cover image Welcome to Dystopia

Welcome to Dystopia

Edited by Gordon Van Gelder. OR Books, $22 trade paper (406p) ISBN 978-1-68219-126-2

The 45 original stories in this volume achieve their objectives laudably, presenting bleak dystopic near-futures that are firmly rooted in the here and now. Though several are written with tongue in cheek—among them Jay Russell’s amusing depiction of an overly politically correct Manhattan in “Statues of Limitations” and Ron Goulart’s giddy “The Amazing Transformation of the White House Dog”—most are marinated in the rhetoric of the current presidency and extrapolate grim possibilities from present-day headline issues: nightmarish airport deportations in Michael Libling’s “Sneakers,” the Mexican border wall and its cruel consequences in Janis Ian’s “His Sweat like Stars on the Rio Grande,” America’s despoiling through ecological and nuclear irresponsibility in Robert Reed’s “Suffocation,” and the denial of female reproductive rights by a patriarchal authoritarian regime in Jane Yolen’s poem “Handmaid’s Tale.” Most of the stories are brief, written in the form of e-mails, texts, memos—even a letter to Van Gelder (who publishes and formerly edited Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine) in Barry N. Malzberg’s “January 2018”—that encourage the reader to imagine the grim greater context for their content. This is a bracing collection of short, sharp shocks, all of which stimulate and some of which stun. (Feb.)