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Speculative Los Angeles: 02/26/21

Speculative Los Angeles

Speculative Los Angeles edited by Denise Hamilton is a collection of fourteen short stories of speculative fiction set in Los Angeles county. As the Los Angeles locales are key to the tone of each story, the book includes a map pinpointing the setting of each one. There's a diverse selection of authors which in turn translates well to representation on the page.

The stories also each sit on the road narrative spectrum, making picking a single spot for the book as a whole tricky. I ended up averaging each of the three pieces that make up the final placement: traveler, destination, and route.

The table of contents with their road narrative spectrum placement is below.

Story Title Author Neighborhood RNS Placement
1 Antonia and the Stranger Who Came to Rancho Los Feliz Lisa Morton Los Feliz 9933FF
2 Detainment Alex Espinoza El Sereno 996666
3 Peak TV Ben H. Winters Culver City 99CCFF
4 Past the Mission Denise Hamilton Encino 66CCFF
5 Past the Mission Denise Hamilton Encino 33CC66
6 If Memory Serves Lynell George Echo Park 66CC33
7 Love, rocket science, and the mother of abominations Stephen Blackmoore Pasadena 00CCCC
8 Purple panic Francesca Lia Block Studio City 66FFFF
9 Maintenance Aimee Bender Miracle Mile 33CC00
10 West Torrance 2BR 2BA w/Pool and black hole Charles Yu West Torrance CC6699
11 Walk of Fame Duane Swierczynski Hollywood 330033
12 Jaguar's breath Luis J. Rodriguez Angeles National Forest 3399CC
13 Jaguar's breath Luis J. Rodriguez Angeles National Forest 3399CC
14 Sailing that beautiful sea Kathleen Kaufman Century City FFCC33

I have also taken the map included in the book to show where each of these stories (with its spectrum placement) takes place.

Speculative Los Angeles Map with road narrative spectrum colors added

Taking all the stories together, thematically the book is about about marginalized people — some down on their luck, others out of place, another being the last human alive, others hiding from the government, and so forth. Collectively their destination is the wildlands — either looking for an environment not thrashed by climate change, or the illegal tournament grounds of the old dumps, or the tar pits of La Brea, or the Angeles National Forest as a safe haven. Their routes are through the maze — danger and blind alleys in many forms, many of which are rendered in physical form by the city itself.

I received an ARC through the Early Readers Program at Library Thing.

Five stars

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