The Apex Book of World SF 5 by Cristina Jurado
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For me, the strength of an anthology is in its variety as well as its quality. These eighteen stories cover a variety of countries, cultures, and nations; a variety of story-telling styles; and a variety of speculative fiction — which includes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. The editor, Cristina Jurado, and I have worked together on other projects, and I can see her hand in the choices. A fair number of stories show her fine sensibility toward horror, not with blood and gore, but with dread.
I’ve checked some other reviews, and different readers have loved a story that others found meh, and I think the variety of reactions means that there’s something in the anthology for a wide variety of readers. Here are my favorites, but you may have different choices:
“A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad: The story has fun with technology, and it could only have taken place in China.
“Violation of the Truenet Security Act” by Taiyo Fujii: I admit I didn’t follow all of the technicalities of a computer programmer falling afoul of a dystopian internet failure, but I understood the plot. The story could only have happened in Japan.
“Ambiguity Machines: An Examination” by Vandana Singh: Three accounts of unnerving encounters with impossible machines. It ends with a haunting twist.
“An Evolutionary Myth” by Bo-Young Kim: This tale about something like a shape-shifter is steeped in Korean culture.
“You Will See the Moon Rise” by Israel Alonso: A war turns out to be something else. As an aside, I knew the translator, Steve Redwood, and delighted in his anarchic humor; he died in 2022.
“The Seventh” by Eliza Victoria: Truly creepy horror.
“Screamers” by Tochi Onyebuchi: A series of murders leads to a transcendent conclusion.
“Ugo” by Giovanni de Feo: An odd romance takes a philosophical turn that subverts genre expectations.
Again, you might enjoy different stories, but they’re all worth reading. More than ever, speculative fiction plays out on a world-wide stage, and language barriers and national borders give us only glimpses. Here’s a chance to take a closer look.