A People's Future of the United States
What if America's founding ideals finally became reality? A future of peace, justice, and love comes to life in original speculative stories that challenge oppression and embrace inclusiveness--from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, and more.For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States presents twenty-five never-before-published stories by a diverse group of writers, featuring voices both new and well-established. These stories imagine their characters fighting everything from government surveillance, to corporate cities, to climate change disasters, to nuclear wars. But fear not: A People's Future also invites readers into visionary futures in which the country is shaped by justice, equity, and joy.Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, this collection features a glittering landscape of moving, visionary stories written from the perspective of people of color, indigenous writers, women, queer & trans people, Muslims and other people whose lives are often at risk.Contributors include: Violet Allen, Charlie Jane Anders, Ashok K. Banker, Tobias S. Buckell, Tananarive Due, Omar El Akkad, Jamie Ford, Maria Dahvana Headley, Hugh Howey, Lizz Huerta, Justina Ireland, N. K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, Seanan McGuire, Sam J. Miller, Daniel José Older, Malka Older, Gabby Rivera, A. Merc Rustad, Kai Cheng Thom, Catherynne M. Valente, Daniel H. Wilson, G. Willow Wilson, and Charles Yu.

A People's Future of the United States Details

TitleA People's Future of the United States
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 5th, 2019
PublisherOne World
ISBN-139780525508809
Rating
GenreShort Stories, Science Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Anthologies

A People's Future of the United States Review

  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    There are certain collections of speculative fiction that are tattooed on my brain. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, and Futures on Fire, edited by Orson Scott Card, in particular.This one now joins that gallery of mind-bending, imagination-stretching stories, but there's something soul-soothing about these tales as well. Something sublime, yet hopeful.My favorites were the stories by N.K. Jemisin, Ashok Banker, and Charlie Jane Anders. Full disclosure: I have a story in here too, bu There are certain collections of speculative fiction that are tattooed on my brain. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, and Futures on Fire, edited by Orson Scott Card, in particular.This one now joins that gallery of mind-bending, imagination-stretching stories, but there's something soul-soothing about these tales as well. Something sublime, yet hopeful.My favorites were the stories by N.K. Jemisin, Ashok Banker, and Charlie Jane Anders. Full disclosure: I have a story in here too, but I'm just swimming in the wake of the above mentioned authors.
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  • Sahitya
    January 1, 1970
    This anthology boasts of some amazing authors and I just couldn't resist from requesting it as soon as I heard about it the first time. And what a thought provoking, sometimes infuriating and sometimes hopeful collection of stories this is. Right from the Foreword by Victor LaValle, we get an insight into how powerful representation is, how important it is to fight for the rights of the marginalized and and resistance can start from even just one person. These stories will move you, make you ang This anthology boasts of some amazing authors and I just couldn't resist from requesting it as soon as I heard about it the first time. And what a thought provoking, sometimes infuriating and sometimes hopeful collection of stories this is. Right from the Foreword by Victor LaValle, we get an insight into how powerful representation is, how important it is to fight for the rights of the marginalized and and resistance can start from even just one person. These stories will move you, make you angry and tear up, will terrify you and will probably light a fire under all of us to fight for everyone's rights in our own way so that we don't let many of these dystopian futures become possible.As with any short story anthology, there are some brilliant tales here and some which I didn't understand, but someone else might find them relevant. The book didn't start off strong for me, but the middle portion has some of my favorites including the ones by Ashok Banker, Omar El Akkad, Justina Ireland, Gabby Rivera and a few others. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, this is an important book and I promise that you will find something in it that will resonate with you.Below are my reviews for the individual stories: The Bookstore at the end of America - Charlie Jane Anders This story features an America where California is now a separate country with the former being a very religious, probably fascist place while the latter feels like a technocracy. During the time when wars break out for the sake of water resources, Molly still tries to maintain her bookstore at the border catering to both regions, and trying very hard to toe the middle ground for the sake of her daughter. This is a story about the power of books (both good ones and the propaganda) and how a good discussion about books might just quiet a heated argument between angry people on both sides.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Our Aim is Not to Die - A. Merc Rustad This world scared the hell out of me because anyone who is not the “Ideal” (straight, white, male) is discriminated against or being autistic and non-binary like our MC is literally illegal and people have to perform daily approved actions to prove their patriotism. Sua’s horrible predicament is captured so realistically that it terrified me too and the worst part is that this world seemed entirely plausible.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Wall - Lizz Huerta This story feels like a metaphor to the wall that our politicians so want to build at the southern border and what consequences it might lead to. Although I’m not sure I understood the world here.Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5 Read after Burning - Maria Dahvana Headley Another story about the power of words and books but I think it was too meta for me to understand.Rating: ⭐️ Disruption and Continuity - Malka Older This is sort of like a report written in the future about activism and it’s affect on society, especially after it’s realized that the political system is ineffective. I thought the format this is written in was inventive, but I was also slightly confused.Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5 It was Saturday Night, I Guess that Makes it Alright - Sam J. Miller This is a story about powerlessness and trying to free ourselves from it and desiring to do more, to resist, to take back some power.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Attachment Disorder - Tananarive Due A story about a mother wanting to protect her child, while trying to remain unattached. It’s heartbreaking to see a mother having to choose between life in a cage but with protection vs freedom that might not keep them alive long. I thought this struggle was depicted in a very gut wrenching manner.Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 By his Bootstraps - Ashok K. Banker This story is pure wish fulfillment for every single person who is fed up with the current government’s preposterous antics. I won’t say anything except just go and read this one.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Riverbed - Omar El Akkad A woman returns to the US almost half a century later after she suffered through imprisonment in Muslim internment camps. This story realistically depicts how survivors must actually feel when they see monuments and memorials erected at the places where they suffered so much injustices, while the attitudes of the people haven’t changed much. This is another story where the world seemed entirely plausible and too damn scary.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What Maya Found There - Daniel José Older I was surprised to see the current administration referenced here. The story of a future where bioengineering projects are being used for create the President’s private army and how some scientists are trying to stop them. Definitely depicts the dichotomy of a government that only believes in the science that’s useful for their purposes.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Referendum - Lesley Nneka Arimah Another scary world where all Black people have been designated wards of state, millions deported and a referendum on the ballot to reestablish slavery. And the small steps that led to this state are described which seem quite possible in our near future and it terrified me. However, there is Black Resistance and that means, there is hope. Very well written from the perspective of a mother and wife, struggling with her choices and trying to do her part.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Calendar Girls - Justina Ireland A Handmaid’s Tale-esque America where abortion/contraception is outlawed, marriage age is as low as 12 for girls and women’s rights activists are considered terrorists. In a very unlikely turn of events, the senator responsible for all the “moral” laws needs a contraband contraceptive selling woman to help his teenage daughter get an abortion. It just shows that just like the present day, men who make laws to police women’s bodies never want the same to be applied to their own.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Synapse Will Free Us From Ourselves - Violet Allen This story features a very high tech version of a gay conversion therapy institute, where the subjects are made to feel shame and hate themselves without knowing why, so that they will stop living out and proud. The way it’s described is chilling because it’s quite similar to the rhetoric we hear even now - “we don’t have a problem with gay people, just their lifestyle choices.” - and it just shows however much support people show outside, changing discriminatory attitudes is not easy.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ O.1 - Gabby Rivera The plague called Imbalance wiped out more than 40% of the population and made many others infertile - but this bacterium only affected those people full of white supremacist and capitalist greed. This story follows a queer couple of color, one of them non binary, on their journey to give birth to the first child in a decade - away from the eyes of the Federation and all the people who believe they owe this child to everyone. It’s really a beautifully written story of love and compassion.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Blindfold - Tobias S. Buckell This story had some amazing commentary on the privilege of being white passing, the still existing racial prejudices in this particular future (however much people try to deny it) and how steps are being taken to try to ensure a fair judicial process for people of all races and ethnicities. It’s written in second person but was quite easy to read and is definitely a very important tale to tell.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ No Algorithms in the World - Hugh Howey A fascinating story about a world that mostly runs on automation and people have universal basic income to survive. This clearly depicts the generational struggle between a father and son, the older not ready to accept the new reality and the younger wanting the chance to explore. I loved how this mirrors our present conflicts with our parents and elders.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Esperanto - Jamie Ford A story of how people who live in a technologically altered reality will react when all their alterations are stripped away and they are given a glimpse into their true reality. It’s a wonderful tale which tells us that diversity is beautiful.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ROME - G. Willow Wilson This story takes place in a future Seattle where there is no infrastructure anymore due to tax abolition, and a group of students have no choice but to write their midterms even when there is a fire breakout nearby and no firefighters. I’m not sure I fully understood the point of this story, maybe that sometimes the choices that we think are best in the short term could have long term disastrous consequences.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Give me Cornbread, or Give me Death - N. K. Jemisin What imagination Jemisin has. A story about the government trying to recreate the ten plagues to destroy the population of color, the second one of which utilizes dragons. And the resistance tries to win over the dragons by stealthily feeding them tasty spicy food. I was both horrified at the tyranny of the oppressors and delighted at the ingenuity of the women in the resistance. A brave tale of fighting back in any way possible.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Good News Bad News - Charles Yu Taking place in the next millennium, this story is told through various news stories detailing the technological breakthroughs and challenges of the day - from racist robots to refugee resettlement on the moon to bots voting on legislations to pharma companies trying to make pills to reduce intolerance and mansplaining - I thought the was a very hilarious and imaginative read. However, even in this world which has finally reached 100% income equality for women and females outnumber males in executive positions, women are still harassed at the workplace by male subordinates. Some things never change.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What You Sow - Kai Cheng Thom I can’t really explain this story but I think it’s a mirror to a woman’s struggle to always remain calm and composed and non confrontational, to keep the peace, until she realizes she has other options and she should take back her voice and power.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 A History of Barbed Wire - Daniel H. Wilson Cherokee Nation is a separate country, divided by a wall in this story. However, the land outside the wall has become corrupt and greedy and people ready to give up everything to illegally enter the Indian country. It just shows that sometimes what we wish for won’t turn out the exact way.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Sun in Exile - Catherynne M. Valente An extreme example of what a cult leader can do - convince the adoring masses of the exact opposite of reality. The people are so utterly devoted to their leader that they believe they are in an ice age when they are actually dying of an extreme heat wave. Another story that veers too close to our own reality. Excellent writing!!!Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Harmony - Seanan McGuire The author correctly says in the story that tolerance can be demanded and legislated but not guaranteed because haters are always gonna hate. This is the story of a bisexual/lesbian couple figuring out that their actual dream for life is different from the one they have been told to have, and they decide to take matters into their own hands and create a home for everyone, however different they maybe from the norm.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Now Wait for This Week - Alice Sola Kim This story could be a metaphor to women being violated in various forms by men all the time, but their voices are never heard and the men are never punished and the cycle continues. However, the story did confuse me a lot and it’s too long and I can’t be sure that I understood it correctly.Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5
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  • Obsidian
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. What a great collection. I didn't give any story less than four stars. Some stories resonated with me very much because some of them read as things that could totally happen in a year or less with the ways things are going on in the United States right now. Other stories had a very strong fantasy element (which I liked) but didn't seem as if they could happen. One of the reasons why I loved "The Handmaid's Tale" so much is that you could see a future where the United States government decid Wow. What a great collection. I didn't give any story less than four stars. Some stories resonated with me very much because some of them read as things that could totally happen in a year or less with the ways things are going on in the United States right now. Other stories had a very strong fantasy element (which I liked) but didn't seem as if they could happen. One of the reasons why I loved "The Handmaid's Tale" so much is that you could see a future where the United States government decided to take over women's bodies and dictate births. Settle in and read this anthology about a people's future history of the United States.The introduction by Victor LaValle sets the tone for this collection. He begins by telling us about his white father, his half brother, and how his father pushed his politics on them both, not understanding or caring that both of his sons mothers were minorities. His recollection of how he felt when he realized that Hillary Clinton was not going to become President, but that Donald Trump had won. And from there into a story about Howard Zinn and his book called "A People's History of the United States.""The Bookstore at the End of America" by Charlie Jane Anders (5 stars)-I loved the idea of the United States splitting off from California and how both factions (California and the United States) are caricatures of what we hear people grousing about now. California seems super liberal and the United States reads as oppressed. The owner of the bookstore called The Last Page is Molly. Molly has her daughter Phoebe and through her you get to see that Phoebe and her friends may be able to rise up and come together unlike what their parents. "Our Aim Is Not to Die" by A. Merc Rustad (5 stars)-This story follows Sua who is in a horrible version of the future where everyone is expected to conform to being hetrosexual. The government watches social media interactions and expects you to do certain things around certain dates (get married, have children, interact with friends, etc.). Sua is in a fake relationship with a man who is gay and has a close friend named Maya. Don't want to spoil too much here, but Sua ends up deciding what they can do to make things better for those who come next and the story has a hopeful tone to it in the end."The Wall" by Lizz Huerta (4 stars)-This one confused me a bit here and there. It read as more fantasy to me than the first two. I was confused about how humans were birthed in this world, Huerta mentions that some children were born with jaws and others were not and my brain went, wait what? How could they eat or breathe? And then I decided to just continue with the story. We eventually get into a wall being built to keep people out and how eventually what to is referred to as the empire starts removing people's rights. Then things get even worse when the military appears to turn against their own family members."Read After Burning" by Maria Dahvana Headley (4.5 stars)-So parts of this read as fantasy and others parts did not. The parts dealing with the government apparently restricting books and then banning them and words I could see happening. This is all after apparently bombs were dropped and people ran around "misunderstanding" each other. I loved following the protagonist in this one and them telling us about the Librarians and how people ended up having words or stories written onto their bodies. "Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity" by Malka Older (4 stars)-This was probably my least favorite in the collection and that's mainly because it read like a text book. There is no set-up for things mentioned in this story so I found myself struggling initially through this one. "It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right" by Sam J Miller (5 stars)-A world in which the government spies on you and apparently has banned certain music and homosexuality. The protagonist in this story is a young gay men who works for the privatized police forces. The protagonist still can't stop himself for looking for comfort and sex as he travels around with a supervisor named Sid where they install phone cloners. Prince comes into play here because at one point in the story apparently all of his music gets banned. More fantasy comes into play though when the protagonist does go off and have a sexual encounter and something dark seems to be happening to him."Attachment Disorder" by Tananarive Due (5 stars)-I was a bit confused with this one when it started out, but it all comes together later. Apparently in this future, people's DNA could be stolen and children could be born from that. Apparently a plague has harmed a lot of people but the government is still out threatening people. Our protagonist in this one is an older woman named Nayima and she's doing what she can to protect someone named Lottie. Nayima has a choice in this one and she chooses freedom. The story in this one ends on a more dark note though IMHO. "By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker (5 stars)-Three words. Genetic Time bomb. And I laughed through this whole story. I doubt anything like this could come true because the current President loathes science. But I loved a story where the MAGA President and his followers get hoisted on their own petard when they try to use a genetic time bomb to wipe out POC and instead it resets America and then the rest of the world to one in which Native Americans ended up becoming the dominant racial group in the U.S. "Riverbed" by Omar El Akkad (5 stars)-This one was sad and I loved it. We follow a woman named Dr. Khadija Singh who as a young woman is rounded up with her family when the United States started rounding up Muslims and keeping them encamped. It's apparently been some time since these events and the country has moved on again and now where she and her family were rounded up and forced to stay has been turned into a museum with some BS sculpture to memorialize what happened. Khadija returns from Canada to Billings for something that belongs to her. "Does it feel different, the driver asked, all these years later?""No," Khadija replied. "It feels exactly the same.""You think the midterms will change anything? My sons says now that the Social Democrats picked up a couple more seats in the House, they can try to reinstate the healthcare act, maybe cut a deal on tax reform."Khadija broke into laughter."Tax reform, Jesus Christ," she said. She set her beer on the ground."You know what this country is?" she said."This country is a man trying to describe a burning building without using the word fire.""What Maya Found There" by Daniel Jose Older (4 stars)-This one had more fantasy elements. Maya Lucia Aviles is looking at a future where science is being bent to make something faster, stronger, and deadlier to humans. I thought this was just an okay story after coming after "Riverbed.""The Referendum" by Lesley Nneka Arimah (5 stars)- A future that has African refugees rounded up and forced to return back to their own countries. This story provides background into the fact that more and more draconian laws are able to pass the Senate by the slimmest margin making the United States terrible for black people until a final terrible act: a referendum to repeal the 13th amendment and to reinstate slavery goes through. The protagonist in this story stays with her husband in America and works alongside her sister in law Darla, as part of a resistance group called "Black Resistance." You get her sister in law's jealously about what she didn't just leave the United States when she had the chance. I also don't know if I would have stayed based on what I read in this story either. Anyone in this present starts talking about should be re-instituted I am rounding up my immediate family and getting the hell out. "Calendar Girls" by Justina Ireland (5 stars)- We follow a young woman named Alyssa who apparently is selling contraceptives which have become banned. Also in this new world abortion has been outlawed. Ireland throws an aside out there about the legal age to marry a girl has been lowered and my whole body shuddered. This story read like a Black Mirror episode (in a good way) and I loved the twists and the ending. "The Synapse Will Free Us From Ourselves by Violet Allen (5 stars)-We follow a young man named Daniel who apparently works for something called the Synapse as an Adjustment Engineer. Daniel's job is to make his client Dante into a heterosexual. This story was chilling and I loved the twists in it. "0.1" by Gabby Rivera (4 stars)-This one was a little confusing to me definitely read as pure fantasy. A couple manages to get pregnant though no children have been able to be born for a pretty lengthy period of time. POVs change throughout."The Blindfold" by Tobias S. Buckell (5 stars)-This was great. A future in which one can buy the technology in order to be viewed as a white male during a trial.....yeah this one was so freaking apt based on current events I didn't even know what to say while I was reading it. Very very good. And I loved the twist! Another one that would make a great Black Mirror episode since technology is an important piece of this one. As well as understanding mixed races. Judges give different sentences. The data is there. Undeniable. But the most important question became not whether human beings were flawed but what could we do about it?Consider this: Analyzing the prison sentences judges handed down based on how long it had been since they had something to eat shows a pattern of longer sentences given the longer it has been since they ate. is it fair for one person who smoked some weed to get one sentence in the morning just after breakfast and for someone close to lunch to get a longer sentence just because Judge So-and-So's blood sugar is dropping?"No Algorithms In the World" by Hugh Howey (4 stars). Ehh this was okay. A world in which universal basic income is a thing and the protagonist in this one has a terrible ass father who hates how the world has changed. This may have been one of the shortest stories in the collection. I can't recall off the top of my head."Esperanto" by Jamie Ford (4 stars)-Interesting idea about what makes someone beautiful and how technology can be used to alter that idea in people.."Rome" by G. Willow Wilson (4 stars)-A group of people who apparently are trying to take a test (called the Building Language Proficiency) and also worrying about how a fire may impact their ability to take this test. Some throwaway lines about how Texas is underwater and some other parts of the country have been hit with stuff that sounds like from a disaster movie. "Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death" by N. K. Jemisin (4 stars)- This was a weird one, not bad, but it involved dragons. Definitely more on the fantasy side. This was also pretty short so I couldn't get into it that much."Good News Bad News" by Charles Yu (5 stars)-Just two words. Racist robots. And there are some other good news bad news stories we are treated to in this short story. I laughed about the news stories that involved Jeff Bezos version 3, LLC, an incorporeal person organized under the laws of Delaware as the legal heir and cognitive descendant of the human known as Jeff Bezos. This Jeff Bezos is the CEO of AmazonGoogleFace and trying to acquire DisneyAppleSoft. "What You Sow" by Kai Cheng Thom (5 stars)-I really got a kick out of this story. We follow Yun who is a Celestial in a world that also has humans infected with something which in turn changes them into something called "Sleepless." I think this one picked up on some Greek mythology as well as Bible stories as well when you read about what a Celestial really is. I just wanted to read more about Yun after this."A History of Barbed Wire" by Daniel H. Wilson (4.5 stars)-A world in which the Cherokee Nation apparently takes over the state of Oklahoma. It appears that also something called the Sovereign Wall was built which led to many states going through some turmoil. This has caused many people to try to force their way into Cherokee Nation though there are strict rolls about who can actually be there. Though I really enjoyed this story, parts of it felt unfinished. "The Sun in Exile" by Catherynne M. Valente (4 stars)-This was a quirky story about a man forcing those who ruled over to ignore the fact that they were in fact hot and were instead cold. It reminded me a bit of someone who yells fake news all the time. At one point the sun is put on trial. "Harmony" by Seanan McGuire (5 stars)-What lies beneath a new future where apparently tolerance is the new law of the land. There is still preferential treatment for those who are heterosexual over those who are not and microaggressions still exist. We follow a lesbian couple who contemplate buying a town where they can stay along with others and define what makes a home. "Now Wait For This Week" by Alice Sola Kim (5 stars)-The story follows what happens to someone named Bonnie and we get to read how it appears that she is living the same week again and again along with others. Bonnie isn't the protagonist in this one though, the protagonist is just someone that knows her. This is a world where apparently rape, sexual harassment, abuse is rampant. There also seems to be breaking news stories about famous men doing some of the above. I think this was the author's take on the me too movement and how people felt reading the same story over and over again with the name changed.
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  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Goodness, where to begin? Okay look. If you plan to read any anthology in your reading lifetime, it should probably be this one. Not necessarily because of all the raucous good times you'll be having, but because of how well done these stories are, and how completely relevant and important they are. Let us discuss why this is fabulous: •Uh, did you see the author lineup? This is like, s You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Goodness, where to begin? Okay look. If you plan to read any anthology in your reading lifetime, it should probably be this one. Not necessarily because of all the raucous good times you'll be having, but because of how well done these stories are, and how completely relevant and important they are. Let us discuss why this is fabulous: •Uh, did you see the author lineup? This is like, some kind of League of Amazing Writers™ or something. Can they team up for regularly scheduled anthologies and call themselves this? Because I am here for that. •There is truly not a bummer in the bunch. You know how anthologies always have a few stories that leave you a tad underwhelmed? Not so here. Every single story contained at least some kind of worthwhile message. And they were incredibly engaging, well thought out, and yes, entertaining. •Holy diversity! Just as the author list is gloriously diverse, so too were the stories. Representation of so, so many people, in all sorts of situations, such a win. •Timely, significant, and powerful. These stories highlight the all-too-plausible future we could be facing, given the current trajectory of society. It's terrifying, but more than that, it's necessary.  My one word of caution: I read these stories back to back, all in a row. And it might not be the best way to do it? They're all fabulous, like I said, but I think they might have more of an impact if you read a couple, then take a breather. They're powerful, and it can be a lot all at once. But worth it, without a doubt. Bottom Line: Written by what has to be the most incredible group of authors to have ever joined forces, and written well, these stories will leave you deep in thought long after you close the book.
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  • Leseparatist
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for a review.I found this collection oddly depressing and a little disappointing. So many of the stories hinged on heaping the existing prejudices and unfairness - only MORE - and somehow, instead of translating into angry and bright prose, the result, to me at least, seemed to be of tiredness and certain resignation. Which is not to say any one story was this, exactly, but reading about various ways Otherness could be oppress I read this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for a review.I found this collection oddly depressing and a little disappointing. So many of the stories hinged on heaping the existing prejudices and unfairness - only MORE - and somehow, instead of translating into angry and bright prose, the result, to me at least, seemed to be of tiredness and certain resignation. Which is not to say any one story was this, exactly, but reading about various ways Otherness could be oppressed, and humans of the future US could be surveilled and oppressed, rendered the resistance and anger offered by these stories insufficient for me. There were exceptions, of course. Lizz Huerta, Maria Dahvana Headley, Omar El Akkad, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Charles Yu in particular (though I also enjoyed a few more, including Jemisin's story). What is more, the diversity of voices and perspectives was certainly valuable, particularly for readers less familiar with some of the themes the collection showcases. Still, my expectations had been high and this didn't quite work for me as a project, despite its potential.However, it's entirely possible that I am simply not quite the intended audience, and that American readers will get more out of it, considering the huge shadow the current American president casts over the collection and its direction. Perhaps this is a needed response, and the anger it channels will feel more intense or better directed. Perhaps my wavelength wasn't quite right to receive the transmission.But I really want to read more of the authors I listed above, and will look out for their writing.
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this stunning speculative fiction anthology, created in the wake of our current political climate. I usually find short story collections uneven, but in this case I liked all except for 2-3 of the 25 stories. Standouts for me were N.K. Jemisin’s Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death, Kai Cheng Thom’s What You Sow, Ashok K. Banker’s By His Bootstraps, and Maria Dahvana Headley’s Read After Burning. All of the stories coalesced well around the central theme of the book.
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  • Terence
    January 1, 1970
    According to the back cover: "[E]ditors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in."They also asked that the stories be badass."A People's Future of the United States delivers on the first part. This is a collection of stori According to the back cover: "[E]ditors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in."They also asked that the stories be badass."A People's Future of the United States delivers on the first part. This is a collection of stories set in a near-future America that deal with issues of race, sex/gender, migration and origin myths, and the pathology of control. The second part, not as successfully. Overall, I would give the book a 2.8 - 3 stars. There's only one story that I would call "bad" - "By His Bootstraps"; all the rest are decent, if not "badass."My favorites were:"Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity" - Malka Older. As a story, it wasn't very engaging. It's excerpts from a history recounting how society moved beyond the nation-state to create a more just society. It's interest comes from the shape of the society suggested by the excerpts. I'd have been more engaged by a story about people creating or living in that society."Attachment Disorder" - Tananarive Due. An engaging story about a plague survivor, her daughter, and how they survive in a reservation for survivors."Riverbed" - Omar el Akkad. The strongest part of Akkad's American War (IMO) was his depiction of how a bright, young, good woman becomes a terrorist. In this story, he does the same in service to depicting racism and the blind obtuseness of oppressor and sympathizer."Calendar Girls" - Justina Ireland. Another engaging story about a young vendor of illegal contraceptives and her role in the comeuppance of a senator."Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death" - NK Jemisin. Not a profound but an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek account about how an oppressed community turns the tables on their oppressors.One more comment: I was struck by how many of these stories reminded me of movies."Read After Burning" - Maria Dahvana Headley: Fahrenheit 451"O.1" - Gabby Rivera: Children of Men"Good News Bad News" - Charles Yu: War Games"Now Wait f0r This Week" - Alice Sola Kim: Groundhog's Day, Happy Death Day (and its sequel)I can't recommend that you rush out and buy a copy but if you run across it in a library or can pick it up super cheap at a book sale, it might be worth your time.
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  • Greg Chatham
    January 1, 1970
    Aww, jeez. I love Victor LaValle and I'm a sucker for John Joseph Adams' themed anthologies, but this collection was almost a total embarrassment.Given a platform to say their piece about US politics, most of the authors deliver unimaginative single-issue dystopias. And though repetitive, those are preferable to the ones that try to be humorous. "Good News, Bad News" by Charles Yu and "By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker are abominably cringey. And Charlie Jane Anders' opening story, "The Book Aww, jeez. I love Victor LaValle and I'm a sucker for John Joseph Adams' themed anthologies, but this collection was almost a total embarrassment.Given a platform to say their piece about US politics, most of the authors deliver unimaginative single-issue dystopias. And though repetitive, those are preferable to the ones that try to be humorous. "Good News, Bad News" by Charles Yu and "By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker are abominably cringey. And Charlie Jane Anders' opening story, "The Bookstore at the End of America," had me wanting to throw my Kindle against the wall from the get-go.Fortunately, a handful of authors did bring their A game. Maria Dahvana Headley and Daniel H. Wilson tease out some unusual and grim futures. Wilson's "A History Of Barbed Wire" in particular feels like what the anthology was probably aiming for. It's inspired by climate crisis and politics, but it's also a detective story. I was also surprised by Hugh Howey's contribution, "No Algorithms in the World," which takes on an entirely different topic-- universal basic income. By that point in the book, it was kind of a shock to see a story take on a topic inspired by something other than anger or fear.For that, you want "Now Wait For Next Week", Alice Sola Kim's excellent, seething story that puts a sci-fi twist on the #metoo conversation. It's... fucking brilliant, and hell, I could see publishing this whole anthology just to get this story out there. After a book full of warmed-over dystopian tropes, I was completely caught off guard by how creative, angry, and goddamn effective this story was.Now THAT was what I was looking for when I picked this up.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    A little while ago, Donald Trump mentioned how colleges and universities could use their funding if they didn’t embrace freedom of speech and have challenged the beliefs of too many students. I think we are meant to read that as student republicans. On one hand, I can see the reason for making sure colleges embrace freedom of speech and sometimes the policing seems a bit overboard – targeting a professor and her husband because she expressed doubt about a cultural approbation policy over Hallowe A little while ago, Donald Trump mentioned how colleges and universities could use their funding if they didn’t embrace freedom of speech and have challenged the beliefs of too many students. I think we are meant to read that as student republicans. On one hand, I can see the reason for making sure colleges embrace freedom of speech and sometimes the policing seems a bit overboard – targeting a professor and her husband because she expressed doubt about a cultural approbation policy over Halloween costumes. But on the other hand, how common are such instances, and to be honest, most of the stories seem to involve students policing the speech of professors which doesn’t seem to be Trump’s worry. If, as we often do in the classes I teach, analyze an op-ed piece – and that piece just happens to be from Tucker Carlson, then are we in violation even though I point out that CNN also has problems. Additionally, part of schooling is to teach students to support their opinions and think critically while forming them. Does the proposed policy mean that if a student believes the earth is flat, I can’t correct him? If I call a student, her without knowing that the student’s preferred pronoun is it, am I at fault, even though I would have used it if I had known, despite the fact that I think the pronoun it being used to describe a person is insulting and a denial of humanity? Policing of speech, or too much policing of speech, from either side worries me. And Trump’s announcement just feels likes one thing from the dictator’s play book. And that type of thing gives rise to books like this short story collection. LaValle and Adam’s collection is a bit heavier on the dystopia than a hopeful future, though there are hopeful stories. Many of the stories are open ended, such as “The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders, a story that tackles extremes of each side and showcases the power of literature. Others are more definite in their ending. Some, like Due’s “Attachment Disorder” relay on both a mysterious beginning and that open-ended end. Though the mysterious beginnings contain hints of what could have happened. There are stories like “It Was Saturday Night, I Guess that Makes it All Right” that address what seems to be a change in the government’s view of homosexuality and transgender. (and yes, that story is also homage to Prince). Perhaps the most powerful is “Referendum” by Lesly Nneka Arimah, a short story that deals with racism as well as different types of fighting back and standing up. “Riverbed” by Omar El Akkad is perhaps the short story that could be in the immediate future, but also harkens back to treatment of Japanese Americans and Native Americans. “Calendar Girls” by Justina Ireland is a must read for anyone who likes the Handmaid’s Tale, though the short story is far more than simple nod to Atwood’s novel. Like the novel, however, it does deal with a future that has its roots in events and rules of the past. Hugh Howey and Ashok K Bahr deal directly with Orange Buffon himself. I preferred Bahr’s story because of the use of what you don’t know what you are getting idea. “Good News, Bad News” is also extremely good, especially with the format that is used to deliver the story. And there are even dragons, in N. K. Jemisin’s tale.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    Some of these stories actually don't work -- they feel too hard like they're trying to address the fucked-up-edness of our present without actually imagining a future. And the collection as a whole is far darker than the jacket copy makes you believe: there's an implication that these are stories imagining a more positive future, and rarely do they achieve that. Nearly every story, even if it brings an ultimately positive spin on things, is coming at it from a place of "it's only going to get wo Some of these stories actually don't work -- they feel too hard like they're trying to address the fucked-up-edness of our present without actually imagining a future. And the collection as a whole is far darker than the jacket copy makes you believe: there's an implication that these are stories imagining a more positive future, and rarely do they achieve that. Nearly every story, even if it brings an ultimately positive spin on things, is coming at it from a place of "it's only going to get worse from here, even if it then might get better someday." But there are some absolutely superb stories in here, ones that make me proud to be a citizen of this country -- something I haven't necessarily felt in a long time. But when you've got imaginations like these, we can't be too far from turning things around. At least, I hope we aren't.
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    October usually calls for scary reads. And, as if reading news alone wasn’t doing the trick, somehow I managed to read not one but two dystopian anthologies inspired by the news. First one was Welcome to Dystopia and objectively this one is a considerably superior of the two. Wherein the first was a sort of knee jerk reaction, lacking maturity and subtlety, this one mostly (mostly) does have that much needed maturity and subtlety. Partially because it was edited by two experts (with a very good October usually calls for scary reads. And, as if reading news alone wasn’t doing the trick, somehow I managed to read not one but two dystopian anthologies inspired by the news. First one was Welcome to Dystopia and objectively this one is a considerably superior of the two. Wherein the first was a sort of knee jerk reaction, lacking maturity and subtlety, this one mostly (mostly) does have that much needed maturity and subtlety. Partially because it was edited by two experts (with a very good foreword by LaValle), partially because of a terrific author line up. In fact, interestingly enough since I read a lot of anthologies and surprisingly this isn’t always the case, here the rule of thumb was the more known the author, the more enjoyable the story. Without exceptions. So it started off very nicely, then got dragged down into that overtly sincere all for the cause territory, then upgraded with some recognizable names and genuinely interesting takes on the possible futures, then got really good toward the end and then stayed one story too long. Over the course of this book I was able to revisit some of the previously enjoyed author, try out some of the ones I knew of and haven’t read yet and…let’s say sit through some of the unknown ones. It appears that the editors’ intent was to be as inclusive as possible both with the author and themes, so this book offers a veritable cornucopia of nonbinary, nontraditional, multiracial, convention free characters and all the strange new worlds their creators throw them in. Actually this might be the first time I’ve read about persons using them pronoun in fiction and this is definitely going to take some getting used to. Obviously the need to self identify in a manner that’s most befitting is important, but it reads confusingly, because as a pronoun it has been used to denote plurality for so long and now it is made to work for both many and individual alike and that might be too much work for one small pronoun. In one story there’s actually a new pronoun used, nir, strange and new but at least easier to read. But anyway, back to the book…I actually think the all inclusive, something for everyone line up might have been a detractor, because it led to a sort of quantity over quality thing going on. This was almost like two books merged into one. So if you’re buying it, you’ll get your money’s worth, but reading it as a free ARC it kind of dragged and took much too long to get through. The good, the really good stories, very interspersed with mediocre ones. And while reading anthologies is usually a reliable source of discovering new authors, this one was more along the lines of reminding the reader while sometimes it’s good to stick with what you know, in this instance going for recognizable names. Although it’s entirely possible that reading two such similar books in the same month wasn’t a great idea, too many stories too close to reality, too depressing altogether. And I do read the news daily, which sort of takes care of feeding that pessimistic attitude, so with fiction I want more, it doesn’t have to be all glitter and rainbows, but it has to elevate reality to other, more interesting and original levels that mere imagination can. So in conclusion…there are some great, engaging and original stories here and some good ones and some that are just ok. This collection might have been improved with some tighter editing, but if it’s a variety you’re after for your dystopian bleakness, this would certainly work. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    There are people that will be angry about this book, and fuck 'em. This collection details a United States that could be- one that often times seems frighteningly real, given the current political climate. Some of the best science fiction writers today are gathered in one place, presenting stories never before been told. Sometimes they can be a bit obvious- but that's obvious to me, a woman who lives near San Francisco, safely ensconced in a fairly liberal bubble and with a comfortable degree of There are people that will be angry about this book, and fuck 'em. This collection details a United States that could be- one that often times seems frighteningly real, given the current political climate. Some of the best science fiction writers today are gathered in one place, presenting stories never before been told. Sometimes they can be a bit obvious- but that's obvious to me, a woman who lives near San Francisco, safely ensconced in a fairly liberal bubble and with a comfortable degree of privilege. They are important tales none the less, and each one is entertaining as hell. Rare for a collection, there's no single weak point, no story that shines less than the rest. I don't even want to call out any strong points, because they were all so good that I think they all deserve a read. This book should absolutely be required reading. It teaches empathy and understanding. It shows what can happen to marginalized communities should the worst come to pass- and sometimes what can still happen even when things go well. There was, however, one glaring omission- none of the stories tackle a future for those with physical disabilities. For a volume that otherwise manages to hit so many other intersections, it's particularly blatant- these possible tomorrows are just as scary for us as they are for anyone else in the volume. Hopefully there will be a volume two, and hopefully this will be corrected in the future.None the less, you should pick this book up. You should give it to your teenagers, your undecided voters, even your 'woke' friends. This is a book that should be taught in schools and given out at polling places. It's by far one of the best that I've read this year, and come 2019 it's truly going to make a splash.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.This anthology is a who's who in current science fiction and fantasy writing. The stories are varied and all well written with various takes on the future of American culture and society. There are stories about everything from a book store that stands firmly on the dividing line between The United States and the country of California, to one about a world where contraception is outlawe Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.This anthology is a who's who in current science fiction and fantasy writing. The stories are varied and all well written with various takes on the future of American culture and society. There are stories about everything from a book store that stands firmly on the dividing line between The United States and the country of California, to one about a world where contraception is outlawed, and feminists are considered terrorists. Even amid the various stories, there seems to be a thread of hope: hope for a better future, a dream of escape from the horrible now, hope at love, or a world that understands us. That is important in a collection such as this because without hope a collection of stories about the vagaries of the human condition could be depressing. This book isn't. Standout must-reads for this collection are "The Book Store at the End of America" by Charlie Jane Anders. A story about what divides us can ultimately bring us together and "The Synapse will Free Us From Ourselves" by Violet Allen. Allen's story is about high tech gay conversion therapy. It is sad, scary, and poignant. Check out this collection, you will be happy you did.
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  • Linda Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    The editors challenged 25 writers to bring narratives "that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in." The contributors are a stellar who's who in the currently writing realm of speculative fiction. Many of these stories are near history, which makes the changes in the narrative from now to then feel approachable. In a few years, we could move into the more restrictive country imagined in some stories, and the The editors challenged 25 writers to bring narratives "that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in." The contributors are a stellar who's who in the currently writing realm of speculative fiction. Many of these stories are near history, which makes the changes in the narrative from now to then feel approachable. In a few years, we could move into the more restrictive country imagined in some stories, and the writers demonstrate how we'd be complicit if we take our gaze away. With as many subtle changes, we could be living in a more peaceful inclusion. All are excellent storytelling; I wouldn't abandon one of these. There are writers included that I will read more. I curated my reading, beginning with writers I didn't know, taking my time getting acquainted, and ending with favorites. Thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.
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  • Marshall Boyd
    January 1, 1970
    There are some really good stories in here. Overall, I think the collection missed the mark in terms of what it set out to do. Many of the stories don't feel like a future of the United States. This doesn't mean the stories are bad; I enjoyed reading them but they are missing a connection with Howard Zinn's important book.
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  • Bryan Camp
    January 1, 1970
    This collection was great. Tough to read at times, given the current state of the world, but absolutely worth it. Overall, there was far more hope and defiance in these pages than despair, which I greatly appreciated. Some of my favorites were the stories written by Sam J. Miller, Tananarive Due, N.K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, and Daniel H. Wilson.
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  • Kendra
    January 1, 1970
    A great collection of short stories that speculate on the future of the United States...or whatever it becomes. The stories by Charlie Jane Anders, Tananarive Due, N. K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older, and G. Willow Wilson show why these authors had and deserve large audiences and followings. All of the stories feature "badass" characters, as requested by the editors, and they all do deliver, from people who keep information free and available to those who physically protect others. A great collection of short stories that speculate on the future of the United States...or whatever it becomes. The stories by Charlie Jane Anders, Tananarive Due, N. K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older, and G. Willow Wilson show why these authors had and deserve large audiences and followings. All of the stories feature "badass" characters, as requested by the editors, and they all do deliver, from people who keep information free and available to those who physically protect others. This will make a great gift for readers who want tightly written dystopic fiction in which there are still threads of hope.
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  • Jacqie
    January 1, 1970
    I'm going to try something new to me and review these stories as I read them.1. Charlie Jane Anders story: I liked this better than All the Birds in the Sky. The idea is that a bookstore sits on the border between California and the United States in a future in which these entities become two separate countries. California is a bit too PC and tech oriented, with many of its' people wired up. The US has become more fascist and religious. Our main character goes to church in the US and also helps I'm going to try something new to me and review these stories as I read them.1. Charlie Jane Anders story: I liked this better than All the Birds in the Sky. The idea is that a bookstore sits on the border between California and the United States in a future in which these entities become two separate countries. California is a bit too PC and tech oriented, with many of its' people wired up. The US has become more fascist and religious. Our main character goes to church in the US and also helps people escape it if they need to, worries about her daughter, and generally tries to straddle the line in more ways than one. A fight over water ends up with a dozen people in her bookstore/bunker, where they must form a book discussion group in order to keep the peace. I liked this one a lot!
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not a fan of short story collections, and I never read them. The title of this anthology caught my attention, and as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to try this one. I'm glad I did because this is an amazing collection of stories by some of the best authors. All 25 stories are speculative fiction exploring the future of the United States. They run the spectrum from women's rights, race, to plague, robotic takeover, brainwashing and government control. Some are more plausible than others. I I'm not a fan of short story collections, and I never read them. The title of this anthology caught my attention, and as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to try this one. I'm glad I did because this is an amazing collection of stories by some of the best authors. All 25 stories are speculative fiction exploring the future of the United States. They run the spectrum from women's rights, race, to plague, robotic takeover, brainwashing and government control. Some are more plausible than others. It's frightening, however, to realize every story is possible on some level. Some are bleak. Some are hopeful. Just like reality. If you are hesitant about reading this collection, don't be. It's well written and worth the time. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Michael Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    Calling it quits at 34%. This anthology just isn't jiving with me and I haven't really enjoyed any of the seven (out of 20+) stories I've read thus far. I'm finding it hard to want to pick this book up any more and keep reading, so I'm throwing in the towel. No rating.
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  • Heather Allen
    January 1, 1970
    Check out this review and others on 80 Books Blog!I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I loved this collection of 25 future stories! I have never felt so strongly about an anthology in my life. The theme is the future of the United States, based on Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, so readers are immediately looking into the lives of marginalized people in the future of the U.S. It’s a masterwork of different perspectives, writ Check out this review and others on 80 Books Blog!I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I loved this collection of 25 future stories! I have never felt so strongly about an anthology in my life. The theme is the future of the United States, based on Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, so readers are immediately looking into the lives of marginalized people in the future of the U.S. It’s a masterwork of different perspectives, writing styles, and storytelling. LaValle’s introduction really sets up the scene for the rest of the book. How do you tell marginalized stories when the pervasive narrative right now is “Make America Great Again”? The stories felt that they were ripped straight from the headlines covering a wide range of current problems both regarding social justice and also climate.Take for instance, “A History of Barbed Wire” by Daniel H. Wilson that imagines a world where the Cherokee people have created a community behind a wall and people are trying to get across because outside of the wall has been destroyed by climate change. Or in the story, “Rome” by G. Willow Wilson, where a group of students show up for their final exam, but have to take the test while fires rage outside of the building. The fires are not being fought by firemen because of lack of funding, and the fires are caused by climate change.Other stories delve into climate change further, where the sun is put on trial in “The Sun in Exile” by Cathrynne M. Valente, or “The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders, where two warring factions of the U.S. fight over water supply, but a bookstore is the neutral ground for people to come. In “It Was Saturday Night, and I Guess that Makes It All Right” by Sam J. Miller, a gay man working for the government (one of the only jobs still available) to install tracking devices in areas that have been hurt by bad weather patterns.Many of the stories felt that they were too real. Like “Our Aim is Not to Die” by A. Merc Rustad where everyone must be an ideal citizen and check in on social media or else the government will silence you, but it’s hard for the protagonist, who is a non-binary person to exist in this space. “What Maya Found There” by Daniel Jose Older, where a scientist returns to a friends place to get her notes, but the government tries to capture her. Or in “Riverbed” by Omar El Akkad, describing the aftermath of Muslim internment in the future U.S. Further, in “The Referendum” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, in a near future U.S. where gun laws have been reversed, a current referendum to reverse the 13th amendment is being debated, but the protagonist is part of the black resistance. Another story related to resistance, in “Calendar Girls” by Justina Ireland, a girl sells contraceptives on the street to make money when they are outlawed, but she gets recruited by an underground resistance group.Moreover, stories such as “By His Bootstraps” by Ashok K. Banker are a bit more fantastical, but still have elements of truth, in this story the President orders a science experiment to take place to make America great (aka “white”), but it instead backfires and changes history so there are no white people, guns, or gender conformity. In “What You Sow” by Kai Cheng Thom, celestial beings with both breasts and penises (in addition to scales and wings), are able to help reduce symptoms of a sleeping sickness, but are feared for their abilities. And in the story “0.1” by Gabby Rivera, where the first baby born after a plague is created by non-binary parents.There are plenty of stories in this anthology that don’t fit into neat categories, such as one of my favorites, N. K. Jemisin’s “Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death,” in which the future has dragons and the underground resistance has figured out a way to feed them with traditionally black foods, like collard greens and corn bread. Alice Sola Kim also had an interesting and fascinating take on the Me Too movement, where her story has the revolving plot point of the shitty media men list, and the main character is forced to relive the same week over and over again. Excellent story about immortality, a time loop, and relevant to today’s conversations.There was so much packed into this book that I know I am not giving all the stories enough justice. I just wish that I could talk about each one because they all brought so much truth to the world. I know that this period of time and this presidency is terrifying, but seeing it in these imagined futures was startling and powerful. Well done all around, and I recommend this to everyone to read.Just a quick disclaimer, I hope that I described every character accurately with regard to their identity, but if you find that I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct it.
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  • Matthew Lloyd
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this volume via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. At the moment the title of this volume in the Kindle Edition on Goodreads is "Thirty Visionary Stories"; it actually seems to be "Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers", though.Recently, I have been sporadically listening to a series of lectures by Gary K Wolfe, available from my library via Hoopla, called "How Great Science Fiction Works". In episode five, he discusses utopia and dystopia and offers the I received an ARC of this volume via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. At the moment the title of this volume in the Kindle Edition on Goodreads is "Thirty Visionary Stories"; it actually seems to be "Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers", though.Recently, I have been sporadically listening to a series of lectures by Gary K Wolfe, available from my library via Hoopla, called "How Great Science Fiction Works". In episode five, he discusses utopia and dystopia and offers the following definitions for both, which I found myself reflecting upon as I read this volume:Dystopia: a society that is, above all, avoidable.Utopia: a society which, at least in the view of the author who imagined it, is seen as achievable.Wolfe doesn't present these as absolute definitions but they are interesting ones, and as I read through these twenty five stories, I considered how many of them could comfortably fall into his definition of dystopia. That the future United (or otherwise) States they depict, characterized by oppression and exclusion, might be avoidable if we only take stock and realise that we have to actually do something to avoid them.This approach isn't the only way to take this volume; indeed despite the title of the volume, like most science fiction, these stories are largely about the present not the future. Stories such as A. Merc Rustard's "Our Aim is Not To Die", Kai Cheng Thom's "What You Sow", and Alice Sola Kim's "Now Wait for This Week" seemed to use science fictional premises to describe their present - which, of course, describes a path that the USA (and the UK, and Canada, etc) are on leading to futures that we would be better avoiding. These stories, and others, describe different perspectives in the present United States that need to be taken into account; that people like me need to recognize and give space to in order to avoid the darker futures on offer.There was a point in this volume where it seemed like the only futures for the United States were bleak. This is not a bad thing; this volume clearly exists because we need something to change, to avoid possible dystopias. And yet, scattered within there are more hopeful futures, suggested routes to an achievable future that, while not a utopia (does anyone believe in utopia as an ideal any more?), are better, more inclusive versions of the United States. Malka Older, whose fiction is all about imagining different futures, proposes a route to think about in "Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity [excepted]". Seanan McGuire's "Harmony" suggests that communities can be built outside the status quo, that "acceptance" by the majority might not be the utopia people need. Perhaps the most positive story is Hugh Howey's "No Algorithms in the World", which gives an idea about how a specific policy (universal basic income) might make the future a better place.But these stories don't - and shouldn't - dominate a volume about where we are, the path we are not yet avoiding. That these twenty five stories have such different perspectives and approaches reminds us of a richness that we are excluding from our culture if we don't embrace them. As with any collected volume, I have my favourites and I have those I didn't like as much, but this one contains so many good-to-excellent stories, so much worth reading, that it doesn't suffer because a few simply weren't to my taste. Those stories might be your favourites. The recommendation is a cautious one, though, because many of these stories are bleak. The United States is in a place where positive takes on the future can be difficult to imagine. If you need those positive stories, this volume may not be what you want.Based on my individual ratings for each story, the average for the volume was 3.71*. Overall, though, I think it does deserve at least four. I can't recall ever getting so into a short story collection as I did this one.
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  • Dominic
    January 1, 1970
    This book is an explosion of awesome. This is one case where the hyperboles on the book jacket are no exaggeration. These stories indeed are "thrilling!" "inspiring!" and "a sheer joy to read!" Short story compilations can be a tricky thing to pull off—usually a few outstanding stories placed near the beginning and a mixed-bag throughout the rest. In this case, the stories (all new 2019 publications for this collection!) fulfill and in several cases surpass the expectations of their editors, Vic This book is an explosion of awesome. This is one case where the hyperboles on the book jacket are no exaggeration. These stories indeed are "thrilling!" "inspiring!" and "a sheer joy to read!" Short story compilations can be a tricky thing to pull off—usually a few outstanding stories placed near the beginning and a mixed-bag throughout the rest. In this case, the stories (all new 2019 publications for this collection!) fulfill and in several cases surpass the expectations of their editors, Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams.LaValle writes in the introduction (and a must read as well), "We are seeking stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice: narratives that release us from the chokehold of history and mythology of the past." Alternative visions of our future abound throughout these 25 stories—some are bleak, a few are magical, yet none abandon hope and belief in the goodness in humanity. These authors created stories that actively respond to political issues (conservative attacks upon women, queer erasure, our President, to name three), and look to the future with anger, defiance and unbounding humanity. This may be, ultimately, the most uplifting book I've read in 2019.I've heard for a long time about the absence of women and POC in science fiction, but this book proves that this is a lazy claim—or at least that the tide is changing fast because this collection is boldly dominated by historically marginalized voices. It also proves to me that the realms of science fiction and other forms of dark fictions are the loci of some of the most daring and revolutionary artwork out there. The science fiction writing by these women and queer writers may not be rooted in the center of the genre, but by God, it is some of the best stuff I've read in a long time. There are, of course, a couple stories I just couldn't get into yet, but the number of 5-star stories was much higher than any all-star story collection I've read, and there are so many new authors I can't wait to read more of—Charlie Jane Anders, Maria Dahvana Headley, Gabby Riveria, Violet Allen, Jamie Ford, Alice Sola Kim, and, A. Merc Rustad. Of course I adored the Sam J. Miller story (he's the reason I picked up this collection), and N.K. Jemisin and Seanan McGuire offer some of the most optimistic stories. But I feel like this collection cracked open wide a genre I'm now officially head over heels for.
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  • Shomeret
    January 1, 1970
    I read 16 stories in this anthology which is more than half. This means I have a fairly good impression of its contents. I rated the anthology by averaging my ratings for each of the stories that I read which is my policy for anthologies.Victor LaValle says in his introduction that these stories are intended to be "futures we can believe in". So I judged each story on that basis. Is it a future that I could believe in? That wasn't always the case.The story that I considered the best one was "A H I read 16 stories in this anthology which is more than half. This means I have a fairly good impression of its contents. I rated the anthology by averaging my ratings for each of the stories that I read which is my policy for anthologies.Victor LaValle says in his introduction that these stories are intended to be "futures we can believe in". So I judged each story on that basis. Is it a future that I could believe in? That wasn't always the case.The story that I considered the best one was "A History of Barbed Wire" by Daniel H. Wilson. It was like a cross between a police procedural and science fiction. It takes place on Oklahoma Cherokee land. It's an "if this goes on" concept extending current trends into the future like most of the stories in this collection. I did find it credible. It was also moving and thought provoking.I liked two other stories very much. The first is "Our Aim Is Not To Die" by A. Merc Rustad which deals with a non-binary autistic character trying to avoid a health appointment in a very dystopian context. The other is "Attachment Disorder" which is another struggle for survival by Tananarive Due centering on a woman who is a carrier of a plague. What stood out for me in this one is that she's an older woman. I recently read Remnant Population. This means that I am now taking notice of representation of older women in science fiction.I would like to specially mention "Good News, Bad News" by Charles Yu. This could have been a powerful story if Yu hadn't diluted the focus by structuring it as a bunch of news stories. He sacrificed intensity for world building. I didn't think this was a good choice. I would really have liked a story from the perspective of one of the characters in the incident with the robots that had such horrifying programming. There were several stories that I thought were good, but didn't stand out for me. Some stories were fragmentary which means that I didn't think they were properly resolved. Others contained no character development. Then there are the ones that I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I thought were conceptually flawed. The ones that I didn't finish didn't hold my attention.So I feel this anthology was a mixed bag that wasn't consistent in quality.
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  • Kara
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. An excellent anthology of some of the greatest (and most diverse) writers of speculative fiction today. This collection introduced me to new authors and gave me a chance to read more work from other writers I already loved. As the name suggests, this anthology focuses on the United States and how political and cultural life could evolve in this countries over the coming years and decades. Readers who aren't from the U.S. (or who don't keep up with U.S. news) may miss a lot of the refe 4.5 stars. An excellent anthology of some of the greatest (and most diverse) writers of speculative fiction today. This collection introduced me to new authors and gave me a chance to read more work from other writers I already loved. As the name suggests, this anthology focuses on the United States and how political and cultural life could evolve in this countries over the coming years and decades. Readers who aren't from the U.S. (or who don't keep up with U.S. news) may miss a lot of the references and not get as much out of the stories as they might otherwise. Some of these stories felt like they were ripped straight from the headlines of today's newspapers, so I'll be curious to see how the collection ages over the years. Highly recommended for any lovers of contemporary speculative fiction.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    I love short stories, I love speculative fiction, and THAT AUTHOR LIST! I was destined to read this. There were a couple of stories that fell a little short for me, but overall this is a really solid collection, with some definite standouts. I think my favorite was "Read After Burning", and I was thrilled to see that I have a book by that author on my TBR for this year's PopSugar challenge! Overall, this was a bittersweet blend of hope and warning. The diversity and richness of the various futur I love short stories, I love speculative fiction, and THAT AUTHOR LIST! I was destined to read this. There were a couple of stories that fell a little short for me, but overall this is a really solid collection, with some definite standouts. I think my favorite was "Read After Burning", and I was thrilled to see that I have a book by that author on my TBR for this year's PopSugar challenge! Overall, this was a bittersweet blend of hope and warning. The diversity and richness of the various futures and their populations was beautiful, but the various dystopias waiting for us was sobering at the same time. My ultimate takeaway from this collection was that it's up to us to keep our potential as a species forefront in our minds, and always keep working towards it.
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    A bit discouraging (but not surprising) that this is a mostly dystopian collection. Favourite stories: “Riverbed” by Omar El Akkad, “It was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right” by Sam J. Miller, “Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death” by N.K. Jemisin and “Good News, Bad News” by Charles Yu were all fantastic. Stories that make me want to read more by the author: “The Wall” by Lizz Huerta, “The Referendum” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, "The Synapse Will Free Us from Ourselves” by Violet Allen, A bit discouraging (but not surprising) that this is a mostly dystopian collection. Favourite stories: “Riverbed” by Omar El Akkad, “It was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right” by Sam J. Miller, “Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death” by N.K. Jemisin and “Good News, Bad News” by Charles Yu were all fantastic. Stories that make me want to read more by the author: “The Wall” by Lizz Huerta, “The Referendum” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, "The Synapse Will Free Us from Ourselves” by Violet Allen, “The Blindfold” by Tobias S. Buckell, and "A History of Barbed Wire" by Daniel H. Wilson.
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  • Susie Dumond
    January 1, 1970
    What an incredible collection! I don't think I've ever read a collection of short stories where EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. hits so hard. A People's Future of the United States pictures a country that looks different - often terrifyingly so - but also one where the heroes look different than what we too often see. These stories are filled with unapologetically queer and diverse protagonists, badass heroes from marginalized communities that are pushing back against oppressive forces. And what an incredib What an incredible collection! I don't think I've ever read a collection of short stories where EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. hits so hard. A People's Future of the United States pictures a country that looks different - often terrifyingly so - but also one where the heroes look different than what we too often see. These stories are filled with unapologetically queer and diverse protagonists, badass heroes from marginalized communities that are pushing back against oppressive forces. And what an incredible lineup of writers! N.K. Jemisin, Daniel Jose Older, Gabby Rivera, Justina Ireland, Charlie Jane Anders, and more. Truly an incredible group, giving us an unforgettable book.Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Eva
    January 1, 1970
    p. 235: Gabby Rivera, O. 1"Protect life.Offer it gentle entry into the chaos of hte universe.Honor mothers. Honor birth.Bless all families in spirit and reality. For all deserve to be fed, cared for, raised to thrive. Provided with housing and education, embraced as full and free people.May the infants be the light and the joyAnd the doula be the guide."p. 262: Tobias Buckell, The Blindfold"Sometimes that's all justice leans on: one person and a candy bar. Or a sneeze."
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    I rarely read a collection of short stories and enjoy every single story. This collection is the exception. I can't even pick a favorite one because I loved them all so much.In my sophomore year of high school, our main history "textbook" was A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, so naturally I was drawn to this collection. I intend to reach out to the head of the English department to suggest some of the stories in conjunction with that course.
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