Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Review: New Suns edited by Nisi Shawl

Title: New Suns
Edited by Nisi Shawl
Pages: 308
ISBN: 9781781086384
Publisher: Solaris
Published: 12 March 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Coloru showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clich├ęd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius

Unexploited brilliance shines forth from every page.

Includes stories by Kathleen Alcala, Minsoo Kang, Anil Menon, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alex Jennings, Alberto Yanez, Steven Barnes, Jaymee Goh, Karin Lowachee, E. Lily Yu, Andrea Hairston, Tobias Buckell, Hiromi Goto, Rebecca Roanhorse, Indrapramit Das, Chinelo Onwualu and Darcie Little Badger

New Suns Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour is an anthology showcasing 17 speculative fiction stories written by people of colour. The stories included run the gamut of what speculative fiction has on offer - tales of horror, science fiction, fantasy and stories pushing against the boundaries of classification. The diverse list of contributors draw from the rich tapestries of their own lived experiences and unique cultural heritage to infuse their stories with something special. Most importantly the anthology offers a platform for overlooked talent to shine in all their iridescent hues..

Anthologies are often the most difficult to review and New Suns in particular was tougher than most since it forced me to venture out of my comfort zone, exploring stories from authors with lives and perspectives very different from my own. And that’s a good thing. New perspectives bring new understanding with wonderful new imaginations to explore.

As with any anthology not all of the stories resonated with me. If I like at least half of the stories I consider an anthology a success and New Suns didn’t disappoint. Some standout stories were:

The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias Buckell: Alien tourism to Earth takes a decidedly different turn after an unfortunate incident during a cab ride. A quick, fun story exploring why aliens might find our world attractive. ⭐⭐⭐

Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes: An infomercial for euthanasia vacations in a third-world country. Dark humor with a tinge of revenge. ⭐⭐⭐

unkind of mercy by Alex Jennings: A truly unnerving story of beings occupying the same space as we do with sometimes dire consequences. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire by E. Lily Yu: An updated version of the Emperor’s New Clothes which hits uncomfortably close to home in today’s society. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: A beautifully written, haunting tale of the ghosts we carry within ourselves. This has to be my favourite story in the entire collection. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Some ghosts are woven into walls and others are woven into skin with an unbreakable, invisible thread. You inherit the color of your eyes, but also this thread which chokes you and bites into your heart. If you look back into any family tree you find paupers and merchants and poets and soldiers, and sometimes you find monsters.”

Harvest by Rebecca Roanhorse: Another dark and bloody tale. Love morphs into an act of revenge or is it justice?. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kelsey and the Burdened Breath by Darcie Little Badger: A touching take on ghosts and ghost hunting. Kelsey shepherd’s souls to the other side with the help of her disembodied dog, but when people are killed she is tasked to locate the burdened breath responsible for the killings. A touching ending and a very interesting take on souls. This was another firm favourite. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Verdict:
Perhaps New Suns’ greatest downfall is that there is no unifying theme aside from the fact that the stories are written by persons of colour. A common theme might have better tied the stories together.  If you are looking for diverse stories by diverse authors then this is certainly an anthology worth checking out. While not all the stories might resonate, you are bound to find at least a few new authors to explore. A good read with some great stories to discover.

The Rating: 6.5/10 (Good)

Thanks to Charlene from Jonathan Ball Publishers for the review copy.

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