Tor. Mar. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9781250228581. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250228598. SF
OrangeReviewStarThis collection showcases the author's (and genre's) propensity for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable with stories of near-future dystopias so close we can see them from here. Only one has an even slightly hopeful ending, as the "poors" in a subsidized building find a way to subvert the paradigm of bad and worse choices that is supposed to control their lives. The stories get less hopeful and more frightening as an extraterrestrial superhero discovers that his respectability and honorary "whiteness" can be easily stripped away when he challenges the racism endemic to American life. Then come the two serious frights. One posits the results of a movement to treat insurance companies that consistently put profits over health care the same way that abortion providers get treated: with murder, doxxing, and terrorism. Finally, a group of rich and entitled survivalists hides out at the end of the world, discovering that the one contingency they have not planned for is their own hubris.
VERDICT The near futures Doctorow (Walkaway) portrays in these stories are chilling in their possibility and will draw in any sf reader who imagines what might happen if our current situations remain unchanged. Highly recommended.
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