Book Cover
Title Drowned Worlds
Series ---
Editor Jonathan Strahan
Cover Art ---
Publisher Solaris - 2016
First Printing Solaris - 2016
Category Anthology
Warnings None

Main Characters

See below

Main Elements Post-Apocalypse

  • Elves Of Antarctica - Paul McAuley
  • Dispatches From The Cradle: The Hermit – Forty-Eight Hours In The Sea Of Massachusetts - Ken Liu
  • Venice Drowned - Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Brownsville Station - Christopher Rowe
  • Who Do You Love? - Kathleen Ann Goonan
  • Because Change Was The Ocean And We Lived by Her Mercy - by Charlie Jane Anders
  • The Common Tongue, The Present Tense, The Known - Nina Allan
  • What Is - Jeffrey Ford
  • Destroyed by The Waters - Rachel Swirsky
  • The New Venusians - Sean Williams
  • Inselberg - Nalo Hopkinson
  • Only Ten More Shopping Days Left Till Ragnarök - James Morrow
  • Last Gods - Sam J. Miller
  • Drowned - Lavie Tidhar
  • The Future Is Blue - Catherynne M. Valente

The brand new anthology from multi-award winning editor Jonathan Strahan, featuring stories set in futures wracked by the deluge, from some the best writers in SF, including Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken Liu, Paul McAuley, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Charlie Jane Anders, Lavie Tidhar, Jeffrey Ford, and James Morrow.

We stand at the beginning of one of the greatest ecological disasters in the time on Man. The world is warming and seas are rising. We may deny it, but we can’t hide when the water comes. Already the streets of Miami flood regularly and Mick Jones looks more and more prescient when he sang that “London is drowning and I, I live by the river!” all those years ago.

And yet water is life. It brings change. Where one thing is wiped away, another rises in its place. There has always been romance and adventure in the streets of a drowned London or on gorgeous sailing cities spanning a submerged world, sleek ships exploring as land gets ever rarer.

Drowned Worlds looks at the future we might have if the oceans rise, good or bad. Here you’ll find stories of action, adventure, romance and, yes, warning and apocalypse. Stories inspired by Ballard’s The Drowned World, Sterling’s Islands in the Net, and Ryman’s The Child Garden. Stories that allow that things may get worse, but remembers that such times also bring out the best in us all.

Fortunately none of the stories were continuations of existing series, as so many anthologies are these days. Don't get me wrong, I still buy those for the stories, but I can't sit down and read through the book, I need to pick the stories out one by one depending which series I happen to have already read. Thus this makes for a nice collection of standalones with some pretty big names.

Also, I read The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard after I finished the anthology, since it was the main inspiration for it. Interestingly, though it was a short novel, it had a very short story feel to it and would have fit in nicely with these others if trimmed down.

On the whole, a pretty solid anthology, with a range of stories that cover the SF/technial aspect of living in a drowned world, to the personal and emotional impact such a change would bring about. Though what is it with so many anthologies that tend to lead with their weakest stories? Isn't the goal to grab the reader? I just didn't "get" Elves of Antartica. The second story also didn't impress me all that much, leaving me a bit dismayed about reading the rest. However I really enjoyed Venice Drowned and the dismay Carlos felt as the rest of the world plundered his inundated city (if the ancient egyptians are watching they'd feel the same as we desecrate their temples).

Brownsville Station had the most SF feel to it, what with the characters always referenced by title rather than name. Who Do You Love was just weird, though I liked Emile I those Zoe was a little crazy and that there were easier ways to grow new life forms that don't involve using your own body.

Then we get into a few stories that sort of just melded one into the other, the standard post-apocalyptic people living in groups scrounging off the land and just trying to survive in semi-feral bands. What Is, also falls under that category but kind of enjoyed that one, though oddly there isn't a drop of water so I felt while this would do good in an "Arid World" or "Climate Disaster" anthology, it didn't really belong in "Drowned Worlds". Destroyed by the Waters investigates the secondary effects of rising waters.

Then we return to more SF fare with The New Venusians where it is Venus that is flooded, and questions what is the status quo we should be striving to maintain. Right now the Earth is what was want it to be, but it has been both hotter and colder than it is now, and to say we must maintain/restore this reality negates the fact that there were other realities that had as much right to be. Mammoths would love the world to be colder again, dinosaurs would love it to be hotter. And the question as to which states of a habitat is the one we should strive to maintain, even if we are the cause of the destruction (elephants are very destructive to forest in Africa, should we get rid of them to preseve the forest? should we let the forest suffer instead and keep the elephants? is it our place to do anything at all) we are also part of this world and thus part of the constant change that happens regardless. The only reason we even have this question is because we have the awareness and the power to make a change, but what change is not so clear.

Inselberg was what I look for in a short story, written solely from the dialog of one person, it's not something you could maintain in a novel. You are forced to figure out what is going on just based on what the sarcastic tour guide has to say to his tour group. Definitely a tale filled with the strange and the wondeful.

At which point things continue being weird with Only Ten More Days...where cynicism manifests itself physically in the form of an Inuit demon that a pair of stranded tourists must then defeat. Yes, it is that weird and gets weirder, but is oddly entertaining even if science goes right out the window.

Last Gods I enjoyed for the fact that people in the drowned world, having devolved into a more primitive society, and one feeling that they have been punished would then find the orca to be divine. Not hard to believe given the majestic beauty, intelligence and ferocious personalities of these creatures (one of the few predators known to kill for fun).

Drowned I found boring so I'll skip to the Future is Blue where if we take the trash island in the Pacific to a ridiculous extreme, one could envision a floating continent divided up by the types of trash (candles in one place, electronics in another, etc), and while I struggled to accept that this island could ever exist, the worldbuilding was excellent and a mystery needs to be solved (why is the main character hated by the rest).

So in the end, I enjoyed this anthology, given that this summer we've had a fair amount of drownings by the hurricanes in Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida, and the complete anhiliation of Barbuda, it certainly provides a lot of food for thought. And it didn't hurt that I caught the e-book on sale for $1.99 either!

"Elves Of Antarctica"
Main Characters: Mike Torres
First Published:---
"Dispatches From The Cradle: The Hermit – Forty-Eight Hours In The Sea Of Massachusetts"
Main Characters: Asa Π
First Published:---
"Venice Drowned"
Main Characters: Carlo
First Published:---
"Brownsville Station"
Main Characters: Junior Conductor, Senior Technician
First Published:---
"Who Do You Love?"
Main Characters: Emile, Zoe, Jupiter, Corey
First Published:---
"Because Change Was The Ocean And We Lived by Her Mercy"
Main Characters: Pris
First Published:---
"The Common Tongue, The Present Tense, The Known"
Main Characters: Unnamed narrator, Noemi
First Published:---
"What Is"
Main Characters: Eben, Bev, James, Larry, Mary, Martin, Susan, Theo
First Published:---
"Destroyed by The Waters"
Main Characters: Derek, Zack
First Published:---
"The New Venusians"
Main Characters: Natasha
First Published:---
Main Characters: Unnamed speaker
First Published:---
"Only Ten More Shopping Days Left Till Ragnarök"
Main Characters: Lucrezia, Simon, Golly
First Published:---
"Last Gods"
Main Characters: Adze, Kelb
First Published:---
Main Characters: Mai, Flora
First Published:---
"The Future Is Blue"
Main Characters: Tetley, Goonight Moon
First Published:---

Posted: September 2017


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