John Joseph Adams is the editor of several excellent anthologies for Night Shade Books. For example, I have enjoyed The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (2009), and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (2008), and there is no reason why teens would not enjoy them too. He has also put together two popular collections of zombie stories, The Living Dead (2008) and The Living Dead 2 (2010).
I am impressed by Adams’s choice of authors, always a mix of the well-known and up-and-comers, and by his ability to place each piece in context. In Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories, each story is prefaced by a substantial introduction to the author that places the story within the context of the genre.
This collection has Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Robert Silverberg rubbing elbows with Harlan Ellison, Ursula Le Guin, and Shirley Jackson. And a couple authors we will meet again soon here on the Adult Books 4 Teens blog: Carrie Vaughn has a book coming out in April, After the Golden Age (Tor), with teen potential. And a review of Orson Scott Card’s The Lost Gate (Tor, January) is upcoming.
The book has its own website, with a full list of contents. And the book ends with a list of further reading in the genre, which teen enthusiasts will appreciate.
ADAMS, John Joseph, ed. Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories. 496p. Night Shade. 2011. pap. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-59780-221-5. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Adams has put together another impressive collection. By the topic’s very nature, this is a dark group of short stories that examine issues prevalent in our society: birth control, conception, gender, sexuality, working conditions, living conditions, privacy concerns, and the power of technology. Many of the stories are about control: control of space, population, reproduction, aging, crime, worker output. J. G. Ballard’s “Billennium” takes place in a city where each person is allotted four square meters in which to live, taking crowded to a whole new level. In “Pop Squad” by Paolo Bacigalupi, musicians practice for 15 years to perfect one bravura performance. They have all of the time in the world because they can live forever. Of course, in order to control population levels having children is against the law, punishable by death. Neil Gaiman and Bryan Talbot present a short, powerful graphic story, “From Homogenous to Honey.” Classics by Philip Dick, Shirley Jackson, and Kurt Vonnegut sit beside new works by popular YA authors like Orson Scott Card and Cory Doctorow. Citizens of these bleak worlds who try to buck the system seldom survive for long. Many of the stories have a twist or surprise ending, not only for readers but also for the protagonists. This is an excellent introduction to dystopian writing, a genre currently popular in young adult fiction. The selections vary in outright teen appeal, but they are all thought-provoking and likely to lead readers to the authors’ longer works.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City