FTL, Y'all! Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive

Iron Circus. Oct. 2018. 336p. ed. by Amanda Lafrenais. ISBN 9781945820205. pap. $30. Rated: Teen+. ANTHOLOGIES
Now available for everyone: a faster-than-light engine you can build yourself, with plans downloadable cheap off the Internet. But people remain people in these 21 inventive selections from a host of creators. For even if sf-style transport beckons, it's still up to us to build it. Red tape gets much worse. Chaos, greed, and incompetence frustrate utopian notions. Things go wrong in new kinds of ways, yet resourcefulness triumphs. Humans meet odd life forms and sometimes marry them, with peculiar outcomes. Trolling follows vloggers and bloggers into outer space. Pirates take over a luxury space station gone rogue, while hopeful colonists quit Earth to escape the environmental crisis. Two kids chase their stepfather through time and space to reclaim their beloved dog. And with "Failsafe," Rachel Ordway tells of an unexpectedly unsuccessful suicide in a standout, wrenching piece. All of the stories convey small, personal dramas, not sweeping epics. The striking black-and-white art varies in style and sophistication but always sells the agile, sometimes lighthearted plots.
VERDICT Lafrenais (Tim'rous Beastie) pulls together a creative, thoughtful collection that manages to be both enjoyable and disturbing. Inspiring fodder for sf fans and storytellers, adults and teens.

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