Diverse Energies, edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti (Tu Books, Oct. 2012), is an anthology of short strories (most new, some rediscovered) describing futures full of a diverse set of characters from a group of authors who are basically the stars of diverse speculative fiction--Ellen Oh, Daniel H. Wilson, Greg van Eekhout, Malinda Lo, Paolo Bacigalupi, and more. There's also a reprinted story by Ursula Le Guin, the grand dame of diverse futures.
It's a pretty fierce collection of stories--happy endings are in short supply. The heroes and heroines are almost all in desperate, dystopian circumstances--kids and teens living on the margins, in poverty or slavery. The imagination of the authors is here in full force, with wild creations, such as Paolo Bacigalupi's living architecture in "A Pocket Full of Dharma", robots running amok in "Freshee's Frogurt" by Daniel H. Wilson (not a good one for those of us with tooth anxiety--bad things happen to teeth), and robot miners controlled by the minds of enslaved children, in What Arms to Hold, by Rajan Khanna.
And there are dystopias, with miserable and desperate children and teens, struggling to stay alive, and to love (when love is still possible). The collection starts with one of these--Ellen Oh's memorable story of the effects of a totally senseless war on one starving boy (not for the faint of heart), and that beginning warns the reader that this anthology is no romp with multicultural unicorn kittens.
As with any anthology, there were some stories that appealed more to me than others. The story by Ursula Le Guin--Solitude--, though one I had read before,
is so fully real and so powerful, that I'm always happy to read it
again---it takes place on a planet of culturally-imposed introversion,
where there are only persons, and no people. Again as always the case when I read short fiction, I often found myself wanting the story to go on! If K. Tempest Bradford, for instance, continues the story of Iliana, caught in a stream of time slippages and forced to live a kaleidoscope of disparate futures, I will be right there in line waiting for it.
So, in short, this anthology is pretty dark, very memorable, and very gripping. Too dark, really, for my personal taste (though I do have a mind above rainbow kittens), but one that should appeal lots to those who enjoy their futures both diverse and murky!
Here are Tanita's thoughts, at Finding Wonderland
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher