’ll see us putting additional emphasis on our Patreon and subscription options. Not doing a Kickstarter in 2022 is our number one goal right now.

Looking ahead, we have a busy last quarter of the year. In October, we will release issue 126, our Indigenous Futurists issue guest-edited by Allison Mills. Then November sees issue 127. Finally, December will be issue 128, our special International Futurists issue guest-edited by Francesco Verso. The table of contents has been announced for both special issues. You can find them here (Indigenous) and here (International).

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We kick off issue 125 with Joelle Wellington’s Southern Gothic story “COTTONMOUTH.” While I love Southern Gothic, I’m also very picky when it comes to the genre. Joelle’s use of language, history, and the paranormal are exquisite and memorable.

There are plenty of takedowns out in the world of the self-help business. In “Next to Cleanliness” the focus moves from the less-than-honest aspects of beauty and health gurus and instead examines the suffering the recommended regiments can create.

“Discontinuity” by Jared Millet is an excursion into space-based science fiction. While the trope is well-worn (time and space have gone wibbly-wobbly), there are some excellent considerations about substance abuse interwoven in a tightly written plot.

Maggie Slater’s “Candyland” is another strange tale that covers tangential narrative ground to “Next to Cleanliness.” Maggie’s protagonist awakens to a saccharine, candy-coated world that is much more than a mallet-sized metaphor for the shallowness of online personalities. It’s a sly and sharp satire of personal image and what it truly means.

“Gift for the Cutter Man” currently holds the record for the most content warning labels. Certainly, this body-horror short isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is not filled with gratuitous violence and imagery. The true pain is the helplessness and desperation the protagonist feels that leads to a devastating climax.

Finally, we welcome back one of our most popular authors—Rachel Swirsky—with her “Wake Up, I Miss You.” It’s an unusual story that rewards multiple readings. The way Rachel relates memories with storytelling and the nature of loss is brilliant and poetic.

We have a trio of classic reprints this month. The first is “Deep Night” by Tenea D. Johnson from 2003. “The Rat” by Yohanca Delgado is a Year’s Best selection from John Joseph Adams and Veronica Roth. “The Ever-Dreaming Verdict of Plagues” by Jason Sanford is a novelette-length story featuring the protagonist from his debut novel, Plague Birds, that arrives September 21st from Apex Books.

Our nonfiction comes from Maria Dong and Ken MacGregor. Maria examines the ways character agency is addressed in publishing via her favorite reality television show. Ken shares a hilarious example of when a writer’s mind can be a little too creative.

Our featured author interviews this month are with Joelle Wellington and Rose Keating. We also have our third conversation with amazing artist Marcela Bolívar.

Rounding out issue 125 are a trio of reviews. A.C. Wise gives us the latest installment of her short fiction review series Word for Thoughts. We also present reviews of Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest and Malefactor by Robert Repino.

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I’d like to give a special shoutout to honorary editor, Jeff Reynolds. Jeff picked up the Become an Apex Magazine Editor reward in last year’s Kickstarter, so he helped us with the construction of issue 125 from start to finish. Judging by his editorial that appears right after this one, he might be addicted to zines now!

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Enjoy the issue, and we’ll see you next month!

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© Jason Sizemore

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