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Stories 163-170

This post should finish up the stories from the long-finished-reading anthology Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, edited by John Joseph Adams.

163: Inertia by Nancy Kress.  Quarantined communities are a part of our history, from leper colonies to religious and ethnic ghettos.  What sort of society forms in a closed community, and what happens to the society that put the quarantine in place?  The title gives a good hint to the point of the story, but it doesn't necessarily go exactly as you might think.

164: And The Deep Blue Sea by Elizabeth Bear.  The mail has to get through.  Even when half of the country is a radioactive wasteland.  It helps to have a demonic motorbike to help you get through, but every deal with the Devil comes due eventually.  A good blend of scifi and fantasy.

165: Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler.   We all get frustrated when we can't express ourselves properly ... so imagine what it'd be like if no one could communicate thanks to a plague.  Silence was never so stunning.  (Note that I accidentally put this description with the story "Mute" in the previous post.  I'm going to go back and edit that one.  In writing, I put the wrong synopsis with the title that reminded me of the story ...)

166: Killers by Carol Emshwiller.  Sometimes, when the war comes home and the terrorists can be anywhere, society migrates away from the cities and back to the hills.  And sometimes, missing someone desperately causes you to extend a hand to someone you'd never expect to.

167: Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus by Neal Barrett, Jr.  Barrett posits that there are three things everyone will still need in the future: sex, drugs and good tacos.  With a mutated Possum for security and an android barker, Ginny Sweethips travels the plains bringing all three to the masses.  But even the best-run businesses hit a snag occasionally.

168: The End of the World As We Know It by Dale Bailey.  It's as much a treatise on how to write apocalyptic fiction as it is a piece of apocalyptic fiction.  History repeats itself: plagues, natural devestation, man-made destruction.  What are you doing when the world ends?  It's funny and strong at the same time.

169: A Song Before Sunset by David Grigg.  Lots of apocalyptic fiction centers on the science, and the loss of control once the tech fails.  This story asks the almost more important question:  what about the things that make us civilized?  Can the arts continue to exist in a post-apocalyptic world?

170: Episode Seven: Last Stand Against The Pack in the Kingdom of the Purple Flowers by John Langan.  Langan says he wrote this partially in response to Bailey's story above.  I took to this story immediately because it takes place where I grew up -- the Hudson Valley region of New York State, and in particular the area around the Mid-Hudson Bridge.  So I could picture what the author presents:  stalled cars that seem to have suddenly become hothouses for alien plant-life blocking the bridge, and the main characters chased by a pack of ... well, I'll let you put the pieces together.

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