Book Review: Wastelands: The New Apocalypse ed. John Joseph Adams

The new post-apocalyptic collection by master anthologist John Joseph Adams, featuring never-before-published stories and curated reprints by some of the genre’s most popular and critically-acclaimed authors.

In WASTELANDS: THE NEW APOCALYPSE, veteran anthology editor John Joseph Adams is once again our guide through the wastelands using his genre and editorial expertise to curate his finest collection of post-apocalyptic short fiction yet. Whether the end comes via nuclear war, pandemic, climate change, or cosmological disaster, these stories explore the extraordinary trials and tribulations of those who survive.

Featuring never-before-published tales by: Veronica Roth, Hugh Howey, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Tananarive Due, Richard Kadrey, Scott Sigler, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias S. Buckell, Meg Elison, Greg van Eekhout, Wendy N. Wagner, Jeremiah Tolbert, and Violet Allen—plus, recent reprints by: Carmen Maria Machado, Carrie Vaughn, Ken Liu, Paolo Bacigalupi, Kami Garcia, Charlie Jane Anders, Catherynne M. Valente, Jack Skillingstead, Sofia Samatar, Maureen F. McHugh, Nisi Shawl, Adam-Troy Castro, Dale Bailey, Susan Jane Bigelow, Corinne Duyvis, Shaenon K. Garrity, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Darcie Little Badger, Timothy Mudie, and Emma Osborne.

Continuing in the tradition of WASTELANDS: STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE, these 34 stories ask: What would life be like after the end of the world as we know it?

What I Thought:

Happy publication day to this new installment of the Wastelands anthology series! I’ll be upfront and let you know that I’m not quite finished with the book, but I think I’ve read enough now to form an opinion about it.

I originally picked up this book as it has a brand new story from Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, and since my Divergent love is great, I was happy to read any new material from her. Veronica Roth’s story, Echo, depicts a world where synthetic lifeforms co-exist, unhappily, with humans. A war between the two species has destroyed the Earth and the story ends with her main character, Kata, hoping that someday humans might return there.

Of course, this is only one of the stories – there are many more depicting differing visions of Earth post-apocalypse and while some are completely out of this world and brilliant in their imagination, I found myself drawn to the stories featuring scenarios that could be feasible in the next 20 years, rather than those stretching hundreds of years into the future.

The more ‘realistic’ stories, such as Carrie Vaughn’s Where Would You Be Now and Jonathan Maberry’s Not This War, Not This World struck more of a chord with me.

Despite my personal taste in the stories, there is certainly no doubt about the quality of all of them. I always feel that short stories are one of the hardest things to write, as the author has to hook the reader in immediately, give a sense of place and provide a solid plot in such a short time. It really is a fantastic skill to have.

As a fan of some the the very wide range of dystopian YA novels that came out in abundance a little while ago, it’s great to have an anthology like this, that showcases what that environment still has to offer that is unique and original. It’s great as a springboard to further work by these authors and each story has a detailed author bio before it with more titles and further reading. There’s loads to spark interest in the post-apocalyptic world both as a reader and as a writer.

This anothology is edited by John Joseph Adams, who has also edited two previous volumes on the same theme – with the first volume (at the time of writing) at the bargain price of £1.99 for the Kindle version. I’ve yet to read it, but if it matches up to the standard of this anthology, it’s definitely worth buying at that price (in fact, I just have…).

Wastelands: The New Apocalypse is published by Titan Books.

To find out more about John Joseph Adams, his other anthologies and his own writing, you can check out his website. Alternatively, why not connect with him on Twitter?

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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