Book Review, Fiction, Short Stories

Save the World – A Short Stories Anthology

If you are interested in climate change and its impact, as well as inclusive short stories with different styles, this book is for you.

“Save the World” is an anthology of short stories by sci-fi writers about climate change. I loved the idea of writers creating “world saving” scenarios and most stories are very well written. They drew me in and I didn’t want them to end. The majority of them could actually become very interesting books because I feel their subject isn’t exhausted and their characters were extremely well developed in only a few pages. I think that is a great performance.

I was also pleasantly surprised all the characters were diverse – stories had budding gay romances or marriages with 3 partners. These were not, of course, the focus, but it’s nice they were all selected that way, I suppose by the editor, J. Scott Coatsworth.

I read the book in a kindle format and another cute surprise was the fact that at the end of every story, there was its author’s bio, along with their social contacts. It was a perfect way to get to know new writers and appreciate their style.

However, while every story is interesting in itself and they all had a common theme, I think the book lacked cohesion a little bit. This is why I think the best way to read it is one, maybe two stories a day. By pacing your reading, you let these stories really inspire you. You’ll also be able to savor them without the fact that you’re passing from one writer’s style to another’s or from past to future becoming problematic in any way.

Climate change is evidently a big problem and the solution will not be simple. As sci-fi writers see it, the future is bleak. Most stories involved riots, hunger and lack of water before the people being able to come up with real solutions. Given that in the past sci-fi authors were able to guess a lot of the future, I think their warning is worth listening to. This collection contains their most interesting ideas about what we could actually do, even though there is no miracle cure-all unique solution. I’ll provide below my favorite highlights:

The most emotional story was, for me, “Operation Cover Up” which implied the idea of self sacrifice in order to complete an audacious project of covering the ice caps. This way they would have a better chance at being preserved.

“By the Light of the Stars” suggests small things can have a great impact and I loved that, even though it came out a bit preachy.

“The Sand Ship Builders of Chitungwiza” underlines the importance of building upon and preserving previous knowledge.

“Stubborn as Dirt” highlights the importance of involving children in nature preserving activities and the crucial role schools have in shaping young minds’ understanding of our planet’s problems. I think it might be the most important story in the anthology.

“Shit city” had the best characters, in my opinion, and it was the most inspiring one in the book – encouraging out of the box thinking, promoting those with ideas, making sure nothing really goes to waste… I think it’s the way to go.

“The Mycoremediator” tackles the idea of patents that get in the way of simple solutions that may actually prove more helpful than the complicated ones. I loved that as well.

“Protective Acts” suggests a future world where animals and humans live together in harmony and technology helps with that as well. It also hints to mentalities being changed and the importance of legislation in doing that.

The list goes on, but the above are my favorites. I also think some stories miss the mark a little and the book would have been better without them. However, every story is unique in the problems and solutions it proposes. Some think big scale, some small. Some are set in a distant future and place their hopes on technology, some are set in the present of very near future and focus on actionable steps anyone can take. In the end, climate change impact and solutions are a never-ending discussion and this book may be a good starting point for it if you want to dive in these current issues.

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