(Ok, so I've never reviewed an anthology before. This ought to be interesting. Wish me luck. Here I go!)
So it's Triggering Day. Whiny millennials are shitting their pants and cuddling their blankies all over the United States (and maybe even the world) and I felt like writing a book review. There are a bunch of books on my phone, a paper books in my room, a bunch more on my Nook and a library down the street but only one seems to fit on a day like today. The Forbidden Thoughts anthology seems to be the only fitting book to review on a day like today. Seriously. There is literally (and no, I don't mean "figuratively" I literally mean literally) no better SF/F book to review on the day Trump gets inaugurated than the one with an introduction by Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo was his biggest celebrity endorser right? And, of course, Trump IS the candidate who said all they things we're not allowed to say, so Forbidden Thoughts on Inauguration Day it is.
The book starts with the aforementioned introduction by Milo and I have to say something here. Milo comes out with ideas for a number of stories. This irks me to no end. Hey Milo, here's a suggestion. If you want to see a particular story idea come to life WRITE THE DAMN THING!! Bro, you write like a champion. I'm not the world's biggest Breitbart fan but I've read some of your stuff. So just do us all a favor: Bring Milo's take on fiction into the world for all to see. It'll sell. You'll make money. We'll all enjoy it. And hey, the Left won't let you speak. They'd rather riot than allow someone with a different belief system appear in public. You've got time to write fiction when your appearances get cancelled. He does bring up some interesting points about the state of science fiction and fantasy as well. I'm really not doing him justice here. It annoyed me though.
Following the introduction is a "The Razor Blade of Approval" by Ben Zwycky. I won't spend much time here. It's a decent poem but it's rather short and I'm not really a poetry guy. It get its point across and it's like maybe three hundred words long. I'm not really sure how to review something that short.
"Safe Space Suit" is the next story. It brings up a point that would surely get Nick Cole branded as a horrible person by the left if he hadn't been branded as such already after he published CTRL, ALT Revolt! Cole tells a thoroughly entertaining tale from the point of view of a mission commander who just killed his crew by putting the wrong person in charge of piloting a spacecraft because REPRESENTATION!!!! Watching this guy sweat as his career falls apart around him is epic and also does a lot to highlight the way SJWs eat their own when the mood strikes. I enjoyed this one a lot. Cole creates wonderful characters and this is one story that definitely did not disappoint in that regard.
The spacesuit in "Safe Space Suit"is also a treat as it likes to whisper politically correct sweet nothings in you ear while you're in trouble and possibly dying. It's like a constant hashtag stream read out loud to characters in need of emotional support liberal style. I was laughing my ass off.
"Auto America" is the story of a man who gets stopped by a malfunctioning police robot on the way to work. You can feel the MC's frustration at dealing with a situation that he shouldn't have to. This one is really short, but it's a treat.
"A Place for Everyone" shows the folly of "balanced representation" while simultaneously highlighting government corruption. It's as awesome as it is funny... and frustrating. The ending is epic. Seriously. This one was worth the price of the anthology all by itself.
Up next was "The Code". This one was every bit as horrifying as anything else I've seen. Laws have been passed that regulate contact on a date to the point where a man has to speak a specific script to his date (and have her agree in another script) to avoid rape charges if he accidentally touches her. Women abound who love to trap man into touching them before they agree just so to see the men hauled off by the police. Our hero spends his date sweating about what's going to happen to him. The amount of tension Matthew Ward manages to build in a story this short is staggering. Kudos to him.
What happens when history has "progressed" to the point where the truth can be hidden? What happens when everyone is forced to hide their own chosen "genders" because it might offend someone else by causing them to consider their own? Oh, and what happens when a weapon wielding barbarian wanders into town to read the true history? That's a good question. Joshua Young answers it in "History of the World Gone By." He does a damn good job too.
"The Social Construct" is the story of a child that was created as a toy and had several sex changes to suit the tastes of his parents. It makes sense, right? Change the plumbing, raise the kid to be an >insert gender here< and you're all set. If you change your mind while the child is still a baby just change the environment and the gender will change, right? It's an interesting question and given the fact that there are already cases of people getting sex changes for their young children it's topical. It's also a horrifying look into a possible future. Read at your own risk. You'll enjoy the story, but you might feel a little twitchy afterward. I know I did.
Have you heard of Post Birth Abortion? A.M. Freeman has and, in "At the Edge of Detachment" she spins a tale of an injured child who isn't sure if he'll see tomorrow because he's an inconvenience to his mother and she can legally have him euthanized since he hasn't reached the age of thirteen, at which he would be considered an actual human being with rights. PBA has seriously been suggested by a pair of bio-ethicists. They claim they weren't really trying to propose an actual law to allow this when they suggested it. That may or may not be true. What is true is that I was late getting back to my lunch at work because I couldn't put this story down. Speaking of may or not be true; there are unconfirmed reports that someone put "The Social Construct" and "At the Edge of Detachment" did it deliberately to cause nightmares. Granted, they're mainly unconfirmed because I just made them up, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
Up next is "A History of Sad Puppies" by Larry Correia and "Whence Puppydom?" by Brad Torgersen. They create a break from the fiction and give us a chance to read some of Larry Correia's blog posts. The guy is an epic blogger, so if you can only read one blog, read mine. But if you can only read two blogs read his...right after you read mine. Torgersen's addition is a reaction to the No Awarding of several categories.
Ray Blank follows this and his "If You Were a Hamburger My Love" had me in stitches. I was once ordered to read If You Were a Dinosaur My Love for penance after a misstep in a Facebook group I am part of and it was terrible. Blank's parody is actually entertaining though, mainly because Dinosaur was not. Some lighthearted fun was precisely what was needed at this point.
"Imagine" is a story based on the song of the same title by John Lennon and the Left's current attitude toward Christianity. I've read a bunch of these types of stories lately and they all register as eerie and way too possible. Pierce Oka does a good job with this one.
"Graduation Day" is the story of a man who is watching his daughter by sperm donation graduate and get her job assignment. It turns out that he has also been charged with raping her mother by impregnating her - with sperm that have been donated to a sperm bank- without asking her permission first. This one was well written but seemed just a bit too "out there" for me. I couldn't quite suspend disbelief far enough to overcome the reaction that a woman would press charges for rape over sperm she had paid for. YMMV.
Speaking of Brad Torgersen his story comes next. "Hymns of the Mothers" is chilling and haunting. It's an awesome story though and someone very dear to me points out that there needs to be a follow up novel to this. She's right. (Don't tell her I admitted that in public. There is no reason to give her a swelled head.) In a world where lytes (women) hate and use trogs (men) for reproductive purposes and heavy lifting one lyte finds herself interested in a trog as a *GASP* actual person. She also finds out where babies come from and what lytes and trogs do when they think no one is watching. So here's the deal if you read this Mr Torgersen: Write the book. I'll guarantee you that I'll buy two copies; one for me and one for her. See! You're practically rich already!
John C Wright's "By His Cockle Hat and Staff" is epic but it's TOO DAMN SHORT. Ok, I'll grant you that it's one of the longer entries of the anthology but this is too good of a story with too rich of an environment and too much backstory to be confined to a short. Seriously. This one story could easily have been a novel. There is potential here for a never ending series of books. The story itself is about a society of leftists who discover alternate timelines and decide to turn all other timelines into their own perfect version of history. Seriously, take this idea and these two characters fighting against it and the battles would be awesome dipped in awesome sauce on a stick. And yes, I know it's a story in an anthology and he was probably limited as to how much space he could take up but dammit, it's my bloggie and I'll whine if I want to.
Tom Kratman's "The Rules of Racism" came next. It's not a story. It's not entertainment. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to talk racial politics in the United States in the twenty-first century. 'Nuff said.
"World Ablaze" by Jane Lebak explores a world where being a Christian can get a person in trouble with the law and showing Christian charity is a good way to give yourself away to the police. A world where Bishops have to take their oaths of service in dark alleys and some Christians are sick of it. They want to fight. Their elders aren't so sure. Since it's possible to put patterns of saints onto the brains of believers, should they use peacemakers or militants? There are some interesting questions here and the story is very entertaining.
"Amazon Gambit" by Vox Day is the story of an all female military unit forced to fight on a low tech world using low tech weapons. The method they use to accomplish their mission is every bit as inventive as it would be offensive to the left. Awesome job here. Oh, and just because I can... VOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"Elegy for the Locust" is the ultimate in identity politics. Our "hero" has a personality transfer with a rich man and assumes his privilege. Merely being poor is enough to justify kidnapping and massive theft. I really didn't get into this one as much as some of the others.
"Test of the Prophet" by L. Jagi Lamplighter explores the reasons behind Radical Islamic Terrorism from a fantasy/metaphysical perspective. Oddly enough, it's one that both Christians and Muslims could get behind. Her solution though...ummm...yeah. It makes sense to me, but I'm a Christian. The main character's character arc is pretty awesome as well. This is probably the best story in the entire anthology.
Sarah Hoyt had the final entry. "Flight to Egypt" is the story of a couple that wants to emigrate from Earth to Mars and the problems it causes. It takes a good look at racism, perceived racism and the way things work in human hearts and minds. The struggle is real for this couple and their child. Good stuff.
Some quick thoughts about Forbidden Thoughts overall: This is an all star lineup. I really enjoyed getting a chance to read so many of my favorite authors in one volume. The additional authors were awesome as well and really were additions to the book. The addition of a bit of nonfiction added to the work as well, giving a break when necessary to let the emotions catch up to where I was in the book. It was a good time and a good investment. There is one issue with FT though.
Granted, I know this was the point of Forbidden Thoughts, but there is a lot of message fiction here. It's pretty hamfisted in most cases. I didn't mind it because I agreed with it but exposure to this book may cause cranial explosions in Leftists. I approve. I'd actually like to see a few lefties read Forbidden Thoughts because there is a chance, however slight, that one might actually have the self awareness to finally realize why we hate all of their message fiction. Really.
Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Offended Liberals.
Milo Yiannopoulos et al
Superversive Press, 2017
Forbidden Thoughts is available at the link below: