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After the Apocalypse: Storiesby Maureen F. McHugh
I'm a sucker for apocalypse and post-apocalypse stories, but McHugh's collection is something extra-special. Her protagonists differ dramatically in age, cultural background, income levels, and values, and they are all real and compelling; the settings vary widely in place and time (some in the present, some in a recognizable near-future), and each story is a fully realized and absorbing vignette — I'm never in a rush to start the next story because of how fully the previous story occupies my mind. I especially love that while the subject matter is dark, the stories are often funny, and most have an element of hope.
Synopses & Reviews
Publishers Weekly Top 10 Best of the Year
In her new collection, Story Prize finalist Maureen F. McHugh delves into the dark heart of contemporary life and life five minutes from now and how easy it is to mix up one with the other. Her stories are post-bird flu, in the middle of medical trials, wondering if our computers are smarter than us, wondering when our jobs are going to be outsourced overseas, wondering if we are who we say we are, and not sure what we'd do to survive the coming zombie plague.
"Hugo-winner McHugh (Mothers and Other Monsters) puts a human face on global disaster in nine fierce, wry, stark, beautiful stories. An impoverished artist in drought-stricken Arizona is reduced to sculpting sex toys in 'Useless Things.' In a near-future China ravaged by bird flu and capitalism, two young women escape wage slavery with the help of a naïve activist in 'Special Economics.' A teenage girl trapped in American suburbia grimly watches one of her mothers succumb to a brain-destroying disease carried by processed chicken nuggets in 'The Effect of Centrifugal Forces.' As McHugh's entirely ordinary characters begin to understand how their lives have been transformed by events far beyond their control, some shrink in horror while others are 'matter of fact as a heart attack,' but there is no suicidal drama, and the overall effect is optimistic: we may wreck our planet, our economies, and our bodies, but every apocalypse will have an 'after' in which people find their own peculiar ways of getting by. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Superb....Against backdrops of sheer terror, Ms. McHugh's characters insist on investing themselves in flirtations, friendships and jobs. They keep their innocent curiosity for the world even as it falls to pieces." Wall Street Journal
"Gorgeously crafted stories." Nancy Pearl, NPR
"Hauntingly beautiful." Booklist
"Unpredictable and poetic work." The Plain Dealer
The stories in After the Apocalypse will catch many readers off-guard; they're suspenseful, but they never quite go where you expect them to. The end of the world as we know it will never be the same again.” Salon
The best stories in this mesmerizing collection from the L.A. writer are the ones that elude categorization — the struggles of a troubled doll maker in Useless Things,” the fantasies of an impulsive man in Going to France.” It's the ordinary and everyday that we should be afraid of, not the prospect of big explosions and world-ending catastrophes. This is a pro stretching a genre to its limits — subverting, inverting, perverting, disturbing.” Los Angeles Magazine
McHugh brings a subtle grittiness to the end of days. There is no post-apocalyptic glamour in these post-apocalyptic tales.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
Self aware computers. Zombies. Clinical trial volunteers. Chinese factory workers. Dolls that look like newborn infants. After the apocalypse.
About the Author
Maureen F. McHugh has lived in New York; Shijiazhuang, China; Ohio; Austin, Texas; and now lives in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of a Story Prize finalist collection, Mothers and Other Monsters, and four novels, including Tiptree Award-winner China Mountain Zhang and New York Times editor's choice Nekropolis. McHugh has also worked on alternate reality games for Halo 2, The Watchmen, and Nine Inch Nails, among others.
Table of Contents
The Lost Boy: A Reporter at Large
The Kingdom of the Blind
Going to France
The Effect of Centrifugal Forces
After the Apocalypse
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