- File Size: 4199 KB
- Print Length: 137 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1544125364
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: March 22, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B06XSYQTD4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,693 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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FIVE TO THE FUTURE: All New Novelettes of Tomorrow and Beyond Kindle Edition
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Hence, I was thrilled when I learned that M.Christian had edited a brand new science fiction anthology. I cannot claim to be an unbiased reviewer; I adore this his speculative stories, at least one of which (“State”) has a permanent place in my pantheon of the best short stories of all time.
Five to the Future offers a creative playground for five acclaimed science fiction authors: Ernest Hogan, Emily Devenport, Cynthia Ward, Arthur Byron Cover, and Christian himself. In his foreword the editor notes that he gave only contributors a single instruction: write whatever story you want to write.
The results are impressive, thought-provoking, sometimes funny, and uniformly entertaining.
Ernest Hogan offers “Uno! … Dos! One-Two! Tres! Cuatro!”, a Latin-flavored riff heavily influenced by recent U.S. politics. His characters are the outcasts, outlaws, artists, and mystics who live in the Unsecure Zone of Metro Phoenix, some time in the not-so-distant future. Sexy Gonzomedia commentator Cha-cha Chavez is on assignment to bring back the truth (not alternative facts!) from beyond the Wall. In her quest she encounters the infamous low-rider Xolo Garcia, his jealous matador girl-friend Cihuachichi and a range of other characters who are keeping the fires of creativity and diversity burning despite the bombers flying overhead.
Extravagant imagination and tongue-in-cheek humor characterize this outrageous piece. There are more serious messages as well, but they’re delivered with such aplomb you might not notice.
Emily Devenport’s contribution “Queen of the Cats” was my favorite in the collection. Deeply emotional and more conventionally structured than the other tales, the story chronicles an invasion by a race of attractive aliens so shallow in their desires that you’ll wince at the familiarity. The narrator of this story loses her husband, who is disintegrated by an invader attracted to the man’s clothing. She maintains her sanity and humanity by caring for the many cats left without owners after the advent of the extraterrestrials. The tale skirts the edge of apocalypse, but has a surprisingly uplifting conclusion.
“Follow Your Dream” by Cynthia Ward is a delightful love-letter to Japanese super-hero anime. Don’t expect muscle-flexing wrestlers or sentient robots, though; every one of Ms. Ward’s in-your-face characters is female.
Arthur Byron Cover aptly titled his tale “Dreamweaver”; it has the bizarre logic of dreams. His contribution is a hallucinogenic mélange of shifting realities, grounded by a surprisingly affecting romance. I didn’t completely understand what this author was trying to accomplish, but his ferocious imagination and vivid imagery dazzled me. Like Ernest Hogan’s tale, this one includes quite a bit of humor, but it left me feeling a deliciously bittersweet melancholy.
“Written on Ribs” is the editor’s offering. The background for this story lies in the practice, during the Cold War, of smuggling Western music into the Soviet Union by imprinting them on discarded X-rays. The piece is actually an assembly of mini-stories, each one inspired (I gather) by tales published during the Golden Age of science fiction magazines. I’m not sure how much I missed due to my unfamiliarity with these historic stories, but M.Christian’s vignettes about art, power and desire don’t seem to require this knowledge in order to have a profound impact. More than any of the other contributions in this volume, “Written on Ribs” shows a sort of disciplined craft that kindles deep admiration. In the final vignette, the author himself shows up as a character, effectively asking whether we writers are ever truly separate from our creations.
Certainly, it’s clear that the authors in Five to the Future all poured their souls into their stories. Each one shines with imagination and passion. One of the wonderful aspects of science fiction is that it imposes no limits. These authors have taken advantage of that freedom to produce a book that’s both entertaining and moving.
The high quality of the book is marred by lapses in the proofreading (missing words, extra words, wrong words....), which are inexcusable, but few enough in number they can be overlooked by speculative fiction readers who will surely enjoy these talented writers and their deserving stories. Recommended.
UNO!.. DOS! ONE-TWO! TRES! QUATRO! by Ernest Hogan
A counter-culture figure from the wrong side of the tracks escorts a tabloid journalist through the barrio. When a riot breaks out they flee in his batmobile-like car to the secret lair of his scientist mother where they encounter a pyramid from outer space. Poking fun at xenophobia and linear thinking, Uno is an invitation to peel back the reality-mask of linear thinking and embrace the mutual contradictions and chaos of poetry. A theme Hogan seems fond of.
QUEEN OF THE CATS by Emily Davenport
Jean is the sole survivor of alien invaders. She adopts all the now-orphaned cats of the neighborhood. She is in turn "adopted" by Vad, one of the invaders. When these invaders are defeated by the lizard people, Vad, now sole survivor of his race, flees back to Jean, and she pleads for her life and his. The lizard person lets them live, and also leaves her a supply of cat food.
Morale: Taking care of others engenders empathy which decreases genocide, or, Cats are the universal solvent!
FOLLOW YOUR DREAM by Cynthia Ward
Set in a private Japanese girls school, there's the jealous, spoiled, rich brat; the girl who, in a hilarious and inspired bit of utterly delicious silliness, talks really loudly- like loud enough to shatter windows!, and is really a long-lost princess of the dragon riders; and her BFF who possesses superhero abilities and is really an orphaned daughter of the hovering spaceships.
This is an homage to Japanese anime, very funny and one of my favorites!
DREAMWEAVER by Arthur Byron
Chess is a cynical cop working missing persons. A thankless and doomed exercise in futility in a world where people jump in time and place, intentionally or inadvertently, leaving no followable trail. A chance encounter places in his hand a magical talisman that leads the world-weary detective to discover, eventually, his own destiny.
WRITTEN ON RIBS by M. CHRISTIAN
Soviet-era Russians disseminate bootleg, illegal recording of western music on old X-ray films. Something I did not know and find fascinating! But as in all "prohibitions," this life-affirming demand is filled by for-profit criminals. Ribs does a wonderful job of conveying the sense of living under a repressive regime, the mundane and routine pettiness of it, and how repression rolls downhill.