Rachel Lynn Brody (ed.): Hot Mess – Speculative Fiction About Climate Change

The handful of stories in Brody’s collection clearly have an agenda of raising consciousness of and concern about the implications of climate change. Socially or politically motivated art is tricky: it can succeed in communicating its objectives without necessarily exhibiting the general hallmarks of literary merit. In literary terms, I found Hot Mess a mixed bag. These stores don’t always succeed for me even at the propaganda level: a world in which exposure to the sun literally brings instant death is so exaggerated that it almost seems to undercut the urgency of dealing with the real-world problem. The stories that worked best for me generally had a much narrower focus. Eric Sipple’s “She Says Goodbye Tomorrow” looks specifically at what climate change could mean for wine growers, and uses that as a lens to look at the difficulties of nurturing romantic relationships. Although I found its chronology a bit confusing, I thought it was generally successful. RJ Astruc’s “The World Gets Smaller, and Things Get Left Behind,” ponders the fate of Venice’s canals and art; it’s a bit heavy-handed, but I thought it was effective. The editor’s own “Haute Mess” is short and pointed satire about the point at which climate change could threaten our ability to remain a high-tech culture, and her “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom” examines a troubled child coping with repressed grief with the dubious aid of an artificial intelligence against a background of radical climate change. Both were among the strongest entries.

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

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