cover image Near + Far

Near + Far

Cat Rambo. Hydra (, $14.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-0-9848301-4-5

PW reviewer Rambo offers, in her two-part collection of 24 short stories, tales of despair—and a few of triumph—in the near and far futures. Her characters, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, struggle against systems stacked against them; some tales, such as “Do the Right Thing,” end ambiguously, leaving readers to decide whether to fear that the stacked deck will crush the protagonist or hope that the hero will overcome. Others, such as “Memories of Moments, Bright as Falling Stars,” show that even succeeding against the odds comes with a tragic price. Several of the stories, including “VOCOBOX,” confront how women’s voices can be taken from them; the fantastic story “Timesnip” is the only one that offers those women hope for the future. The lighthearted “Kallakak’s Cousins” and “Zeppelin Follies” lighten up the otherwise heavy collection. Rambo’s poststory notes are as engaging as the strong, thought-provoking stories, and she’s an undeniably talented prose stylist and world-builder, but taken as a whole, this tour of misery and ambiguity is hard to love. (Sept.)