Monday, December 07, 2020

Apparition Lit #12 (2020)

Apparition Lit, ed. Rebecca Bennett, Tacoma Tomilson, Clarke Doty & Amy Henry Robinson. Issue 12 (October 2020). Online at

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

The quarterly Apparition Lit has been arriving like clockwork for a couple of years now and it’s always a welcome sight. The issues are short—four stories and a couple of poems—but it’s enough to make a satisfying one—or two-sitting read, and it’s a reasonable length for the $2.99 price point. The magazine’s distinguishing feature is its themed issues. Smartly, the themes are abstract concepts such as “ambition” or “euphoria” rather than concrete objects like “dragons,” which prevents the stories within an issue from feeling repetitive. October’s theme was “satisfaction.” But how satisfying was it? Let’s have a look.

The opening story, the pleasingly macabre “A Bird Always Wants More Mangoes” by Maria Dong, follows an old woman squatting in an unoccupied vacation house, only to discover that it has a dark side. The house’s sheer weirdness (the title refers to a fridge perpetually filled with overripe mangoes) brings a freshness to the monster-house genre that I appreciated.

In K.T. Bryski’s “The Gorgon’s Epitaphist” an aging Medusa hires an assistant to document everyone she’s turned to stone. Medusa is having a moment in the SFF world right now, and this story is a fitting expression of female rage. Women’s responses to toxic masculinity return in “You Do What You’re Told” by J.A.W. McCarthy. A stalker sends a woman clones of herself, who collect bits of her hair and skin for him to use to create better and better replicas. It’s a thoughtful story that will resonate with any woman who has dealt with unwanted male attention.

My favorite story in the collection is the final one, Lauren Ring’s “Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise.” A spaceship passenger trapped in a time loop is content to relive the same day over and over—until an astronaut breaks into the loop and disrupts everything. I’ll be thinking about this story’s meditations on life and love for a long time.

The poems stuck with me less, but I enjoyed them. In “Dream Weaver,” a caring and heartfelt poem by Blaize Kelly Strothers, a parent watching over their sleeping children crafts their troubled dreams into astral fantasies. The resonant “My Internal Advisor” by Gabrielle Galchen describes her ambiguous relationship with a personified inner voice.

The satisfaction of Apparition Lit #12 is not the satisfaction of a righteous victory and a pat ending, but rather the satisfaction of a deep meditation into your inner self; the protagonists do not always achieve their goals, but they all end up being illuminated about something. In the end, perhaps, that’s the best satisfaction of all.

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