Speculative Los Angeles

Akashic. Feb. 2021. 256p. ed. by Denise Hamilton. ISBN 9781617758645. $25.95; pap. ISBN 9781617758560. $15.95. SF
This opening volume in a new anthology series focuses on speculative fiction, featuring “visions designed to warn, scare, tempt, laugh, and predict.” The 14 stories are loosely organized into categories, and each is based in a specific Los Angeles neighborhood. Many have a distinctly gritty and postapocalyptic flavor that takes advantage of a uniquely L.A. vibe. Standouts are “Sailing That Beautiful Sea,” Kathleen Kaufman’s story of the last human on Earth who is nurtured by robots in her dying days, and Duane Swieczynski’s “Walk of Fame,” a cautionary tale about the perils of being famous, which begins with the President’s head exploding on live television. Yikes!
VERDICT As with any anthology, the contents vary. Speculative fiction is a bit of a catchall term that may not be especially meaningful to readers. This particular collection seems geared toward an audience fond of dystopian short stories or longtime fans of Akashic’s “Noir” series wanting to branch out.
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