cover image The Past Is Red

The Past Is Red

Catherynne M. Valente., $20.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-250-30113-0

Valente expands on her 2016 short story “The Future Is Blue” with an entertaining and moving peregrination that sometimes raises more questions than it answers. In “The Future Is Blue,” reprinted here, 19-year-old Tetley Abednego recounts the events that made her “the most hated girl in Garbagetown,” a far-future settlement built on an island of floating garbage. In the title novella, Tetley is 29 and still Garbagetown’s star dissident: while others dream of a 21st-century-style life of ease, Tetley loves her life in Garbagetown in spite of the ostracization that has forced her to strike out on her own, and she refuses to sacrifice Garbagetown’s stability to chase a misguided fantasy of dry land. In the course of her wandering, she finds love and discovers a shocking secret about her world. Tetley’s distinctive voice and cheerful resilience in the face of misfortune make her a delightful guide through this bleak future, but her mistreatment by nearly everyone she encounters, along with her excoriations of humans of the past (the “fuckwits”), makes for a melancholy reading experience. This volume will appeal to fans of Valente’s characteristic vivid prose and anyone wanting a sketch of what might remain after the climate apocalypse. [em](July) [/em]