Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SFF: The Last Man Anthology edited by Hunter Liguore

If you’re looking for a happy little collection of speculative fiction, keep on going: The Last Man Anthology (Sword and Saga Press) is certainly not that. In fact, quite the opposite is true. After all, the subtitle promises “Tales of Catastrophe, Disaster, and Woe.” While that’s a tall order to fill, the collected authors take a stab at it and they don’t do badly, at that.

As the title implies, the collection was inspired by Mary Shelley’s novel, The Last Man. From the introduction:

... it’s important to mention that Shelley’s vision was both prophetic and haunting. We’ve witnessed plagues that have been detrimental, and always have the threat of a super strand virus that could wipe out civilization. What would our world look like with three-quarters of the population buried, or even worse, what if there was only one man, as Shelley described?
Just for kicks (!) editor Hunter Liguore includes a “Timeline of Catastrophe, 2000-2010.”

“The timeline that follows is incomplete,” the text warns, “but serves as a record for the immensity of disasters for the current decade across the globe.” And so we have Air France Flight 4590 crashing in 2000, the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the ferry that sank off the African coast in 2002 killing 1863 people... I could go on, and Liguore does: so much more that by the time we get to 2010 with Haitian earthquakes and Brazilian floods, Chinese oil spills and Icelandic volcanoes, our eyes are glazing over and our hearts are screaming: “No. More. Please.”

No doubt, that is the desired effect of The Last Man Anthology: to wring the reader’s heart and mind and leave them weak with relief that, when the last page is turned, the world is still sitting here, most of the occupants intact, sharing the air the reader breaths.

The stories Liguore has chosen to feature here span nearly 200 years and include the work of some very evocative names: H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, C.J. Cherryh, Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, Jack London, Edgar Allan Poe and many others -- in all, 39 contemporary and classic writers, connected here by their ability to look at doom and then, inexplicably, to look away.

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Anonymous M.E. Staton said...

sounds a bit like a rehash of Assimov's collection 'the last man on earth'. Not that it is a bad thing. It was a great collection and unfortunately no longer in print.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 12:29:00 AM PDT  

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