Kathryn Evans, More of Me. Amulet Books, 2017. Pp. 312. ISBN 978-1-4197-2372-8. $17.95.
Reviewed by Cait Coker
In my experience of reading YA, many authors adopt just enough SFF elements (whether climate catastrophe, vampires and werewolves, or spaceships) to provide a decorative veneer for the romance they’re actually telling. Kathryn Evans’s More of Me does the exact opposite, adopting a teenage girl protagonist and her messy high school life as cover for a story about genetic engineering and cloning. It’s not a particularly deep story: the science is hand-wavey, the plot twists are predictable, the characters are teenagers, but for all that it is compulsively readable.
Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad (ed.), Islamicates. Volume 1. Anthology of Science Fiction Short Stories inspired from Muslim Cultures. Mirza Book Agency, 2016. Pp. 236. ISBN 978-1-5373-7210-5. Free online.
Reviewed by Małgorzata Mika
What motivates us? Us as people? A French writer, Bernard Werber poses this question on the pages of his novel, L’ultime secret, enumerating religion as the tenth out of twelve basic factors defining human existence. His answer may be puzzling, especially for Islamic cultures where religion constitutes the very fabric of life. For Muslims all other elements, such as freedom from pain and fear, sustaining basic needs, wrath, sexual drive, etc., seem to be regulated by culture which is a “frequency through which religion travels” [p. i]. At least, this is the idea which Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad’s anthology Islamicates strongly postulates. Being a resultant of an ongoing project, the book constitutes a collection of stories and novellas with a detectable Muslim undertones, spreading its roots into the world of the fantastic. This includes science fiction regardless of the definition assumed. The presence of religion in the fantastic has usually been encrusted with elements of Christianity and, more vaguely, religions of the East. This anthology, however, is a peculiar experiment, revolving around Islam as a major indicative of the stories’ plot. How does the world of the future appear sieved through the eyes of a Muslim?
Trysh Thompson (ed.), SonofaWitch!. World Weaver Press, 2017. Pp. 161. ISBN 978-0998702230. $11.95.
Reviewed by Don Riggs
SonofaWitch! is a delightful read. It is not serious, although the situations in which the titular witches manage to land themselves are, and although the reader comes very quickly to appreciate the witches’ qualities and even possibly identify with them somewhat, there are no instances of genuine horror to keep one awake at night, twitching at every creak on the staircase and groan of the door. However, the stories in this collection are craftily written, and there is delight for those who appreciate the writer’s craft, and possibly—although this reviewer would not know from personal experience—there may be allusions to conventions or recurring motifs from the world of covens.