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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: How to Save the World, edited by John Helfers 
25th-Jul-2013 09:13 pm
Summer
How to Save the World, edited by John Helfers. Paperback, 246 pages. Volume 2 of Fiction River: An Original Anthology Magazine, founded by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

As I mentioned back in May with the first volume... Thanks to the ever prolific Seanan McGuire, I learned that there was a new anthology magazine hitting the shelves, both in digital and paper form. In order to ensure that I received the edition with McGuire's story in it (in December, I think), by ensuring that the first year of the publication was a success, I subscribed to the whole year.

How to Save the World was not as thrilling to me as Unnatural Worlds was, and that's ok. I can't expect to love every brainchild that I meet. The framework for this volume was also more constricting and depressing, too. The authors were challenged to write about current problems and their highly-possible solutions. Nothing could be "aliens showed up" or "a rich zillionaire bought everyone a condo." Some of the stories were less harsh than others, but all of them talked about something going wrong - usually ecologically - with the planet.

"The Gathering" by David Gerrold. A group of the best minds and best economists gather to solve the world's problems. A shrug.

"Positive Message" by William H. Keith. This story about helium-3 started strong and ended so-so. A shrug.

"The Legend of Parker Clark and Lois Jane" by Ron Collins. I appreciated the unfortunate influence of Big Oil on graduate work. One thumb up.

"Your Name Here" by Laura Resnick. This is possibly the most politically controversial of all of the stories, regarding requiring a parental exam to procreate. I found it hilarious, but another of my friends did not. So, read at your own risk. One thumb up.

"Flight of Little Bird" by Stephanie Writt. This story was about the power of positive thinking, the power of social media, and the crimes that are committed under false pretenses. One thumb up.

"Staying Afloat" by Angela Penrose. I really liked her take on soil erosion and low-tech science. Two thumbs up.

"The Shape of a Name" by Annie Reed. This one was a description of the fighting, discrimination, and scars of war for women in Afghanistan. I'm not sure how it quite qualified for this anthology, though it was very well presented. It was just depressing. One thumb up.

"Neighborhoods" by Dean Wesley Smith. I would love to believe in this story. Architecture that actually does create a self-contained habitat *in Chicago* sounds amazing. Two thumbs up.

"Heaven Backwards" by Lisa Silverthorne. I've read versions of this religious sect isolation in too many dystopias to be impressed by a short story version. A shrug.

"Earth Day" by Kristine Katheryn Rusch. This story read like something out of the "Mad Scientist's Guide..." Props to her for bending the rules to save the world but not the people on it. A shrug.

"Deus Ex Machina" by Travis Heermann. Sentient life that is everyone's best friend at the same time seems an interesting way to save the world, it's true. I liked the evolution of the AI, but didn't like how the characters around it played out. A shrug.

I picked it up because McGuire said so.
I recommend it to people who want to see possible real solutions to real problems, even if fictionalized. But don't expect to have a happily ever after for every story.

Books for 2013
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