Edition 31: Book Review: Defying Doomsday (eds. Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench)
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
Whenever there’s an end of the world scenario, it’s only the able-bodied (and usually horrendously emotionally flawed) that survive. It ignores the on-going survival of anyone differently-abled, and how they might adapt and sculpt a changing world. Defying Doomsday, edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, takes these oft-excluded voices and brings them to the fore in a vibrant exploration of other survival stories. All manner of challenges, both in physical and mental health, are mentioned here, and as Robert Hoge’s thoughtful introduction states, “They’re active participants negotiating their way through a world that is degrees harder than it was before.”
The worlds and the disabilities are as diverse as the world, and the stories have clearly been carefully selected by the editors to represent different aspects of survival. Seanan Maguire’s Something in the Rain is the standout for me, a simple premise of a girl and her cat, but spun with such crystal clear truth and fundamental understanding of being different. I also loved the teaming up of kids with different abilities in Did We Break the End of the World. Stephanie Gunn powerfully centres on a group of sisters with cystic fibrosis, on the day to day rhythms of normal life with a chronic illness, in To Take Into the Air My Quiet Breath.
It’s nice to see a good Australian author representation in a collection from an Australian publisher, but there are also writers from New Zealand, the US, Holland and the UK. Regional differences in settings present no barriers for the reader, and tones of voice blend together well.
If nothing else, this anthology is a powerful example of out-of-the-box thinking. It is a lens with an indictment of limitations of only including one type of experience in your reading habits. This comes highly recommended for young adults and older, who enjoy well-written post-apocalyptic fiction, or who want to try on a different experience for a while.
Defying Doomsday (Edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench)
Post-Apocalyptic Fiction Anthology
Publisher: Twelfth Planet Press, 2016
Sophie is a scientist, aspiring writer, sci-fi and fantasy nerd. She is an editor with IFWG Publishing and has been Editor In Chief of SQ Mag and SQ Magazine, the previous incarnation. She also contributes book and film reviews. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.
You can find her in a few different places: @Smoph on Twitter, Sophie Yorkston – writer on Facebook, and at her blogs: Smoph’s Musings and Smoph Writes.