A worthy anthology featuring many great stories.
I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I love anthologies. So when I discovered After the Fall, a new release that caters perfectly to my previously mentioned tastes, reading and reviewing it was a no-brainer.
Anthologies are a fantastic way of unearthing new authors and while a couple of contributors were already known to me the rest would be my first contact with their work.
The stories in this particular anthology explore what would happen if technology began to crumble around us. Technology has changed the world around us over the last century and promises even greater things for the future. But what does that future look like without the marvels of the machine age? After the fall of technology, what lies ahead for humanity?
As always the opener to an anthology is very important and Adam Roberts, an author with whom I am familiar (Jack, Twenty Trillion Leagues under the Sea and Bête), opens proceedings strongly with a short story titled Instrumentum, which in an interesting look at how a few might rule the many in a world after the Fall and how religion would likely play a significant part in how the populace is controlled.
I would say that East by Cameron Suey was my favourite of the collection. Suey works as a writer in the games industry and my goodness, games would be quite something if they all had a writer attached who was as talented as this. The story centres on a group of survivors being pursued by a deadly storm; a storm that is almost sentient and never more than a day or two behind, forcing the ragged group of survivors to keep moving, to stay ahead of its destruction. It was a fascinating look at survival and the group dynamic of survivors and I found it very powerful.
Amongst the other stories that I would recommend are Hell Freezes Over by Mike Chinn, which explores life in a new Ice Age where human diet is often supplemented by frozen unspoiled corpses. The few survivors in this hellish world consist of a man who was in the Arctic when the temperatures dropped and a group of male kids who cook and keep warm by burning books. The story shows lives barely worth living and how quickly and deep the descent towards savagery and cannibalism would be.
Cornucopia by Ed Ahern is another strong story, a cautionary tale lamenting the over reliance on technology and what awaits for those reliant in the event of a break-down. I found this story to be both well written and thought-provoking.
Another standout is The Unbinding by M. P. Neal which eerily tells of a future wherin there is a purge against robots and artificial implants. It was realistic, more than a little scary featuring a great ending.
Of the remaining stories Patience by Simon Sylvester is a very short story indeed but one that I really liked, in fact I would have loved for it to have been longer. A City of Shattered Glass by Megan Chee was powerful andhaunting with a truly shocking end and Sunburst Finish by Allen Ashby was a well-written tale of technology breakdown and how quickly chaos ensues.
This is a worthy anthology featuring many great stories. The only criticism I would put its way is to say that I found a handful of the stories to be either too short (even for a short story) or too vague. I know that leaving much to the imagination is a popular way to approach writing in the shortened format but I founded I needed a little more fuel for my mental fire. As always though, these are personal tastes and opinions and I realise that each reader’s reaction will be subtly different.
If you enjoy post-apocalyptic stories that focus of the fall of technology, which are told in many different voices and approched from many different angles, then I would recommended After the Fall to you.
Review by Floresiensis
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