Sci Fi, Short Stories

Take Us to a Better Place: Stories by Madeline Ashby, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Calvin Baker, Frank Bill, Yoon Ha Lee, Karen Lord, Mike McClelland, Achy Obejas, David A. Robertson, Martha Wells

This book is available for request till the 31st of May 2020

Usually, I am unable to give a breakup of individual reviews when I read books like this. Given that there are only ten stories and they vary very widely in the tone as well as the content I decided to try this one time. Hopefully, I will see my way through and not come back and delete this introduction I am typing. I will, however not rate them separately because that would be too hard.

  1. Flotilla at Bird Island by Mike McClelland:

This set the tone for what I thought would be a collection of dystopian scenarios, but as I will end up explaining, that was not to be the case. This first tale, however, is a dystopia. I will not go into the finer details, but we see the world through the eyes of one man who meets an old friend and finds out that people are working on alternatives to their current living conditions. It brought up the questions of the hierarchy of being saved when the situation worsens or even if there was a cure to all the ills ailing their world, who decides the reach of it. I liked it and looked forward to reading the rest.

      2. Paradise by Hannah Lillith Assadi

This story switches tack completely to focus on one girl carrying the weight of memories of losing her mother in a war-torn country, of being smuggled out and of trying to survive in a whole new place which just will not wholly accept her. It was a pretty good narrative and pulled a lot of heartstrings. The best part was the ending, it added a whole new dimension to the full story.

3. The Erasure Game by Yoon Ha Lee

Our country world is swamped by our need to stick to the latest trend, monitor our body, and this story takes it a whole step further. It took me a while to get the entire picture being presented and the rules of this seemingly utopic scenario where everyone is healthy and tries to stay that way. Some people are discontented with this interconnected life, but it was a decent story.

4. The Sweet Spot by Achy Obejas

I did not get this story in context with the previous ones. I read the author’s description of why this fits into the book at the end and only then I was able to appreciate this story of a couple, one of who is losing her hearing and how that seems to impact the larger picture and her role in it. It is more about relationships and interdependence than anything else.

5.Reclamation by David A.Robertson and Illustration by Selena Goulding

All the previous chapters also had illustrations, but this was a graphic story, so I decided to mention the illustrator’s name as well. There weren’t too many panels, and although the story was pretty straightforward and simple, the drawings added nuance to it. This is the story of an indigenous (US-based) boy who finds a way to lay some claim to his roots.

6. Obsolescence by Martha Wells

I have read only one novella by this author, and it probably was her name that directed my attention to this collection in the first place. I liked the beginning of the story, the background (it is based in space), but I felt the ending a little too abrupt given the pacing during the rest of the narrative! It deals with how health care facilities are different for varying people

7. Viral Content by Madeline Ashby

This was a scary new world, where most things were normal but loneliness and misinformation are concentrated due to information online. We have one journalist trying to take a stand to bring something into focus. I would have liked there to be more of a twist in this since the scenario was pretty impressive.

8. Brief Exercises in Mindfulness by Calvin Baker

This was another chapter that I only got the significance of when I read the author’s note at the end of the book. It made sense only then. Otherwise, it mostly dealt with the complications of living with roommates and sharing space with other people

9. The Plague Doctors  by Karen Lord

This felt more like a novella in itself than any of the others. We were given the entire scenario as well as an ever decreasing timeline to procure a solution. It covered a lot of ground while being quick about it. The focus is on a contagion that people do not know how to protect the world and their loved ones from.

10. The Masculine and the Dead by Frank Bill

This final story was interesting and even as I liked the content, I was not very taken by the presentation. We meet a lonely man who has brought a whole community together and even if it is similar to the Erasure Game (3), there is no one tallying anything or keeping track except for the villain of the piece. I liked the emotions in it.

Overall it was a different book to read, and I am glad I gave it a shot. They were different from each other in such a way that you can read one at a time and not feel the need to rush to complete them all in one sitting.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

 

 

 

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