Tag Archives: publisher: apex magazine

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon

The Tomato Thief

“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon

Series: Jackalope Wives, #2
Published by:
 Apex Magazine on January 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Grandma Harken lives out on the edge of town, away from most everyone else. Many speculate on why that is: Is it for privacy? Is she a witch? Does she just not like people? But maybe the real question is: Does it even matter? One thing Grandma Harken does like are her prized tomatoes. When they start disappearing from her garden, however, she finds herself with her own set of questions about the thief. And what follows is a double lesson on why one should never make assumptions or judge people based on the little information we can get from just a glance or two.

There was no question for me that this was destined to win the Hugo Award in the novelette category once I had a chance to read all the finalists. In a relatively short space, Ursula Vernon packs in a well-paced fantasy story with a touch of mystery and some action to go along with it. The storytelling is gripping, and while the overall message seems like a serious one, I felt a lightness to it all that kept it from becoming too heavy. I do find reviewing shorter fiction to be difficult because sometimes I worry about having enough to talk about without spoiling the plot. There is so much here, though, that I know I have not even come close. The story is available to read for free on the Apex Magazine website, so I suggest checking it out when you get a chance.

Repairing the World by John Chu

Title: Repairing the World
Author: John Chu
Published: April 1, 2014
Pages: 11
Publisher: Apex Magazine
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

In a future where the world is routinely fractured by beings breaking in from elsewhere, Lila is a sealer–she literally tapes and seals over the fractures that appear in the ground, the sky, everywhere.  But she is required by the university’s review board to have a linguist along with her when she responds to a break, a task that often falls to Bridger.  Bridger is a serious and accomplished linguist, and he spends countless hours studying.  Though Lila quickly learns that he has another motivation for where he goes to study, and it’s one that is not exactly accepted in their society.  But Lila’s never been one to feel restricted by the rules and she certainly doesn’t expect Bridger to do so, either.

The first John Chu story I read was “The Water that Falls on You From Nowhere,” the much-deserved winner of last year’s Hugo for Best Short Story.  There is something about the way he constructs a world in a short story that I find very compelling.  Often, in short fiction, it’s difficult to present a story that resonates with rich and dynamic characters in a world that feels complete.  There just isn’t the same amount of space one has in a novel.  But in this story, much like with my previous experience with Chu’s writing, he has done just that.  I found myself immersed in this world and connected to the characters in seemingly no time at all, leaving me with every opportunity to truly enjoy what I was reading.