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Diverse Energies Anthology by Ellen Oh

The stories in Diverse Energies journey through many alternate histories and projections of the future, but all have one important element in common: the inclusion of people of color. At a time when some fans have criticized The Hunger Games for casting African American actors to play Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, it is more important than ever that science fiction and fantasy worlds include a truly diverse cast of characters.

“So often the future looks whitewashed in YA dystopias,” says Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman. “In general many authors, including Tobias, feel that there is a gap in which people of color looking for depictions of themselves in the future can’t find them, especially young readers. These outstanding stories show that even in a dystopian future, people of color have a place.”

Stories include Paolo Bacigalupi’s “A Pocketful of Dharma,” about a young boy in a futuristic China whose encounter with a Tibetan conspiracy changes his life. Malinda Lo’s “Good Girl” is about a girl searching for her brother in what they think is the last city on earth, a doomed, tightly controlled New York City. “It’s about manipulation and loss and the hope of possibilities,” says Whitman. Meanwhile, Ellen Oh’s “The Last Day” takes a second look at history and considers what might have happened had Nagasaki and Hiroshima not ended the Pacific Theater of World War II.

The title Diverse Energies comes from a quotation from John F. Kennedy that both Buckell and Monti felt encapsulated their desire for greater diversity in fantasy and YA: “No one can doubt that the wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.”


ISBN: 978-1600608872
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Publisher’s Weekly Review:

Conceived in an effort to more judiciously represent ethnic and cultural diversity in YA fiction, this provocative collection, edited by SF author Buckell and literary agent Monti explores dystopian themes through multiple lenses. Instead of the usual white faces, the stories feature protagonists from a broader spectrum, all doing their best to survive in hostile or frightening settings. While there’s not a single misfire in this anthology, particular works stand out. Ellen Oh’s “The Last Day” takes place in a world torn apart by a decades-long war, while K. Tempest Bradford’s “The Uncertainty Principle” sees time travel constantly altering one girl’s surroundings. Malinda Lo’s “The Good Girl” is a prickly love story set against the desire for a better life, and Cindy Pon’s “Blue Skies” is almost painful in its longing for escape. Not only do these stories feature racially diverse casts, set all over the world or in space, some have gay and lesbian protagonists, giving readers plenty with which to identify. Happy endings are infrequent, but readers will eagerly immerse themselves in each vividly constructed world. Ages 12–up (Nov.)


Booklist Review:

In an afterword, coeditor Monti writes about a heated 2009 discussion (dubbed “RaceFail 09”) regarding race in fantasy and science fiction, and how his reaction was to put together a collection showcasing “this wonderful, blended, messed-up world.” Hence this book, which feels different than the usual fare—characters, settings, and authors come from all across the global spectrum—and, maybe more to the point, proves to be not that different at all. It starts off with a fabulous one-two punch: Ellen Oh’s devastating “The Last Day,” about a future global war and the horrific Hiroshima-like aftermath; then “Freshee’s Frogurt,” a wild, violent, and funny excerpt from Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse (2011). In general, the subsequent stories fall on the more thoughtful, brainy side of the sf spectrum. Two standouts are Paolo Bacigalupi’s “A Pocket Full of Dharma,” about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama on a portable storage drive; and Cindy Pon’s “Blue Skies,” a wistful have/have-not tale from a smog-filthed future Taipei. A solid introduction to a number of highly talented writers.
—Daniel Kraus, Booklist


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