Rich Horton reviews Short Fiction: Shoggoths in Traffic and Other Stories andHow to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters
Shoggoths in Traffic and Other Stories, Tobias S. Buckell (Fairwood Press) November 2021.
How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters, Erica L. Satifka (Fairwood Press) November 2021.
Shoggoths in Traffic and Other Stories is a new collection from Tobias S. Buckell. He’s been publishing much of his short work on his Patreon in recent years, so this book is a great way for non-patrons to see these and other recent stories. One persistent focus is the effort to build a better world, evidenced in some cases by stories that reconfigure familiar fantasy tropes with a twist in that direction. For instance, a piece from Patreon in 2019, “The Faraway World”, in which a family discovers a portal to another world in their basement. In their world, such things are common, and monetizable, but exploitation like that raises issues of colonialism and resource extraction…. Is there a better way, of benefit to both sides of the portal? Likewise, the one brand-new story here, “Brickomancer”, posits that some graffiti is actually sigils warding our world against inimical forces. The protagonist is interrupted in his efforts by a meddling “Karen” who tries to get him arrested. Things resolve with a message of the importance of community – and the understanding that the work of building a better world and protecting it never stops.
Another new collection, How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters, highlights the short fiction of Erica L. Satifka. There are two originals. “A Child of the Revolution” shows the “Revolution” as it resists the horrifying slavery of the “shining ones,” mutants who can compel people to serve them by “love-magic.” The Revolution seems heroic – but the telling cunningly undermines this, and scarily shows both its weakness, its dark side – and a third way, also terribly ambiguous. Even better is “Act of Providence”, about a future in which Rhode Island (and other places) has been inundated by rising seas. Hailey is one refugee, miraculously saved as a child, and now living with her sister on the charity of the rest of the country… but Hailey wants more, and is convinced to collaborate on a project to make an immersive “game” based on her memories of the catastrophe. Alas, the effects on her are terrible… leaving her only one way out.
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 2021 issue of Locus.
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