For me, magazines have always been something to pick up when bored, flip through, pick a story or two, and read them when waiting in line for a coffee. I don’t remember the last time I actually read a magazine cover-to-cover. Oh wait, now I do. Last week I sat down, picked up Apex magazine’s December 2013 issue and… just read it. Swallowed it, even. Inhaled. In fact, I’m pretty sure I burned something on the stove and possibly forgot to eat dinner. It was that good. Warning: gushing ahead.
There is actually quite a bit of choice these days in speculative short story offerings. Nobody can possibly keep up with everything that’s out both in print and online. Which means a mag has to really stand out. It has to have really good stories and possibly something else to offer.
All stories in that issue made me go ‘wow’ under my breath. I ended up nominating one of them for Hugo (Haruspicy and Other Amatory Divinations by Kat Howard), because it was exactly the kind of spec fiction I really like: weird and disturbing and uncanny.
To continue with my ‘short reviews” of short fiction:
What You’ve Been Missing by Maria Dahvana Headley was touching and bittersweet and beautiful. All That Fairy Tale Crap by Rachel Swirsky was funny and daring and irreverent. Before and After by Ken Liu was a great piece of flash fiction that I’m sure I actually consumed in one breath. Our Daughters by Sandra McDonald was one of those stories that alarm and unsettle you because you both can and cannot imagine them coming true.
The non-fiction piece was also well-chosen and particularly timely given the recent conversations in SFnal circles (Another World Awaits: Towards an Anti-Oppressive SFF by Daniel José Older). Hell, I even read the poem (Turning the Leaves by Amal El-Mohtar), and poetry is definitely not my bag. Spoilers: it was lovely.
Now that you know that this awesomeness exists, here’s how you can get more of it (I feel like I’m peddling drugs here, which in a sense I am, stories are in a sense drugs). Apex Magazine is running Operation: Fourth Story right now, and you can help them make the magazine even bigger and better. There are subscription links in the post and some more information.
And if you are not into short fiction, here’s a great post by Andrea (Little Red Reviewer) on why you should be reading more of it.