Start: Feb 16, 2019
Finish: March 11, 2019
My Rating: ★★★★★
I’m not 100% certain, but I believe I first came across this book while perusing an upcoming releases list on some website and I was immediately intrigued! I have somewhat fond memories of reading A People’s History of the United States in high school (in fact, I still have my copy of the book somewhere in my home). I wanted to read this collection because I thought it would be a good way to read some writers I already admire, while checking out writers I heard about, but had yet to read. And it’s always good to see what is popular in speculative fiction.
A People’s Future of the United States not only introduced me to authors who are extraordinarily talented, but it also invigorated me as a reader and writer. I leave this collection with a list of authors and works I NEED to check out. In short, this is speculative fiction at its absolute best. Every time I finished a story, I was convinced nothing could top it. Then I’d start the next story and fall in love all over again. (I fell in love 25 times over the course of reading this!)
It’s hard picking one story that outshined the others, so I’ll focus on two that I thoroughly enjoyed.
“Attachment Disorder” by Tananarive Due: The best thing about this story is the protagonist is an older character, something I rarely encounter when reading. Her age and related physical abilities have an impact in the story and serve as a source of tension. But she’s never portrayed in a demeaning way. This is also a “found family” story. Nayima, the protagonist, and Lottie, the secondary character, are related, though we learn that Lottie’s birth was complicated. Nayima deals with a past trauma and it shapes her relationship with Lottie. It’s equal parts endearing and heartbreaking, which is right up my alley!
“The Sun is in Exile” by Catherine M. Valente: This story starts with one of the best lines I’ve ever read: “I was born the year they put the sun on trial for treason.” What follows is a humorous, “so funny, so ridiculous, so painfully true to life” story about a land ruled by a man who claims to be consistently freezing, despite the sweltering heat that is injuring and killing people. And because the leader would never steer his flock astray, everyone else claims to experience the same coldness he feels. It’s certainly one of the best satirical stories I’ve read in a while.
Other notable stories include:
- “The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders
- “Read After Burning” by Maria Dahvana Headley
- “Calendar Girls” by Justina Ireland
- “0.1” by Gabby Rivera
- “Good News, Bad News” by Charles Yu
- “Harmony” by Seanan McGuire
I know it looks as though I took a month to read through this collection, but in actuality, I finished it in about a week and a half once I really committed myself to this book. (The above listed dates are the dates on my Goodreads account.) These stories are quick reads; I was usually pulled in by the end of the first paragraph. While they touch on many relevant issues, they’re tied together by the tremendous love and optimism each of these authors seem to share. I don’t think there is a single story with a bad/unhappy ending (though “Esperanto” and “A History of Barbed Wire” come close to having those sad endings). A People’s Future of the United States is dedicated to “the folks who will not be erased” and that dedication runs through every story, filling me with a sense of hope for the future.
Whether you want to read some excellent speculative fiction, want to check out some amazing authors, or want a short break from this dumpster fire that is our world, I highly recommend you check out A People’s Future of the United States!