The People's Republic of Everything

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The People's Republic of Everything is made up of fourteen short stories and one novella from genre fiction writer Nick Mamatas and is the most varied assemblage of work I've read in some time.

Walking with a Ghost - A Lovecraft inspired piece right off the bat and one of the best in the collection.  It's the story of H.P. Lovecraft as AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Arbeitskraft - A steampunkish story about the elimination of the proletariat.  I even see a bit of our times in this unusual tale.

The People’s Republic of Everywhere and Everything - A crime noir story, of sorts, about stealing the Q-chip, or quantum chip, which promised to be capable of breaking any and every code.  This one has one of my favorite lines in the entire collection...

"...even the Revolution appreciated a pretty girl who shaved her armpits and smelled like patchouli rather than patchouli and landfill."

Tom Silex, Spirit-Smasher - Fiction that smacks of realism.  A story about an attempt to obtain the rights to reprint the works of a forgotten pulp writer...

"Tom Silex is like a Sherlock Holmes/ cowboy/ ghostbuster/ Harry Potter-type all rolled up into one."

The Great Armored Train - A fanciful tale of the Russian Revolution and a Polish girl who can turn into an owl.

The Phylactery - Sort of an essay on Greekness.  Phylactery.  It's a Greek thing.  A good luck charm, if you will.

Slice of Life - "Not many women of child-bearing age make arrangements to leave their bodies to science. Fewer still die while in their third trimesters."

North Shore Friday - (Please note that the digital edition does not contain this story)  A tale of immigration.  Here's a helpful tip: If you think the government is reading your mind.  Think in Greek.

The Glottal Stop - Living a life inside of social media...

"By the time she got out of “the joint”— she was thinking in TV clichés from her own childhood now !— all the social media platforms would be obsolete and abandoned, a graveyard of controversies as accessible as floppy disks."

The Spook School - Inspired by time spent in Scotland.

A Howling Dog - The curious incident of a bark without a dog.  This was once produced as a full-cast audio adaptation at pseudopod.org and appears in print for the first time in this volume.

Lab Rat - Supplementing a freelance writer's income by being a lab rat.  I wonder how many of my writer friends have actually done this.

Dreamer of the Day - A terrific crime story of an aging daytime actress wanting her philandering husband dead.

We Never Sleep - It's the Pinkerton slogan.  Dieselpunk - Just like steampunk, but greasier and more efficient.

Under My Roof - What would happen if an otherwise ordinary man built a nuclear bomb, put it a garden gnome on his lawn and became a sovereign state.  I loved this novella to finish up the collection.

I found much of the work in The People's Republic of Everything to be introspective, clever, and fun.

Recommended.

The People's Republic of Everything is available now in both paperback and e-book formats from Tachyon Publications.

From the author's bio - Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including Love is the Law, I Am Providence and the forthcoming Hexen Sabbath.  His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, and many other venues.  His fiction and editorial work have been nominated for the Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and International Horror Guild awards.  Nick lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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This book... oh this book... I have gone many rounds of mental tug-of-war with myself regarding how to rate this book. To start I must admit that I did not, could not, read all of the stories straight through. The writing was well done. The technique, excellent. BUT the content was so obviously saturated with zealous political ferver, it felt like I was being smacked in the face with a rotting propaganda pamphlet...repeatedly. Can you tell that I don't like politics (unless it's Court Politics) mixing with my favorite leisurely activity? That being said, there were pacing issues and plain old boredom issues so a skimming I went. Man oh man how I skimmed. That's never a good sign! If it weren't for how nicely worded and structured the sentences were I'd have swiftly placed this in the DNF bin. Thanks to the tiny grammar freak residing at my core there was a part of me that enjoyed this solely on the merit of its technique. Accounting for this and the differing tastes of each reader, I bumped the rating up to 3 stars. I know there will be those that will enjoy this book thoroughly but I was not one of them. The humor I originally believed the book would be peppered with was sorely missing and I just didn't enjoy the stories. 

NOW I must also admit, for what it's worth, that I am not an avid reader of Compilation books. I gave it a shot and dipped my toes in these waters by first inhaling Faster, Stronger and More Beautiful. That book is a compilation of interconnected futuristic vignettes and it opened my eyes to the beauty of the genre. I know it's unfair to compare the two, especially since the content of both books differs so, but I haven't read many other Compilations to help create a baseline. Without a proper pool of literary peers to reference against, F,SaMB ended up being quite influential in my rating and therefore it's in my review.

Overall: Will I reread this? No. Will I read more of Nick Mamatas' work? Probably not BUT I will also say that based on the writing alone, others might fall reverently in love with this book and I hope they do. Do I reccomend this? Well, yes I do and I know it might seem contradictory to my review but I truly believe that this has a market... just not in my neighborhood.  


*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review  ***
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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary
In this collection, 15 pieces of Mamatas' work (14 short stories and a novella) are displayed, and the audience is taken on a tour of the world--from Arizona where a senile woman and her granddaughter handle old pulp magazines, to the Polish border in Leon Trotsky's armored train, to a neighborhood in California viewed through the lens (or screen) of the neighborhood forum. Mamatas' voice shines through in each piece, and his writing makes them glow, almost "like a candle shaded by a leaf of onion skin paper."

Review
The first thing I need to say about this collection is that it is very clear very quickly from reading it that Mamatas has strong views/opinions, specifically liberal, Marxist views. This is obvious enough from the stories themselves, but it's made explicit in the story notes included after each story. Now, I'm not saying this because it's a bad thing; if your views influence your writing, that's not a problem. However, when it is so obvious (the second story is about Friedrich Engels, a friend of Karl Marx, and the fifth is about Leon Trotsky, without even getting to themes and comments in others), that should be made clear to the reader, and the synopsis mentions Engels' name, but does not properly represent how much those themes show up.

That being said, the stories are interesting and well-written. The format of the stories is an interesting mix: one is written entirely in dialogue, one is written in neighborhood forum posts tied together by a narrator giving some context and explanation, and one is formatted in an interesting way that I can't properly explain. Unfortunately, that last one, which is titled "North Shore Friday," was basically impossible to read in the electronic ARC I got, so I had to find a PDF of it online to be able to read it. I assume (and hope) that this was fixed for the final ebook in some way, but if you're interested in this book, I might buy a physical copy just to be safe.

Mamatas' writing is engaging, and the stories lend themselves to being dwelled on. Many of them ("A Howling Dog" comes particularly to mind) have meanings that can only really be understood if you pay close attention and make connections. I think "A Howling Dog" may be my favorite story in the collection for this very reason; I really enjoy stories that appear to be one thing on the surface, but seem to be something different if you look deeper. Mamatas is a masterful writer, and does this well.

Rating
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5 stars

There was no one thing I can point to and say it caused this collection to lose a star, but all the little things gathered together do, I believe, merit it. Between the running themes that I think should have been mentioned in the synopsis, to the formatting issue that necessitated finding an external PDF, to minor issues/confusions with a few stories, I just can't justify to myself a five-star rating. However, if a collection of beautifully-written stories with some liberal/Marxist themes sounds appealing to you, I definitely recommend this book.
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I had expected more of a science fiction focus from the description. While many of the stories did feature fantasy elements, the focus was more on the political aspects of the story settings. I can appreciate the originality of the author’s stories and the intellectual writing style. It was well done but it just wasn’t a good fit for my blog.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book to me. 

Short speculative fiction is fun, because it often lets the author explore some new ideas for something without having to go too in depth for what those changes mean to society, the economy, etc. 

This collection has a lot of hits for me and only a few misses (I would say it's rare that a short story collection hits on every story). 
 My favorite was the lengthiest (which is nice) - where a single household declares sovereignty. and threatens the US with a household nuclear bomb,
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A collection is a difficult creature to tame: not only do readers have to like the stories included, but they also have to buy into the collective impulse which gathered those stories together. There are plenty of recent collections which are pushing the boundaries of the form, including "Robots vs. Fairies," but this is a more difficult thing to do when a collection is limited to one author's work--as is Nick Mamatas' work here, and Jo Walton's "Starlings" earlier in the year. I mention Walton's collection because the two books share many similarities: both are by established voices in the speculative fiction community, both include cross-sections from throughout the writers' careers, and both struggle to find a collective impulse to do the stories justice. Another similarity is, of course, that they were the first book by each author in question for me to have read. making "The People's Republic of Everything" my first introduction to Mamatas in the same way that "Starlings" was my first introduction to Walton.

Both have inspired me to check out more books from the public library. That's a good thing.

As you might have guessed, I have plenty of good things to say about the individual stories in "The People's Republic of Everything." They're sharp, they're witty, they're totally in tune with what I'd call the "mild Berkeley anarchist" crowd making inroads in speculative fiction today; other readers have already compared Mamatas to Cory Doctorow, and for good reason (only, given the story notes and afterward, the main difference may be that Doctorow can afford to allow free downloads of his books and Mamatas cannot). I'd love to put Mamatas, Doctorow, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Malka Ann Older in a room together and see what new systems of thought and government (and writing) would come seeping out. They'd be as likely to split a few knuckles as not, but at least the fights would be free.

Standouts for me start with the first story in this collection, "Walking With a Ghost," which not only rebirths Lovecraft as an AI but has him be the subject of a graduate student's research project, which is just about as painfully perfect as it gets. "Arbeitskraft" follows immediately after, and marks a shift in tone, but it's a good one, and one of the collection's most straightforwardly anarcho-Communist in leanings. That particular conversation is explored in full and brilliant color in the book's closing novella, "Under My Roof," wherein a father and son team up to build a nuclear bomb and declare their home a free and sovereign state. (This does not go over well with the United States government, as you might expect.) Many of the stories aren't so much science fictional as they are nostalgic for accessible science fiction; "Under My Roof" skirts the boundary, with telepathic communication a key ingredient in the meta-narrative, and everything else a bizarre but mundane pastiche of American society. "Tom Silex, Spirit-Smasher" was a surprisingly winsome story in which the main character discovers her near-senile grandmother owns the rights to a mostly-forgotten comic character whose outlandish tales inspire her to greater self-awareness. "Slice of Life" has a researcher contemplate just what a human body--a cadaver--is, which indeed is weird and wonderful enough without the introduction of the science fictional. The stories in this collection celebrate the mundane and ordinary just as often as they introduce the strange or impossible; Mamatas never loses his interest in examining just what makes us us. 

Here's the bad news: the story notes Mamatas includes after each story may provide useful biographical information, but they completely suck all the oxygen out of the room--and put the brakes on all momentum. I highly recommend skipping them, and reading them all at once at the end of the book as a kind of extended afterward. I also recommend skipping Jeffrey Ford's introductory letter, as it takes a weird defensive posture towards Mamatas' work which ultimately does no justice to the stories themselves and instead leaves me asking, "Okay, so why is he so overlooked? Am I missing something?" Plenty of excellent speculative fiction authors never write breakout blockbuster books, but that doesn't mean that readers have failed in some critical way. See? Now I'm feeling awkward and uncomfortable all over again about that letter. Just skip it, and celebrate Mamatas' vision and skill on the pages that follow. Read this collection, and read also Mamatas' brilliant take-down of latent racism in film as demonstrated in James Cameron's "Avatar." You don't need the window-dressing, but you certainly do need more anarcho-Communist speculative fiction in your life.
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This collection of short stories was not what I expected and unfortunately was not a good fit for me. Based on the cover and the book description I was expecting a comedic, irreverent and Sci-fi group of stories. What I got were a little over thought and uninteresting. My favorite story was the one that the cover was based on - the longest of the bunch. I would have rather that one story be expanded without the rest of it.
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Nick Mamatas is an author I was aware of, someone I meant to check out. When his latest collection appeared on Netgalley, it was time. So now I’ve read him and…I’m not in love. I’m not even sure I’m in like. I usually take emotions seriously. This was just a very complicated first impression. Objectively the man is obviously talented and has the imagination to go along with it. A few of the stories were really good, with The Great Armored Train being a personal favorite and an all around great tale. Subjectively, though, a lot of the stories didn’t work for me, which is to say while I appreciated their originality, the execution inspired a sort of indifference. I’ve tried to put in words exactly what it is about Mamatas’ writing and it seems that it’s just very self aware, very autobiographical and politically correct in an obvious way (one story first published in this volume is a proof of that, it’s just well meaning and tragically unsubtle), this information is mainly gathered from extensive and informative afterwords provided for each story by the author and when you read these stories it just has message in neon letters printed all over them. Kind of like how there are some actors who disappear into their roles and you can enjoy an immersive movie experience and there are some where it’s just…it’s so and so being a teacher/mother/etc. And there’s also pacing, these stories read quite slowly at times, particularly We Never  Sleep, which ironically would send me nodding off at every other page. And that was the last short story of the collection, after that it’s a previously published novella or a short novel which is all about the message, a nuclear family reimagined quite literally when a father declares his place in Long Island a sovereign nation, an armed one at that, and proceeds to succeed, all told from a perspective of his precocious mindreading young son. This was supposed to be the star of the show probably and it started off decently enough, but then it just dragged on and on like a one note song on a protracted loop or, more accurately, a one punch joke told too long, since this is obviously a work of political satire. Didn’t care about that one at all, had I not been a completist, this would have been abandoned without a second thought. In fact had this collection ended before the soporific We Never Sleep, it would have been a much more enjoyable reading experience, one from which I would have walked away entertained and intrigued, instead like a frustrating guest it stayed too long and talked too much about its world views and thoughts and ideas and just kinda made you tired. Though I definitely think this is the sort of book that has its adoring audience, somewhere out there. And everyone can agree on great cover. Not a complete turn off, just a mixed bag introduction to the author. Frustratingly the story with the one of the most intriguing concepts (psi research) was pretty much digitally unreadable due to a messed up format, but then again this’ll most likely be taken care of for proper publication. Thanks Netgalley.
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Note: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

This is a compelling set of short stories that makes you think. It was also my entry point into reading Nick Mamatas. I will read more from him in the near future. The first half of the set of short stories were hard to get through, but stick with it. The last seven stories were quite enjoyable including the novella length "Under My Roof". The political and social commentary was spot on throughout the stories, and there were many laugh out loud moments intermingled with horrific moments.
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The People's Republic of Everything is a collection of primarily short fiction - with one heck of a novella thrown in at the end - by writer Nick Mamatas.  Not a new writer by any stretch of the imagination, but once again, a new writer to me.  I've been aware of his presence in the field (what field is *that*? I hear you ask, so I'll get to that in a bit), but I've never read anything by him up until now.  It's not that I've had opinions about him and his writing one way or another; I just didn't know of him and his writing, and thus I wasn't particularly motivated to pick up anything of his.  

I find it difficult to classify Mamatas's writing after reading this collection.  So yeah, what field is *that*?  The closest I can come is that he writes speculative fiction, which is really a copout term because when you think about it, *all* fiction is speculative.  What I'm really trying to say is that he writes stories that land in any number of genres:  science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk, and probably others if I think about it hard enough.  One thing I will say is that the reader will never be bored with the variety of types of stories in this collection.  Mamatas is all over the map, and I mean that in a good way.

I also get the feeling that there is more underneath these stories than meets the eye.  I'm not trained in literature by any means, nor am I trained in creative writing.  However, there seems to be something going on here that is more...deep seated.  That's probably not the right term, but I think the clues to what I'm really trying to say may be found in the author  commentary that follows every story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the collection; to me, knowing what was going on  inside the author's head when he (or she) wrote a story provides an interesting look into where the story came from and possibly how the story got to where it ended up being.

The collection starts off with an odd but hightly entertaining story called "Walking with a Ghost", a combination of AI and  Lovecraft, but not in the way you might think.  Lovecraft himself has been recreated within an AI, based on research of his  notes and journals, etc.  The story begins with a presentation of the Lovecraftian AI, and in attendance are a whole bunch of Lovecraft enthusiasts.  Lovecraft is brought out to be presented to the audience, and partway into the presentation he simply gets up and leaves.  He is found months later, and the resolution to the issue is quite interesting.

"The Spook School" is a story that really wasn't doing that much for me until the end.  A couple, Melissa and Gordon, go to  Scotland - Glasgow, to be precise - to see artwork from four people deemed "The Four", or, "The Spook School".  Melissa is particularly enamored of a picture called "The Wassail", from which a rose winks at her.  And then things take a turn that  is completely unexpected.  For the first time in a long time, my jaw actually dropped when I realized what was happening. The story turns from mostly mundane (other than that rose) to a horror tale to...I don't know, something else, all in the span of a few pages.  The ending made that story.

"Arbeitskraft" is another story of an AI that isn't just an AI.  It's a steampunk story about the creation of an AI of Karl Marx.  In this case, however, the AI hasn't been completed, and there is a race to have the creation stopped.  I mention it here because I'd read it somewhere before, in the anthology Steampunk III:  Steampunk Revolution, a 2012 book edited by Ann  Vandermeer.  It's an interesting read, and clearly one that stuck with me since I remembered from I book I read five or six years ago.  It was definitely worth the re-read.

"The Glottal Stop" is a frightening story that in many ways can mirror what happens in today's society.  Beatriz Almonte was just looking for a date - that's all.  An offhand comment that she had made on Twitter a couple of years before the story takes place turned the nastiest of the nasty on social media against her.  She'd essentially gone into hiding, fearing that bad things would happen to her.  She now felt that after a lengthy period of time, it would be okay to come out of hiding.  She was wrong.  The story was written for this collection, and it's clear that it's influenced by current day society and social media.  It's scary stuff.

"Dreamer of the Day" has an interesting premise.  The titular dreamer of the day will do something for you, as long as you do something that seems relatively easy; pay a bill, for example.  Lil is a small time actress who wants her husband dead because he's cheating on her; ironically, she's cheating on him with Paul, the guy she's with when she sees the dreamer.  Without giving too much away, this story is a case of "be careful what you wish for", the kind of story we see a lot where the genie grants the wish, but not the way it was intended.  It's an intense story that ends up where the reader doesn't expect.

My favorite is the collection-ending novella "Under My Roof".  Daniel Weinberg, just a bit on the odd side, decides that, in a world where the United States is involved in some 40 wars with 40 different countries, he is going to build a homemade nuclear bomb and secede from the United States.  He calls his new country Weinbergia.  His son Herbert, the central character and narrator of the story, becomes something of a celebrity.  It is a frightening story that posits a United States that seems like it could be what ours turns into if the current path doesn't change.

These are the stories that impacted me most, but really all the stories are interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking. The only story that I couldn't follow and didn't care for at all was "North Shore Friday".  In Mamatas' story notes, he says that "I have always been a sucker for typographic trickery.  Any book or story that features a disruption of layout immediately attracts my interest."  While that's fair, of course, because it's his story and his book, it does nothing for me, and in fact causes me to lose interest.  I valiantly tried to follow what was going on, but I failed.  Maybe that's a shortcoming of me as a reader, but while I don't mind challenging stories that exercise my brain, stories like "North Shore Friday", with it's  unusual type-setting and, well, typographic trickery, are a turn off.  Still, some people will like that kind of thing, and who
am I to judge?

All in all, this collection is an interesting and worthwhile introduction to the writing of Nick Mamatas.  While not all of it is necessarily my cup of tea, enough of it is that I enjoyed.  You may as well.
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It's time for me to lament about how these stories were too short and I need more. Okay, I'm done. This book is a collection of short stories with topics that are wildly different enough to hold your attention but not so different that they jump from one genre to another. I enjoyed the twists and turns with each story, and the influences of the ones I picked up one. This collection was edited well with each story seemingly flowing to the next while standard apart from each other. I enjoyed the first and last story the best (isn't that always how it goes) and wished for more from all the others. For any SFF nerd this collection should be on the top of their TBR.
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A collection of stories covering SF, horror and adjacent territory - you know, the sort of stories *about* SF &c which Michael Chabon sometimes does. But not so friendly as Chabon always comes across. I like author notes in general, but compared to the usual love-in where every publication was an honour, Mamatas' can be entertainingly rude about some of the venues, like the one which starts as "an ersatz Cemetery Dance" and then goes mostly downhill from there. Equally, the bit where he finds writing exhausting and distasteful is so much more reassuring than all those writers who apparently love every minute spent with pen in hand. Or 'Slices of Life', which is fiction about science yet not science fiction, and turns out to have been intended to announce a retirement from SF - a plan which the notes explain was abandoned for wholly financial reasons. Sometimes I felt like the shorter pieces in particular worked best as set-ups for these punchlines because, for whatever reason, there was a lot here with which I didn't quite connect, despite many writers I enjoy being huge Mamatas fans. The arrangement of the collection doesn't always help; the story with an AI simulation of Lovecraft is a smart riff on some of the fears expressed in HPL's own fiction, but it's followed too closely by a similar reproduction of Marx, which feels like the same idea filtered through a st**mp*nk setting and makes one worry the whole book will be riffs on that idea. And it's not, but why set up that impression needlessly? Still, there were a few that got me - like a well-timed Charles Rennie Mackintosh nightmare of Glasgow which gets its claws in early with the notion that "It’s the nightmares you don’t recall even having that get you in the end". Or the counterblast against manifestos in general which knows that "the less clear an idea is, the more likely it is to be popular". The collection's final third is taken up by a prescient short novel, Under my Roof. First published in 2006, it envisages a near-future America at loggerheads with practically everyone, where the middle class is being hollowed out and the apparatus of state seems increasingly to be a tool of repression and suppression. So young Herbert Weinberger's dad decides to start his own rogue state in the suburbs. And by way of insurance policy, he makes a nuke inside a garden gnome (the process being described in a degree of detail I found slightly unsettling). Oh, and also - Herbie's telepathic, which comes in handy as things get progressively more out of hand.
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Everything
The People's Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas
The People's Republic of Everything
by Nick Mamatas,
Jeffrey Ford (Introduction)

M 50x66
Lou Jacobs's review
Jun 23, 2018  ·  edit

liked it

Presented is a eclectic collection of speculative fiction - a heady mixture of politics and philosophy and a lesser input of science fiction and horror. Which is naturally disappointing if you where expecting the later. His writings obviously cannot be pigeonholed into one genre - although not acquainted with his writings - I am impressed with his satire and dark , dry wit. Most helpful the author provides story notes after each tale that relates to significance and origin of each story.
His prose is exceptional and I would have enjoyed the collection more if my expectations were not bound to a preconception and expectation of a "big gulp" of science fiction and horror.
Thanks to Netgalley and Tachyon Publications for providing this Uncorrected Proof for my enjoyment in exchange for an honest review.
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I got a copy of this from netgalley in exchange for a review.

I think this was just... Fundamentally not for me. The ideas were good, there were several moments that made me smile, but I ended up bouncing off the writing style quite hard at several points. I love Lovecraftian stuff, but I've seen it done significantly better by a lot of people and that rather coloured my reading of it.

Tl;dr: not bad, but not something I enjoyed overmuch.

Also posted here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2399461752?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
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I’m new to the author’s work and style.
The prose was tight and clear. I appreciated the background explanation given after every story. This is especially good for the more serious sci-fi fan, might not be the casual reader’s cup of tea. If you’re looking for depth in your short stories, this is for you. However, if you’re more of a fan of action and adventure, and crave these in short stories, then this might not be for you.
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This book was well written and very fun to read. The characters were great and I enjoyed the world building. The author does a great job at introducing the characters and moving the plot along. There were a few things that I didn't like, but it wasn't enough to really sway me one way or the other. It's definitely a story that I can get lost in and both feel for the characters. It is definitely a go-to novel that I highly recommend to anyone who loves a great read. Definitely a highly recommended read that I think everyone will enjoy.
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As always with a collection, there were some stories I liked, some I liked less and some I disliked.Some stories were very similar to each other. Overall, it's an ok collection that can serve as introduction to Mamatas works.
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The People’s Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had Nick Mamatas on my reading radar for quite some time but only now decided to jump in. It helps that I was given the opportunity by Netgalley.

What did I expect? Um. Almost nothing at all. I just saw that gnome on the cover and went, "That's pretty sarcastic." Okay. I'm on board.

So! Short stories!

I'm not going to do a breakdown other than to mention the ones I loved and briefly mention what stood out with the others, but that should be enough. For the most part, I really enjoyed everything. The sarcasm and the black-mirror type punch to the gut were probably the very best aspects. :)

To start out, I absolutely loved the AI HP Lovecraft. To make a composite of the man from his letters and hear about how much he feared to be a consciousness trapped in a bottle to be a self-aware composite of the same man TRAPPED IN A COMPUTATIONAL BOTTLE. It's sick. It's plausible. It's a great commentary on Lovecraftian fiction while striking out on its own and owning it. :)

I loved the Marx and Engles mystery solving duo, too.

But you know what really stood out for me? It was the deadly real-to-life story of a woman who was mercilessly brutalized on twitter and facebook, being called a SJW, and how it ruined her life and how she finally got to the point where she could start living again without being harassed. Only the internet never forgets. ... her revenge was hardly enough and this story actually made me cry with the injustice of it.

I liked most of the others well enough but none of them except the very last short novel really stood out like these other three. The last one had a great concept explored a bit more deeply than I've seen elsewhere, but not quite as deeply as, say, Corey Doctorow's Walkway. I mention that because there's a TON of similarities. 

Let's make our own country! Secede from the USA! Make sure we back it up with a homemade atomic bomb! Lol, good start, and excellent exploration, including peace treaties across the world, societal ramifications, a bit of kidnapping and extraditions. :) It was easily the most fun, especially when the guy with the lawnmower made the US government back up and do some chores. :)

This is definitely an author I need to keep my eyes open for. :)
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Note: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Nick Mamatas is one of those writers (and editors) I know of, but I couldn’t name one of his works from the top of my head. I have read one or two collections he edited at Haikasoru, and whenever I come across other works of his, they always seem to fit what I like in my fiction. So when his upcoming collection The People’s Republic of Everything came up for review on NetGalley, with a gorgeous cover, I couldn’t resist, and I am glad I didn’t.

This is a collection of stories Mamatas has written this past decade. Shorter stories and one novella (Under My Roof), covering various topics. A common element in a lot of stories is politics and political philosophy (communism mostly).Why do we follow? What does it take to stand up? But there is also a very interesting take on AI, and taking personalities from the past (In this case H.P. Lovecraft) to create a new AI. What are the implication for that personality? And another story about the consequences of social networks, and the doxxing of people for small slights in the public eye. One woman thinks after a couple of years she is safe again to live her life, but finds out quickly that the internet never forgets. One that hit home for me was a story about a neighborhood chat app (called Cranki.ly in the story, but totally based on Nextdoor) and how one person uses the app to wind other people up.

As always with a collection, there were some stories I liked, and some I liked less. For me there were too many stories about communism, and some of them (We Never Sleep and Arbeitskraft) were very similar to each other. Other stories were very enjoyable, and I liked the novella Under My Roof. The overall genre I would classify as speculative, as most stories are set in the current day or near future, with some fantastical elements in them. Four out of five stars.
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These stories were not to my taste. I just couldn't get into the writing and an author so obviously full of himself.
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