I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Diverse Energies by Tobias S. BuckellJoe Monti
Published by Lee & Low Books on 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Short Stories, Science Fiction, Politics & Government
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In a world gone wrong, heroes and villains are not always easy to distinguish and every individual has the ability to contribute something powerful. In this stunning collection of original and rediscovered stories of tragedy and hope, the stars are a diverse group of students, street kids, good girls, kidnappers, and child laborers pitted against their environments, their governments, differing cultures, and sometimes one another as they seek answers in their dystopian worlds. Take a journey through time from a nuclear nightmare of the past to society s far future beyond Earth with these eleven stories by masters of speculative fiction. Includes stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Daniel H. Wilson, and more."
Diverse Energies edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti is a superb anthology. This book provides a good sample of various authors which is perfect if you’re looking to read more #ownvoices and are not quite sure where to begin. You can check each story out and then delve into the longer works if a particular story speaks to you. Overall, this book did take me forever to read, but only because I was going at the rate of one story per day and some things happened where the days between each story were long spread out. However, the last few days of reading Diverse Energies just sped right by.
The Last Day by Ellen Oh
Diverse Energies opens with a story by Ellen Oh called The Last Day. This is a futuristic story set in Japan. There is a never ending war between the East and the West. The story opens with Kenji’s sister being drafted for the emperor’s army, as conscription age has just been lowered. After dealing with this fresh horror, Kenji finds himself scavenging for food with his best friend, Akira who has a talent for knowing when loners will die, and thus being able to loot their apartment for food. When tragedy strikes, Akira and Kenji discover that maybe the emperor and the government are hiding something and so, if knowledge of the tragedy gets out, people might revolt. The Last Day is a haunting story and quite an eerie note to start Diverse Energies with. It got dark real quick, but in all a good short story.
Freshee’s Frogurt by Daniel H. Wilson
Daniel H. Wilson’s contribution to Diverse Energies is Freshee’s Frogurt which I guess is related to his bestselling book Robopocalypse. This short story is told in interview format between a police officer who is Native American and the first victim of the uprising, a white guy named Jeff who works at the frozen yogurt shop. Jeff recounts what happened and how this domestic servant robot came into the shop around closing and just attacked without reason, word, or warning. He recounts how his friend and coworker, Felipe, saves him. I thought that Freshee’s Frogurt was really action packed and peaked my interest in actually reading Robopocalypse.
Uncertainty Principle by K. Tempest Bradford
Uncertainty Principle by K. Tempest Bradford adds a tale of time travel to Diverse Energies. This story is about a girl named Iliana who has been feeling changes all her life. Both big changes and little changes. The first big change of note is when she’s having a birthday party and her first best friend named Grayson suddenly no longer exists and there’s another girl there in her place. No one else notices this change. Eventually, Grayson discovers why all the changes have been happening and what she must do to put an end to the changes. I thought that this was a really unique short story and engaging as well. I loved the take on time travel and, almost, the butterfly effect.
Pattern Recognition by Ken Liu
Pattern Recognition by Ken Liu is about this boy named David who lives with a bunch of other kids at this place called the Volpe Ness school which I guess is alluded to be in China. Anyways, the kids at the school have no contact with the outside world and it is their main goal to detect patterns. They believe that the outside world is pretty much destroyed, except for the shipments they get every so often. Anyways, one day David gets his hands on a cell phone and learns that all he believed about the Outside was wrong. And well, this is the story of what ensues. It’s been a few months since I read this story, but I do remember being impressed with it.
Gods of the Dimming Light by Greg van Eekhout
Greg van Eekhout’s Gods of The Dimming Light is set in a future California, where instead of it having beautiful weather, it’s basically winter all the time. Winter has come indeed. So, this kid, named Edward sees an ad for a medical study that pays up to $1000 which can go a long way in helping to feed his family. He answers the ad, makes it through the rounds to discover that he’s a descendent of Odin. Oh, and he’s also Indonesian-American. Overall, I enjoyed this story. I liked that it was obviously diverse and that it takes something that is Norse and has a person of color shine as a descendent of a Norse god.
Next Door by Rahul Kanakia
So, Next Door by Rahul Kanakia is a bit of a, unique, addition to Diverse Energies. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about it. Basically most rich people have these like screen implants so they are jacked into a virtual reality pretty much all the time. The poor, however, are not. They resort to squatting and hoping that the strangers whose garages they squat in do not die or notice them too much. Aakash is a squatter whose family has just gotten bedbugs which are really bothering him. He hopes to find his own squat with his boyfriend Victor but until then he wants to try and convince the people who own the house to use their robots to exterminate the bedbugs in the garage. He ends up interacting with the son of the guy who owns the house and it culminates into a sort of intense ending.
Good Girl by Malinda Lo
I really need to read more Malinda Lo. Good Girl which is Malinda Lo’s contribution to Diverse Energies may be a contender for my favorite short story in the anthology. It is about this girl named Kyle who lives in Chinatown with her mom. She goes to the Tunnels and pays this girl, Nix, in credits to see if anyone knows where her brother, Kit, went — if he ended up in the tunnels. Lo builds a dystopian world where race mixing is considered illegal due to genetics. People who are mixed race live in the Tunnels so as to escape potential death and questioning. Kyle ends up falling for Nix. So, we’ve got this Asian-African-American lesbian dystopia and it’s just so INTERESTING. So far this is the best story I’ve read in the book.
A Pocket Full Of Dharma by Paolo Bacigalupi
I’ve listened to a few of Paolo Bacigalupi’s young adult books. So, I basically already have some strong familiarity with Bacigalupi’s writing style. A Pocketful of Dharma is about this boy named Wang Jun who lives in China. Wang Jun is a beggar. He used to live in the countryside, but everyone died of plague. So, now he lives in the city and begs for scraps. After stealing a dead man’s sunglasses and this datacube, he finds his fortune has changed. Only, the datacube is hugely important. It contains an incarnation of the Dalai Lama. So, A Pocketful of Dharma is one of the longer stories in Diverse Energies. It’s very atmospheric and well written.
Blue Skies by Cindy Pon
Cindy Pon’s Blue Skies is about two nameless characters. One is a boy who has a life expectation of 30 years. The other is this girl who is rich and lives her life in basically a space suit. In Pon’s reimagined future, the climate is so bad that the skies are no longer blue. Pollution has taken over. The only people who live beyond 30 years are the rich because they breathe filtered air and eat only pure food and drink only pure water. So, anyways, the boy kidnaps the girl in hopes of earning enough money to survive on. The two discover they have a bit in common, but that doesn’t really change anything between them. Overall, this story had good worldbuilding and a strong message about climate change.
What Arms To Hold Us by Rajan Khanna
What Arms To Hold Us by Rajan Khanna is a story about a boy named Ravi who has magic. Ravi works in the mines with what is called a golly to harvest primosite. He’s hoping to be promoted like his brother. However, some things seem to be going wrong lately. Also, the archmagus is on his way for a visit and inspection. Ravi ends up learning the truth about the gollies and the primosite. He learns that ultimately, the lives of the boys have no worth and they are drained in order to harvest this material. Ultimately, this story is a commentary on exploitation of labor and race. In all, intriguing.
Solitude by Ursula K. Le Guin
The final story in Diverse Energies is Solitude by Ursula K. Le Guin. I think, honestly, that I just don’t gel with Le Guin’s stories. I was really bored by this story and it felt overlong. So, Solitude is about this girl whose mom is sort of an anthropologist in space. And so, her mom takes her to this planet where they basically live in a primitive way. Her mom is unable to really break into society but because the children are young, they are. And so, the girl ends up learning the culture and the songs and really finding her own place in the auntring. The boy also has a good time of it, until her turns into a man and basically is kicked out. There’s soul searching and deciding which identity fits the narrator the best. IDK, I just was bored. However, millions of people love Le Guin’s writing, so maybe don’t take my word for it entirely.
Other reviews of Diverse Energies edited by Tobias Buckell & Joe Monti:
- Dear Author – “Most of the stories were very good“
- Rich In Color – “The worlds and characters are rich“
- Forever Young Adult – “a breath of fresh air“
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