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Bloody Shambles

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Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade
Vladimir Nabokov, Brian Boyd
Pale Fire
Vladimir Nabokov
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind
Under Stones
Bob Franklin
The Erotic Potential of My Wife
David Foenkinos, Yasmine Gaspard
A Corner of White
Jaclyn Moriarty
Winter's Bone
Daniel Woodrell
Progress: 99 %
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Neil Gaiman
The Beetle
Richard Marsh
Wreck This Journal
Keri Smith
Diverse Energies - 'Paolo Bacigalupi',  'Ursula K. Le Guin',  'Malinda Lo' This is a great idea for a YA anthology: A collection of dystopian stories featuring a culturally diverse range of characters reflecting the real world in which we live. I'm not usually a fan of short stories, since I tend to think that most of the good ones would be better explored in a full-length format, but this collection is of higher quality than most. There's a good sense of momentum to the book, and some really unique and exciting ideas behind each story, so for once I didn't get that dragging sensation halfway through. As always, there were some stories I enjoyed more than others, but the highs definitely outweigh the lows. Some of the clear highlights were:*Solitude by Ursula K. Le Guin: Just an astonishingly beautiful and deeply layered story about cultural relativity that's a perfect example of the way different cultures struggle to see through each others' eyes.*The Last Day by Ellen Oh - The first story in the collection, this one packs a punch. What if Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn't put a stop to WW2? Dystopia + Children + Atomic Bombs = Gutwrenching.*Pattern Recognition by Ken Liu - What's terrifying about this story is that it is somewhat based on realities that currently exist - child slavery and human-based computation.*Next Door by Rahul Kanakia - A really interesting tech-based dystopia, in which the "haves" are so tuned out to reality, they are barely aware of the have-nots squatting in their private space.There truly are only a couple of low points to the book:*Freshee's Frogurt by Daniel H. Wilson. Everything I've seen about the novel Robopocalypse has given me the strong sense that I won't like the writing, and this excerpt just confirms that theory. Also, a "culturally diverse" story needs to contain more than a sidekick with a "Fu-Manchu 'stache" called Felipe. Not cool, not well written, and it doesn't really belong here.*There are a couple of stories that aren't bad, but the plot just gets away from the writer a little. I think K. Tempest Bradford was off to a good start with Uncertainty Principle but the temporal mechanics got a bit convoluted towards the end. Likewise Greg Van Eekhout's Gods of the Dimming Light started out interestingly, but the logic didn't quite seem clear, and at the end of the day it didn't really have a lot to say.*A minor disappointment to me was Paolo Bacigalupi's A Pocket Full of Dharma. I have heard great things about The Wind-Up Girl, and was looking forward to reading this story. It begins with a description of an astonishing thing - a bio-engineered building of living flesh. I would have loved to explore that idea some more, but the building ends up being a minor part of the story, to the extent that the author doesn't even tell us what colour it is! Such a waste of a great idea!*The Foreword by Tobias S. Buckell seems to somewhat undermine the intent of the anthology. As the Afterword by Joe Monti explains really well, the intent is not to be a reaction to the stupidity of recent "white-washing" in YA sci-fi. It is supposed to be a reflection of reality as it is and will be, "not a brick thrown through a window, it is the continued paving of a path". Buckell's Foreword talks about the book being a reaction to the Hunger Games racial backlash, and talks about putting "people of colour" front and centre etc etc. It just reads a little childishly to me, and misses the point that diversity is about culture and perspective more so than skin colour or race.This is certainly one of the better anthologies that I've come across. The stories themselves are diverse, crossing a huge range of topics - neuroscience, anthropology, space, Norse mythology, robots, biotech, gender issues, history, war, family, religion etc etc. There's bound to be something there to inspire everyone. It's a thought-provoking collection that's definitely worth a read.Full disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.