Tuesday 9 December 2014

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse - Edited by John Joseph Adams

Title: Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
Author: Various (Edited by John Joseph Adams)
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2007
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

As a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction I have contemplated picking up “Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse” many times. However, when the 2014 eclectic reader challenge required me to read an anthology I decided that the time was right to finally procure it.

The book contains quite a varied cross-section of the apocalyptic sub-genre although they all lean towards a more “realistic” science fiction basis. Therefore there are no stories in the collection involving zombies, alien invasions, vampires or any other fantastical events. Personally, I tend to prefer the more plausible scenarios in my apocalyptic fiction but I still think it would have been nice for John Joseph Adams to have included at least a sample of this side of the sub-genre.

As with all anthologies there were some books I really enjoyed, some I found okay and other that just didn’t work for me. My favourite had to be “Speech Sounds" by Octavia Butler which takes places in a world where people have lost the ability to communicate. So people find they can no longer understand each other and so violence and chaos ensues. I found myself really getting drawn into this story and I appreciated the fact that the ending actually contained an element of hope. At the opposite side of the spectrum to this was “Salvage” by Orson Scott Card which I quite simply found rather boring. I just couldn’t engage with the story although I suspect part of this was because at times it felt like it was leaning too much towards being a form of minor propaganda for the Mormon Church which did put me off.

One minor issue that came up when I read the novel is that is fundamentally quite a downer to read. Reading one apocalyptic novel can be quite depressing but working through several stories as part of a collection like this just kicks the feeling into overdrive. In all honesty it wasn’t easy to read through so much loss, bleakness and tragedy and I would really advise people to try and spread the collection across many weeks.

Overall, if you like post-apocalyptic fiction then you probably want to give this anthology a try unless you are the type of person who prefers zombie or alien invasion styled end of the word scenarios as these are not present. Personally, I do have to say that I probably found an equal amount of stories I enjoyed compared to those I didn’t so for me the entire collection falls slap bang into the average category.


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