Brave New Love, edited by Paula Guran

My short story reading has dived badly this year, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up! In particular there are a bunch of anthologies I’m keen to get through, so I am hoping at least to put a solid list of favourites together by the end of the year.

Brave New Love, edited by Paula Guran, is a solid YA anthology looking at dystopian love stories. I was impressed at how cohesive the tone of the book felt, considering that the range of dystopian societies is quite wide and varied. And I was very pleased at the diverse interpretations of what ‘love story’ entailed.

The standout story for me was Diana Peterfreund’s “Foundlings,” which takes the current societal/media trend of publicly shaming and distrusting pregnant women, and extends it to what should be absurd proportions but, um, aren’t actually that unrealistic. In a world where teen pregnancy is outlawed, and pregnant teens are “disappeared” from society for their own protection, one girl has to risk everything to keep her twin sister safe. I thought this was a rich, thoughtful story which prioritised sisterly love over romantic (though there’s a hint of that too) and added another important story to a growing body of YA science fiction dealing with themes of fertility and biology.

Another standout story for me in this anthology was William Sleator’s “Eric and Pan” which presents a love story between a US boy and a Thai migrant boy in an only slightly-future where homosexuality is outlawed. I thought that the culture of fear and illegality was conveyed well, as was the different vulnerabilities/privilege levels of the two boys. Plus a rolicking good story.

I also really enjoyed Nisi Shawl’s “Otherwise,” Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s “The Up,” and Elizabeth Bear’s “The Salt Sea and the Sky.”

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