Future Tense Fiction collects 14 cutting-edge stories in which standout authors of the speculative genre imagine various futures. In "Mother of Invention," Nnedi Okorafor keeps readers bedside with an inventor's mistress as she goes into labor, assisted only by his castoff Smart Home. Meanwhile, in "Mr. Thursday," Emily St. John Mandel follows a time-traveling businessman on an ill-fated mission to save a 20th-century secretary. Genetically enhanced Olympic athletes, data-risk assessors and their counterpart assassins, and socialist utopias gone wrong are just a few of the highlights from these wide and varied tales.
Including a neo-noir featuring sex robots who just want to be real girls and a tender meditation on how neurological bridges can keep loved ones alive in disembodied memories, this anthology offers a range of tones, atmospheres and imaginative horizons. Often comical and always prescient, these stories are at their best when their pitch-perfect prose and emotionally resonant characters outshine their showstopping plots. Madeline Ashby offers the noteworthy "Domestic Violence," a caustic revenge fantasy in which house tech becomes a tool of both an abuser and the abused, while Charlie Jane Anders's "The Minnesota Diet" is among the collection's most brilliant and disturbing visions of the world to come. In sparse, no-nonsense prose, Anders depicts the downfall of New Lincoln, a Smart City that deems the extinction of its own population necessary. Ultimately, it is not the destruction of the town, but the desperation of its inhabitants that will linger with readers. Together, these stories inspire excitement over the endless possibilities the speculative genre has to offer. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor