Wastelands, stories of the Apocalypse – edited by John Joseph Adams

This is an anthology by many different authors – I don’t think I’ll be moved to mention them all.  That being said, the first three stories were excellent (and sad or disturbing) so I will start with them.

My favourites were:

  • End of the whole mess / Stephen King
  • People of sand and slag / Paolo Bacigalupi
  • And the deep blue sea / Elizabeth Bear

And that was how I picked up on Elizabeth Bear for more reading!

And of course there’s lot’s more to say

Stephen King – the tale’s written by the man whose brother ended the world… by trying to save it from war.  Neat exploration of having a genius little brother.  Nice place to visit but don’t drink the water.

Sand and Slag – the main characters are soldiers, on Earth actually, but you would think it was a mining planet. Nanotech and gene-therapy mean that everyone is self-healing, eats sand and dirt, can thrive in the toxic mess that the world has become, and soldiers look like they’re built with their own Halo-armour. They find a dog, a real one, that has somehow lived so far, and they adopt it for a while. Is it a pet? Should it be a meal? A good exploration of what makes people human, or at least what should.

A story like the Lottery, with a nice twist. The narrator is a woman who’s grown up after the terrible thing they all did one day in the summer after fourth grade.  Excellent evocation of childhood, mostly-plausible ending, and like I said it was not what I expected.  I promise, I will look up the author’s name and this title because it deserves a proper mention.  This was worrying enough that I set aside this little anthology o’ doom and returned to the Lost anthology.  The Dog Days of Laurie Summer was a nice redeeming story, but then … well… I am almost out of fresh books to read, so it may be a return to the apocalypse…

A week’s gone by and I still have not come back to the anthology.  I’ll publish now and revise later if I actually read some more.

This was the full list:

End of the whole mess / Stephen King
Salvage / Orson Scott Card
People of sand and slag / Paolo Bacigalupi
Bread and bombs / M. Rickert
How we got in town and out again / Jonathan Lethem
Dark, dark were the tunnels / George R.R. Martin
Waiting for the Zephyr / Tobias S. Buckell
Never despair / Jack McDevitt
When Sysdmins ruled the Earth / Cory Doctorow
Last of the O-forms / James Van Pelt
Still life with Apocalypse / Richard Kadrey
Artie’s angels / Catherine Wells
Judgment passed / Jerry Oltion
Mute / Gene Wolfe
Inertia / Nancy Kress
And the deep blue sea / Elizabeth Bear
Speech sounds / Octavia E. Butler
Killers / Carol Emshwiller
Ginny Sweethips’ flying circus / Neal Barrett, Jr.
End of the word as we know it / Dale Bailey
Song before sunset / David Grigg
Episode seven : Last stand against the pack in the kingdom of the purple flowers / John Langan


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