Deserts of Fire: Speculative Fiction and the Modern War

Edited by Douglas Lain. Night Shade, $15.99 trade paper (370p) ISBN 978-1-59780-852-1
Grouped in categories named with the rhetoric of modern warfare—"Weapons of Mass Destruction," "Shock, Awe, and Combat," "Terrorism," etc.—the 21 stories in this anthology ably demonstrate the imaginative possibilities of war as a theme in contemporary speculative fiction. The best selections explore the emotional and psychological impact of war on its participants. Ken Liu's "In the Loop" concerns a roboticist who programs drones; her conscientiousness paradoxically makes them more effective killers. In Linda Nagata's haunting "Light and Shadow," a soldier discovers that her combat telemetry is suppressing violent emotions that later erupt at home. In James Morrow's mordantly satirical "Arms and the Woman," a frantic Helen of Troy discovers the folly of trying to prevent war between armies who believe that "any pretext for war can be made to seem reasonable." In his introductory notes, Lain (After the Saucers Landed) sometimes overexplains what the stories are "about," but his selections prove that the best speculative fiction, no matter how futuristic, is always about the here and now. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2016
Release date: 07/01/2016
Open Ebook - 372 pages - 978-1-59780-861-3
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