A fantastic collection of sci-fi/fantasy flash fiction.
Liang’s debut offers a fascinating, often chilling look into an alternate universe. In “Run,” Gov. John Mayyor oversees a prison known as Section 7A in Illuva Forest. Known as the last stop for criminals, Section 7A is where murderers are separated from civil society and left to their own devices. The convicts must fend for themselves, using force if needed but knowing that everyone else can do the same. “Lazarus,” on the other hand, is less a story and more a disturbing description of a seductive, august city that is in fact “a test tube, an open laboratory for the military to work the kinks out of a new system of government—a system no one saw coming.” Lazarus captures a dystopian world of Benefactors, rulers who strive to create a utopia by expunging the imperfect from the universe. In “The Forest,” a more narrative-heavy tale, a group of artificially designed wolves forage for food and try to protect themselves while a man at a computer tries to control them. The lines between computer, animal, and human get blurred in this haunting example of how machines can rule and destroy our lives. “A Bad Wish”—which begins: “I say there are three kinds of people in this world. There’s the givers, the takers, and the ‘meh’ers”—traces the life of John Doe and his encounter with Xanthix, a genie who claims he can grant Joe three wishes. But when Xanthix gets to choose the wishes, the story takes an ugly turn. Brimming with imagination, the stories present unique, frequently insightful looks at the future of human experience. Not only are these mostly brief sci-fi/fantasy pieces smartly written and entertaining, they usually present a moral message, too. Young readers in particular will appreciate these fresh, easy-to-read stories while reveling in the challenges offered in their weighty content.
A promising compilation from a new talent.