October 15th, 2020

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Review: "Imagine Wanting Only This" by Kristen Radtke

Imagine Wanting Only ThisImagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this graphic memoir as a gift, read it in one sitting, and came away unsatisfied. The author, a young woman, tells of her search for permanence, but no matter where she goes, she can’t find it. Still, she asks vital questions along the way, and she probes the depth of her sorrow over the loss of her beloved uncle and the losses that other people have suffered. She visits a variety of ruins, learns of a possible distant relative who survived the Peshtigo Fire, and considers the costs to people when their livelihoods end.

During her trips, she assembles a wide range of fascinating facts and observations. The art and questions are haunting and seem to lead to some sort of journey’s end. A number of passages could stand strong as excerpts. Although she is empty, she takes a lot of ideas and items (including some that she shouldn’t) with the intent of doing something with them.

And she never does. The story ends with a series of questions, such as: “Who knows what will be significant when we have all moved on to whatever is waiting or not waiting?” She has no answer. Despite all the amazing things she’s seen and learned, she has assembled nothing from her experiences and has not changed and grown. She was callow and glum when she started, and she stays that way.

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Review: "Recognize Fascism"

Recognize Fascism: A Science Fiction and Fantasy AnthologyRecognize Fascism: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology by Crystal M. Huff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I backed the Kickstarter campaign to fund this anthology. The book sounded exciting. It turned out to be excellent and, despite the grim-sounding subject matter, a pleasure to read.

Besides quality, what fuels this anthology is variety. The authors bring viewpoints from different countries and different kinds of narrators, including a turnip (really). While you might expect stories about fascism to be grim and angry, and some of them are, others are fun and funny, even absurdist. One is a romantic meet-cute. Another is brief and poetic. Some of the voices soar.

The kinds of fascism also vary, including a bullying schoolgirl, a shattered armistice in a war over magicians, a waitress whose job becomes increasingly oppressive, lovers separated by space and politics, a magical object carrying memories of slavery, and the arbitrary replacement of clocks.

How do you recognize fascism? You might have known it all along, or you might see the world unravel as your freedoms shrink. How can you fight fascism? You might use music, a network of allies, a pissed-off artificial intelligence, or a sudden glimpse of your own power. You might have choices.

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