In a world gone wrong, heroes and villains are not always easy to distinguish and every individual has the ability to contribute something powerful.As with all anthologies, I will be reviewing this book story by story as opposed to as a whole but I did have a few things I wanted to mention first: I was extremely impressed with how well each of the author managed to add to this diverse range of settings, characters and worlds and whilst a few of the stories lacked a little there were a few stories that really stood out to me.
In this stunning collection of original and rediscovered stories of tragedy and hope, the stars are a diverse group of students, street kids, good girls, kidnappers, and child laborers pitted against their environments, their governments, differing cultures, and sometimes one another as they seek answers in their dystopian worlds. Take a journey through time from a nuclear nightmare of the past to society’s far future beyond Earth with these eleven stories by masters of speculative fiction. Includes stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Daniel H. Wilson, and more.
Anyway, onto the stories.
The Last Day by Ellen Oh
What a fantastically bleak and hopeless way to start off a speculative fiction anthology! This story of what would have happened if WWII had ended differently rings slightly true with the plot device of young children being drafted as soldiers and put on the front line. I really enjoyed this though Oh's writing is nothing that impressive. After this I got stuck right into her 2013 release Prophecy and enjoyed that as well.
Freshee's Frogurt by Daniel H. Wilson
I really enjoyed this one despite the fact that it was pretty terrifying and gory. I didn't realise that this fitted in with Robocalypse (which I really want to read now). This was exciting, suspenseful and also pretty funny because the narrator is a pretty witty.
Uncertainty Principle by K. Tempest Bradford
I loved this story! I really want to read more from this author, preferably a full length novel based on this short story. I was pretty confused at times by what was going on as it was pretty ambitious for a short story but the premise was fantastic and the feeling of the main characters hopelessness and fear by the changes really suited the tone of the book.
Pattern Recognition by Ken Liu
This was a conflicting one because the whole story made you feel one way but the ending throws a curveball and you really don't know which feeling is 'right'. This story also rings true with the concept of exploitation and the question being raised; is it really exploitation when they are needed and being protected? I did enjoy this one though.
Gods of the Dimming Light by Greg van Eekhout
I'm torn over this one as the dystopian world just seemed to be added in to make it fit in this anthology and not a central plot device. It would have worked as a fleshed out fantasy story but it just didn't seem right in this anthology and the fact that it was here threw me off a little.
Next Door by Rahul Kanakia
A world where the richer people have tech which means they can do anything and so never leave their house (trying to shorten the plot but can't!) and never notice the poor people squatting in their house. A boy and his boyfriend search to find a better squat for themself and family. The story doesn't have an amazing plot but the end was very ambiguous and such a good idea.
Good Girl by Malinda Lo
One of my favorite stories in this anthology. Malinda Lo's story of a girl trying to find her brother and the things she discovers about herself on the journey. Lo manages to fit in a full story and a romance into her space and she does it well. Not a happy ending, but in the world she builds does such a thing exist?
A Pocket full of Dharma by Paolo Bacigalupi
This was... different. The Dalai Llama is trapped in a data cube and a poor deformed beggar has to protect it and deliver it to the right people. This story was well told but I felt like it was missing a certain something and it forgettable in the end.
Blue Skies by Cindy Pon
Set in a dystopian Chinese type of setting, this story tells of a poor boy and a rich girl who get to know each other and come away with a better understanding of eachother's lives. This was poignant and definitely my favorite story of the book, well written with a good meaning.
What Arms to Hold Us by Rajan Khanna
The one story that I couldn't get into. The world building didn't seem to be there so I couldn't get into it.
Solitude by Ursula K. LeGuin
This was a great story about culture immersion. A woman immerses herself into a new culture with her children. The two kids are immersed into the culture bit the mother yearns to go back, causing a rift between herself and her kids. It was beautiful, poignant and original, I'd love to read a novel based on this.
Overall Rating: C
Book released 1st October 2012 by Tu Books
ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (eBook)