Teens form an all-girl band in the face of an impending comet.
A woman faces giant spiders to collect silk and protect her family.
New friends take their radio show on the road in search of plague survivors.
A man seeks love in a fading world.
How would you survive the apocalypse?
Defying Doomsday is an anthology of apocalypse fiction featuring disabled and chronically ill protagonists, proving it’s not always the “fittest” who survive – it’s the most tenacious, stubborn, enduring and innovative characters who have the best chance of adapting when everything is lost.
In stories of fear, hope and survival, this anthology gives new perspectives on the end of the world, from authors Corinne Duyvis, Janet Edwards, Seanan McGuire, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Stephanie Gunn, Elinor Caiman Sands, Rivqa Rafael, Bogi Takács, John Chu, Maree Kimberley, Octavia Cade, Lauren E Mitchell, Thoraiya Dyer, Samantha Rich, and K Evangelista.
Here’s a fun game for you: go through the sci-fi/post-apocalyptic/generally apocalypse related shelf of your bookcase and see how many books feature disabled characters. Now see how many of those characters are NOT magically cured, to the point where they don’t experience any negative effects of their disability. How many are protagonists rather than side characters moving someone else’s plot along. How many display complex attitudes towards their disabilities, and are allowed to be complex characters themselves.
Yes, that’s right. Not a whole lot. And that’s why this book exists.
The stories here are varied in so many ways–in the type of apocalypse, the world, the character’s disability, the role the disability plays in the character’s life (an added difficulty or an advantage or a mix of both). However, all the stories share a nuanced portrayal of life with a disability. In all the stories, the disability is an important part of the character without being all there is to that character.
And of course, all the stories are excellent survival stories of their own right; with many of them, I was left holding my breath for the characters, or terrified of the apocalyptic threat (shout-out to that one story with the spiders here!) or having warm fuzzy feelings about certain relationships, or tearing up, or all four. My one issue with the book was how technical and science-y some of the stories were (I got lost in the technical terms), but that was really my fault, and anyway it’s sci-fi and I don’t what I expected. The only authors I was familiar with before I started were Corrine Duyvis and Seanan Maguire (whose stories I loved, no surprise), but a lot of the stories impressed me enough that I’ll try to check out the writers’ other works.
Some of my personal favorites:
- And the Rest of Us Wait by Corrine Duyvis: an excellent intro to the anthology with a strong message, taking place in the same world as her novel On the Edge of Gone with some recurring characters. I love that the main characters respond to their situation through pop songs.
- Something in the Rain by Seanan Maguire: For some reason the apocalypse scenario here was the scariest to me, plus I loved Holly’s voice and this story was relevant to my interests as a cat person.
- Did We Break the End of the World? by Tansy Rayner Roberts: Surprisingly cute and banter-y, with an excellent ending. I would like to read more in that world.
- In the Sky with Diamonds by Elinor Caiman Sands: After I finished this one, I put my phone down, took a deep breath, and said, “Well, that was intense.”
- Selected Afterimages of the Fading by John Chu: I loved the way the disability (muscular dysmorphia) was intertwined with the worldbuilding (things fade if not given attention).
- Spider Silk, Strong as Steel by Samantha Rich: A good mix of scary and heartwarming. This is the one with the giant spiders, so be careful if that’s not your thing.
- No Shit by K. Evangelista: For the cute relationship between the main character’s and for Jane’s hilarious voice, which brought lightness into the anthology.
- I Will Remember You by Janet Edwards: This one made me cry a little bit. Again, I wouldn’t mind a follow-up a few years afterward.
And the fact that I listed so many stories for favorites says a lot, I think! Pick this one up if you want something different and original.