edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench
It was probably not my best idea to read this anthology of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic short stories while dealing with a local black-out caused by heavy storms. It’s the type of situation that’s all the worse for the stories being really well-written and interesting. Beyond just dealing with the apocalypse (“just”, I say), the theme that brings these stories together is disabilities. The heroes and heroines of each story have some disability — physical, sensory, and/or mental.
The introduction made a really good point about how so many post-apocalyptic stories act like people with disabilities will be the first to die and are a burden to those around them. The stories in this anthology refute that. A few of the authors look at how something that our modern world calls a disability could well be an adaptive feature in a massively changed one. Most of them, however, look at how people who are used to living in a world that doesn’t cater to their needs have experience and practice that more abled people don’t get in our modern world. Reading my kindle by candle light was already highlighting to me how unprepared I was for any sort of harsh living: I live a very catered-to life.
I’m not going to write individual reviews about each story, although I certainly thought about it since the stories are all very good, but also all significantly different from one another. Instead, here are my top three:
“Something in the Rain” by Seanan McGuire is probably my favorite. I find the apocalypse situation particularly terrifying and I like the heroine the best with her ruthless perseverance. And spoiler: the cat lives.
“Given Sufficient Desperation”, by Bogi Takács, felt like a wonderfully subtle modern take on Gordon R. Dickson’s classic, “Danger-Human”.
“No Shit”, by K. L. Evangelista, is an subversion of a couple of classic post-apocolyptic tropes that also directly addresses the issue of how just the idea of roving bands of robbers would impact the people who survive.
The whole anthology a love song to the old adage: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What doesn’t kill you can make you more broken, but it also gives you the experience of carrying on anyway. I definitely recommend it.