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Search tags: Dystopian
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review 2018-09-22 11:41
Doomsday Anthology
Doomsday - Samie Sands

edited by Samie Sands

 

Fourteen stories all on the theme of the world coming to an end. Of course such an idea intrigued me! I had never read any of the authors before but part of the idea of anthologies is to discover new voices. Like most anthologies, some stories appealed more than others. It's well edited and I don't remember tripping over any typos at all.

 

There were just three of the dreaded present tense stories and a couple of others where the writing wasn't up to scratch or the plot went nowhere, but also a few notable stories with interesting ideas stood out.

 

We had aliens, zombies, vampires eating zombies, people who melt, mythological gods, dystopia, dead people who stay animate long enough to testify against their murderers, WW3, immortality whether you want it or not and a fairy world dying. Quite a variety of approaches!

 

The stand out stories IMO are From Strange to Indifferent by Katie Jaarsveld and Nightmare Rising by McKenzie Richardson. Both of these are well written and explore some interesting ideas. The latter will be of particular interest to Fantasy fans.

 

Not too bad as such collections go and it's given me two more authors to pay attention to.

 

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review 2018-09-20 23:13
The Marrow Thieves
The Marrow Thieves - Cherie Dimaline

How do you write about the apocalypse when your people have already experienced it? You draw deeply from the past. Filled with historical parallels and rife with metaphors this book broke my heart to pieces in a beautiful way. Dimaline asks questions worth addressing, especially here and now. How do you survive in a poisoned world? How does your culture persist when it is being devoured? How do you live when you are a consumable?

 

Tapping into the teen survival adventure story vein this book also had the qualities of a zombie apocalypse story. How people are dragged away by the whistling recruiters, the scrounging, the running through the woods, the need for self sufficiency even as found family becomes a lifeline, the constant fear of those mindless creatures coming to consume you in the night. It had all the hallmarks of a truly humanistic zombie tale, except the monsters weren't undead.

 

Episodic yet cohesive we get the stories of these characters lives even as we follow them ever North toward hope. I could go into a deep literary analysis, put my degree to good use, but honestly I don't want to. I thought this book was beautifully written and conceived. Best read as an allegory than straight sci-fi this is the sort of take on annihilation only an indigenous author could manage so masterfully. I was intrigued, horrified, and moved.

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review 2018-09-17 19:47
Parable of the Sower / Octavia Butler
Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

 

What a powerful view of a dystopian near future! Just like Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler was able to scan the news of the time (early 1990s) and extrapolate from those stories to produce this tale exploring where North America might be headed. Her version of a United States that has been reduced to third world status is striking for how possible it feels. Although Canada features as a desired destination for the economic refugees, Butler tells us nothing of what is really happening north of the border, content to show us the plight of regular Americans.

The trends that she was working with? Effects of drug use (made me think of our current fentanyl crisis), the growing rich/poor gap, the precarious nature of employment, the willingness to build & fill prisons, the unwillingness to build & repair schools & libraries, the tendency to value the economy over the environment, and climate-driven weather change (and the resulting change in what crops will grow and food price inflation). Butler could foresee this twenty years ago—how much closer are we today to this exact situation? Oh, this makes me think so much of Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, where you can really feel like the whole book scenario could easily come true.

Of course this wouldn’t be Octavia Butler if there wasn’t some exploration of the power dynamic between people and groups of people as well. The main character, Lauren, progresses from childhood, governed by her Baptist father, to leader of people migrating north and founding her own religion. We get to see Lauren and her brother Keith struggle with their father’s authority in different ways and the outcome of those struggles. Butler certainly makes the reader see the value of having a community—a chosen circle of people who both give & receive support.

My only complaint might be that it is so United States focused, rather like Stephen King’s The Stand. It could have been even better, in my opinion, had she widened the scope to include other parts of the world, rather like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

This is book number 295 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2018-09-16 02:31
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

  Clever chicks who kick ass and go back to save people and are kind to smaller children...I love Tana. There's plenty of creepy atmosphere, and vampire slaying, and gore for days, but there's no swearing or sex (if that's something you look for) and in its own way it's rather wholesome. Tana and Buffy would get along well together.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-09-13 22:27
WORLDWIRED by ELIZABETH BEAR
Worldwired - Elizabeth Bear

This book took me a long time to read because I checked it out, didn't finish in time, and then came back months later.  I think this was a detriment to the book or actually my feelings about the book.  I really wasn't enjoying it when I came back to finish it.  I hate the love triangle even though everyone gets along.  And Richard was getting a lot irritating.  Not my favorite of the series.

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