Wastelands: The New Apocolypse by over thirty authors, edited by John Joseph Adams
Published June 4th by Titan Books
“I know it was the perils of the sea making me think this way, and my old age, my time running out. But it shouldn’t have to run out to want to spend it more wisely. The world shouldn’t have to end to think of all that might be.”
The brilliant new post-apocalyptic collection by master anthologist John Joseph Adams, for the first time including new stories by the edgiest modern writers.
New short fiction by many of the edgiest modern authors, offering tales of life after the apocalyptic event or events that end society as we know it today. In addition to a selection of newly reprinted works, WASTELANDS 3 will feature original, never-before-published stories by a group of writers hand-picked by master editor John Joseph Adams. Original stories by Veronica Roth, Hugh Howet, Elizabeth Bear, Seanan McGuire, Tananarive Due, Wendy N. Wagner and many more. Reprints will include works by Carmen Maria Machado, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ken Liu and Cat Valente amongst others.
Dystopia novels are not very often my thing, before now anthologies were not something I read very much of either, especially if they weighed in at over five hundred pages but when I heard there was a new instalment of an anthology of dystopian tales including new Divergent material by Veronica Roth I weighed my options and decided I would give it a go, who knows, I might even like it?
and you know what?
I really did. It turned out that some wires had been crossed and the Veronica Roth story was actually not part of the Divergent universe (although still enjoyable) but I’m glad that made me pick it up because this anthology has introduced me to some fantastic short stories and I’m so glad I had to the opportunity to read it. I’ve given the book a rating above as a whole but there are over 30 separate tales so instead of a normal review I’ve written a few words or sentences about each short story and a separate rating for each one (see here for my rating/classification system).
Bullet Point by Elizabeth Bear – XX
Not a great start for me. I found it a little disjointed and unsatisfying but enjoyed the writing style mostly.
The Red Thread by Sofia Samatar – XXX
Done in a letter type format which I really liked but found a little too repetitive. Got me curious about the state of humanity in this story though.
Expedition 83 by Wendy N Wagner – XXXXX
Okay, so this was perfect. Information was explained in an easy, non-bogged down way, leaving room for the lovely, sad, little story to play out. I loved it.
The Last to Matter by Adam Troy Castro – DNF
So the first sentence featured the word orgynisim (yes you read that right) and I thought maybe it’s a typo or I had read it wrong but nope. This was (from what I can gather) a floating ball of people having sex with multiple sets of genitalia and this guy gets ejected from it. He then goes through a series of “multiple male and female castrations” to be presentable for the outside world. I like to think I’m fairly open and non-judgmental about other peoples kinks but this just felt like a bit much for a dystopian short story for me. I made the mistake of carrying on in spite of it and discovered a woman constantly giving birth and then swallowing her baby, said baby then stopped to have a conversation with the main character. I decided to skip at this point.
Not this war, not this world by Johnathan Mayberry – XXXX
A good solid read with an interesting explanation about the start of a zombie-like outbreak and it turns out according to the author’s notes it was written at the request of George A. Romero to officially connect the author’s previous books to Romero’s movies which I found interesting!
Where would you be now by Carrie Vaughn – XXXXX
A favourite, not too much detail given other than the world seems to have gone to hell and things are dire. This story follows a group of people, including doctors who are based at a clinic, which they still operate and help others to the best of their abilities. The question is asked of some of those living there “where would you be now?” Throughout, it was interesting and a little heartwarming in a strange way. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more.
The Elephants Crematorium by Timothy Mudie – XXXXX
Another surprisingly heartwarming tale. A really interesting post-apocalyptic world where reality has become warped and an expecting mother finding out what has been happening to elephants that have begun self-combusting. Sounds a little weird but honestly really good and made me well up a bit.
Bones of Gossamer by Hugh Howey – XXXX
An interesting tale about a man who lives in a tribe like situation in a hard to reach island who has no idea what has happened to the rest of the world until survivors start appearing on their shores. Very enjoyable.
As Good as New by Charlie Jane Anders – XXX
The world ends and a woman finds a genie. Brilliant premise and a great first half but I found the second half a little boring as the woman writes a play.
One day only by Tananarive Due – XX
Found it a little boring and characters very unlikable for me so found I was very uninvested in the story but the ending was kind of nice.
Black, their regalia by Darcie little – XXXX
Found it a little hard to keep track of at times but overall very good and another interesting take on the curing of the plague.
The Plague by Ken Liu – XXXX
Short, sweet, enjoyable but a little confusing with two points of view.
Four Kittens by Jeremiah Tolbert – XXXXX
Man nearly gets himself killed repeatedly protecting kittens. HELL YES. Best story.
The Eyes of the Flood by Susan Jane Bigelow – XXXXX
Written in an incredibly interesting style and with lovely prose and a good twist in such a very short piece.
The Last Garden by Jack Skillingstead – XXXX
I love the AI in this, I just wished there was more to it.
Through Sparks in the Mornings Dawn by Tobias S. Buckell – XXXXX
Really good, really solid read. It was written fantastically, we got great information that wasn’t too bulky. It was interesting and it had a great message of hope and rebuilding. Defintley a top ten story.
Cannibal acts by Maureen F. Mchugh – XXX
Not bad, not great. Really good story idea but just didn’t grab me.
Echo by Veronica Roth – XXX
Ehhh. Probably not helped by the fact that I went into this thinking it was related to Divergent but turns out it has nothing to do with it. The story just felt a little flat, the idea was a really good one but it just felt boring.
Shooting the Apocolypse by Paolo Bacigalupi – X
Utterly boring, super crappy sexist main character. Did not enjoy.
The Hungry Earth by Carmen Maria Machado -XXXXX
Brief but really interesting and intriguing, haunting even. Loved it.
Last Chance by Nicole Kornher-Stace – XXXX
I think it went on a little long for what it was but still good, felt like it could easily have been a part of something bigger.
A Series of Images from a Ruined City at the End of the World by Violet Allen – XXXX
This one was a little strange but I enjoyed it. It felt quiet and intimate but also powerful.
Come on Down by Meg Elison – XXX
Interesting idea but I found it hard to follow.
Don’t Pack Hope by Emma Osbourne – XXXXX
Written well, interesting story with a trans MC ❤
Polly Wanna Cracker by Greg Van Eekhout – XXXXX
Another interesting take, this one about a group of parrots living in the apocalypse. Things get dark.
Otherwise by Nisi Shawl – XXXX
A little long-winded but over-all a good one. I would have been interested to know more about Otherwise.
And the rest of us wait by Corinne Duyvis – XXXX
I like the message of this story that being equal is more than just treating everyone the same and the premise was interesting, I just found I didn’t really connect to the main character very much.
The Last Child by Scott Sigler – XXXX
A good read. Left me wanting more and defintley thinking about checking out the trilogy this is set during (The Generations Trilogy).
So sharp, so bright, so final by Sean McGuire – XXXXX
Brilliant story! Well written, interesting with good world-building and a fantastic twist. Loved it.
Burn 3 by Kami Garcia – XXXXX
A great read, easily immersive and well rounded. A good amount of story packed in.
Snow by Dale Bailey – XXX
Good tension building but a little underwhelming and I found I kept getting confused about who’s point of view the story was actually from.
The Air is Chalk by Richard Kadrey – XXX
This was a tough one to rate, the “monsters” in it were creepy and brilliant and I did like the ending as well as the way the story was told but I knocked the rating down because I didn’t enjoy reading it from the main character who I cannot eloquently describe without the aid of curse words. I mean he’s obviously not meant to be likeable but urgh just his every move made me so mad.
The Future is Blue by Catherynne M. Valente – XXXX
A strange one but really quite good. It reminded me a lot of LifeL1k3 by Jay Kristoff. Some parts made me angry and sad because people are cruel and that’s the way it is, even now.
Francisca Montoya’s Almanac of Things that can Kill You by Shaenon K. Garrity – XXXXX
Fantastic! Informative, funny and written beautifully. Hard to explain but it tells a story while masquerading as a guidebook. Loved it to pieces, another one of my favourites and a great end to the anthology.
There were a few stories that flopped for me or that didn’t interest me but these were defintley outweighed by the stories that I did like and even love. Out of the 34 stories, ten received an XXXXX rating, 11 had an XXXX rating, 7 had a XXX rating and just two received a XX rating, one with an X rating and one did not finish. This is one of the first anthologies I’ve read in a long while and I already have two more lined up from Titan Books thanks to enjoying this one so much! If you like Alice in Wonderland or Witchy tales keep your eyes peeled!