Take Us to a Better Place
I’m not usually a fan of anthologies. The quality and tones of the stories can be highly variable, which I find personally jarring, and one story not to my taste can make me stop reading the whole volume. When I read short stories, I always prefer single authors collections.
In addition, I’m often skeptical of corporate sponsored anthologies - the messaging can be heavy handed and the contributors sub-par.
So why did I request a eARC of Take Us To A Better Place, a “culture of health”-themed short story collection by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation?
Well, I get up in central New Jersey, so I have some childhood memories of emergency room visits to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
More importantly, I saw the list of contributors to the collection and I decided to take a chance. There are new stories here by authors Madeline Ashby, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Calvin Baker, Frank Bill, Yoon Ha Lee, Mike McClelland, Karen Lord, Achy Obejas, David A. Robertson, Selena Goulding, and Martha Wells.
Once saw that there was a new story by Martha Wells and Yoon Ha Lee I decided to take the plunge. After devouring the Macinieries of Empire series by Yoon Ha Lee and the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (not to mention the Raksura books) I decided to give it a go.
I was not disappointed. As promised, the stories in the collection deal with the extrapolation of where a culture of health could bring us in the future.
In Yoon Ha Lee’s excellent “The Erasure Game” we see just how dystopian a future controlled by the gamification of health tracker data could be.
In Martha Wells’s short story “Obsolescence”, a beleaguered station administrator on a space station full of children has to deal with a serial killer. Without spoiling anything, I can say that the story dealt interestingly with the issues of health care for an aging population, as well as touching on issues of childcare and prosthetic replacements.
Did the stories in the collection lean a little heavily on their theme? Of course they did. Were they still well written and enjoyable? Yes!
You can learn more and request a free copy yourself from Robert Wood Johnson here: https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2019/11/take-us-to-a-better-place-stories-coming-january-2020.html.
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