How to Live On Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens

Edited by Joanne Merriam. Upper Rubber Boot, $13.99 trade paper (386p) ISBN 978-1-937794-32-3
Merriam’s interesting premise, a speculative fiction anthology of stories and poems “focusing exclusively on the immigrant experience,” isn’t matched by the uneven contributions. The highlight is Bogi Takács’s “The Tiny English–Hungarian Phrasebook for Visiting Extraterrestrials,” which offers a translation for phrases like “Please do not touch me. My tentacles produce a neurotoxin.” Tom Greene’s “Zero Bar” explores racial tolerance in a future where a child’s skin color can be adjusted through gene therapy, creating a dilemma for parents who want their children to grow up without being the victims of prejudice. Erica L. Satifka’s “Sea Changes” builds powerfully on its evocative opening: “The room my father dies in is green: green like his eyes, green like the carpet of the house we used to live in, when we lived under the sea.” But other entries are just underdeveloped concepts, and much of the poetry is opaque or overwrought. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/26/2015
Genre: Fiction
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