Dying Earths: Sixteen Stories from the Ends of Times by Sue Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: I’m a contributor to this anthology. When I got my contributor’s copy, I read the other stories. It’s a theme anthology about living (or not) on a dying Earth, and the stories range from high fantasy to grim science fiction.
The strength of this anthology is the variety. It opens with a tale of science gone wrong, then a story about the making of a movie on Earth, followed by a sort of parable about Gaia herself. In the sixteen stories, sometimes humanity survives, sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe cockroaches are the future. Maybe we just have to survive in the wreckage of a grand failure. Two of the stories seem to start the same and then head in very different directions. My story deals with an ecological disaster, but other disasters are possible. Gods might die, or humans might die — and they might deserve to die.
My favorite story is the last one, “Convertir” by Andrew Leon Hudson. It starts with a lot of tension: a girl is being raised in a cult whose beliefs she doesn’t share — then it takes a wild, weird turn. Andrew tells me he’s expanding it into a YA novel, and I want to read it.
This kind of anthology, in the end, invites the reader to dive deeply into the theme. How might the Earth end, and will humanity go down with it? Will it involve radiation, robots, or dragons? If speculative fiction predicts the future (or helps us try to avoid bad futures), can we get any hints about what to do, here and now, to keep Earth alive?