Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. The editors bring up an interesting point in the introduction that the technical definition of a dystopia is an utopia that has somehow gone wrong. My dystopic fiction I’ve read does not fit into that definition. Luckily, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling embrace a wider definition, where a dystopia is just…not the type of future you hope for. Unless there’s something wrong with you, seriously.
In general, I prefer stories (short, epically long, and in between) that are hopeful. Where people see a way out of bad situations and are generally decent human beings despite their bad lots. Bleak and hopeless Is Not My Bag, Baby. (Shut up, like you’ve never quoted Austin Powers before.) Some of the stories in After definitely fall into the “bleak and hopeless” category. Some of them managed to be good despite that, but mostly those stories just made me weary. Your mileage may vary.
My favorite stories were “The Segment” by Genevieve Valentine because she can create awesome, multidimensional characters in a remarkably short amount of time, “Valedictorian” by N.K. Jemisin because I loved the “Damn the man” attitude of the heroine, and “Faint Heart” by Sarah Rees Brennan because hell yeah for turning hetronormative gender ideals on their heads.
My least favorite stories were “How Th’irth Wint Rong by Hapless Joey @ Homeskool.guv” by Gregory Maguire because the whole story was written like that and MAKE IT STOP. The idea behind the story wasn’t bad but the way it was told was SO IRRITATING as to be irredeemable. “The Grat Game at the End of the World” by Matthew Kressel because pseudo religious nonsense isn’t the way into my heart, and “The Other Elder” by Beth Revis because it was one of those bleak and hopeless ones and also made my skin crawl because THAT SHIT IS NOT OKAY.
While there were a couple of stories I didn’t like, on the whole the book was good and there are a couple of authors who I’ll be on the look out for. Which is one of my favorite things about anthologies, lots of new discoveries in one package!