I don’t read many anthologies. I don’t read much in the way of short fiction. Sometimes a collection hews to a theme that moves me. That’s the way it was with this anthology from Night Shade Books. I’m a sucker for both the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. It might be similar to my love of desolate and grim westerns. It may stem from all those viewings of the Road Warrior that devoured my childhood.
Each selection in Wastelands travels with this theme of apocalypse, telling tales of dead or dying futures. Edited by John Joseph Adams, who has put together a number of collections for Night Shade, this book contains a number of my favorite authors. Each tells a different tale in a different voice, but they build a fine chorus. Adams introduces each story individually, helping to place it within the spectrum of the genre and allowing us to greet the author.
There are some great names in this book. Some some of my favorite authors: Gene Wolfe, Paolo Bacigalupi, Richard Kadrey, and Octavia Butler. Wolfe’s piece is enigmatic to the point of being almost obtuse, yet already I know that I will want to read it again in a year just to see if I can dig further into it’s meanings. Butler’s story was particularly good, with a woman seeking meaning in a dying world of violence and ignorance.
Beyond my favorites, there are stories by names like Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, George R. R. Martin, and Jonathan Lethem. A broad selection of styles from heavyweight science-fiction authors.
If you’re a fan of these dark tales, these stories about building anew from the ashes, I highly recommend this handsome volume. I suspect that you’ll find some gems within.