Genre: Sci-Fi, Hopepunk
About The Book
We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics, an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.
We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world. From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose the twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.
Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society.
Unlike other anthologies which look at issues from places of caution about what might happen if humanity continues its self-destructive ways, this one contains a dozen stories of hope. The gestalt here is one that gives readers respite one story at a time. Here’s a synopsis of what’s in these pages.
“In Light” by Mere Rain
In Earth’s future, Agent Svarga, an angel from Celestia, comes to help the Caroline Community’s residents repair their solar trees. Hav, one of the residents, opens his home to Svarga and there is homoerotic subtext. The hope here is both for the community and for the relationship that Hav might have with Svarga. This bright story is a good opener for this anthology’s theme.
“Juma and the Quantum Ghost” by Ingrid Garcia
Zambian, Juma, and her family work with biological quantum computers, biqcos, to improve the lives of everyone who wants betterment. There are those, like the thug who kidnaps her son and holds him for ransom, who just want power. Refusing to stoop to that level, the family figures out how to root out corruption and continue on a more enlightened path. This is a solid story in a non-Western setting.
“Ice in D Minor” by Andrea Sharp
Rinna Sen, a renowned conductor, must perform a special symphony at the North Pole in order to prevent the world from being destroyed by advanced climate change. This one is a reprint that brings the cold.
“At the Movies” by D. M. Rasch
In an era where everyone has implants that give them 24/7 interactive media access, Reilly, a citizen protection guard, takes their girlfriend, Lainey, and her two sons on a family date to a quaint movie theater where technology that’s not implanted allows people a 2-D experience. Things go sideways when a terrorist shows up and Reilly has to make hard choices about how to respond. Here we have good relationship dynamics that show us better isn’t always perfect.
“Who Shall Reap the Grain of Heaven?” by J. G. Follansbee
When Father James Bohm receives a letter from the Pope ordering him to shut down a controversial climate control program because of who the benefactor is, the Catholic priest has no choice but to follow the order. The donor, on the other hand, has other ideas. One the moral of this story is that change demands commitment.
“From the Sun and Scorched Earth” by Bryan Cebulski
Post-war, a young mech driver arrives at a village, mech in tow. He offers his life to the village because of his part in the war. The villagers accept his offer and decides his penance is that he must use his mech to help the village. One villager thinks the mech should also be made available for everyone to use. When the opportunity comes for this villager to break into the mech and try to use it himself, dire consequences ensue. Here, we’re reminded that even in times of peace, there is conflict.
“Upgrade” by Alex Silver
When Klein causes the explosion of a government building, he realizes his off-grid pranks aren’t the harmless rebellions he thought they were. Real people could die as a direct result of his actions. To make amends for his involvement in the prank, he turns himself in to the authorities. With time ticking and lives on the line, Klein, his med-mechanic, Jono, and law enforcement handler, Harris, race to stop devastation that will destroy the world as they know it. This story of hope reminds us that things aren’t always as binary as they seem.
“Rise” by J. Scott Coatsworth
When technology advances enough to raise an Italian city from the floodwaters that took it half a century before, Cinzia and her granddaughter, Kendra, are there for the occasion. Memories of losing her own mother to the flood mix with Cinzia’s experiences in the present. This is the kind of hope that combines sadness and happiness.
“A Forest for the Trees” by Rachel Hope Crossman
An anthropomorphized sequoia sempervirens gives a history lesson about trees and tells the meandering story of how they came to be saved in the aftermath of global disaster brought about by climate change. This tale is about hope as seen from a non-human perspective.
“As Njord and Skadi” by Jennifer R. Povey
In this story of hope and recovery, the ups and downs of a lesbian couple parallel the ups and downs of Earth’s recovery from humanity’s damage. Deborah and her wife, Steffi, the metaphorical Njord and Skadi, have had a huge fight and determined they are unfit to be together. They divorce and go their separate ways, each finding the right fit for their lives as they pursue stewardship of the sea and mountains.
“The Call of the Wold” by Holly Schofield
Another reprint, this one tells the tale of Julie Leung, an introvert who leaves her brother’s firm in Toronto and takes up a life of solitude more suited to her needs. When she stops for a while at an intentional community on Vancouver Island, she’s invited to stay after proving her worth as a mediator. The hope here speaks to the need for self-care even when things are going well.
“The Homestead at the Beginning of the World” by Jana Denardo
After warring aliens deplete Earth’s resources, humanity is in recovery mode. Sam and a scientist, Kjell, who had his DNA altered by the aliens, strike up a friendship with promise when Kjell is sent to check on Sam’s algae farms in an area of the world the aliens left mostly alone. Eventually, and not surprisingly, the relationship takes a romantic turn. This overlong tale is about hope despite being othered. It serves as an excellent bookend to the anthology’s opener.
Though some of the stories could have used more editing, it’s clear these authors have visions that go beyond maintaining the status quo. There is diversity here. There is strength. And there are places where we can celebrate those who aspire to fix the world.
Cyd Athens is an enby queer BIPOC speculative fiction author, editor, and reviewer who resides in 45.5231° N, 122.6765° W.