Rich Horton Reviews Shades Within Us, Edited by Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law

Shades Within Us, Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law, eds. (Laksa Media Groups) September 2018.

Shades Within Us is an anthology devoted to “Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders” and, almost predictably, the better stories are those less rigorously meeting the anthology’s theme. For example, Tonya Liburd‘s “Superfreak” does concern a young woman moving from Trinidad to Toronto, in order to escape her abusive uncle. Alas, the uncle in Toronto is no better – and the story is a powerful look at the protagonist taking control of her life and her body. The fantastical element is minimal (most people have Gifts, and the uncles involved unfortunately use theirs in terrible ways), but not really necessary to the story. By contrast, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro‘s “Shades of Void” is all about the science fictional element – and still all about the personal side, as a man tells the story of his lover, whom he helped achieve his goal of using AI-amplification to explore stellar structures – at the cost of his health. Perhaps the best story is Amanda Sun‘s “The Travellers“, in which the title characters travel from the future back to the time of the story (our near future), for obscure reasons. Cheng processes incoming Travellers to Taiwan, and from one of his cases he learns the truth about the future these people are escaping – and the truth about the prospects of altering that future. The story effectively marries sad personal details with the depressing future prospects, and yet suggests a sort of limited optimism as a life strategy.

Rich Horton works for a major aerospace company in St. Louis MO. He has published over a dozen anthologies, including the yearly series The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy from Prime Books, and he is the Reprint Editor for Lightspeed Magazine. He contributes articles and reviews on SF and SF history to numerous publications.

This review and more like it in the November 2018 issue of Locus.

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