The Short: “Tomorrow’s Parties: Life in the Anthropocene“, Jonathan Strahan editor, 2022 The MIT Press, is a great anthology. My average rating for the stories is 3.81/5, or “Great”. Strongly recommended.
The Full Story: I’ve been hearing about “Tomorrow’s Parties: Life in the Anthropocene”, Jonathan Strahan editor, 2022 The MIT Press, for about a year. When I found that 5 of the 10 stories included had been named to the 2022 Locus Recommended Reading List, I knew I had to read it now, before the Hugo Award nomination deadline.
My library did not have a copy, but I was lucky enough to borrow it from the Sacramento Public Library via my regional library consortium. Yay libraries!
It’s a pretty quick read, at 10 stories and about 220 pages of text. As far as I can guess, the stories are all short stories or novelettes.
Jonathan Strahan does his typical good job of laying out what this anthology is all about in the Introduction. He notes, “And that’s where Tomorrow’s Parties: Life in the Anthropocene comes in. I wanted to give you a glimpse of what life might be like, however improbable, however bleak, as we live with climate change in the future.” Although not as extensive as some Strahan introductions, it hits all the right notes for this anthology. There is a nice Contributors section, with good bio and career information for the authors.
The anthology starts with a very good interview of Kim Stanley Robinson before the fiction.
There are cover and story illustrations by Sean Bodley, along with bio information and a brief discussion of the two illustration themes, “Wind Walkers” and “Neo Germination”. This was a nice bonus for me.
These are all stories first published here.
My many favorites (all rated “Great”) were:
- “Once Upon a Future in the West”, a novelette by Daryl Gregory, and one of my Hugo nominations.
- “I Give You the Moon”, short fiction by Justina Robson.
- “Crisis Actors”, short fiction by Greg Egan.
- “Drone Pirates of Silicon Valley”, short fiction by Meg Elison.
- “Down and Out in Exile Park”, a short story by Tade Thompson.
- “Do You Hear the Fungi Sing?”, short fiction by Chen Qiufan.
- “Legion”, short fiction by Malka Older.
- “The Ferryman”, short fiction by Saad Z. Hossain.
There were several stories that fell into “Very good” for me, but no clunkers or others that I really wondered why they were included. I was impressed by the variety of authors included. Other than one story that I felt was at the intersection of SF and fantasy, it was all SF.
Although the subject is very serious, I enjoyed reading them. My overall rating was 3.81/5, or “Great”. Strongly recommended, with a wonderful variety of approaches to the subject matter.
Detailed Reviews/Comments: SPOILERS HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
“Drone Pirates of Silicon Valley”, short fiction by Meg Elison. A great story of pirates in a future Silicon Valley with even more income inequality, or perhaps privateers. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“Down and Out in Exile Park”, a short story by Tade Thompson. Locus 2022 Recommended Reading List. A great story of a floating plastic island off Nigeria, and a person whose hormones lead to harmony. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“Once Upon a Future in the West”, a novelette by Daryl Gregory, and one of my Hugo nominations. Locus 2022 Recommended Reading List. A great story of life and survival in the West, and a stolen car, a fire tornado, a Cowboy, a cannibal Tom Hanks, and a Doctor. Rated 3.9/5, or “Great”.
“Crisis Actors”, short fiction by Greg Egan. For me, this is the second recent Egan story that is less hard SF and more people oriented, after his great 2021 story “Sleep and the Soul“. A great story of a man in a very polarized, climate impacted future. He believes there is a lot of false reporting of catastrophe, with people and institutions taking advantage of misinformation. He participates in a clandestine organization “fighting” this. He takes part in a response to a climate disaster where he helps out and does not find any such misinformation, and perhaps learns something, and perhaps not. Rated 3.9/5, or “Great”.
“When the Tide Rises”, short fiction by Sarah Gailey. Locus 2022 Recommended Reading List. A very good yet sad story of a woman living underwater but in very challenging circumstances, and hope and just wanting to survive, and losing a friend. Rated 3.7/5, or “Very good”.
“I Give You the Moon”, short fiction by Justina Robson. A fantastic story of life in the Anthropocene, with a society based on equity/service credits, a man who loves what he does to clean up the ocean on the Namibian coast, his son who wants to be a Viking, and an acquaintance who would like to be more. Rated 4/5, or “Great”.
“Do You Hear the Fungi Sing?”, short fiction by Chen Qiufan. A great story of a human developed hypercortex-AI network aimed at addressing climate change issues globally and locally, and the attempt to implement it in a remote mountain village. An ancient fungi god or more sophisticated fungi network intelligence is not sure this is good. This is the fourth story by Chen Qiufan I’ve read lately that I really love, and I am definitely watching for this author’s fiction. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“Legion”, short fiction by Malka Older. Locus 2022 Recommended Reading List. A great story by an author I know more by novels, of a community that turns some of the surveillance state aspects to witnessing and protecting those who are typically harassed, damaged, etc. The story is told through the lens of a media host who turns out to be an offender. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“The Ferryman”, short fiction by Saad Z. Hossain. A wonderful story of a low caste handler of the dead, in a world where the rich have left for orbit and immortality. He ends up dead, but in a virtual life, and a woman may love him there. This is the fourth recent family by Hossain that I’ve loved; I am definitely watching for more. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“After the Storm”, a novelette by James Bradley. Locus 2022 Recommended Reading List. Not really my thing, featuring a teen with a broken family who perhaps learns that all are connected. Rated 3.6/5, or “Very good”.
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