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A People's Future of the United States

John Joseph Adams
Victor LaValle

A glittering landscape of twenty-five speculative stories that challenge oppression and imagine new futures for America--from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, G. Willow Wilson, Charlie Jane Anders, Hugh Howey, and more.

In these tumultuous times, in our deeply divided country, many people are angry, frightened, and hurting. Knowing that imagining a brighter tomorrow has always been an act of resistance, editors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in.

They also asked that the stories be badass.

The result is this extraordinary collection of twenty-five stories that blend the dark and the light, the dystopian and the utopian. These tales are vivid with struggle and hardship--whether it's the othered and the oppressed, or dragonriders and covert commandos--but these characters don't flee, they fight.

A People's Future of the United States is a call to arms for anyone who believes in our power to dream a just world. Thrilling, inspiring, and a sheer joy to read, this anthology reminds us of the life-giving power of storytelling.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Victor LaValle
  • The Bookstore at the End of America -- Charlie Jane Anders
  • Our Aim Is Not to Die -- A. Merc Rustad
  • The Wall -- Lizz Huerta
  • Read After Burning -- Maria Dahvana Headley
  • Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity [excerpted] -- Malka Older
  • It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right -- Sam J. Miller
  • Attachment Disorder -- Tananarive Due
  • By His Bootstraps -- Ashok K. Banker
  • Riverbed -- Omar El Akkad
  • What Maya Found There -- Daniel José Older
  • The Referendum -- Lesley Nneka Arimah
  • Calendar Girls -- Justina Ireland
  • The Synapse Will Free Us from Ourselves -- Violet Allen
  • O.1 -- Gabby Rivera
  • The Blindfold -- Tobias S. Buckell
  • No Algorithms in the World -- Hugh Howey
  • Esperanto -- Jamie Ford
  • ROME -- G. Willow Wilson
  • Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death -- N. K. Jemisin
  • Good News Bad News -- Charles Yu
  • What You Sow -- Kai Cheng Thom
  • A History of Barbed Wire -- Daniel H. Wilson
  • The Sun in Exile -- Catherynne M. Valente
  • Harmony -- Seanan McGuire
  • Now Wait for This Week -- Alice Sola Kim

The Statement of Stella Maberly: Written by Herself

F. Anstey

A rediscovered classic of madness and possession by the author of the famous bodyswap novel Vice Versa

After her father loses his fortune, Stella Maberly is forced to go into service as a paid companion to her former schoolfellow, Evelyn Heseltine. When Stella finds Evelyn one morning apparently dead from an accidental--or perhaps intentional--poisoning, she is shocked and horrified. But it is nothing compared to her horror when Evelyn reawakens. Stella believes her friend's body is animated by something evil. Is Stella insane, or has a spirit of darkness actually taken possession of Evelyn?

When originally published in 1896, The Statement of Stella Maberly was subtitled 'Written by Herself' and presented as the real-life confession of a possibly mad woman, but the identity of the book's true author, F. Anstey (1856-1934), famous for his oft-filmed bodyswap novel Vice Versa (1882), was soon revealed. This first-ever scholarly edition of Anstey's lost classic features a new introduction and notes by Peter Merchant, plus the first-ever appearance of unpublished manuscripts pertaining to the novel, including a 1916 screenplay for a never-produced film version, An Evil Spirit.

Murder in the Solid State

Wil McCarthy

David Sanger, an ambitious young physicist, attends a party at which a pompous older scientist, who just happens to have thwarted the younger man's innovative ideas, is murdered. Suddenly it is not just David's career, but his life that is at stake. Are his ideas that important? Who's out to stop David from changing the world?

The Voluntary State

Christopher Rowe

Sturgeon, Hugo and Nebula Award nominated Novelette. It originally appeard on Sci Fiction, May 5, 2004. The story can also be found in the anthologies Science Fiction: The Best of 2004 (2005), edited by Karen Haber and Jonathan Strahan, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Second Annual Collection (2005), edited by Gardner Dozois, Beyond Singularity (2005) edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, Nebula Awards Showcase 2006, edited by Gardner Dozois and Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology (2007), edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. It is included in the collection Telling the Map: Stories (2017).

Queen of the States

Josephine Saxton

Meet Magdalen, a woman who is on her own planet, out to lunch and on her own trip...

She moves through time and space, from a private mental hospital to an alien spaceship where she is interrogated about human behaviour and the function of sex. Is Magdalen mad, or have the aliens really landed? She weaves her way through the fantasies of those around her - husband Clive, psychiatrist Dr Murgatroyd, lovers, friends and friend's lover - until, finally, she can reclaim her own existence...

The Electric State

Simon Stålenhag

In 1997, a runaway teenager and her yellow toy robot travel west through a strange USA. The ruins of gigantic battle drones litter the countryside, heaped together with the discarded trash of a high tech consumerist society in decline. As their car approaches the edge of the continent, the world outside the window seems to be unraveling ever faster--as if somewhere beyond the horizon, the hollow core of civilization has finally caved in.

Simon Stålenhag is the internationally acclaimed author, concept designer, and artist behind Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood. His highly imaginative images and stories depicting illusive sci-fi phenomena in mundane, hyper-realistic Scandinavian landscapes have made Stålenhag one of the most sought-after visual storytellers in the world. In The Electric State, Stålenhag turns his unique vision to America.

The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate

A. C. Wise

This short story originally appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Issue Four, May-June 2015. It can also be found in the anthology The New Voices of Fantasy (2017), edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman.

Read the full story for free at Uncanny.

The Terminal State

Avery Cates: Book 4

Jeff Somers

Avery Cates is an army man. Between the army's new dental plan and a set of first class augments, he's been given a second chance - albeit a quick one.

When a corrupt officer decides to make some money on the side by selling new recruits, Cates finds himself in uncharted territory. Sold to the highest bidder, his visions of escape and revenge quickly come to an end when he realizes who's bought him - and for what. Because the high bidder is Canny Orel himself. And he wants Cates to do one last job as the System slides into chaos. Cates will have one shot at getting back at Canny - but this time, Canny is holding all the cards.

The Disunited States of America

Crosstime Traffic: Book 4

Harry Turtledove

Justin's having the worst trip ever. He and his mother are Time Traders, traveling undercover to different alternate realities of Earth so they can take valuable resources back to their own timeline. In some of these worlds, Germany won World War I or the world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare. Justin and his mother are in an America that never became the United States: each state is like a country, and many of them are at war with each other. Their mission takes them to Virginia, which is on the verge of bloody violence with Ohio. Beckie is from California, and like the rest of her world, unaware that Time Traders exist.

The only reason she's in small town Virginia is because her grandmother dragged her there to visit old relatives. Beckie is just as horrified by the violence and racism of the alternate Virginia as Justin is, and the two are drawn to one another. But when full-fledged war breaks out between the States, including a biologically designed plague, will either of them manage to get back home? Forget about home: Will they make it out alive?

The United States of Atlantis

Lost Continent of Atlantis: Book 2

Harry Turtledove

As England tightens its control over the Atlantean colonies, Victor Radcliff and his band of revolutionaries resolve to make the English pay for each and every piece of land they dare to occupy and will stop at nothing to preserve the liberty of their people as a new nation is born?a nation that will change the face of the world?

The State of the Art

The Culture Cycle: Book 4

Iain M. Banks

The first ever collection of Iain Banks' short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast. The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks' staggering talent.

An Enemy of the State

The LaNague Federation: Book 3

F. Paul Wilson

Peter LaNague's voice was low but his eyes blazed as he spoke:
"I propose a revolution, one without blood and thunder, but one that will shake this world and the entire outworld mentality as no storm of violence ever shall. History is filled with cosmetic revolutions where a little new paint is daubed on an old face or, in the more violent and destructive examples, a new head set on an old body. Mine will be different, truly radical... which means striking at the root. I'm going to teach the outworlds a lesson they will never forget. When I'm through with the Imperium, the people of the outworlds will swear never again to allow matters to reach the state they are in. Never again!"

Meet Peter LaNague - citizen of the planet Tolive, devotee of the Kyfho philosophy, revolutionary agent provocateur.

But LaNague is planning a unique revolution. One that not only topples the entrenched Outworld Imperium, but fundamentally alters every outworlder's concept of government as well. To accomplish this he must ally himself with a madman, trust the word of the last of Sol System's robber barons, make incisive use of the consummate warriors from the planet Flint without letting them run amok, confound at every turn the omnipresent forces of the Imperium, and every now and then make it rain money.

But those are the easy parts. His greatest challenge will be to see his plan through to successful completion without becoming the very enemy he has vowed to destroy.

A World Out of Time

The State: Book 1

Larry Niven

When he came back from the dead... he wished he hadn't.

Jaybee Corbell awoke after more than 200 years as a corpsicle -- in someone else's body, and under sentence of instant annihilation if he made a wrong move while they were training him for a one-way mission to the stars.

But Corbell picked his time and made his own move. Once he was outbound, where the Society that ruled Earth could not reach him, he headed his starship toward the galactic core, where the unimaginable energies of the Universe wrenched the fabric of time and space and promised final escape from his captors.

Then he returned to an Earth eons older than the one he'd left... a planet that had had 3,000,000 years to develop perils he had never dreamed of -- perils that became nightmares that he had to escape... somehow!

The Integral Trees

The State: Book 2

Larry Niven

"Niven has come up with an idea about as far out as one can get.... This is certainly classic science fiction-the idea is truly the hero." -Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

When leaving Earth, the crew of the spaceship Discipline was prepared for a routine assignment. Dispatched by the all-powerful State on a mission of interstellar exploration and colonization, Discipline was aided (and secretly spied upon) by Sharls Davis Kendy, an emotionless computer intelligence programmed to monitor the loyalty and obedience of the crew. But what they weren't prepared for was the smoke ring-an immense gaseous envelope that had formed around a neutron star directly in their path. The Smoke Ring was home to a variety of plant and animal life-forms evolved to thrive in conditions of continual free-fall. When Discipline encountered it, something went wrong. The crew abandoned ship and fled to the unlikely space oasis.

Five hundred years later, the descendants of the Discipline crew living on the Smoke Ring no longer remember their origins. Earth is more myth than memory, and no recollection of the State remains. But Kendy remembers. And just outside the Smoke Ring, Discipline waits patiently to make contact with its wayward children.

The Smoke Ring

The State: Book 3

Larry Niven

In the free-fall environment of the Smoke Ring, the descendants of the crew of the Discipline no longer remembered their Earth roots -- or the existence of Sharls Davis Kendy, the computer-program despot of the ship. Until Kendy initiated contact once more.

Fourteen years later, only Jeffer, the Citizens Tree Scientist, knew that Kendy was still watching -- and waiting. Then the Citizens Tree people rescued a family of loggers and learned for the first time of the Admiralty, a large society living in free fall amid the floating debris called the Clump. And it was likely that the Admiralty had maintained, intact, Discipline's original computer library.

Exploration was a temptation neither Jeffer nor Kendy could resist, and neither Citizens Tree nor Sharls Davis Kendy would ever be the same again...

The Warring States

Wave Trilogy: Book 2

Aidan Harte

After the rout at Rasenna, Concord faces enemies on all fronts and nobody believes that the last surviving Apprentice is equal to these crises – but Torbidda didn't become Apprentice by letting himself be manipulated.

While Sofia – Rasenna's Contessa – is struggling to understand her miraculous pregnancy, the City of Towers grows wealthy. But it's not long before the people of Rasenna start arguing again and as the city falls apart once more, Sofia realises she must escape Etruria to save her baby. When prophecy leads her to another cesspit of treachery, the decadent Crusader kingdom of Oltremare, Sofia begins to despair, for this time she can see no way out...