15 Following


Currently reading

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
James Tiptree Jr.
Sarah Waters
Roadside Picnic
Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky, Olena Bormashenko, Ursula K. Le Guin
Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women's Rights Movement (Pivotal Moments in American History)
Sally McMillen
London Falling
Paul Cornell
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Reza Aslan
A Land of Ash - David Dalglish,  David McAfee,  Daniel Arenson,  Robert K. Duperre,  Michael Crane,  John Fitch V. I'd love to be able to sit down and write a glowing review about Land of Ash, as with Grants Pass. But I didn't love it. I've always had a fascination with Apocalypse, be it man-made, or Mother Nature herself visiting doom upon humanity. It must be my eschatological upbringing, but I'm a sucker for a story that asks what happens after the end of the world? The first story of this anthology drops the reader into the middle of a last supper among friends. Except these friends feel like some of them are just individuals who share geographical proximity, facing their last moments together. It had potential to be quite poignant, and could have been brilliant as a novelette, but fell short due to too many elements in the short story that overshadowed the graceful bravery it seemed to have meant to showcase.Part of the problem, I suspect, is there is absolutely no introduction to the anthology. There's no “what if,” or “it could happen.” Land of Ash is about the end of North America (and the world) as we know it, brought about by the eruption of a super volcano. There are some scientists who believe we are overdue for this type of extinction event. And yet, even with this fascinating idea, we are simply dropped into the middle of an idea. While this can work well for a full-length novel, it's risky for shorts that may need some sort of set-up. If this premise for the anthology had been included as a forward, it may have enhanced the reading of these vignettes of living and dying, by fleshing out the picture of what a super volcano eruption event would mean for survivors. Some of the stories are touching, yet few are compelling. There are very few last minute acts of redemption, (although Duperre's The One That Matters is a standout.) There are a few instances of brutality, consistent with this type of fiction. One story (Dalglish's Toward the Storm,) hints at potential conflict between believers and non-believers in an apocalyptic world, but we get the brutality without benefit of development of the underlying conflict. The overall tenor of this anthology is that of grim despair. It largely lacks what compels one in similar works, that is, hope. Even in the face of a story for which the final resolution can only be hopeless, it's human nature to express hope. The last two stories in the set, Duperre's mentioned above, and the last one, Dalglish's Let It Continue, inject that small bit of hope so needed to make this group of stories rise above being simply character sketches. In spite of these flaws, the writing flows well in most of the stories. The characters had their own voices, and each story was unique. There's a short afterword from Dalglish where he mentions how this collection was influenced and inspired by Bradbury and the tone of The Martian Chronicles. Knowing this going in, I would likely have read Land of Ash differently, and with more appreciation as a series of tales with just a droplet of homage to a master storyteller.