Guest post by Lesley Conner: From Slush Pile to Magazine to Anthology: The Making of Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1

bio picFor today’s guest post, I asked Lesley Conner, the managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, to pick a few stories from the new anthology Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 (out today!) and talk about how they ended up in Apex and how they changed throughout the editing process.

Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

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Guest post by Robert Jackson Bennett: On Gods, Religion, and Power

RJBennettFor today’s guest post, I’m very proud to welcome Robert Jackson Bennett, one of my favorite authors working in the field today.

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. He lives in Austin with his wife and son. He can be found on Twitter at @robertjbennett.

The author’s current series, The Divine Cities, started with City of Stairs and continues with City of Blades, which will be released in the US on January 26th. Because I am turning into a horrible slacker in my old age, I haven’t reviewed either of these yet, so I’ll just say this: they’re two out of only six new novels I’ve given a perfect five star rating in the past three years, out of the several hundred I’ve read.

In the following guest post, Robert Jackson Bennett talks about one of the most fascinating aspects of these novels: the way they explore the nature of divinity, religion, and power.

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My Favorite “New to Me” Author of 2015 (on SF Signal)

Mind Meld, by Rick Celis

Mind Meld, by Rick Celis

Today you can find me on SF Signal, where I’m participating in another Mind Meld, this time answering the question: “Who is Your Favorite “New to You” Author You Read in 2015?”

Click  here to find out my response (and the responses of several other SF/F reviewers.)

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Nature Abhors a Vacuum: Rereading Cibola Burn (on

CibolaBurnToday you can find me on writing about Cibola Burn, the fourth book in the Expanse series, as part of our unofficial “Fellowship of the Expanse”: we asked four great SF/F reviewers/critics (and me, ahaha) to write an in-depth post about each book of the SF series, leading up to the premiere of the TV show next week.

Here’s a snippet from my post (which, obviously, is about the fourth book in a series so spoilers ahoy if you click through to the full article):

The situation on the alien planet is an incredibly tense mini-version of the political landscape that James S.A. Corey has built up in the previous novels. The author (or, well, you know, authors) have taken some significant bits from each faction in the story and put them in a tiny Petri dish: Belters face off against Inner Planets folks, the alien element is the catalyst that sends everything into a crazy tail-spin, and Holden and his crew try to prevent the situation from blowing up even further. Put all four of those together, not on the broader canvas of the solar system but in a claustrophobically tiny and isolated colony on an alien planet that seems to be doing its best to destroy everything on it surface, and things are likely to go boom. Which they do, spectacularly.

Read the full article here!

And, here are links to the other installments so far:

Edit: I really hope they’re not being sarcastic here, because this sort of made my day.

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Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

ThreePartsDeadBefore I get started: yes, I know, it’s ridiculous I’m just reviewing Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone now. At the same time, I have to say I’m quite disappointed in all of you because, really, not one of you could have made me sit down and read this when it was first released in 2012? For shame.

But anyway. Three Parts Dead is one of the most fun and original fantasy novels I’ve read all year, and you should read it too. “Fantasy novel” in this case really means something that falls smack in the middle of the (probably very tiny) Venn diagram overlap between bizarre second-world steampunk tale, urban-ish fantasy à la Miéville, and John Grisham-like legal thriller that features, among others, living gargoyles and seven foot tall animated skeletons known as Deathless Kings. It’s really something else, this book.

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Reviving FBR + My Favorite Books of 2015

reviewers-choice2015Well, it’s been quiet here at Far Beyond Reality, hasn’t it? For months now, I’ve just been in the mood to re-read older books, or, to be precise, to read books I don’t need to review, books I can just sink into and enjoy without having to take notes and eventually formulate what passes for a considered opinion in a review.

In other words, I’ve been reading for FUN. Many reviewers burn out at some point, dealing with the constant flow of new titles that need to be covered by specific deadlines. First world problems, I know, and I’m truly blessed to receive so many books and even make some money reading and reviewing them… but everyone needs a break sometimes, right? Well, this was my break.

(All of this is also partly due to the fact that my day job at has been considerably busier over the last 6 months or so, but that’s where I’m straying into “making excuses.” I just needed a break from reviewing is all.)

Anyway, all this to say that my break is just about coming to an end. I’m planning to post more regularly again in 2016. I’m toying with the idea of mixing in some more news-y items and even the occasional short opinion piece. Maybe some giveaways and guest posts again too, if I can get them lined up. We’ll see how it goes!

To kick things off, here’s’s 2015 Reviewers’ Choice post, which includes my favorite books published this year.

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The Trials by Linda Nagata

TheTrialsNovels like The Trials by Linda Nagata give me—or at least restore some of my—faith in the publishing industry.

Sure, there’s the story of how the book came to be in the first place: Linda Nagata, who wrote several critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful science fiction novels in the 1990s, self-published The Red: First Light in 2013 after a long break. Lo and behold, the indie-published title garnered critical acclaim, not to mention nominations for both the Nebula and the John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.

Soon after, the novel and its sequels were acquired by new SFF imprint Saga Press. A slightly revised edition of The Red was published in June, closely followed byThe Trials, with series closer Going Dark due in early November.

While I enjoy a good Cinderella publishing story as much as the next tired, jaded reviewer, I really love these books most of all for what they are: some of the most action-packed and intelligent military science fiction to be released in years.

(Spoiler warning: The Trials is the direct sequel to The Red, and it’s pretty much impossible to discuss the new book without including plot details from the first one. So, if you haven’t read The Red yet, stop here and go check out my review of the novel instead.)

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