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A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers

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What if America's founding ideals finally became reality? A future of peace, justice, and love comes to life in original speculative stories that challenge oppression and embrace inclusiveness--from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, and more. For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States What if America's founding ideals finally became reality? A future of peace, justice, and love comes to life in original speculative stories that challenge oppression and embrace inclusiveness--from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, and more. For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States presents twenty-five never-before-published stories by a diverse group of writers, featuring voices both new and well-established. These stories imagine their characters fighting everything from government surveillance, to corporate cities, to climate change disasters, to nuclear wars. But fear not: A People's Future also invites readers into visionary futures in which the country is shaped by justice, equity, and joy. Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, this collection features a glittering landscape of moving, visionary stories written from the perspective of people of color, indigenous writers, women, queer & trans people, Muslims and other people whose lives are often at risk. Contributors include: Violet Allen, Charlie Jane Anders, Ashok K. Banker, Tobias S. Buckell, Tananarive Due, Omar El Akkad, Jamie Ford, Maria Dahvana Headley, Hugh Howey, Lizz Huerta, Justina Ireland, N. K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, Seanan McGuire, Sam J. Miller, Daniel José Older, Malka Older, Gabby Rivera, A. Merc Rustad, Kai Cheng Thom, Catherynne M. Valente, Daniel H. Wilson, G. Willow Wilson, and Charles Yu.


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What if America's founding ideals finally became reality? A future of peace, justice, and love comes to life in original speculative stories that challenge oppression and embrace inclusiveness--from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, and more. For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States What if America's founding ideals finally became reality? A future of peace, justice, and love comes to life in original speculative stories that challenge oppression and embrace inclusiveness--from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, and more. For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States presents twenty-five never-before-published stories by a diverse group of writers, featuring voices both new and well-established. These stories imagine their characters fighting everything from government surveillance, to corporate cities, to climate change disasters, to nuclear wars. But fear not: A People's Future also invites readers into visionary futures in which the country is shaped by justice, equity, and joy. Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, this collection features a glittering landscape of moving, visionary stories written from the perspective of people of color, indigenous writers, women, queer & trans people, Muslims and other people whose lives are often at risk. Contributors include: Violet Allen, Charlie Jane Anders, Ashok K. Banker, Tobias S. Buckell, Tananarive Due, Omar El Akkad, Jamie Ford, Maria Dahvana Headley, Hugh Howey, Lizz Huerta, Justina Ireland, N. K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, Seanan McGuire, Sam J. Miller, Daniel José Older, Malka Older, Gabby Rivera, A. Merc Rustad, Kai Cheng Thom, Catherynne M. Valente, Daniel H. Wilson, G. Willow Wilson, and Charles Yu.

30 review for A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    A collection of near future visions about the future of the American experience. It was a thought exercise in which La Valle asks authors to extrapolate from today. Where do we go from here? I bought this book on sale with the intent to read it in 2020 (or later), but something compelled me to read the introduction. La Valle's introduction is one of my favorite stories in the book. He discusses how he came up with the concept for the book by reminiscing about an encounter with his father and A collection of near future visions about the future of the American experience. It was a thought exercise in which La Valle asks authors to extrapolate from today. Where do we go from here? I bought this book on sale with the intent to read it in 2020 (or later), but something compelled me to read the introduction. La Valle's introduction is one of my favorite stories in the book. He discusses how he came up with the concept for the book by reminiscing about an encounter with his father and step brother. Really powerful and compelling. I simply had to read the book after reading the introduction. What we get are some interesting interpretations; some are humorous some are dour, some are hopeful. Most of these stories are about resistance and rebellion. This was a fairly large anthology with 25 stories of mixed quality. Some of the stories are insightful and unique and others are predictable and in some ways too similar. To be honest, some of these stories melded. For me it seems that short story collections need to be read. I feel bad in saying that because this is an extremely well produced audio book. Definitely worth reading and listening to...just not if a half hour commute each way is your main form of audio book consumption. Summary of my favorites: (view spoiler)[ The Wall by Lizz Huerta - America is no more tolerant of "others". Future conflicts will be fought by drugged soldiers who have had humanity suppressed. By His Bootstraps by Ashok K. Banker -Story about a genetic timebomb that goes off in a America and restores it to the melting pot of diversity an harmony. This was the result of a government experiment that was meant to ethnically cleanse America to the "white Christian Nation" it was meant to be. Riverbed by Omar El Akkad - Character returns to her internments camp some 50 years later and thinks back on the experience. The Referendum by Lesley Nneka Arimah - A referendum passes to repeal the 13th Amendment and reinstitute slavery. Black people "aint havin it!!" Calendar Girls by Justina Ireland - Abortion and contraception are illegal. This is the story of a drug mule. The Blindfold by Tobias S. Buckell - A story of white privilege. Pretty awesome! Good News Bad News by Charles Yu - humorous news stories that extrapolate to the extreme from present day issues. The Sun in Exile by Cat Valente - A humorous retelling of the emperor's new clothes. The emperor is of course a corrupt, narcissistic, ignorant man prone to reshaping reality. Now Wait for This Week by Alice Sola Kim - A well done odd story of a person reliving the same week over and over. This world is a world of the antifeminist. A sort of tale of the #metoo moment. The point of view is not the person reliving the week, but her friend. (hide spoiler)] I don't usually do short story anthologies. I tend to read short story collections where I get to preview a single author. This anthology introduced me to many new authors that I want to further explore. I finally read my first Catherynne M. Valente for example. There were no terrible stories in this collection. All were thought provoking, some were fun, others bleak. This collection was well worth my time and attention. The highest compliment I can give is that I see myself rereading this book in a few years. 4+ Stars Listened to the audio book. Full cast. Different stories, different narrators. They were all really great. Full disclosure, I re-read several of the stories for comprehension.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    There are certain collections of speculative fiction that are tattooed on my brain. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, and Futures on Fire, edited by Orson Scott Card, in particular. This one now joins that gallery of mind-bending, imagination-stretching stories, but there's something soul-soothing about these tales as well. Something sublime, yet hopeful. My favorites were the stories by N.K. Jemisin, Ashok Banker, and Charlie Jane Anders. Full disclosure: I have a story in here too, There are certain collections of speculative fiction that are tattooed on my brain. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, and Futures on Fire, edited by Orson Scott Card, in particular. This one now joins that gallery of mind-bending, imagination-stretching stories, but there's something soul-soothing about these tales as well. Something sublime, yet hopeful. My favorites were the stories by N.K. Jemisin, Ashok Banker, and Charlie Jane Anders. Full disclosure: I have a story in here too, but I'm just swimming in the wake of the above mentioned authors.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    This anthology boasts of some amazing authors and I just couldn't resist from requesting it as soon as I heard about it the first time. And what a thought provoking, sometimes infuriating and sometimes hopeful collection of stories this is. Right from the Foreword by Victor LaValle, we get an insight into how powerful representation is, how important it is to fight for the rights of the marginalized and and resistance can start from even just one person. These stories will move you, make you This anthology boasts of some amazing authors and I just couldn't resist from requesting it as soon as I heard about it the first time. And what a thought provoking, sometimes infuriating and sometimes hopeful collection of stories this is. Right from the Foreword by Victor LaValle, we get an insight into how powerful representation is, how important it is to fight for the rights of the marginalized and and resistance can start from even just one person. These stories will move you, make you angry and tear up, will terrify you and will probably light a fire under all of us to fight for everyone's rights in our own way so that we don't let many of these dystopian futures become possible. As with any short story anthology, there are some brilliant tales here and some which I didn't understand, but someone else might find them relevant. The book didn't start off strong for me, but the middle portion has some of my favorites including the ones by Ashok Banker, Omar El Akkad, Justina Ireland, Gabby Rivera and a few others. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, this is an important book and I promise that you will find something in it that will resonate with you. Below are my reviews for the individual stories: The Bookstore at the end of America - Charlie Jane Anders This story features an America where California is now a separate country with the former being a very religious, probably fascist place while the latter feels like a technocracy. During the time when wars break out for the sake of water resources, Molly still tries to maintain her bookstore at the border catering to both regions, and trying very hard to toe the middle ground for the sake of her daughter. This is a story about the power of books (both good ones and the propaganda) and how a good discussion about books might just quiet a heated argument between angry people on both sides. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Our Aim is Not to Die - A. Merc Rustad This world scared the hell out of me because anyone who is not the “Ideal” (straight, white, male) is discriminated against or being autistic and non-binary like our MC is literally illegal and people have to perform daily approved actions to prove their patriotism. Sua’s horrible predicament is captured so realistically that it terrified me too and the worst part is that this world seemed entirely plausible. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Wall - Lizz Huerta This story feels like a metaphor to the wall that our politicians so want to build at the southern border and what consequences it might lead to. Although I’m not sure I understood the world here. Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5 Read after Burning - Maria Dahvana Headley Another story about the power of words and books but I think it was too meta for me to understand. Rating: ⭐️ Disruption and Continuity - Malka Older This is sort of like a report written in the future about activism and it’s affect on society, especially after it’s realized that the political system is ineffective. I thought the format this is written in was inventive, but I was also slightly confused. Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5 It was Saturday Night, I Guess that Makes it Alright - Sam J. Miller This is a story about powerlessness and trying to free ourselves from it and desiring to do more, to resist, to take back some power. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Attachment Disorder - Tananarive Due A story about a mother wanting to protect her child, while trying to remain unattached. It’s heartbreaking to see a mother having to choose between life in a cage but with protection vs freedom that might not keep them alive long. I thought this struggle was depicted in a very gut wrenching manner. Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 By his Bootstraps - Ashok K. Banker This story is pure wish fulfillment for every single person who is fed up with the current government’s preposterous antics. I won’t say anything except just go and read this one. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Riverbed - Omar El Akkad A woman returns to the US almost half a century later after she suffered through imprisonment in Muslim internment camps. This story realistically depicts how survivors must actually feel when they see monuments and memorials erected at the places where they suffered so much injustices, while the attitudes of the people haven’t changed much. This is another story where the world seemed entirely plausible and too damn scary. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What Maya Found There - Daniel José Older I was surprised to see the current administration referenced here. The story of a future where bioengineering projects are being used for create the President’s private army and how some scientists are trying to stop them. Definitely depicts the dichotomy of a government that only believes in the science that’s useful for their purposes. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Referendum - Lesley Nneka Arimah Another scary world where all Black people have been designated wards of state, millions deported and a referendum on the ballot to reestablish slavery. And the small steps that led to this state are described which seem quite possible in our near future and it terrified me. However, there is Black Resistance and that means, there is hope. Very well written from the perspective of a mother and wife, struggling with her choices and trying to do her part. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Calendar Girls - Justina Ireland A Handmaid’s Tale-esque America where abortion/contraception is outlawed, marriage age is as low as 12 for girls and women’s rights activists are considered terrorists. In a very unlikely turn of events, the senator responsible for all the “moral” laws needs a contraband contraceptive selling woman to help his teenage daughter get an abortion. It just shows that just like the present day, men who make laws to police women’s bodies never want the same to be applied to their own. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Synapse Will Free Us From Ourselves - Violet Allen This story features a very high tech version of a gay conversion therapy institute, where the subjects are made to feel shame and hate themselves without knowing why, so that they will stop living out and proud. The way it’s described is chilling because it’s quite similar to the rhetoric we hear even now - “we don’t have a problem with gay people, just their lifestyle choices.” - and it just shows however much support people show outside, changing discriminatory attitudes is not easy. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ O.1 - Gabby Rivera The plague called Imbalance wiped out more than 40% of the population and made many others infertile - but this bacterium only affected those people full of white supremacist and capitalist greed. This story follows a queer couple of color, one of them non binary, on their journey to give birth to the first child in a decade - away from the eyes of the Federation and all the people who believe they owe this child to everyone. It’s really a beautifully written story of love and compassion. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Blindfold - Tobias S. Buckell This story had some amazing commentary on the privilege of being white passing, the still existing racial prejudices in this particular future (however much people try to deny it) and how steps are being taken to try to ensure a fair judicial process for people of all races and ethnicities. It’s written in second person but was quite easy to read and is definitely a very important tale to tell. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ No Algorithms in the World - Hugh Howey A fascinating story about a world that mostly runs on automation and people have universal basic income to survive. This clearly depicts the generational struggle between a father and son, the older not ready to accept the new reality and the younger wanting the chance to explore. I loved how this mirrors our present conflicts with our parents and elders. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Esperanto - Jamie Ford A story of how people who live in a technologically altered reality will react when all their alterations are stripped away and they are given a glimpse into their true reality. It’s a wonderful tale which tells us that diversity is beautiful. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ROME - G. Willow Wilson This story takes place in a future Seattle where there is no infrastructure anymore due to tax abolition, and a group of students have no choice but to write their midterms even when there is a fire breakout nearby and no firefighters. I’m not sure I fully understood the point of this story, maybe that sometimes the choices that we think are best in the short term could have long term disastrous consequences. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Give me Cornbread, or Give me Death - N. K. Jemisin What imagination Jemisin has. A story about the government trying to recreate the ten plagues to destroy the population of color, the second one of which utilizes dragons. And the resistance tries to win over the dragons by stealthily feeding them tasty spicy food. I was both horrified at the tyranny of the oppressors and delighted at the ingenuity of the women in the resistance. A brave tale of fighting back in any way possible. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Good News Bad News - Charles Yu Taking place in the next millennium, this story is told through various news stories detailing the technological breakthroughs and challenges of the day - from racist robots to refugee resettlement on the moon to bots voting on legislations to pharma companies trying to make pills to reduce intolerance and mansplaining - I thought the was a very hilarious and imaginative read. However, even in this world which has finally reached 100% income equality for women and females outnumber males in executive positions, women are still harassed at the workplace by male subordinates. Some things never change. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What You Sow - Kai Cheng Thom I can’t really explain this story but I think it’s a mirror to a woman’s struggle to always remain calm and composed and non confrontational, to keep the peace, until she realizes she has other options and she should take back her voice and power. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 A History of Barbed Wire - Daniel H. Wilson Cherokee Nation is a separate country, divided by a wall in this story. However, the land outside the wall has become corrupt and greedy and people ready to give up everything to illegally enter the Indian country. It just shows that sometimes what we wish for won’t turn out the exact way. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Sun in Exile - Catherynne M. Valente An extreme example of what a cult leader can do - convince the adoring masses of the exact opposite of reality. The people are so utterly devoted to their leader that they believe they are in an ice age when they are actually dying of an extreme heat wave. Another story that veers too close to our own reality. Excellent writing!!! Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Harmony - Seanan McGuire The author correctly says in the story that tolerance can be demanded and legislated but not guaranteed because haters are always gonna hate. This is the story of a bisexual/lesbian couple figuring out that their actual dream for life is different from the one they have been told to have, and they decide to take matters into their own hands and create a home for everyone, however different they maybe from the norm. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Now Wait for This Week - Alice Sola Kim This story could be a metaphor to women being violated in various forms by men all the time, but their voices are never heard and the men are never punished and the cycle continues. However, the story did confuse me a lot and it’s too long and I can’t be sure that I understood it correctly. Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    I got into this book with the expectation that at least some of the stories by these well-known writers would be hopeful or optimistic in the face of obvious injustice. After all, the whole collection IS a tribute to Howard Zinn's classic, A People's History of the United States. So of course, an SF future treatment of the same would probably be about resistance and standing up for what we believe. In actual fact, quite a few do follow that idea, but more of them felt like truly dark futures with I got into this book with the expectation that at least some of the stories by these well-known writers would be hopeful or optimistic in the face of obvious injustice. After all, the whole collection IS a tribute to Howard Zinn's classic, A People's History of the United States. So of course, an SF future treatment of the same would probably be about resistance and standing up for what we believe. In actual fact, quite a few do follow that idea, but more of them felt like truly dark futures with no hope in sight. Normal stuff, actually, tho very creative, like pushing the trend of current legislation to the full horrible ends, be it abortion, the welfare state, the patriarchy completely winning, or even all blacks being deported. Truly horrible stuff. Like tattoos being the last books available for anyone to read. Or virtual realities suffocating the life out of us. You get the idea. Fortunately, all these stories are pretty great. Exciting. Or nasty. Fun, or thought-provoking, or enraging. Few are actually hopeful, but maybe that's just a sign of the times. A lot of us are really disgusted at how much backsliding we've seen. *waves his fists at the air* My favorites? Read After Burning by Maria Dahvana Headly. The Blindfold by Tobias S. Buckwell But I also really got into: Our Aim is Not to Die by Merc Rustad The Referendum by Lesley Nneka Arimah Calendar Girls by Justina Ireland The Sun in Exile by Cat Valente

  5. 5 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Wow. What a great collection. I didn't give any story less than four stars. Some stories resonated with me very much because some of them read as things that could totally happen in a year or less with the ways things are going on in the United States right now. Other stories had a very strong fantasy element (which I liked) but didn't seem as if they could happen. One of the reasons why I loved "The Handmaid's Tale" so much is that you could see a future where the United States government Wow. What a great collection. I didn't give any story less than four stars. Some stories resonated with me very much because some of them read as things that could totally happen in a year or less with the ways things are going on in the United States right now. Other stories had a very strong fantasy element (which I liked) but didn't seem as if they could happen. One of the reasons why I loved "The Handmaid's Tale" so much is that you could see a future where the United States government decided to take over women's bodies and dictate births. Settle in and read this anthology about a people's future history of the United States. The introduction by Victor LaValle sets the tone for this collection. He begins by telling us about his white father, his half brother, and how his father pushed his politics on them both, not understanding or caring that both of his sons mothers were minorities. His recollection of how he felt when he realized that Hillary Clinton was not going to become President, but that Donald Trump had won. And from there into a story about Howard Zinn and his book called "A People's History of the United States." "The Bookstore at the End of America" by Charlie Jane Anders (5 stars)-I loved the idea of the United States splitting off from California and how both factions (California and the United States) are caricatures of what we hear people grousing about now. California seems super liberal and the United States reads as oppressed. The owner of the bookstore called The Last Page is Molly. Molly has her daughter Phoebe and through her you get to see that Phoebe and her friends may be able to rise up and come together unlike what their parents. "Our Aim Is Not to Die" by A. Merc Rustad (5 stars)-This story follows Sua who is in a horrible version of the future where everyone is expected to conform to being hetrosexual. The government watches social media interactions and expects you to do certain things around certain dates (get married, have children, interact with friends, etc.). Sua is in a fake relationship with a man who is gay and has a close friend named Maya. Don't want to spoil too much here, but Sua ends up deciding what they can do to make things better for those who come next and the story has a hopeful tone to it in the end. "The Wall" by Lizz Huerta (4 stars)-This one confused me a bit here and there. It read as more fantasy to me than the first two. I was confused about how humans were birthed in this world, Huerta mentions that some children were born with jaws and others were not and my brain went, wait what? How could they eat or breathe? And then I decided to just continue with the story. We eventually get into a wall being built to keep people out and how eventually what to is referred to as the empire starts removing people's rights. Then things get even worse when the military appears to turn against their own family members. "Read After Burning" by Maria Dahvana Headley (4.5 stars)-So parts of this read as fantasy and others parts did not. The parts dealing with the government apparently restricting books and then banning them and words I could see happening. This is all after apparently bombs were dropped and people ran around "misunderstanding" each other. I loved following the protagonist in this one and them telling us about the Librarians and how people ended up having words or stories written onto their bodies. "Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity" by Malka Older (4 stars)-This was probably my least favorite in the collection and that's mainly because it read like a text book. There is no set-up for things mentioned in this story so I found myself struggling initially through this one. "It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right" by Sam J Miller (5 stars)- A world in which the government spies on you and apparently has banned certain music and homosexuality. The protagonist in this story is a young gay men who works for the privatized police forces. The protagonist still can't stop himself for looking for comfort and sex as he travels around with a supervisor named Sid where they install phone cloners. Prince comes into play here because at one point in the story apparently all of his music gets banned. More fantasy comes into play though when the protagonist does go off and have a sexual encounter and something dark seems to be happening to him. "Attachment Disorder" by Tananarive Due (5 stars)-I was a bit confused with this one when it started out, but it all comes together later. Apparently in this future, people's DNA could be stolen and children could be born from that. Apparently a plague has harmed a lot of people but the government is still out threatening people. Our protagonist in this one is an older woman named Nayima and she's doing what she can to protect someone named Lottie. Nayima has a choice in this one and she chooses freedom. The story in this one ends on a more dark note though IMHO. "By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker (5 stars)-Three words. Genetic Time bomb. And I laughed through this whole story. I doubt anything like this could come true because the current President loathes science. But I loved a story where the MAGA President and his followers get hoisted on their own petard when they try to use a genetic time bomb to wipe out POC and instead it resets America and then the rest of the world to one in which Native Americans ended up becoming the dominant racial group in the U.S. "Riverbed" by Omar El Akkad (5 stars)-This one was sad and I loved it. We follow a woman named Dr. Khadija Singh who as a young woman is rounded up with her family when the United States started rounding up Muslims and keeping them encamped. It's apparently been some time since these events and the country has moved on again and now where she and her family were rounded up and forced to stay has been turned into a museum with some BS sculpture to memorialize what happened. Khadija returns from Canada to Billings for something that belongs to her. "Does it feel different, the driver asked, all these years later?" "No," Khadija replied. "It feels exactly the same." "You think the midterms will change anything? My sons says now that the Social Democrats picked up a couple more seats in the House, they can try to reinstate the healthcare act, maybe cut a deal on tax reform." Khadija broke into laughter. "Tax reform, Jesus Christ," she said. She set her beer on the ground. "You know what this country is?" she said. "This country is a man trying to describe a burning building without using the word fire." "What Maya Found There" by Daniel Jose Older (4 stars)-This one had more fantasy elements. Maya Lucia Aviles is looking at a future where science is being bent to make something faster, stronger, and deadlier to humans. I thought this was just an okay story after coming after "Riverbed." "The Referendum" by Lesley Nneka Arimah (5 stars)- A future that has African refugees rounded up and forced to return back to their own countries. This story provides background into the fact that more and more draconian laws are able to pass the Senate by the slimmest margin making the United States terrible for black people until a final terrible act: a referendum to repeal the 13th amendment and to reinstate slavery goes through. The protagonist in this story stays with her husband in America and works alongside her sister in law Darla, as part of a resistance group called "Black Resistance." You get her sister in law's jealously about what she didn't just leave the United States when she had the chance. I also don't know if I would have stayed based on what I read in this story either. Anyone in this present starts talking about should be re-instituted I am rounding up my immediate family and getting the hell out. "Calendar Girls" by Justina Ireland (5 stars)- We follow a young woman named Alyssa who apparently is selling contraceptives which have become banned. Also in this new world abortion has been outlawed. Ireland throws an aside out there about the legal age to marry a girl has been lowered and my whole body shuddered. This story read like a Black Mirror episode (in a good way) and I loved the twists and the ending. "The Synapse Will Free Us From Ourselves by Violet Allen (5 stars)-We follow a young man named Daniel who apparently works for something called the Synapse as an Adjustment Engineer. Daniel's job is to make his client Dante into a heterosexual. This story was chilling and I loved the twists in it. "0.1" by Gabby Rivera (4 stars)-This one was a little confusing to me definitely read as pure fantasy. A couple manages to get pregnant though no children have been able to be born for a pretty lengthy period of time. POVs change throughout. "The Blindfold" by Tobias S. Buckell (5 stars)-This was great. A future in which one can buy the technology in order to be viewed as a white male during a trial.....yeah this one was so freaking apt based on current events I didn't even know what to say while I was reading it. Very very good. And I loved the twist! Another one that would make a great Black Mirror episode since technology is an important piece of this one. As well as understanding mixed races. Judges give different sentences. The data is there. Undeniable. But the most important question became not whether human beings were flawed but what could we do about it? Consider this: Analyzing the prison sentences judges handed down based on how long it had been since they had something to eat shows a pattern of longer sentences given the longer it has been since they ate. is it fair for one person who smoked some weed to get one sentence in the morning just after breakfast and for someone close to lunch to get a longer sentence just because Judge So-and-So's blood sugar is dropping? "No Algorithms In the World" by Hugh Howey (4 stars). Ehh this was okay. A world in which universal basic income is a thing and the protagonist in this one has a terrible ass father who hates how the world has changed. This may have been one of the shortest stories in the collection. I can't recall off the top of my head. "Esperanto" by Jamie Ford (4 stars)-Interesting idea about what makes someone beautiful and how technology can be used to alter that idea in people. ."Rome" by G. Willow Wilson (4 stars)-A group of people who apparently are trying to take a test (called the Building Language Proficiency) and also worrying about how a fire may impact their ability to take this test. Some throwaway lines about how Texas is underwater and some other parts of the country have been hit with stuff that sounds like from a disaster movie. "Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death" by N. K. Jemisin (4 stars)- This was a weird one, not bad, but it involved dragons. Definitely more on the fantasy side. This was also pretty short so I couldn't get into it that much. "Good News Bad News" by Charles Yu (5 stars)-Just two words. Racist robots. And there are some other good news bad news stories we are treated to in this short story. I laughed about the news stories that involved Jeff Bezos version 3, LLC, an incorporeal person organized under the laws of Delaware as the legal heir and cognitive descendant of the human known as Jeff Bezos. This Jeff Bezos is the CEO of AmazonGoogleFace and trying to acquire DisneyAppleSoft. "What You Sow" by Kai Cheng Thom (5 stars)-I really got a kick out of this story. We follow Yun who is a Celestial in a world that also has humans infected with something which in turn changes them into something called "Sleepless." I think this one picked up on some Greek mythology as well as Bible stories as well when you read about what a Celestial really is. I just wanted to read more about Yun after this. "A History of Barbed Wire" by Daniel H. Wilson (4.5 stars)-A world in which the Cherokee Nation apparently takes over the state of Oklahoma. It appears that also something called the Sovereign Wall was built which led to many states going through some turmoil. This has caused many people to try to force their way into Cherokee Nation though there are strict rolls about who can actually be there. Though I really enjoyed this story, parts of it felt unfinished. "The Sun in Exile" by Catherynne M. Valente (4 stars)-This was a quirky story about a man forcing those who ruled over to ignore the fact that they were in fact hot and were instead cold. It reminded me a bit of someone who yells fake news all the time. At one point the sun is put on trial. "Harmony" by Seanan McGuire (5 stars)-What lies beneath a new future where apparently tolerance is the new law of the land. There is still preferential treatment for those who are heterosexual over those who are not and microaggressions still exist. We follow a lesbian couple who contemplate buying a town where they can stay along with others and define what makes a home. "Now Wait For This Week" by Alice Sola Kim (5 stars)-The story follows what happens to someone named Bonnie and we get to read how it appears that she is living the same week again and again along with others. Bonnie isn't the protagonist in this one though, the protagonist is just someone that knows her. This is a world where apparently rape, sexual harassment, abuse is rampant. There also seems to be breaking news stories about famous men doing some of the above. I think this was the author's take on the me too movement and how people felt reading the same story over and over again with the name changed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Goodness, where to begin? Okay look. If you plan to readany anthology in your reading lifetime, it should probably be this one. Not necessarily because of all the raucous good times you'll be having, but because of how well done these stories are, and how completely relevant and important they are. Let us discuss why this is fabulous: •Uh, did yousee the author lineup? This is like, You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Goodness, where to begin? Okay look. If you plan to read any anthology in your reading lifetime, it should probably be this one. Not necessarily because of all the raucous good times you'll be having, but because of how well done these stories are, and how completely relevant and important they are. Let us discuss why this is fabulous: •Uh, did you see the author lineup? This is like, some kind of League of Amazing Writers™ or something. Can they team up for regularly scheduled anthologies and call themselves this? Because I am here for that. •There is truly not a bummer in the bunch. You know how anthologies always have a few stories that leave you a tad underwhelmed? Not so here. Every single story contained at least some kind of worthwhile message. And they were incredibly engaging, well thought out, and yes, entertaining. •Holy diversity! Just as the author list is gloriously diverse, so too were the stories. Representation of so, so many people, in all sorts of situations, such a win. •Timely, significant, and powerful. These stories highlight the all-too-plausible future we could be facing, given the current trajectory of society. It's terrifying, but more than that, it's necessary.  My one word of caution: I read these stories back to back, all in a row. And it might not be the best way to do it? They're all fabulous, like I said, but I think they might have more of an impact if you read a couple, then take a breather. They're powerful, and it can be a lot all at once. But worth it, without a doubt. Bottom Line: Written by what has to be the most incredible group of authors to have ever joined forces, and written well, these stories will leave you deep in thought long after you close the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Johan Haneveld

    9+ I was delibrating whether to give this four or five stars, but my intuition said to err on the side of excellence, as a four star rating would not really fit. Giving star ratings is a gut decision anyway, at least for me. And I must say I really enjoyed this collection. Even more than I thought going in. I thought I would meet a lot of grim dystopia's and leave the collection feeling depressed about the state of the world, but that's not the case. Even though most future scenario's here, 9+ I was delibrating whether to give this four or five stars, but my intuition said to err on the side of excellence, as a four star rating would not really fit. Giving star ratings is a gut decision anyway, at least for me. And I must say I really enjoyed this collection. Even more than I thought going in. I thought I would meet a lot of grim dystopia's and leave the collection feeling depressed about the state of the world, but that's not the case. Even though most future scenario's here, nearby or farflung are dystopian, the stories are not pessimistic. They are about minorities surviving, people who are different clinging to their identities, and idealistic loners finding each other to seek roads to revolution. There is desperation here, but never giving up or giving in. I liked that. Also I thought that we would have 'literary SF' here - stories without a lot of adventure in them, slice of life stories, more description than plot, more introspection than action. But that was not the case either. There were a couple of stories like that, but more were quite action packed or idea rich, with vivid descriptions and some tense situations. I enjoyed almost every story here. This is a pretty 'woke' collection, which made it even more to my taste. But even though I'm also a left leaning feminist guy here, there were stories that made me inspect my prejudices even more, and gave me incentive to try and see individuals as individuals, and work on dealing with residuals from my upbringing. So I was confirmed in my beliefs and challenged at the same time. But I find it hard to see right leaning people enjoying this, especially those with MRA-tendencies, or anti-LGBTQA convictions. On the other hand: read it, you may find something to chew on here anyway. I find it hard to pick individual stories to review here, so I will point you to the other reviews on Goodreads that give a detailed analysis of each story. Heartily recommended for people with a taste for short speculative fiction.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Greg Chatham

    Aww, jeez. I love Victor LaValle and I'm a sucker for John Joseph Adams' themed anthologies, but this collection was almost a total embarrassment. Given a platform to say their piece about US politics, most of the authors deliver unimaginative single-issue dystopias. And though repetitive, those are preferable to the ones that try to be humorous. "Good News, Bad News" by Charles Yu and "By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker are abominably cringey. And Charlie Jane Anders' opening story, "The Aww, jeez. I love Victor LaValle and I'm a sucker for John Joseph Adams' themed anthologies, but this collection was almost a total embarrassment. Given a platform to say their piece about US politics, most of the authors deliver unimaginative single-issue dystopias. And though repetitive, those are preferable to the ones that try to be humorous. "Good News, Bad News" by Charles Yu and "By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker are abominably cringey. And Charlie Jane Anders' opening story, "The Bookstore at the End of America," had me wanting to throw my Kindle against the wall from the get-go. Fortunately, a handful of authors did bring their A game. Maria Dahvana Headley and Daniel H. Wilson tease out some unusual and grim futures. Wilson's "A History Of Barbed Wire" in particular feels like what the anthology was probably aiming for. It's inspired by climate crisis and politics, but it's also a detective story. I was also surprised by Hugh Howey's contribution, "No Algorithms in the World," which takes on an entirely different topic-- universal basic income. By that point in the book, it was kind of a shock to see a story take on a topic inspired by something other than anger or fear. For that, you want "Now Wait For Next Week", Alice Sola Kim's excellent, seething story that puts a sci-fi twist on the #metoo conversation. It's... fucking brilliant, and hell, I could see publishing this whole anthology just to get this story out there. After a book full of warmed-over dystopian tropes, I was completely caught off guard by how creative, angry, and goddamn effective this story was. Now THAT was what I was looking for when I picked this up.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leseparatist

    I read this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for a review. I found this collection oddly depressing and a little disappointing. So many of the stories hinged on heaping the existing prejudices and unfairness - only MORE - and somehow, instead of translating into angry and bright prose, the result, to me at least, seemed to be of tiredness and certain resignation. Which is not to say any one story was this, exactly, but reading about various ways Otherness could be I read this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for a review. I found this collection oddly depressing and a little disappointing. So many of the stories hinged on heaping the existing prejudices and unfairness - only MORE - and somehow, instead of translating into angry and bright prose, the result, to me at least, seemed to be of tiredness and certain resignation. Which is not to say any one story was this, exactly, but reading about various ways Otherness could be oppressed, and humans of the future US could be surveilled and oppressed, rendered the resistance and anger offered by these stories insufficient for me. There were exceptions, of course. Lizz Huerta, Maria Dahvana Headley, Omar El Akkad, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Charles Yu in particular (though I also enjoyed a few more, including Jemisin's story). What is more, the diversity of voices and perspectives was certainly valuable, particularly for readers less familiar with some of the themes the collection showcases. Still, my expectations had been high and this didn't quite work for me as a project, despite its potential. However, it's entirely possible that I am simply not quite the intended audience, and that American readers will get more out of it, considering the huge shadow the current American president casts over the collection and its direction. Perhaps this is a needed response, and the anger it channels will feel more intense or better directed. Perhaps my wavelength wasn't quite right to receive the transmission. But I really want to read more of the authors I listed above, and will look out for their writing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    Some of these stories actually don't work -- they feel too hard like they're trying to address the fucked-up-edness of our present without actually imagining a future. And the collection as a whole is far darker than the jacket copy makes you believe: there's an implication that these are stories imagining a more positive future, and rarely do they achieve that. Nearly every story, even if it brings an ultimately positive spin on things, is coming at it from a place of "it's only going to get Some of these stories actually don't work -- they feel too hard like they're trying to address the fucked-up-edness of our present without actually imagining a future. And the collection as a whole is far darker than the jacket copy makes you believe: there's an implication that these are stories imagining a more positive future, and rarely do they achieve that. Nearly every story, even if it brings an ultimately positive spin on things, is coming at it from a place of "it's only going to get worse from here, even if it then might get better someday." But there are some absolutely superb stories in here, ones that make me proud to be a citizen of this country -- something I haven't necessarily felt in a long time. But when you've got imaginations like these, we can't be too far from turning things around. At least, I hope we aren't.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam (AMNReader)

    A really good collection of short speculative fiction, like really good, and it's only a 4ish for me because I'm awful at anthologies like this (I'm learning I don't like to fall into a narrative style to have it flip <30 pages later.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    I really enjoyed this stunning speculative fiction anthology, created in the wake of our current political climate. I usually find short story collections uneven, but in this case I liked all except for 2-3 of the 25 stories. Standouts for me were N.K. Jemisin’s Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death, Kai Cheng Thom’s What You Sow, Ashok K. Banker’s By His Bootstraps, and Maria Dahvana Headley’s Read After Burning. All of the stories coalesced well around the central theme of the book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    According to the back cover: "[E]ditors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in. "They also asked that the stories be badass." A People's Future of the United States delivers on the first part. This is a collection of According to the back cover: "[E]ditors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in. "They also asked that the stories be badass." A People's Future of the United States delivers on the first part. This is a collection of stories set in a near-future America that deal with issues of race, sex/gender, migration and origin myths, and the pathology of control. The second part, not as successfully. Overall, I would give the book a 2.8 - 3 stars. There's only one story that I would call "bad" - "By His Bootstraps"; all the rest are decent, if not "badass." My favorites were: "Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity" - Malka Older. As a story, it wasn't very engaging. It's excerpts from a history recounting how society moved beyond the nation-state to create a more just society. It's interest comes from the shape of the society suggested by the excerpts. I'd have been more engaged by a story about people creating or living in that society. "Attachment Disorder" - Tananarive Due. An engaging story about a plague survivor, her daughter, and how they survive in a reservation for survivors. "Riverbed" - Omar el Akkad. The strongest part of Akkad's American War (IMO) was his depiction of how a bright, young, good woman becomes a terrorist. In this story, he does the same in service to depicting racism and the blind obtuseness of oppressor and sympathizer. "Calendar Girls" - Justina Ireland. Another engaging story about a young vendor of illegal contraceptives and her role in the comeuppance of a senator. "Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death" - NK Jemisin. Not a profound but an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek account about how an oppressed community turns the tables on their oppressors. One more comment: I was struck by how many of these stories reminded me of movies. "Read After Burning" - Maria Dahvana Headley: Fahrenheit 451 "O.1" - Gabby Rivera: Children of Men "Good News Bad News" - Charles Yu: War Games "Now Wait f0r This Week" - Alice Sola Kim: Groundhog's Day, Happy Death Day (and its sequel) I can't recommend that you rush out and buy a copy but if you run across it in a library or can pick it up super cheap at a book sale, it might be worth your time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ren

    These stories are hit and miss. The hits are like trains coming at you full speed, and the misses are like toddlers trying to throw frisbees at you from thirty feet away. Still: a worthwhile read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    A little while ago, Donald Trump mentioned how colleges and universities could use their funding if they didn’t embrace freedom of speech and have challenged the beliefs of too many students. I think we are meant to read that as student republicans. On one hand, I can see the reason for making sure colleges embrace freedom of speech and sometimes the policing seems a bit overboard – targeting a professor and her husband because she expressed doubt about a cultural approbation policy over A little while ago, Donald Trump mentioned how colleges and universities could use their funding if they didn’t embrace freedom of speech and have challenged the beliefs of too many students. I think we are meant to read that as student republicans. On one hand, I can see the reason for making sure colleges embrace freedom of speech and sometimes the policing seems a bit overboard – targeting a professor and her husband because she expressed doubt about a cultural approbation policy over Halloween costumes. But on the other hand, how common are such instances, and to be honest, most of the stories seem to involve students policing the speech of professors which doesn’t seem to be Trump’s worry. If, as we often do in the classes I teach, analyze an op-ed piece – and that piece just happens to be from Tucker Carlson, then are we in violation even though I point out that CNN also has problems. Additionally, part of schooling is to teach students to support their opinions and think critically while forming them. Does the proposed policy mean that if a student believes the earth is flat, I can’t correct him? If I call a student, her without knowing that the student’s preferred pronoun is it, am I at fault, even though I would have used it if I had known, despite the fact that I think the pronoun it being used to describe a person is insulting and a denial of humanity? Policing of speech, or too much policing of speech, from either side worries me. And Trump’s announcement just feels likes one thing from the dictator’s play book. And that type of thing gives rise to books like this short story collection. LaValle and Adam’s collection is a bit heavier on the dystopia than a hopeful future, though there are hopeful stories. Many of the stories are open ended, such as “The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders, a story that tackles extremes of each side and showcases the power of literature. Others are more definite in their ending. Some, like Due’s “Attachment Disorder” relay on both a mysterious beginning and that open-ended end. Though the mysterious beginnings contain hints of what could have happened. There are stories like “It Was Saturday Night, I Guess that Makes it All Right” that address what seems to be a change in the government’s view of homosexuality and transgender. (and yes, that story is also homage to Prince). Perhaps the most powerful is “Referendum” by Lesly Nneka Arimah, a short story that deals with racism as well as different types of fighting back and standing up. “Riverbed” by Omar El Akkad is perhaps the short story that could be in the immediate future, but also harkens back to treatment of Japanese Americans and Native Americans. “Calendar Girls” by Justina Ireland is a must read for anyone who likes the Handmaid’s Tale, though the short story is far more than simple nod to Atwood’s novel. Like the novel, however, it does deal with a future that has its roots in events and rules of the past. Hugh Howey and Ashok K Bahr deal directly with Orange Buffon himself. I preferred Bahr’s story because of the use of what you don’t know what you are getting idea. “Good News, Bad News” is also extremely good, especially with the format that is used to deliver the story. And there are even dragons, in N. K. Jemisin’s tale.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Victor LaValle’s and John Joseph Adams’s edited collection of speculative fiction, A People’s History of the United States, has a brilliant premise. As LaValle explains in his introduction, the title riffs on Howard Zinn’s A People's History of the United States (1980), which, in the words of the jacket copy, was the first book ‘to tell America’s story from the point of view of – and in the words of – America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and Victor LaValle’s and John Joseph Adams’s edited collection of speculative fiction, A People’s History of the United States, has a brilliant premise. As LaValle explains in his introduction, the title riffs on Howard Zinn’s A People's History of the United States (1980), which, in the words of the jacket copy, was the first book ‘to tell America’s story from the point of view of – and in the words of – America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers.’ Whether or not this historiographical claim is true, LaValle and Adams used this famous text as a jumping-off point for this collection. They, LaValle writes, ‘decided to ask a gang of incredible writers to imagine the years, decades, even the centuries, to come. And to have tales told by those, and/or about those, who history often sees fit to forget.’ The jacket copy of this book doubles down on LaValle’s framing, suggesting that: ‘Knowing that imagining a brighter tomorrow has always been an act of resistance, [the editors] asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in.’ My disappointment with the majority of this collection, therefore, stems both from the fact that most of the stories here don’t do this, and the fact that the stories that do are almost always head and shoulders above their predictable dystopian counterparts. [Read the rest of this review on my blog: https://drlauratisdall.wordpress.com/...] 3.5 stars: so hard to rate as the stories range from 1-star to 5-star, but the mediocre outnumber the brilliant.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    October usually calls for scary reads. And, as if reading news alone wasn’t doing the trick, somehow I managed to read not one but two dystopian anthologies inspired by the news. First one was Welcome to Dystopia and objectively this one is a considerably superior of the two. Wherein the first was a sort of knee jerk reaction, lacking maturity and subtlety, this one mostly (mostly) does have that much needed maturity and subtlety. Partially because it was edited by two experts (with a very good October usually calls for scary reads. And, as if reading news alone wasn’t doing the trick, somehow I managed to read not one but two dystopian anthologies inspired by the news. First one was Welcome to Dystopia and objectively this one is a considerably superior of the two. Wherein the first was a sort of knee jerk reaction, lacking maturity and subtlety, this one mostly (mostly) does have that much needed maturity and subtlety. Partially because it was edited by two experts (with a very good foreword by LaValle), partially because of a terrific author line up. In fact, interestingly enough since I read a lot of anthologies and surprisingly this isn’t always the case, here the rule of thumb was the more known the author, the more enjoyable the story. Without exceptions. So it started off very nicely, then got dragged down into that overtly sincere all for the cause territory, then upgraded with some recognizable names and genuinely interesting takes on the possible futures, then got really good toward the end and then stayed one story too long. Over the course of this book I was able to revisit some of the previously enjoyed author, try out some of the ones I knew of and haven’t read yet and…let’s say sit through some of the unknown ones. It appears that the editors’ intent was to be as inclusive as possible both with the author and themes, so this book offers a veritable cornucopia of nonbinary, nontraditional, multiracial, convention free characters and all the strange new worlds their creators throw them in. Actually this might be the first time I’ve read about persons using them pronoun in fiction and this is definitely going to take some getting used to. Obviously the need to self identify in a manner that’s most befitting is important, but it reads confusingly, because as a pronoun it has been used to denote plurality for so long and now it is made to work for both many and individual alike and that might be too much work for one small pronoun. In one story there’s actually a new pronoun used, nir, strange and new but at least easier to read. But anyway, back to the book…I actually think the all inclusive, something for everyone line up might have been a detractor, because it led to a sort of quantity over quality thing going on. This was almost like two books merged into one. So if you’re buying it, you’ll get your money’s worth, but reading it as a free ARC it kind of dragged and took much too long to get through. The good, the really good stories, very interspersed with mediocre ones. And while reading anthologies is usually a reliable source of discovering new authors, this one was more along the lines of reminding the reader while sometimes it’s good to stick with what you know, in this instance going for recognizable names. Although it’s entirely possible that reading two such similar books in the same month wasn’t a great idea, too many stories too close to reality, too depressing altogether. And I do read the news daily, which sort of takes care of feeding that pessimistic attitude, so with fiction I want more, it doesn’t have to be all glitter and rainbows, but it has to elevate reality to other, more interesting and original levels that mere imagination can. So in conclusion…there are some great, engaging and original stories here and some good ones and some that are just ok. This collection might have been improved with some tighter editing, but if it’s a variety you’re after for your dystopian bleakness, this would certainly work. Thanks Netgalley.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Poonam

    What a vibrant and thought provoking collection of stories! This collection gives voice to a very diverse group of authors - it runs the spectrum of ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender orientation - and imagines a world where the resistance to oppression, patriarchy and white supremacy is thriving. I was fascinated by the worlds that were created, devouring each page, and found myself laughing and smirking along the way. For a non sci-fi reader, this book is very accessible (which I hope What a vibrant and thought provoking collection of stories! This collection gives voice to a very diverse group of authors - it runs the spectrum of ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender orientation - and imagines a world where the resistance to oppression, patriarchy and white supremacy is thriving. I was fascinated by the worlds that were created, devouring each page, and found myself laughing and smirking along the way. For a non sci-fi reader, this book is very accessible (which I hope isn’t a deterrent for those who love the genre). As with any collection, some stories are stronger than others. And in this case, I thought the majority were pretty average. Where this book shines is in the number of distinct and diverse voices that are given a platform to spin their tales and share their vision of a future from their own perspective. This book gave me a lot to think about, and broadened my awareness of the different ways lives are impacted. It’s a powerful statement for more inclusivity in publishing and gives me hope that this opens more doors for authors and stories that don’t fit into a narrowly defined box. A few of my favorite stories were from Malka Older, Justina Ireland, and Alice Sola Kim. A PEOPLE’S FUTURE OF THE UNITED STATES is a surprisingly uplifting read and I highly recommend it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    A collection of short stories themed around the ideals of Howard Zinn's legendary A People’s History of the United States – history told from the viewpoint of the disadvantaged –except that this time it's, you know, the future and also fictional. Honestly I picked this up mostly because LaValle was one of the editors and after his The Ballad of Black Tom I will forever read anything LaValle is involved in. Unfortunately it turns out that he didn't write any of the stories here. Oh, well. His A collection of short stories themed around the ideals of Howard Zinn's legendary A People’s History of the United States – history told from the viewpoint of the disadvantaged – except that this time it's, you know, the future and also fictional. Honestly I picked this up mostly because LaValle was one of the editors and after his The Ballad of Black Tom I will forever read anything LaValle is involved in. Unfortunately it turns out that he didn't write any of the stories here. Oh, well. His introduction was good? The stories themselves varied in quality, as anthologies tend to do. Though in this case the stories I disliked outnumbered the ones I did; there's nothing exactly bad in this collection, but there are quite a few stories indistinguishable from the sort of extremely earnest tumblr posts in which the good people are Very Good and Very Oppressed and the villains are Very Bigoted and Very Mean and after some struggles Our Heroes are recognized as Beacons of Pure shining Innocent Goodness and probably the crowd applauds. And, I mean... bigots and oppression are bad! I'm happy to see villains get their comeuppance! It's just that I'd like it even better if everything could be a little less one-dimensional and boring. Thankfully not every story was quite so checkbox-woke. Let me tell you about the ones I did enjoy: The Wall by Lizz Huerta. Brujas are real and are being born in increasing numbers, as humanity's instinctive attempt to heal itself after catastrophic climate change and chemical pollution. They are mostly present in Mexico, which leads to Americans smuggling themselves south (which, yes, very clever, but if it was a plot point in a Roland Emmerich movie 15 years ago, it's not exactly the cutting edge of political satire). The US government obviously does not approve, so it doses its entire military with obedience-drugs in the drinking water to force them to commit war crimes. In this setting, Ivette (a bruja) has a secret relationship with her cousin Surem (the leader of a violent drug cartel which has also taken over running large portions of the local government), and between bouts of sex they fight about the ethics of rehabilitating mind-controlled US soldiers. This is all fascinating and some incredible world-building! Unfortunately it desperately needed to be at least an entire book, or maybe even a series of books, and not crammed into six pages. Hopefully someday Huerta will write the longer version. Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity [excerpted] by Malka Older is a fascinating experiment in style, supposedly an academic article on "futurist histories" (apparently histories of potential but not yet realized futures?), focusing on a twitter community's experiment with grassroots democracy. I have absolutely spent enough time online to laugh in recognition at the group's troubles, although the odd mix of tenses required by the very idea of futurist history occasionally made getting through individual sentences a slog. It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right by Sam J. Miller. Caul is a gay man in an America where being gay is incredibly illegal. Caul also has an intense crush on his coworker, which he represses via anonymous street sex. Unfortunately, in one of these encounters Caul catches a metaphysical STD in which sex transports him to a terrifying alternative dimension, but one where he might be able to control a great deal of power. Homophobic dystopias aren't a new concept (and show up repeatedly in A People's Future of the United States), but Miller's writing was vivid and specific enough to make this my favorite of the several examples here. Riverbed by Omar El Akkad. The US government imprisons all of its Muslim (and Sikh, due to confusion) citizens in camps – in what is a quite clear allusion to the Japanese internment camps – supposedly to protect them from racist attacks. Decades later, Khadija Singh returns to the camp where she was imprisoned as a child (which has since been turned into a peace memorial; Akkad's portrayal of this is wonderfully cynical) to claim the belongings of her brother who died in an escape attempt. Her grief and rage, and the incompetent bureaucracy she has to face, are all incredibly well-written. Calendar Girls by Justine Ireland. All forms of birth-control have been made illegal, so Alyssa (a teenager, since you can't try minors as an adult) sells packets of The Pill on a street corner in Manhattan. That is, she does until a leading pro-life senator blackmails her into helping his daughter get an abortion, because hypocrisy reigns eternal. Calendar Girls promptly transforms itself into a very clever heist story, and I loved Ireland's sense of humor in the narration. The Blindfold by Tobias S Bucknell. It's well-known that race and gender influences jurors – a black man is more likely to receive a longer sentence for a crime than a white man, all other factors being equal. How to fix this? Force jurors to wear headsets that randomize the defendant's appearance, of course! The unnamed narrator is a hacker who, for the right amount of money, will make sure that in your case, you get that sweet, sweet jackpot of "white male" appearance. Unfortunately, his latest bout of hacking attracts the attention of the Russian government, which promptly begins trying to assassinate him. Bucknell's writing is funny and quick-paced and has a great twist of an ending. Good News Bad News by Charles Yu. This isn't even really a short story so much as a series of excerpts from sci-fi themed articles from The Onion, but it made me laugh harder than anything else in A People's Future of the United States, so who cares. Excerpts: An earlier edition of this story quoted Jeff Bezos as CEO of AmazonGoogleFace. Technically, the quote should be attributed to “Jeff Bezos Version 3, LLC, an incorporeal person organized under the laws of Delaware” as the legal heir and cognitive descendant of the human known as Jeff Bezos. *** These latest changes to the tax code, expected to disproportionately benefit the largest and wealthiest corporations, were passed by the R-Bot in a 1–1 vote against the D-Bot in the Robo-Congress-O-Matic 5000, with the tie being broken by the tie-breaking algorithm, all of this taking place, as usual, inside a four-foot-by-three-foot black box inside of the U.S. protectorate satellite in geosynchronous orbit above Washington, D.C. *** “We’ve long been silent in the face of unspeakable acts. Deforestation. Clear-cutting. Toxins in the soil,” said Eondo’or, an eighty-foot, six-hundred-year-old redwood and senior representative to the U.N. for Kingdom Plantae. “Not to mention getting peed on by drunk people. Now Wait for This Week by Alice Sola Kim. Bonnie, a self-centered rich white girl with a habit of victim-blaming who lives in present-day NYC, gets trapped in a time-loop, doomed to repeat the same week over and over again, ad infinitum. Bonnie reacts to this in various hilarious and/or tragic ways: attempting to go viral by predicting the future (at least seven days of it), starting a dark magic cult, learning new languages and traveling, denouncing all her friends, becoming much closer to all her friends, aging a terrifyingly unknown amount. Now Wait for This Week, however, is actually narrated by Bonnie's roommate, who has no idea that she and everyone else on Earth are trapped in the same week, and just occasionally thinks to herself, "huh, Bonnie seems different today". It's all a metaphor for the #MeToo movement ("the actor many of us loved would be revealed as a leering terrible date who expected sex as his due and took no for an answer only temporarily before starting up the sex stuff yet again until he took no for an answer only temporarily and so on until the woman gave up."), but is also just a fantastic conceit written fantastically well. It was BY FAR my favorite story in the book, so good job ending on a winner, A People's Future of the United States! Anthologies of Resistance-themed speculative fiction have been something of a wave this year (just on my own bookshelf, there's also New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color and How Long 'til Black Future Month?). Which is great! But given that we have available such a diversity of options, I would recommend pushing A People's Future of the United States to the bottom of your reading list. It's just too uneven with too frequent annoying stories. Plus, hey, you can read Now Wait for This Week online! So why bother with the rest? I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    There are people that will be angry about this book, and fuck 'em. This collection details a United States that could be- one that often times seems frighteningly real, given the current political climate. Some of the best science fiction writers today are gathered in one place, presenting stories never before been told. Sometimes they can be a bit obvious- but that's obvious to me, a woman who lives near San Francisco, safely ensconced in a fairly liberal bubble and with a comfortable degree of There are people that will be angry about this book, and fuck 'em. This collection details a United States that could be- one that often times seems frighteningly real, given the current political climate. Some of the best science fiction writers today are gathered in one place, presenting stories never before been told. Sometimes they can be a bit obvious- but that's obvious to me, a woman who lives near San Francisco, safely ensconced in a fairly liberal bubble and with a comfortable degree of privilege. They are important tales none the less, and each one is entertaining as hell. Rare for a collection, there's no single weak point, no story that shines less than the rest. I don't even want to call out any strong points, because they were all so good that I think they all deserve a read. This book should absolutely be required reading. It teaches empathy and understanding. It shows what can happen to marginalized communities should the worst come to pass- and sometimes what can still happen even when things go well. There was, however, one glaring omission- none of the stories tackle a future for those with physical disabilities. For a volume that otherwise manages to hit so many other intersections, it's particularly blatant- these possible tomorrows are just as scary for us as they are for anyone else in the volume. Hopefully there will be a volume two, and hopefully this will be corrected in the future. None the less, you should pick this book up. You should give it to your teenagers, your undecided voters, even your 'woke' friends. This is a book that should be taught in schools and given out at polling places. It's by far one of the best that I've read this year, and come 2019 it's truly going to make a splash.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    The editors challenged 25 writers to bring narratives "that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in." The contributors are a stellar who's who in the currently writing realm of speculative fiction. Many of these stories are near history, which makes the changes in the narrative from now to then feel approachable. In a few years, we could move into the more restrictive country imagined in some stories, and the The editors challenged 25 writers to bring narratives "that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in." The contributors are a stellar who's who in the currently writing realm of speculative fiction. Many of these stories are near history, which makes the changes in the narrative from now to then feel approachable. In a few years, we could move into the more restrictive country imagined in some stories, and the writers demonstrate how we'd be complicit if we take our gaze away. With as many subtle changes, we could be living in a more peaceful inclusion. All are excellent storytelling; I wouldn't abandon one of these. There are writers included that I will read more. I curated my reading, beginning with writers I didn't know, taking my time getting acquainted, and ending with favorites. Thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jypsy

    I'm not a fan of short story collections, and I never read them. The title of this anthology caught my attention, and as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to try this one. I'm glad I did because this is an amazing collection of stories by some of the best authors. All 25 stories are speculative fiction exploring the future of the United States. They run the spectrum from women's rights, race, to plague, robotic takeover, brainwashing and government control. Some are more plausible than others. I'm not a fan of short story collections, and I never read them. The title of this anthology caught my attention, and as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to try this one. I'm glad I did because this is an amazing collection of stories by some of the best authors. All 25 stories are speculative fiction exploring the future of the United States. They run the spectrum from women's rights, race, to plague, robotic takeover, brainwashing and government control. Some are more plausible than others. It's frightening, however, to realize every story is possible on some level. Some are bleak. Some are hopeful. Just like reality. If you are hesitant about reading this collection, don't be. It's well written and worth the time. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    A great collection of short stories that speculate on the future of the United States...or whatever it becomes. The stories by Charlie Jane Anders, Tananarive Due, N. K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older, and G. Willow Wilson show why these authors had and deserve large audiences and followings. All of the stories feature "badass" characters, as requested by the editors, and they all do deliver, from people who keep information free and available to those who physically protect others. A great collection of short stories that speculate on the future of the United States...or whatever it becomes. The stories by Charlie Jane Anders, Tananarive Due, N. K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older, and G. Willow Wilson show why these authors had and deserve large audiences and followings. All of the stories feature "badass" characters, as requested by the editors, and they all do deliver, from people who keep information free and available to those who physically protect others. This will make a great gift for readers who want tightly written dystopic fiction in which there are still threads of hope.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shauna Sorensen

    I love Victor LaValle, so I was so excited to see this anthology--especially when I saw the list of writers who contributed to it (N.K. Jemisin?!) This really didn't disappoint. As with any anthology, there were a couple that weren't quite my cup of tea, but all in all, I thought this was a really incredible read and enjoyed all of the stories in different ways. But, I will say it was tough to read an entire anthology of speculative fiction that hits so close to home.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marshall Boyd

    There are some really good stories in here. Overall, I think the collection missed the mark in terms of what it set out to do. Many of the stories don't feel like a future of the United States. This doesn't mean the stories are bad; I enjoyed reading them but they are missing a connection with Howard Zinn's important book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Calling it quits at 34%. This anthology just isn't jiving with me and I haven't really enjoyed any of the seven (out of 20+) stories I've read thus far. I'm finding it hard to want to pick this book up any more and keep reading, so I'm throwing in the towel. No rating.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    I read a short story that is included in this volume, called “The Bookstore at the End of the World”. The bookstore is called The First and Last Page. It has two entrances, two walkways leading to it. It is the only store like it, with entry and exit from two different countries, America, and California. America is ruled by strict rigid religious doctrine and laws, and where, supposedly, rape victims are imprisoned, and racism is rampant. California is an opposite extreme, where anything goes, I read a short story that is included in this volume, called “The Bookstore at the End of the World”. The bookstore is called The First and Last Page. It has two entrances, two walkways leading to it. It is the only store like it, with entry and exit from two different countries, America, and California. America is ruled by strict rigid religious doctrine and laws, and where, supposedly, rape victims are imprisoned, and racism is rampant. California is an opposite extreme, where anything goes, and where, allegedly, drugs, prostitution, and crime of all sorts is proliferating. The bookstore proprietor, Molly, and her daughter Phoebe, have dual citizenship, and the bookstore tries to carry books that will appeal to a very broad spectrum of readers. At the time of the story, a military conflict is brewing between the two countries, and tempers on both sides are on the rise. Molly and Phoebe are trying to calm the tempers that are flaring in the bookstore. This was a creative story, and one I would like to see expanded into a longer piece. It is a good introduction to this volume, and to this author. This meets challenge #5 in the group A Book for All Seasons, to read a short story or novella.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review. This anthology is a who's who in current science fiction and fantasy writing. The stories are varied and all well written with various takes on the future of American culture and society. There are stories about everything from a book store that stands firmly on the dividing line between The United States and the country of California, to one about a world where contraception is Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review. This anthology is a who's who in current science fiction and fantasy writing. The stories are varied and all well written with various takes on the future of American culture and society. There are stories about everything from a book store that stands firmly on the dividing line between The United States and the country of California, to one about a world where contraception is outlawed, and feminists are considered terrorists. Even amid the various stories, there seems to be a thread of hope: hope for a better future, a dream of escape from the horrible now, hope at love, or a world that understands us. That is important in a collection such as this because without hope a collection of stories about the vagaries of the human condition could be depressing. This book isn't. Standout must-reads for this collection are "The Book Store at the End of America" by Charlie Jane Anders. A story about what divides us can ultimately bring us together and "The Synapse will Free Us From Ourselves" by Violet Allen. Allen's story is about high tech gay conversion therapy. It is sad, scary, and poignant. Check out this collection, you will be happy you did.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Camp

    This collection was great. Tough to read at times, given the current state of the world, but absolutely worth it. Overall, there was far more hope and defiance in these pages than despair, which I greatly appreciated. Some of my favorites were the stories written by Sam J. Miller, Tananarive Due, N.K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, and Daniel H. Wilson.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This is a good collection of dystopian fiction that riffs on current issues in our world: immigration, xenophobia, misogyny, and so on. My favorite story was "Now Wait For This Week" by Alice Sola Kim, which was more speculative science fiction than dystopian. What would you do if you lived the same week over and over? How would you convince your friends that this was happening to you? What would you do with that week? That is always an interesting subject for me to think about. Short story This is a good collection of dystopian fiction that riffs on current issues in our world: immigration, xenophobia, misogyny, and so on. My favorite story was "Now Wait For This Week" by Alice Sola Kim, which was more speculative science fiction than dystopian. What would you do if you lived the same week over and over? How would you convince your friends that this was happening to you? What would you do with that week? That is always an interesting subject for me to think about. Short story collections are always a pleasant diversion but leave me hungry for a full-length novel.

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