cover image Jeff Sturgeon’s Last Cities of Earth

Jeff Sturgeon’s Last Cities of Earth

Edited by Jennifer Brozek and Jeff Sturgeon. WordFire, $48.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-68057-255-1

This shared-world anthology of 14 stories, from both well-known and no-less-talented lesser-known authors, maximizes its conceit’s potential: that in the final decades of the 21st century, life on Earth effectively ends following the eruption of a megavolcano under Yellowstone. The catastrophe, which wreaks havoc on the environment and causes a new ice age, had been anticipated, and countries around the world employ newly discovered anti-gravity technology to move a fraction of their populations to floating cities. Despite that, about 90% of humanity perishes in the following decades. Over two centuries later, “flying fortresses, the city-states of a fractured world, are now scattered around the earth like a child’s abandoned toys” (“A Brief Timeline for the Last Cities of Earth” by Sturgeon). The contributors—including Cat Rambo (“Snowflakes”), David Gerrold (“Jack and Jill Went up the Hill”), and writing duos Mike Resnick and Andrea Stewart (“Tipping the Scales”) and Kevin J. Anderson and Sam Knight (“Following Icarus Down”)—riff on these separate communities and their efforts to both remain secure and connect with others, a desire complicated by the expanded use of genetic engineering. Every entry is top-notch, managing to balance creative imaginings with moments of true humanity. There are enough riches here to justify further explorations of this same future. (Jan.)