I’ve gotten off to a good start with my first review of the Magazine of F&SF. The number of visitors were up for the website over the days following the posting, most focusing on the review. But some took time to check out other pages, including the short stories I’ve published. That bodes well for continuing the effort.

Today I’m adding reviews of Apparition Literary Magazine into the rotation, beginning with the most current issue. Apparition Literary publishes themed issues on a quarterly basis. Once the issue is released, the stories are posted for free on their website over the course of the next few weeks.

I’m a fan of Apparition Literary. They’re doing great stuff in the mid-market area of genre publishing, also referred to as semiprozines. One thing we can never have enough of are markets to sell stories to. Their selections are well chosen for their themes, and they’re giving a voice to authors who are often in the early stages of their careers. I also worked with them when they published my story, The Truth of a Lie. That provided insight into who they are as a team and a publication, which made the choice to include them a no-brainer.

On to the reviews! (note: I’ll be doing them in the order they appear in the ebook copy I received, not necessarily in the order they are publishing them on the website)

A Bird Always Wants More Mangoes, by Maria Dong – This is one of my favorite styles of story telling. You take an unreliable narrator, you put them in an unexplained situation, and you let the story unfold as they make decision after decision. The reader never knows what hits them, and at the end you’re left trying to decide exactly what journey you’ve been on. This story is creepy good and I never had a clue what would happen next. Every time I tried to guess, it turned out wrong. Which, frankly, is a feeling I love even if the story sometimes shaded towards a feeling of dread and horror that I usually avoid in what I read.

Dream Weaver, by Blaize Kelly Strothers – a poem which brought to mind shades of my own recent writing, where I often incorporate the mundane parts of life into magic. In this case, we transform worries and fears into something magical, and really, isn’t that what mothers do best?

The Gorgon’s Epitaphist, by KT Bryski – Much like The Dog and the Ferryman from my previous review of F&SF, this is a story that combines mythology with some of the trappings of a more modern life, and does so in ways I hadn’t expected. The author does a wonderful job of mixing the metaphor of the gorgon, whose gaze turns people to stone, with the pain of heartache and how that affects us. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s a beautiful and touching story that I very much enjoyed, and a reminder that sometimes connections are forged through the universal pains we experience despite the vast differences that divide us.

You Do What You’re Told, by J.A.W. McCarthy – Man, this story. This story is about abuse and stalking, but it goes so much deeper than that. There’s this aspect of hopelessness, and of lack of control, and of how someone can be forced to do things that are harmful to please another while trying to hold on to their autonomy. We often times look in the mirror and see our own reflections and fail to recognize the person we’ve become. Now imagine looking at the window and seeing a different version of yourself, idealized, perfectly imperfect. The protagonist works with and against her abuser to create/recreate herself, and works to free herself from the endless cycle they are in. My favorite story of the issue. I highly recommend this work, there’s such nuance to it and it’s beautifully written.

My Internal Advisor, by Gabrielle Galchen – A poem in which there is much metaphor and which I probably understand far less than I would like. But let’s say that, for me at least, it was a treatise on the power self-doubt and self-recrimination hold over us.

Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise, by Lauren Ring – Some of my favorite episodes of Star Trek feature the science fiction trope of a time loop. This story also features such a trope, but posits a protagonist who, rather than fighting against the endless repetition of the same day, has embraced it and relishes it. But of course, such sanguine tranquility is sure to be broken, and the introduction of another person upsets the balance. This story does a good job setting up a broken main character, content in their loneliness, and positing a story arc that leaves us relatively satisfied at the end, though without the need for a true happily ever after. A very enjoyable read.

Along with the stories, there’s an artist interview with Karina Serdyuk, who created the cover art, and a wonderful essay entitled Meandering Through Definitions of Satisfaction by Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga.

All in all, a very Satisfying issue! Consider becoming an Apparition Lit patron and help support their work.

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