Four short stories about the near future and the dystopia we're building for ourselves.
Doctorow is quickly becoming one of my favorite sci-fi writers, because he understands how sci-fi can help us understand our present and imagine different futures. These four short stories are each grim in their own ways, but they also contain within them the seeds of better futures: futures built on cooperation and justice. I want Cory Doctorow in my commune when society collapses.
This book is a nice companion to Doctorow’s Walkaway.
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.
But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants.
Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet.
Optimistic spacefaring sci-fi! Grounding the story in the idea of family was excellent, and really made the story sing for me. I loved the anthropological angle as we were introduced to different sentient species and their cultures. I would definitely hang with Aandrisks.
Most certainly influenced by the Decemberists’ “The Island”. And Lemony Snicket’s The End. And my recent surge in fascination with pirates. I blame this on all of them.
Somewhere, in the middle of a black ocean under a black sky, an island slept, the sands of its shallow shores gently caressed by the unceasing tides. Above, in shadowy heavens, the stark face of the moon cast a pale luminescence upon the beach. The waves swept the sands with soft hushes. The breath of the light tropical breeze quietly rustled the leaves of the palms. An air of serenity laid over the island, as if it had never known disturbance and never would.
There were no people on the island. There had been before, however; castaways were no strangers to its shores. Some of them had managed to survive, leaving nothing but footprints on the isle. Others left much more, never seeing their families or homes again. Many had gone mad and killed themselves, either by the noose, by diving off the cliff, or, if they had been lucky, with a pistol. In the end, their remembrances quickly vanished, consumed by natural forces– footprints blew away and corpses were claimed by the earth.
The empty island slumbered. The many exotic birds that lived in the jungle dozed on their perches, their heads tucked into their wings. Sleep caught the few mammals that lived on the island, quietly pulling them into its grasp. Another breeze stirred the palm trees, shaded black with night’s brush. The waves rolled in, splashing the shore. The waves receded, leaving pinpoints of seawater glistening in the moonlight. The waves rolled in, and placed upon the beach a large wooden chest, along with the unconscious man clinging desperately to it.