I was first introduced to this anthology at Ad Astra, when Matt Moore read his story Delta Pi. After talking with a few other people online (Facebook? Twitter? Google Plus? I don’t really remember anymore…) about the book, I picked up a Kindle Edition.
Torn Realities is a Lovecraft inspired anthology, with a focus on how reality twists and tears, revealing something unknowable, something malevolent, which shifts all our frames of reference. In addition to Matt’s story, this anthology also includes Rawhead Rex, a story by Clive Barker. My other favourite stories in the anthology include Amsterdamned, and Hallowed Ground.
Delta Pi by Matt Moore
Delta Pi was the first story I turned to, as I was already familiar with the story. As I read it, my mind echoed the punctuated rhythms of Moore’s reading. Its energetic and passionate. If you ever get a chance to attend one of his readings, you should.
The story itself draws upon the fears some have expressed in recent years, that a high energy particle accelerator experiment could tear the Earth apart in some recreation of the Big Bang. Moore doesn’t focus on the science, but on the psychology of a researcher on the outside. Someone who accepts, nay, embraces the conclusions of a paper which other scientists have ignored as the ramblings of a madman.
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Unlike Robert J. Sawyer’s story “The Shoulders of Giants” in John Joseph Adams Federations anthology, Jeremiah Tolbert’s “The Culture Archivist” has considerably more bite.
Tolbert’s story takes capitalist consumerism to the ultimate conclusion: enforced participation in consumerist society. Not only is everyone a consumer, but alien planets are conquered in order to open new markets. It’s an interesting concept to explore, and Tolbert’s story shows how resistance to such a society might happen.
When reading this story, I was reminded of the movie Idiocracy. Not that Tolbert’s world has sunk to the level of mindless media consumption (although there are indications that in other parts of his universe this is the case) but that the point of existence is consumption.
While Tolbert’s view of an authoritarian future may be bleak, the core of the story is about the resistance to this authority. It seems particularly relevant today, as we see different forms of protests across the world, such as in Egypt.
While Tolbert’s story fits in the post-humanist subgenre of science fiction, it also plays well within the bounds of post-colonial fiction in general. The story is sharp and witty, while also being quite humorous. I especially enjoyed the way he dealt with an emergent AI swarm.
It’s a smart story, and fits well with the theme of the anthology, despite its overt pessimism.
This short story by Catherynne M. Valente is the final story of the Federations science fiction anthology, edited by John Joseph Adams. The anthology contains a diverse set of stories, but for me, Valente’s story is the most memorable.
While many of the other stories in the anthology focus on interstellar warfare, or diplomatic relations, Valente begins with “the difficulties of transporting wine over interstellar distances,” which I found to be an intriguing hook. It took me off guard from the outset, especially as Valente reveals that the wines in question are “wholly, thoroughly, enthusiastically illegal”.
The story unfolds as seven glasses of illicit wine are tasted, and their individual stories told, revealing a rich backdrop of corporate intrigue, and blockade running. The feeling is reminiscent of the rum runners from the prohibition era in North America, only instead of running up against the government, Valente presents a vicious corporate embargo. Valente’s lyrical language matches the subject perfectly, like a fine wine of its own.
Golubash, or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy is an excellent piece to finish off the Federations anthology, and has left me quite interested in tracking down more of Catherynne Valente’s stories.
I picked up Fast Ships, Black Sails at Worldcon this year, and have finally gotten around to finishing it. This is a pirate themed, science-fiction/fantasy anthology of short stories, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, and published by Night Shade Books.
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