the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Apex Publications’ Category

New goodies!  Received from the publisher:

The Book of Apex Volume 4 – edited by Lynne Thomas, this features original fiction published in Apex magazine. Ken Liu, Catherynne Valente, Elizabeth Bear. . .  it’s so pretty.  No, really, it is. The photograph doesn’t do it justice. Everything about this book looks absolutely fricken’ gorgeous. i’ve barely had time to crack it open, and I’m already falling into the cover art.

And from Orbit, we have Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach and Malice by John Gwynne.  Looking through the promo material that came with Fortune’s Pawn, I kept wondering why they were also advertising Rachel Aaron’s Eli Monpress series. Ahh,  because they are the same person. She writes under both Rachel Bach and Rachel Aaron.  I don’t know much about Malice except that at first glance it looks to be in the Joe Abercrombie military epic fantasy mold.

Anyone read any of these? what do you think? what looks interesting to you?

Goodies from the publisher isn’t enough for me, cuz I iz greedy.  Had to visit the bookstore too!

We’ve been trying to cull the book collection. It’s either that or buy more bookshelves. As it  is, I’m afraid the floor of our apartment is going to cave in under the weight of all these books, and give our downstairs neighbor one helluva surprise.   I took a grocery bags worth of books to the usedbook store for trade (a few older paperbacks, a few brand new books that weren’t catching my attention, even a glossy photo filled cookbook or two).  turned in a tall stack of books, got a shorter stack of more interesting books in return.

For Vintage Scifi Month:

I have such a weakness for these Doctor Who books.  The new ones haven’t done much for me, but oh, these old ones, I adore them. They are candy to me!    I’m woefully underread when it comes to Zelazny, so found what looked to be a stand alone novel from him.  Hoping the local used bookstore would just happen to have the first Amber book was pushing my luck!

but I did feel mightly lucky when I found these:

there’s no such thing as having enough Kage Baker! The Life of the World to Come is a Company novel, Sky Coyote is I think a stand alone.

Hey Baker and Zelazny experts: help a girl out. Can I read the Company novels out of order, and what’s the recommended reading order for the Amber books?

and not that anyone cares, but the digital camera on my new smart phone is insanely awesome.  compared to the photos my older model digital camera takes, these new photos look practically 3-D!

Something especially interesting was kicking around the twittersphere last week. Something about a new military science fiction anthology edited by the very talented Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak, and published by Apex Publishing.   you know how sometimes you catch something out of the corner of your eye, and you just have to see what it is, you just have to learn more? The War Stories Anthology is that thing.  And what better way to learn about it than by chatting up the editors and the publisher?

Not sure if a military scifi anthology is for you? Chances are you’re already reading Military Science Fiction, you just don’t know it. Enjoy Ender’s Game? How about Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga? How about Max Brooks’ World War Z? Dune by Frank Herbert? John Scalzi?  Ever play Mass Effect? or Halo?  see? you’re already a fan!


Jaym and Andrew have already talked extensively about this project, over at Reddit, over at Fantasy Book Critic, at Toonari Post, at Book Life Now, at Dribble of Ink, and elsewhere.  If the Kickstarter succeeds, an especially unique anthology will see the light of day.  Military science fiction is so much more than any hokey Baen Books cover art would have you believe.

My guests today:

jaym gates 2

Jaym Gates  is the editor of the zombie anthology Rigor Amortis, which was a Barnes and Noble Top 10 pick in 2011, and short fiction author (published in The Aether Age: Helios). She is the publicist for the Science Fiction Writers of America, Candlemark & Gleam and Pathfinder Books. She helped launch several Kickstarter projects, including Geek Love, the highest-funded anthology in Kickstarter’s history.

andrew liptak 2

Andrew Liptak  received his Master of Arts in Military History from Norwich University (the nation’s first private military academy), and has written extensively about military science fiction for io9 and SF Signal, and has written for such websites as Kirkus Reviews, Geek Exchange,, Strange Horizons, and magazines such as Armchair General and the Norwich Record. He is currently an editorial assistant for Lightspeed Magazine.

jason sizemore

Jason Sizemore is the owner and operator of Apex Publications, a small press publisher dedicated to producing exemplary works of science fiction, horror, fantasy and non-fiction.

The Links you need:

War Stories Kickstarter page

War Stories website and blog

Let’s get to the interview!

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The Apex Book of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar

published in 2009

where I got it: purchased new










I recently picked up both of the Apex Books of World SF.  I’ve had my eye on these anthologies for quite a while now.  Up till now, I’ve mostly read books by Americans, Canadians, UK’ers, and a few Australians. It’s time to widen my horizons, don’t you think?

The Apex Book of World SF offers a variety of types of stories, from the surreal to the relatively mundane, and some, such as Elegy and Compartments felt like they were completely outside of time, as if taking place in a world and a language that only have present tense. In many stories, names were left out, characters were just “the daughter”, or “the conductor”, or “the girl”. In English, we seem to have an obsession with naming things, we enjoy naming things, we enjoy giving each character a name that fits that person, we write entire stories that focus around naming.  In this collection enjoyed running into so many stores where the priority for what to name was so different. I imagine there was some context there that I missed, something of an implied title or connotation in “the girl”, or “the father”, something our English spellings aren’t quite equipped for.  But that’s all okay.

As with any anthology, there were a few entries that didn’t do much for me, but for the most part, the Apex Book of World SF was a winner.  I found myself rereading many of the stories, especially Compartments and Transcendence Express.  Somtow’s The Bird Catcher was a special treat, made only more terrifying after I did some further research.

Were there  cultural references that I missed in these stories? To be sure. Foods, or holidays, or colors of clothing, or being barefoot, or being a certain religion, or urban legends, these are all things that would register with anyone who grew up on that culture, but didn’t register with me because I didn’t grow up with those things.  Again, all completely okay, and didn’t stop me from enjoying the heck out of this anthology and going back to reread many of the entries.

And the best part is I’ve got the Apex Book of World SF 2 sitting at home waiting for me.  If you are looking for more diversity in what you read, this is an excellent anthology to start with.

Here are just some of my favorites out of the Apex Book of World SF:

The Bird Catcher, by S. P. Somtow – I’ve been looking forward to reading more from Somtow since reading Starship and Haiku. The Bird Catcher was written in 2002 and won the World Fantasy Award for best novella.

When Nicholas was a child, he befriended a serial killer. Caucasian, but still a refugee, Nicholas and his mother were among thousands who fled  China when the Japanese occupied Nanjing. On the boat to Thailand, Nicholas meets Si Ui, a strange, scared man, who speaks of insatiable hunger as he catches birds to eat raw. They each see something they recognize in the other.  Nicholas is young enough that he may recover, but Si Ui is scarred for life. Nicholas’s mother finds work in a clinic in a small village, and Si Ui shows up there too, as a farmhand.  On the surface, this is just a story about a little boy who finds a monster, and sees how easy it would be, how easy it *could* be to become a monster. When children go missing in the village, and are later found dead, Nicholas can stay silent, or he can brag about knowing the monster.

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Warning: massive photo dump ahead.

Continuing my post from yesterday about the awesomeness of ConText26, on Saturday afternoon we went to a few more panels:

What Editors Want, with Faith Van Horne, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore, and Scott Sandridge. This was one of my favorite panels.  They talked about common errors seen in manuscripts  (such as not following submission guidelines, the story submitted doesn’t match the style of genre of the publication,  bad grammar), the author-editor relationship, and how the anthology editor decides what order the stories should in be. Frustration with not being able to take great stories came up more than once, where an editor was putting together a themed anthology and had to reject an excellent story simply because it had nothing to do with the theme.

Faith, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore and Sandridge

Faith Van Horne, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore and Scott Sandridge

A big part of the discussion was What Do Editors Really Want?

– how did you put a different spin on the idea?

– how is your approach different to everyone else who has used the same device?

– originality is better than polish

– how is your character different? what do they care about? Why should the reader be interested in them?

– humor is a plus. Just make sure you are laughing because the author wrote it as a humor piece!

During the Q&A time I asked how they each got into editing, and what steps someone who is interested in that aspect of the business should take.  The advice was to volunteer as a slush reader to get a taste for it.

next, was:

Non-Human Characters, with Elizabeth Bear, Matthew Cook, Linda Robertson, Dave Creek, T. Lee Harris, and Scott Sandridge.  Another excellent panel! Be the character an animal, alien, shapeshifter or humanoid who isn’t human, they can’t just be the classic Star Trek “dude in a rubber suit”, or the person with nose ridges and lots of ear piercings. The authors talked about their techniques for writing non-human characters, which included tossing a lot of questions out to the audience. What sensory experiences does your character have (maybe they depend on smell?)? just because we are  base-10 doesn’t mean other creatures will be, especially if they don’t have 10 fingers.  What about symbiotic relationships? If you are on an alien planet, the environment of that planet will affect everything about the creatures who live there, everything from their physiology to their economy to their moral culture.

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I got to do a bunch of cool stuff last weekend.  Once of them (which encompassed all the other things) was attend ConText26, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Columbus, Oh.  As you can tell by the number after it’s name, ConText has been around for a while. Geared towards writers and publishers, this is a smaller convention. There was probably around 200 people there. In this case though, smaller is better. It makes for a casual and friendly atmosphere in which to learn and network.   As a “fan, non-writer”, I was in the minority. Nearly all the other attendees were writers, or involved with publishing, and interested in learning more about the craft.  I’m not a writer, but I was still fascinated by everything. Beyond panels and seminars, ConText offered a Filking concert, a Flash Fiction contest, a mass autograph session, a dealer room (to buy books to be autographed!), author readings, and of course, evening parties.

The best part was that I got to spend the weekend with my friend Elizabeth. She runs Dark Cargo, and she’s my partner in crime over at Bookstore Bookblogger Connection. She showed me around Columbus’s cool Victorian neighborhoods, took me on a bookstore adventure, introduced me to the local pizza and beer scene (Pies and Pints, FTW!), and generally ensured that I would have a #bestweekendever.  I met up with my friends John and Paul as well.


on Friday:

First panel was Liz Coley’s How To Make Your Words Shine. This was mostly about revising your drafts to get your manuscript ready for submission.  Everyone knows the basic grammar rules, but she touched on more subtle writing concepts, like adding sensory and textual descriptors (use your senses other than sight!), verbal patterns that it is easy to fall into (such as using too many adverbs) and other tips.  In my brain, what she was talking about was the engineering behind the artwork, the act of putting in the foundation last so the surface can glimmer with the texture you originally planned for it.  She suggested using the “find/replace” function to make sure the same words or phrases aren’t used over and over again, or twice in one sentence.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.