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Abyss & Apex - 2008

  • Issue Number: Issue 27
  • Published Date: 2008
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly online

In Abyss & Apex, the reader is transported to speculative worlds that have an air of the suspense thriller movie or the ideas prevalent in the science fiction genre. Whether it is short fiction, flash fiction, poetry or haiku (or as they call it, the “Short Form Set) you will encounter the mysterious, the strange and the unknown until your curiosity wears out or is satiated and must wait until the next issue.

In the short fiction piece, “The Number of Angels in Hell,” by Joanne Steinwachs, an Israeli state is imagined on a planet in outer space, as well as romance between a not-so-attractive Jewish woman and a convert to Judaism, a man, who both seem judged for their particular weaknesses or faults and are brought together:

She bought his contract, paid for his implants, then drove him into exhaustion teaching him how to fly and how to prospect for the minerals so desperately needed by the colony. Isaac, softer and kinder than Rachel would ever be, had helped him become a Jew. They both helped him grow up. Every night he expected Rachel to come into his bed and take what everyone else had taken. But she hadn't. And one day, six years later, he'd become the man she believed he could be. On that day, after flying through an ice storm, on a cold ledge top, she'd proposed. His Rachel, not a shred of romance. “So Harry, how about you marry me? We're a good team.”

This narrative takes a purely theoretical situation and creates a fascinating tale of the love between a pair of misfits just trying to survive.

In the flash fiction piece, “The Green Infinity” by Camille Alexa, a wife remembers her husband Gary before and as he transformed into the thing he was to become: “Back when it was still just quickly–spreading cancer they battled, no drug or therapy or voodoo spirit – prayer had helped. Gary had faced death with dignity and courage. It was Sharon who'd urged him to try experimental DNA recombinant chromosomal therapies.” In this story, it is as if the main character, man, has become the earth itself and returned from whence it came.

In the poem “Pavlov’s Best Friend” by Kristine Ong Muslim, one of Pavlov’s most famous experiments involving a dog is re-imagined and brought to life:

That bell again. The ringing earlier was a trick;
it was slightly off–key. This one was the real deal.
I knew that the sound of footsteps was next.
Then the same bland food. Feeding time was routine.
I did not want to salivate, but the Master was salivating
for me to salivate, and I should not disappoint him.
I never dreamed that these people would let me go
someday, but perhaps, if I were nice enough to do
what they expected me to do, then there was a chance out
of this kennel. The other dogs were saying the same thing:
salivate at the right pitch, please the semi–balding Master.

With this poem, Muslim manages to reverse perspectives successfully and with flair. Ingenuously, the dog’s voice is heard, and it thinks of its “master” much the same way Pavlov thinks about the dog and how it responds to external stimuli. And even though it is funny, it also manages by giving the dog human attributes to comment on the human condition.

Abyss & Apex is a journal that utilizes what may seem like unconventional methods to obtain similar ends as other literary journals; it uses the guise of the alien world and science fiction constructs to convey messages about the human condition in all its various forms. This makes it seem as if it is taking us on a journey to foreign territory. While these characters and situations are unusual with a dramatic nod to suspense thrillers and sci-fi classic movies and novels, its main objective is to transport its readers to the valleys and ravines of thought, even sometimes to the edge. And we continue to read because we are fascinated and desire to continue learning.

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Review Posted on September 01, 2008

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