Overall: 3.5 StarsWorth it for the truly excellent stories by Yu, Jiang, and Warrick. Sadly, the story by Lansdale is pretty horrendous and Ellis's essay leaves much to be desired (funny how I find the newer mostly unpublished authors better than the prolific author with an impressive backlist). Luckily, the good overshadows the bad immensely. Apex is a quality e-magazine I'll be keeping my eye on in the future.Favorite: Tie between "Ilse, Who Saw Clearly" by E. Lily Yu and "The Binding of Ming-tain" by Emily JiangWorst: "Tight Little Stitches on a Dead Man's Back" by Joe R. LansdaleStandouts: "Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy" by Douglas F. WarrickDuds: "Kicking Ass, Taking Names, Bubblegum Optional" by Sigrid EllisFiction“Ilse, Who Saw Clearly” by E. Lily Yu5 StarsA magician comes to Ilse's small town and replaces everyone's eyes. After her leaves, all the eyes melt, it's up to Ilse, the only one to keep her own eyes, to find the magician and help her villiage. However, Ilse may have her own eyes opened during her journey.A coming-of-age quest tale, with dark fairy-tale trappings, it's amazing Yu created such a fully realized world and characters in such a short story. A feast for the mind and the imagination.“The Binding of Ming-tian” by Emily Jiang5 StarsA hauntingly beautiful story, reflecting Chinese literature, tying the pain of art to the pain of beauty (represented by foot-binding). I continued to think of this story long after I finished.“Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back” by Joe R. Lansdale1.5 StarsI think the premise was unique and completely different from most zombie post-apocalyptic worlds. I liked the creepy mutated air-breathing whales and fish with legs. However, the protagonist's musings on his dead daughter took a disturbingly sexual turn that was completely unnecessary. For example, while musing about the last day of his daughter's life:"...I opened the door as Rae (the daughter), naked as the day of her birth, was stepping from the tub.Surprised, she turned to look at me. An arm went over her breasts, and a hand, like a dove settling into a fiery bush, covered her pubic area...It was an innocent thing. An accident. Nothing sexual. But when I think of her now, more often than not, that is the first image that comes to mind. (Lansdale)"Um..I'd hate to break it to you but that is a pretty sexual image of your daughter. This is the first image the reader receives of Rae before the protagonist even muses about her childhood. By showing "grown-up sexy Rae" before child Rae cements Rae in the reader's mind, not as a little girl and a daughter, but as a sexual object. In other words, Rae is an object for the male gaze, not a character in her own right.It only gets better. I had to rage quit after this line:"So the day Rae went off to college and was fucked into oblivion by the dark, pelvic thrust of the bomb, Mary drove me to work. (Lansdale)"You are using rapetastic language to talk about your daughter. You are talking about your own daughter being fucked into oblivion. It's sexualizing and fetishizing and just gross. Why was any of this language necessary? This clearly sends the message this story is for menz and not for the wimin.Not to mention the obligatory erection that seems to be mandatory for all male authors writing for adults. It's like a checklist of everything wrong with male writers.This might be a good story. There were a lot of promising ideas. But the gross sexualization and of the daughter and rape-y language made this a DNF for me.“Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy” by Douglas F. Warrick4.5 StarsAnother heartbreaking tale (honestly anything with Alzheimer's always gets to me) with a really creepy fantastical twist. Luckily, though sad, the ending is bittersweet. I loved the ruminations on life and purpose. I took off at half star because of the mention of pissing oneself - the other thing besides erections male authors *always have* to mention. Despite that hiccup, it's a wonderful story.Poetry“The Busker, Broke and Busted” by Shira Lipkin4 StarsA heart-breaking yet darkly funny poem about an out-of-date robot in disrepair trying to resell itself to another user. Lipkin slyly makes similarities between the robot and an old prostitute trying to sell herself to another man. While the robot's desperation can be darkly amusing, at the same time the poem has strikes a chord as the robot desperately tries to assert it's humanity and worth as a humanoid.Nonfiction“Kicking Ass, Taking Names, Bubblegum Optional” by Sigrid Ellis2 StarsThis article discusses (or really yells at the reader) that terrible genre action movies are really empowering and we should just ignore all the sexist bullshit because...because...I don't know? Guuuuuuurl power? I obviously don't agree with Ellis's point. I'm not saying one can't be a fan of problematic things (Lord knows I am), but by ignoring the problematic issues just because you like it, is a form of erasure and silencing. Saying "So fucking what" over films like Suckerpunch, Jennifer's Body, and anything Mila Jovovich is in because you like them, is immature and shuts down any possible conversations. And shutting down conversation is opposite of the purpose of an essay or social justice.I'm not giving this essay a low grade because I don't agree with Ellis, but because it's poorly and amateurly written and Ellis spends more time yelling at her audience than trying to provoke thought and start a dialogue. She does make some interesting points about the movies mentioned above, but it's drowned out by her need to vindicate herself and her shaming others for finding these movies problematic. There is a good article on this topic, but this isn't it. This is it.You can read the full magazine for free here! If you like what you read, support the magazine by buying a copy for your e-reader.