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Review: DIVERSE ENERGIES, edited by Tobias Buckwell and Joe Monti

September 24 2012

Published by Tu Books
Release Date: Monday, October 15, 2012
Available in Hardcover

In Short: An excellent short story collection about different, yet grim dystopian futures.
Recommended: Yes.

“The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.”
– John F. Kennedy

The above quote is the epigraph to the short story anthology Diverse Energies edited by Tobias Buckwell and Joe Monti. The collection contains eleven short stories in the science fiction genre. They are all set in a futuristic dystopian world. The stories are all interesting, and they are completely worth reading. Of all the stories, I particularly enjoyed: “The Last Day” by Ellen Oh; “Freshee’s Frogurt” by Daniel H. Wilson; and “What Arms to Hold Us” by Rajan Khanna.

“The Last Day” was a great, yet deeply heartbreaking story about two friends, Kenji and Akira, who live in the poor village of Urakami, part of an empire in which the emperor has a draft that recruits boys and girls age 14 and older to become part of the army.

“Freshee’s Frogurt” is written as a police report about a robot malfunction nine months before Zero Hour. Two characters Jeff, Felipe work at yogurt store when a domestic robot tries to kill both Jeff and Felipe. Though it is a sad story the writing is entertaining and humorous. [This story is taken from Daniel H. Wilson’s book Robopocalypse. – Ed.]

“What Arms to Hold Us” is a story about children who work gollies, robotic Avataresque machines used to find primosite, the power source for the Imperium’s creations. The main character is Ravi. He is asked by Magus Sharpe to kill the ArchMagus because children are stolen from their families, forced to work the gollies and are dying so the Imperium can gain more wealth and power. Tragic yet filled with hope, it is an ultimately very rewarding read.

Throughout all eleven stories there are memorable characters going through so many emotions, and most are written so well that you feel for each character. Several of the stories cry out for expansion into full length novels; those that already are, I plan to seek out, and those that haven’t yet, I hope they do. I would love to see more of these characters.

The anthology was created in response to concerns that mixed-race characters, non-Western characters, LGBTQ characters and characters of color were underrepresented in Young Adult fiction, and most stories bring one or more of these underrepresented identities to the foreground. It is a refreshing change and I hope that more teens find inspiration from this anthology.

– Kim Sorensen

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