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Welcome To Dystopia: 45 Visions Of What Lies Ahead edited by Gordon Van Gelder

April 11, 2018 |By EamonnMurphy at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/welcome-to-dystopia-45-visions-of-what-lies-ahead-edited-by-gordon-van-gelder-book-review/

Gordon Van Gelder says in his preface to ‘Welcome To Dystopia’ that he wanted lots of short stories for this anthology rather than just a few long ones. He succeeded. There are forty-five tales packed in here and even the most meticulous reviewer isn’t going to cover all of them, though I have read them all. My favourites are listed below in no particular order.

Everyone knows immigrants are the source of all a country’s problems so in the future the crackdown on foreigners, except those needed as cheap labour, will be more severe. The book opens strongly with ‘Sneakers’ by Michael Libling. Two innocent Canadians go south to buy a pair of sneakers, which are cheaper in the United States. Regrettably, things have changed on the border and their situation becomes difficult, even scary. This has a great kick in the tail and may be a warning for those ex-colonials in the savage north. They should have stayed under the rule of good Queen Bess. We Brits would have taken care of them.

‘Glow’ by S.S. Breukelaar has real aliens from another planet who are under threat on election night from Bud Towers and the Humanity First Party. Some actually support him, assuming that Bud is only out to get lowlife aliens and not respectable folks like themselves. Bud’s opponent is an alien-loving woman, who will go to jail for financial misdemeanours if he wins. The theme of this anthology invites allegory.

In my extensive reading, I haven’t come across many female protagonists mad for sex (I don’t read those sort of books) but there’s one in ‘His Sweat Like Stars On The Rio Grande’ by Janis Jan. Working for Local Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the famous Wall, she meets a hot Mexican, fourth generation with a rare green card. She’s ruthless in pursuit of her libidinous longings but, despite her job, this is really about slavery. We do like our cheap food.

A scarier story of slavery is ‘The Adventure of You’ by Paul la Forge. It consists of a list of instructions to coal miner John Arnold Arnold (that is his name). They come from the Synod which forbids certain things, not least among them escaping to the surface which is a myth and doesn’t exist anyway. As dear old Harold Macmillan knew, the best way of keeping the oppressed down is to convince them they’re actually very lucky.

‘Newsletter’ by Jennifer Marie Brisset is in the form of a newsletter to a book group from the community bookstore. It warns them that the state now monitors which books they buy and that certain titles are no longer available. The prospect is chilling for readers but hopefully, things won’t get this bad.

‘Loser’ is by Matthew Hughes who writes many good stories for ‘The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction’. Loser 114 is in a camp doing hard labour. He used to work for ‘National Commentator’ magazine and wrote an interesting piece on how people switched from ‘citizens in a society’ to ‘consumers in an economy’. He’s recruited to betray his old comrades who have fled to Canada with his wife and child held hostage to make sure he complies. This is a thoughtful and interesting narrative from an author more noted for his humour.

‘Dangerous’ by Lisa Mason is a hilarious story about compulsory vagina registration with the federal government. No mention of male reproductive organs which are presumably free to hang out wherever they like.

‘Statues Of Limitations’ by Jay Russell is a conversation between Sal and Bobby in New York. Incorrect statues are being replaced all over the city. Atlas is removed from Rockefeller Center for being ‘an insidious three-dimensional trope for two thousand years of hegemonic patriarchy’. This was hilarious, the best thing in the book and a warning to look left as well as right when guarding your freedom of speech.

One of the longest here is ‘Burning Down The House’ by Ted White. Nik’s block is burnt down by armed gangs so she goes to see Jonny, a pimp. She won’t work for him but they are sort of friends. He arranges for her to meet a One Percenter who’s doing an IQ experiment to prove that poor people aren’t stupid. A sad story of exploitation but Nik’s struggle makes an interesting yarn.

Ron Goulart enjoys himself with ‘The Amazing Transformation Of The White House Dog.’ Like FDR and Nixon, the President wants to have a dog but he’s allergic to them. Norbert’s Uncle Josh is an inventor and has made Fido #7, a clever talking robot canine. J. Edgar Nofzinger, head of the Alternative FBI comes to check it out. Fido is approved and will keep the president company in the wee small hours while he tweets. Great fun and a pleasant change from the myriad bleak visions, though I admit there’s a lot to be bleak about.

‘Designed For Your Safety’ by Elizabeth Bourne is told in the form of emails from Sophie Goldstein to Emily Wilson. Sophie has obtained a good job in a fantastic new office building that’s solar-powered with a huge roof garden which uses the workers own processed poo as manure. It’s practically self-sufficient which is just as well when the outside world falls apart and they are locked in by the building for their own safety. This is almost an updated ‘Lord Of The Flies’ with adults. The crisis worsens steadily in a clever plot and if it was stretched out a bit it might make a good film.

Overall, this is a worthy anthology. In fact, there wasn’t a duff story in the bunch but as many are very short the book as a whole is a bitty read. The brief to keep it brief led many writers to go the epistolary route, usually e-mails between parties but also a newsletter and even a story told in Facebook posts. The general tone was inevitably serious, that’s the nature of dystopian fiction, but the loaf is leavened by bits of humour.

Eamonn Murphy
April 2018
(pub: OR Books. 406 page ebook. £ 7.21 (UK), $10.11 (US). ASIN: B0797YR1KF)

check out website: www.orbooks.com

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Look what arrived in my email yesterday! Welcome to Dystopia, Forty-five Visions of What Lies Ahead edited by Gordon Van Gelder. I’ve got a flash fiction story, “Dangerous,” in the anthology.

I’ve never been in anthology with Jane Yolen, Barry N. Malzberg, Harry Turtledove, Eileen Gunn, Paul Witcover, and James Morrow! Look at this lineup:

Sneakers by Michael Libling

re: Your Wedding by Ruth Nestvold

Everything Is Fixed Now by K. G. Anderson

His Sweat Like Stars on the Rio Grande by Janis Ian

Agnosia by J. M. Sidarova

The Adventure of You by Paul La Farge

[Symbol for Cancer] by N. Lee Wood

Birds by Deepak Unnikrishnan

The Only Constant by Leslie Howle

The Terrific Leader by Harry Turtledove

Two Explicit and Three Oblique Apologies to My Oldest Daughter One Month Before Her Eighteenth Birthday by Heather Lindsley

The Levellers by Deji Bryce Olukotun

No Point Talking by Geoff Ryman

Glow by J.S. Breukelaar

Precaution at Penn Station by Michael Kandel

Newsletter by Jennifer Marie Brissett

Statues of Limitations by Jay Russell

Suffocation by Robert Reed

Application for Asylum by Eileen Gunn

Welcome to Triumph Band by Yoon Ha Lee

Loser by Matthew Hughes

We All Have Hearts of Gold® by Leo Vladimirsky

Notes on Retrieving a Fallen Banner by Marguerite Reed

Ticket to Ride by Eric James Fullilove

Burning Down the House by Ted White

Dangerous by Lisa Mason

Class Assignment by Thomas Kaufsek

Walls by Paul Witcover

The Passion According to Mike by Scott Bradfield

Bright Sarasota Where the Circus Lies Dying by James Sallis

The Name Unspoken by Richard Bowes

The Elites by Stephanie Feldman

January 2018 by Barry N. Malzberg

Farewell by Mary Anne Mohanraj

The Amazing Transformation of the White House Dog by Ron Goulart

Handmaid’s Tale by Jane Yolen

Sanctuary by Brian Francis Slattery

One Fell Swoop by James Morrow

BK Girls by TS Vale

Isn’t Life Great? by Don D’Ammassa

The Men Will Be Hungry Afterwards by Ray Vukcevich

The Road South by Madeleine E. Robins and Becca Caccavo

Skippy’s Visit East by Michael Kandel

Designed for Your Safety by Elizabeth Bourne

Extreme Bedding by David Marusek

Whee! Can’t wait to read them all!

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7257603 or Order in Print on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Love-Travel-Lisa-Mason/dp/1548106119/

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7511748  or Order in Print on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Age-Time-Travel/dp/1975853172/

One Day in the Life of Alexa. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. Order on Amazon in Print at https://www.amazon.com/One-Life-Alexa-Lisa-Mason/dp/1546783091 or direct from the Printer: https://www.createspace.com/7181096

Arachne (a Locus Bestseller). On US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in France Kindle, Germany Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Spain Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Brazil Kindle, India Kindle, and Japan Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT!

Cyberweb (sequel to Arachne). is on US Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Brazil Kindle, France Kindle, Germany Kindle, India Kindle, Italy Kindle, Japan Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, and Spain Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT!

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books). On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. SOON IN PRINT!

The Garden of Abracadabra (“Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy . . . I want to read more!) On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. SOON IN PRINT!

Celestial Girl, A Lily Modjeska Mystery (Five stars) On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Shaken On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Hummers On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Daughter of the Tao On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in AustraliaFrance, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Every Mystery Unexplained On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tomorrow’s Child On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

U F uh-O On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tesla, A Screenplay On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India. SOON IN PRINT!

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story On Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, and Mexico.

“Illyria, My Love” is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, Mexico Kindle, and India Kindle.

Please visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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