Book Cover
Title Brave New Worlds
Series ---
Editor John Joseph Adams
Cover Art Cody Tilson
Publisher Night Shade Books
First Printing Night Shade Books
Category Anthology
Warnings None

Main Characters

See below

Main Elements Dystopian Societies

  • The Lottery — Shirley Jackson
  • Red Card — S. L. Gilbow
  • Ten With a Flag — Joseph Paul Haines
  • The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas — Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment — M. Rickert
  • The Funeral — Kate Wilhelm
  • O Happy Day! — Geoff Ryman
  • Pervert — Charles Coleman Finlay
  • From Homogenous to Honey — Neil Gaiman & Bryan Talbot
  • Billennium — J. G. Ballard
  • Amaryllis — Carrie Vaughn
  • Pop Squad — Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Auspicious Eggs — James Morrow
  • Peter Skilling — Alex Irvine
  • The Pedestrian — Ray Bradbury
  • The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away — Cory Doctorow
  • The Pearl Diver — Caitlνn R. Kiernan
  • Dead Space for the Unexpected — Geoff Ryman
  • “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman — Harlan Ellison
  • Is This Your Day to Join the Revolution? — Genevieve Valentine
  • Independence Day — Sarah Langan
  • The Lunatics — Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Sacrament — Matt Williamson
  • The Minority Report — Philip K. Dick
  • Just Do It — Heather Lindsley
  • Harrison Bergeron — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • Caught in the Organ Draft — Robert Silverberg
  • Geriatric Ward — Orson Scott Card
  • Arties Aren’t Stupid — Jeremiah Tolbert
  • Jordan’s Waterhammer — Joe Mastroianni
  • Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs — Adam-Troy Castro
  • Resistance — Tobias S. Buckell
  • Civilization — Vylar Kaftan

From Huxley's Brave New World, to Orwell's 1984, to Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, dystopian books have always been an integral part of both science fiction and literature, and have influenced the broader culture discussion in unique and permanent ways. Brave New Worlds brings together the best dystopian fiction of the last 30 years, demonstrating the diversity that flourishes in this compelling subgenre. This landmark tome contains stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Cory Doctorow, M. Rickert, Paolo Bacigalupi, Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, and many others

One person's Utopia is another person's Dystopia.

After I watched The Hunger Games movie, I was suddenly in the mood for more Dystopian literature, after all 1984 and Farenheit 451 are two of my favorite novels. So when I found this anthology on the Baen Free Library, I was quick to put it on my new Sony eReader I got at Christmas. Now, this copy only contained a selection of the stories from the original anthology (apparently not available in paper form but can be bought as an eBook still).

Now before I begin, I find that Dystopian tales lend well to being short stories. The author is forced to introduce the reader to his world and it's rules, and the characters that must survive in it, using very few pages. They get to the point quickly and the stories usually end in a way that really forces you to think on the main topic exposed. I found the stories to be hit or miss, though overall most were quite good.

"Amaryllis" rightfully had a disclaimer that it wasn't your standard dystopia. Aside from having very strict rules about breeding due to overpopulation, they characters actually live fairly happy lives. I didn't much care for it, perhaps because I was looking for something a little darker to start with. And to my confusion, I could have sworn the main character was a guy. At some point "he's" in bed with another guy, which frankly made a lot of sense if you'd get in a lot of trouble if you produced a child, but in the end turns out it was a girl after all.

"The Things that make me Weak and Strange get Engineered Away" is more of a classic dystopia, where the main character lives in a monastary whose purpose is to analyze the masses of data collected through various means that keep an eye on what everyone does. They track where you go, what you do, who you meet. But every now and then, there is an Anomaly in the data, someone changed something, and Lawrence returns to the normal world to find out what went wrong in his data stream, only to discover that sometimes someone does watch the watchers...

"Is This Your Day to Join the Revolution?" focuses on propaganda. Here people live in fear of the Disease, though no one quite seems to know what this disease is, or anyone who might have caught it. Dutifully they take their medication from booths set up in the streets. But then someone tries to get the truth out there...

"Just Do It" takes advertising to a new level. Chemicals have been discovered that can control your cravings, so while walking down the street you need to beware snipers with darts that will give you insatiable urges for french fries or pizza. Certainly couldn't hurt the gyms where you would need to work off those extra calories. And what if it isn't just the revolutionaries who are working on the antidotes?

"Arties aren't Stupid" has a take on genetic engineering. Arties are people genetically engineered to be good at art, sculpture and Making. In fact, when they can't find a piece of chalk and a sidewalk to doodle on they are actually in physical pain. They were created, but then they got annoying, drawing on public buildings and private homes, so they have to steal supplies and find places to draw. There are others too, like Brainiacs whose heads are so large they can hardly hold them up, or Melodies who can't really speak anymore because they always sing. I really like this one as it was told from the POV of one of the Arties.

"Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs". I swear the title is long than the story! But it was perhaps one of the most disturbing, examining the price one must pay for Utopia. People bored of their regular lives can take a vacation at Enysburg, enjoying nice days of bliss, no responsibilities, drinking, dancing, nature and music. Anything you want. I had visions of Pinocchio's Pleasure Island, and just like that island, on the tenth day, you must live through something worse than death.

"Resistance" really struck me, given what was going on in politics around the world these days. In Greece it is against the law not to vote, but here in North America, voter turn out is pitiful. Now imagine you live in a society where everyone must vote on everything. And I mean everything, like what day to pick up the garbage, who should you trade with, whether or not to build something new. The people got tired of constantly being bombarded with things they needed to vote on, so they wrote programs that would encompass they likes, dislikes, habits, and so forth, that would vote for them. Sounds great, until those little entities got together and voted to be ruled by a single entity which represented by a cumulation of all of them, the artificial intelligence called Pan. Now no one votes, and Pan rules everything. But Pan is you, and it's your neighbour, and your friend, and your brother. It represents all those people that want to be ruled by an entity such as this, and all those people that, well, don't. Which leads to an interesting dilema...

"Civilization" was very odd. Written in the form of a Choose your Own Adventure, you can choose between Dystopia and Utopia, War and Peace, a society based on Traditional values or on Radicalism. And yet, no matter which way you go (as is familiar to anyone who has read a Choose your own Adventure novel before) you kind of end up in the same place. Was rather hard to read on a eReader where flipping pages is not convenient so I had to read through it sequentially, trying to keep the different paths in my head. Ultimately, ends up being rather depressing. Makes you wonder if there is any hope for our species or are we doomed to run in a hamster wheel of different types of civilizations each looking better than the last but in the end, being the same ones we saw before.

I was disappointed my free copy didn't include The Lottery. I had read that one in high school and was touted in the introduction of the book as one of the classic Dystopian stories. I still remember it, but would have loved a refresher. Also would have loved to read the tales by Ursula K. Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, and Ray Bradbury. Might have to get the full book after all!

Main Characters: Marie, Nina
First Published:Lightspeed Magazine - 2010
"The Things that make me Weak and Strange get Engineered Away"
Main Characters: Lawrence
First - 2008
"Is This Your Day to Join the Revolution?"
Main Characters: Liz, Greg
First Published:Futurismic- 2009
"Just Do It"
Main Characters: Alex
First Published:The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - 2006
"Arties aren't Stupid"
Main Characters: Mona
First Published:Seeds of Change - 2008
"Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs"
Main Characters: Robert, Caralys
First Published:Imaginings - 2003
Main Characters: Stanuel, Pepper, Pan
First Published:Seeds of Change - 2008
Main Characters: NA
First Published:Glorifying Terrorism - 2007

Posted: May 2012


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