Out of the ruins by Preston Grassmann ed.

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Out of the Ruins is a collection of post-apocalyptic short stories from some big names in science and speculative fiction. China Mieville (The Scar, The City & The City), Emily St John Mandel (Station Eleven) and Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties, In the Dream House) are just a few of the authors featured. The premise of the collection is to look at the end of the world through the ruins left behind. What do we as a species and as individuals value the most? What do we wish to salvage from the wreckage and will we be able to save our humanity? The importance of resilience emerges as a clear theme from beginning to end.

Out of the Ruins features eighteen short stories and two poems. As with most collections of its type, not all are created equally. There are some notable standouts, such as St John Mandel’s ‘Mr Thursday’, written in the author’s famously slow, lyrical and melancholic style. Nina Allan’s ‘A Storm in Kingstown’, with its post-apocalyptic reimagining of witchcraft hysteria, is also impressive.

However, there are also disappointments, including the fact that Clive Barker (Abarat) who is featured prominently on the book’s cover, only contributes a short poem. Some readers will be disappointed with the abrupt ending of many of the stories, particularly those written by their favourite authors. However, this is a common complaint for the short story genre and readers will need to be comfortable with being left yearning for more.

Themes: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Short Stories, Speculative Fiction.

Rose Tabeni