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How to Dispatch a Human: Stories and Suggestions (2021)

de Stephanie Andrea Allen

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3416610,321 (3.44)8
In this daring collection of speculative fiction, Stephanie Andrea Allen attends to the lives of Black women, mostly lesbian or queer, all keenly aware of the forces seeking to consume them.A Black lesbian working the gig economy runs into a trio of motorized scooters and helps them escape from Earth. An enchanted sleep mask gives a woman the gift of slumber, but what will it cost her? A suburban housewife is framed for murder by her homophobic neighbor. And in the follow up to "Luna 6000," a young woman investigates her mother's untimely death, and learns the truth about her family.Stephanie Andrea Allen's How to Dispatch a Human: Stories and Suggestions is an unapologetic, often humorous, foray into the quotidian magic that envelops Black women's lives. The eleven stories in this collection are filled with characters who will entice and delight readers as they traverse the worlds around them. With a mix of fabulism, near future, and speculative fictions, Allen reminds us in exquisitely nuanced prose that the fantastical can be found amongst the ordinary.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 17 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
I really liked almost all of the short stories in this book. I loved the way the author played with form and language. I felt like I would love to read much more of each world the author built. I'm a big speculative fiction fan, and I felt the stories were all deeply thought through and full of emotion.

I'm so glad the author created and included a glossary. I actually enjoyed it on its own. It was almost like its own story. ( )
  saraswati27 | Dec 7, 2021 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
This book is an absolute delight. I don't know if I've ever rated an ER book so highly.

This book is like if you take the best of O. Henry but make it Black and queer (and authentically so) - it's amazing. Most of the stories are speculative fiction (many robots here, some vampires), and most of them feature some sort of plot twist. Some of those twists are more effective than others, some are more obvious than others, but all of them are a delight.

I feel like the folks who complain that the stories are too open-ended are not familiar with how short stories work as a genre. Their open-ended nature is an absolute strength - each story shows you a complete glimpse into a different, fully-fleshed world, and tells you a complete story. But each one could probably be chapter one of a full-fledged novel of its own.

I especially liked how the first and last stories bookend the entire collection and are the only two that are directly related. The glossary at the end is also masterfully executed.

Simply a beautiful book. My copy is an ARC, so I'll be buying the final print version along with the author's debut collection as well. I highly recommend it. ( )
  Shadow123 | Jun 15, 2021 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
From the first story in the collection, I was hooked on Allen's style and voice. The creativity and humor on display here are fantastic, and the interplay of serious themes with everyday concerns and humor made me want to simply sit and read the collection in one sitting--certainly, they've guaranteed I'll pick up anything else she writes. Some of the speculative fiction here is so original in its wonder and speculative elements, it left me practically breathless, and I'd absolutely recommend it not only to readers of short speculative work at large, but to writers who want to blend original speculative fiction with a more contemporary aesthetic.

The one caveat I feel like I have to mention is that this collection is absolutely front-loaded. The best of the stories are in the first two-thirds of the work, with the last few stories in the collection feeling a bit less polished and fully developed than earlier works in the collection. The ideas were still there, but the characters weren't quite so alive. Because of that front-loaded nature, I felt a bit let down with the last portion of the book, but at the same time, Allen set such a high bar for herself with the early stories, that 'let-down' is very much relative to the quality of the book. This is still, without doubt, a 4.5* read for me that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend, especially for readers who like short stories with a flare for humor. ( )
  whitewavedarling | May 3, 2021 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
All but one of the eleven short stories in this collection fall under the sf/f/h umbrella, and all are told from the viewpoints of characters who don't fall into the straight white male category; between the seventeen viewpoint characters throughout the stories, each of those three descriptors is definitively hit exactly once, each in a different story, two of them in stories with multiple viewpoint characters and the third in the shortest story in the book. While having diverse viewpoints is a definite plus to the field, most of these stories just fell short for me.

Part of the problem, admittedly, probably rests with me; the experiences and metaphors may resonate better with someone with more (or, usually, anything) in common with the characters. However, some of the problems felt like they were more fundamental to the stories themselves.

One problem that struck me was that, while the author had interesting ideas (such as "What if there's an AI rebellion, but it's just the AIs saying, 'Screw this, we're outta here'?" or "What if making an avatar in a program turned you into that person?" for example) but didn't really have a story to go with those ideas. This results in some of the stories (specifically, "Moji", "Hirsute", "Sans Pareil", and "Tumbleweave") feeling more like the start of a longer story than complete in and of themselves.

Another issue is that the viewpoint characters (or the main ones, in the case of stories with more than one) often feel more like observers than active participants, carried along by the story without doing anything to try to affect things. Sometimes this is a reasonable choice for the story (such as "Chums on the Run", where the narrator is in a similar position to the titular chums, but hasn't yet made any effort to do anything about it), but it usually just leaves it harder to sympathize with the characters. In the case of "Love Thy Neighbor", all of the work of dealing with the main problem is handled offstage (and, in fact, before the story starts) by the protagonist's wife. To be fair, some of the main viewpoint characters in the more complete-feeling stories (such as Jada in "Catfished" or Teagan in "Project M") are much more active in their own stories.

Some of the stories also left me wondering what the point of them was, but I suspect that this is mostly covered by all of the points above (including the one about my usually having nothing in common with the characters in terms of life experiences).

Finally, there are the little details that threw off my suspension of disbelief. These weren't the fantastical elements (a cat that can not only communicate telepathically, but also produce human speech out loud? Sure, I'll go along with that), but ones that involve the more mundane (could you really order that on Amazon? And is Alexa's security really so bad that anyone could place an order on your account through yours, at least if you know there's one person who'd have regular access to your Alexa?). These were mostly points which I'm not certain about, but they just felt off to me, and one story had plot points which depend on attitudes not changing at all in more than two centuries despite the society pretty much guaranteeing that attitudes would have changed noticeably. ( )
  Gryphon-kl | Apr 18, 2021 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
This was a decent read, My first impression was that most of the stories were similar to "nicer" black mirror tales. I did feel that while its nice to leave endings open - there was too much of that. Some of the stories would have benefitted from stronger character development and a longer story line. I couldn't get into the "weave" story - probably the weakest in my opinion. I appreciate the tales and think the author could go father with going deeper and more in depth. Each story just left me wanting just a bit more. Decent read but some flaws. ( )
  Spiceca | Apr 16, 2021 |
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In this daring collection of speculative fiction, Stephanie Andrea Allen attends to the lives of Black women, mostly lesbian or queer, all keenly aware of the forces seeking to consume them.A Black lesbian working the gig economy runs into a trio of motorized scooters and helps them escape from Earth. An enchanted sleep mask gives a woman the gift of slumber, but what will it cost her? A suburban housewife is framed for murder by her homophobic neighbor. And in the follow up to "Luna 6000," a young woman investigates her mother's untimely death, and learns the truth about her family.Stephanie Andrea Allen's How to Dispatch a Human: Stories and Suggestions is an unapologetic, often humorous, foray into the quotidian magic that envelops Black women's lives. The eleven stories in this collection are filled with characters who will entice and delight readers as they traverse the worlds around them. With a mix of fabulism, near future, and speculative fictions, Allen reminds us in exquisitely nuanced prose that the fantastical can be found amongst the ordinary.

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