I've finally found the time to sit down and write a review of Seeds of Change: 0
There are nine stories in this themed collection addressing issues of racism, political revolution, medical experimentation, prejudice and the environment.
Ted Komatska's "N-Words" starts off this anthology. Set in a future time when experiments have resulted in the successful cloning of Neanderthals, humankind discovers itself giving way to old prejudices as it rebels against the perceived advantage of the cloned Neanderthals. I couldn't help thinking of Nancy Kress's "Beggars in Spain" while I was reading this.
In "The Future by Degrees" by Jay Lake, Grover works as a sales development person for Quantum Thermal Systems. His job is to present prototypes to potential investors. Grover's current project is a device that is capable of storing 18,000,000 joules of heat. Grover doesn't realize just how controversial the project is until an attempt is made on his life. Lake provides us with a gritty tale involving spionage, conspiracy, and an interesting mix of characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Drinking Problem" by K. D. Wentworth. When Joe goes to his regular bar and purchases a beer, the bar owner presents him with The Smart Bottle. The Smart Bottle is an environment-friendly project established by the government, and every citizen is bonded to the bottle for life by means of DNA imprintment. Joe tries everything in his power to get rid of the bottle, but he's unsuccessful. When he takes the bottle home, his wife Terri is at first irritated by the presence of the bottle. The Smart Bottle is more than a bottle, as the story progresses, it evolves into something more than just a bottle. I think "Drinking Problem" is the longest story in this collection, but it's so engaging and so entertaining, you'll hardly notice the length until you check the page numbers.
I should really like "Endosymbiont" by Blake Charlton. After all, I come from a family populated by doctors, and my mother is a cancer survivor. If for that reason alone, I truly felt I should be able to immerse myself into Charlton's tale. Stephanie wakes up in a hospital feeling quite ill as a result of the chemo. In the room she occupies she finds some neo toys which she hacks into. One of them, a snake, curls around, eats its own tail and vanishes with a pop. A little later, Stephanie discovers a glass snake in her pocket with the words carconella rudii imprinted on its belly. Stephanie assumes it's a message from her mother, and this is how she learns that her mind has been uploaded into a concinnity neuroprocessor.
The concept behind this story is quite interesting, but it didn't really do very much for me, and it was hard for me to feel any true empathy with the characters in the story.
"A Dance Called Armageddon" by Ken MacLeod is quite visual with some captivating lines that made me feel quite at home reading it. The UK and the US are engaged in the mother of all battles with Russia. MacLeod provides us with a main character who is so genuine, it's impossible not to like him.
In "Arties Aren't Stupid" by Jeremiah Tolbert, the future world is populated by different types of make. There are the Brainiacs, the Arties, the Elderfolk, the Tin Men, the Thicknecks and the Council who rules over them all. Mona is an Artie, and it is she who introduces us to this strange futuristic world devoid of plants and animals and where art or making is forbidden. When Niles, the leader of the Arties comes home with a device that is capable of making more than drawings, the world Mona and the Arties inhabits is changed.
I enjoyed this story very much and loved how Tolbert describes the process of making and the urge that pushes Arties to create. Beautiful story.
In "Faceless in Gethsemane" by Mark Budz our narrator's sister, Keeley has chosen to become face blind. Budz provides us with an insightful and moving tale that doesn't feel at all preachy. I came out of this story thinking, oh wow, that was a wonderful.
In "Spider the Artist" by Medi Okorafor-Mbachu, a pipeline runs close by Eme's house. This pipeline carries fuel all over Nigeria, and is a constant target for men in the village who siphon fuel off the pipeline. When the government sets in zombies (spiderlike robot creatures) to guard the pipeline, the stealing goes down. Eme is a musician married to a man who beats her up. To escape his abuse, she often goes behind the house where she sits close to the pipeline and plays on her guitar. On one of the evenings, a zombie comes up to her, and listens to her music. I found myself quite engrossed in this tale of an unlikely friendship between a human and musically inclined killer-robot.
"Resistance" by Tobias Buckell is the last story in this collection. It's quite an insightful look into what happens to societies when people fail to take responsibility for their own decisions. It's a strong story to end the collection with and leaves the reader with excellent food for thought as the protagonist in this tale sinks back and "waits for the dark to take him in its freeing embrace."
Overall, Seeds of Change exceeded my expectations. I found it to be quite an engaging read, and while not all of the stories appealed to me, I think the majority of it will appeal to readers everywhere.