Cover Image: Multispecies Cities

Multispecies Cities

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy

“Multispecies Cities” [3.5/5]

If you like the Solarpunk Genre you will probably like this anthology. This was the first book I read related to the Genre and I quite liked it, even though the stories were hit or miss for me. I think you will have a better experience than me if you go into this not only for the stories but also for the ideas those stories propose - the ideas proposed in the stories can be quite astonishing. My favourite stories are:

“Old Man’s Sea” by Meyari McFarland
“Untamed” by Timothy Yam
“Iron-Fox in the Marble City” by Vlad-Andrei Cucu
“Children of Asphalt” by Phoebe Wagner
“Becoming Martians” by Taiyo Fujii
“In Two Minds” by Joel R. Hunt
“Wandjina” by Amin Chehelnabi
“The Birdsong Fossil” by D. K. Monk
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this was a great anthology, the stories were well done and the stories were really unique. This was a great anthology and I look forward to reading more from this company.
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As often happens with anthologies, some stories connect, but others not so much. I loved some stories, didn’t like others, and some I didn’t get a chance to read because of too many competing projects, my window of opportunity closed too soon! As an “ecology now” kid from the 70s, and an “apocalypse now” adult today, I want to read the rest of this book. I love the idea of solar punk.
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Thank you to NetGalley and to World Weaver Press for this DRC.

This book is solarpunk; definition, from the introduction:

"[Stories about] refusing to surrender to the temptation of violent, dystopian post-apocalypse imaginaries. Seeking ways of practicing solidarity, embracing human ingenuity from traditional ecological knowledge to scientific research, celebrating diverse forms of being in the world, from personal expression to relationships."

Very cool, right? The focus was on authors from the Asia-Pacific region. 

My favourite stories: 

By the Light of the Stars, By N. R. M. Roshak, set in (future?) Hawaii, about the effects of light pollution;
Old Man's Sea, by Meyari McFarland, about an orca with military spec mods in a flooded world;
Deer, Tiger and Witch, by Kate Bui, set in Vietnam (very fave);
Untamed, by Timothy Yam, about roof gardening (and a young protagonist in trouble with the police);
It is the Year 2115, by Joyce Chng, about a domed city;
A Rabbit Egg for Flora, by Caroline M. Yoachim, which is perfectly charming (won't spoil it);
A Life with Cibi, by Natsumi Tanaka, translated by Toshiya Kamei -- not a fave so much as utterly disturbing, about living food 😳;
Children of Asphalt, by Phoebe Wagner, one of a couple of stories in the anthology about the wisdom of small kids 🥺;
Becoming Martians, by Taiyo Fujii, translated by Toshiya Kamei, about what Mars may be like eventually, because humans;
Abso, by Sarah E. Stevens, which is lovely about a robotic dog;
The Mammoth Steps, by Andrew Dana Hudson, because who doesn't want to read about living mammoths?;
Crew, by E.-H. Nießler, another one about modified marine creatures;
The Birdsong Fossil, by D. K. Mok, which I wish I could read again for the first time. 

Breathtaking.Lots to read, savour, think about, learn from. A fantastic anthology.
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I loved the stories in this book, I had never heard of solarpunk before this. I love the cover also, it fits the contents well.
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**Thank you to Netgalley and World Weaver Press for the eARC of this collection of stories in exchange for honest feedback!**

I absolutely adored this collection and will be purchasing a copy to have on my shelf once it is published (April 13th, 2021.)

The intro to this book alone was beautiful and really spoke to me. I have never read anything of the "Solarpunk" variety, and found a lot of parallels to what I consider "Cli-Fi" or Climate Fiction. As humans we are not the best at being receptive of our environment and this collection really highlights where we go wrong as a population and how we could be better as a whole.

The stories in this collection worked to examine how we can be better advocates for the planet and the plants/animals that are just trying to survive alongside us. I loved the stories that involved a symbiotic relationship between humans and animals, and the stories that emphasized how we can be better "listeners" when it comes to the environment around us.

Out of the 23 stories in this collection my two favorites are Children of Asphalt by Phoebe Wagner and The Streams are Paved with Fish Traps my Octavia Cade. There was a wide range of writing styles in this collection, and with some of the stories being translated from different languages I could see how some people could find the lack of cohesion a little jarring. I recommend reading this in short clips, I would pick it up and read a story at a time rather than trying to read it as a whole. A couple of the stories missed the mark for me, but I would say at least 90% of them left me with a lot to reflect on.

I would recommend this book if you care about the environment, enjoy sci/fi and cli/fi stories, or stories involving animals. I know some of the stories in this collection will be sticking with me for a long time.
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I enjoy dystopias and postapocalyptic wastelands, but they don't present the future I want for myself or future generations. I want an optimistic future founded on renewable energies. I believe people can coexist peacefully with nature. Yes, I'm that naive.

Solarpunk's ideas are close to my heart. In short, the genre can be described as a type of optimistic science fiction that focuses on visions of a brighter future.

The stories packed into this anthology approach a variety of ethical and technological issues while trying to present a sustainable world. I loved most ideas and conceptions presented in the stories. Some of them are simply mind-blowing, some merely exciting.

However, clever ideas and thought-provoking concepts aren't enough to make an excellent story. As a reader, I want strong conflict and distinct characters. Many stories lacked this.

The Birdsong Fossil” by D.K. Mok is my favorite.

Worth a read. but as most anthologies, it's a mix of good stuff, bad stuff, and all the things in-between.
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While the editors' introduction is an eloquent and inspirational piece on climate change and fiction, the stories in this anthology are very uneven, ranging from poorly written to just passable. None lived up to the introduction, which is a shame, because the genre is an interesting one that deserves good representation.
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The short fiction anthology Multispecies Cities begins with a question: “What if stories could plant the seeds of hopeful futures?”  This solarpunk collection is a series of affirmative answers: stories that provide some sense of hopefulness amidst ecological devastation and extinction.

In the introduction co-written by editors Christoph Rupprecht, Deborah Cleland, Norie Tamura, and Rajat Chaudhuri, the collection is presented as focusing, in particular, on interspecies relationships and the possibilities of relating to one another in better ways, forming allegiances.  They note that “the multispecies concept argues that we can only truly understand the world if we look at the many ways humans and other life forms are entangled, in a way that cannot be easily separated.”

This collection feels really inclusive, which I appreciate.  The book centers contributions by authors from the Asia-Pacific region and features stories set there; the editors note that they “would love to see more alliances” – including works in more languages than English and which foster collaboration across professions – but that in this collection, which they see as “a first step in a rich journey of discovery and imagination,” they have aimed to disrupt exclusions in publishing by commissioning diverse writers.  A number of stories are inclusive of LGBTQ+ representation.  The anthologists have also helpfully included their pronouns with their bio statements at the back of the book.

There are 24 stories included here.  I will admit I did not finish two of them – they just didn’t work for me style-wise; they may be favourites for a different reader.  Of the 22 I did read, I gave each a rating of 1-5 (with half-points allowed) and I ended up with an average of 3.7.  I’ve happily rounded up to 4 because I did rate quite a few stories 4 or 5 stars.  “Iron Fox in the Marble City” by Vlad-Andrei Cucu, “The Streams are Paved with Fish Traps” by Octavia Cade (the only author in the whole collection I’d read before), “Untamed” by Timothy Yam, and “The Birdsong Fossil” by D.K. Mok were all stand-outs for me.  Each story includes a brief author biography at the end, which I really appreciate as it is easier than having to flip back and forth between a bios section at the back of the book and the stories themselves; I’ve discovered a number of authors I’d love to read more from.  I will also say that overall, while a few stories weren’t my cup of tea, that I think this is a strong collection, well edited, and reasonably cohesive given that it’s an anthology.

Thank you very much to World Weaver Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my review.
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4 stars

More than 20 different stories of speculative fiction with an outlook of hope for the future of a planet in crisis. Includes stories by queer writers & POC writers, with a special focus on Asia-Pacific writers. This anthology is fun, unique, thoughtful, & uplifting.

[What I liked:]

•I love the variety: setting, characters, length, writing style, tone, etc. Yet even with 20+ unique stories & writers, the collection was obviously carefully compiled & the selections fit the themes & goals laid out in the introduction. 

•Definitely do not skip the introduction! It’s not at all boring, & really helped to set up the reading experience for me. I wasn’t super familiar with what “solarpunk” is as a genre, but the intro engagingly & concisely explained this along with why this genre & these specific stories were chosen for this anthology.

•As someone who enjoys the imaginative elements of steampunk/speculative fiction but gets easily depressed by heavy dystopian tragedies, I have found a great new genre in solarpunk! I love the aspect of environmental sustainability & the overall hopeful outlook on our uncertain future.

•Stories I particularly liked: Vladivostok, Iron Fox In The Marble City, The Exuberant Vitality of Hatchling Habitats, It Is The Year 2115, In Two Minds, The Streams Are Paved With Fish Traps, The Birdsong Fossil

[What I didn’t like as much:]

•Some stories aren’t really stories, just descriptions of a new technology, etc. I do like flash fiction, but I like it to have at least some action or conflict happening. 

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]
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Solarpunk is a sub genre I’d not heard of before coming across this book, but it is one that I will definitely be seeking out now. Focusing on futuristic societies that employ technologies to work coexist and work with the plants, animals, and biomes around them, these stories are full of novel ideas and hope. Every story in this collection is a powerhouse, there’s not a weak one in the bunch. Written by Pan-Asian authors and set in locations from Northern China to Australia, each of these stories brings a new perspective and voice to the ideas of how we can better interact with our environment. Each has an overriding sense of hope that makes this collection a uniquely pleasurable reading experience. I highly recommend it.
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