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Seeds of Change

Seeds of Change

by John Joseph Adams

  • Imagine the moment when the present ends, and the future begins — when the world we knew is no more and a brave new world is thrust upon us. Gathering stories by nine of today's most incisive minds, Seeds of Change confronts the pivotal issues facing our society today: racism, global warming, peak oil,
    technological advancement, and


  • Imagine the moment when the present ends, and the future begins — when the world we knew is no more and a brave new world is thrust upon us. Gathering stories by nine of today's most incisive minds, Seeds of Change confronts the pivotal issues facing our society today: racism, global warming, peak oil,
    technological advancement, and political revolution. Many serve as a call to action. How will you change with the future?
  • These nine stories sow seeds of change across familiar and foreign territory, from our own backyards to the Niger Delta to worlds not yet discovered. Pepper, the mysterious mercenary from Tobias S. Buckell's Crystal
    and Ragamuffin, works as an agent for change — if the price is right — in "Resistance." Ken MacLeod envisions the end-game in the Middle East in "A Dance Called Armageddon." New writer Blake Charlton imagines a revolutionary advance in cancer research in "Endosymbiont."
    Award-winning author Jay Lake tackles technological change and the forces that will stop at nothing to prevent it in "The Future by Degrees." Other stories by
    K.D. Wentworth, Jeremiah Tolbert, Mark Budz, Ted Kosmatka, and Nnedi
    Okorafor-Mbachu range from the darkly satirical to the exotic. All explore the notion that change will come.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This thought-provoking anthology of nine original stories posits near-future paradigm shifts in everything from race relations (in Ted Kosmatka's vivid and moving "N-Words," where cloned Neanderthals encounter violent hatred from Homo sapiens) to the morality of uploaded consciousness (in Blake Charlton's clumsy but charming "Endosymbiont"), with varying success. The hero of Jay Lake's "The Future by Degrees" invents an energy-saving thermal superconductor only to be pursued by corporations protecting their business, with predictable results. Pepper, the mercenary hero of Tobias S. Buckell's Crystal Rain, refuses to assassinate a dictator in the morally contrived "Resistance." Considerably more powerful is Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu's "Spider the Artist," which combines African folk tales and advanced robotics in a chilling story about a rising social conscience in the Nigerian oil fields. Despite weak spots, this anthology accurately reflects many of today's most pressing political and social issues, and will give readers plenty to think about and argue over. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Gr 11 Up

For this collection, each author was asked to write a story about a paradigm shift, a turning point when the world changes. It is an intriguing concept, and issues such as global warming, recycling, technological advancement, and political revolution are given interesting treatments. Ted Kosmatka's "N-Words" tackles cloning, racism, and evolution. Blake Charlton's "Endosymbiont" will be enjoyed by fans of Mary Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Holt, 2008). Tobias S. Buckell's "Resistance" is an eerie take on voter apathy, while K. D. Wentworth's "Drinking Problem" is a hilarious look at recycling taken a step too far. All of the stories were written specifically for this book, and the selections give a good sampling of a wide range of science fiction voices. It also aptly illustrates the fact that this genre, while set in the future, can often be inspired by issues we face today. Each story is preceded by a biographical sketch of its author. An introduction by the editor unifies the concept of the anthology. While short-story collections can be hard sells, larger libraries with avid science fiction readers will want this title.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

Product Details

Wildside Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.87(d)
Age Range:
16 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


John Joseph Adams

Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote, "Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive"--which is to say that it uses the future as a lens to examine the here and now. Sometimes the paradigms of the present must be challenged, and one of the ways to do that is through science fiction.

I asked the contributors to this anthology to write about paradigm shifts--technological, scientific, political, or cultural--and how individuals and societies deal with such changes. The idea is to challenge our current paradigms and speculate on how they might evolve in the future, either for better or for worse.

Several of the stories approach the theme directly with current, topical issues--Ted Kosmatka tackles racism; Tobias S. Buckell explores the importance of voting; K. D. Wentworth takes a humorous look at a possible recycling revolution; Jay Lake ponders a world-changing technological advance and the market forces conspiring against it; Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu takes us to the Niger Delta, where oil is a top commodity and people a secondary consideration.

After selecting the table of contents, I asked the contributors to describe how they interpreted the theme. Responses were thoughtful and diverse, but perhaps Blake Charlton captured the essence of the anthology best: "Fiction can be a mode of social change," he said. "The most important revolutions begin quietly; the perception of injustice and suffering must precede any action against them."

It is my hope that reading these stories inspires some to plant their own seeds of change--that when we see something wrong, we'll do something about it, whether that means writing toyour representative in Congress or researching a cure for a disease or simply speaking out against inequality and prejudice. We're all in this together--and the first step toward change can begin with any one of us.

* * * *


Ted Kosmatka

Ted Kosmatka is the author of about a dozen stories, which have sold to both literary journals and genre magazines such as Asimov's Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Cemetery Dance, and Ideomancer. His story "Deadnauts" was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award, and his story "The Prophet of Flores" was reprinted in both Gardner Dozois's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Jonathan Strahan's The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year.

As is probably evident from the title, "N-Words" is a story about racism. The subject has long been of scientific interest to Kosmatka; in college, he read every issue of a prominent scientific journal, dating back nearly 100 years, and it changed his whole view of science. "I learned that science is fallible," Kosmatka said, "and that in the wrong hands, it can absolutely be racist."

* * * *

They came from test tubes. They came pale as ghosts with eyes as blue-white as glacier ice. They came first out of Korea.

I try to picture David's face in my head, but I can't. They've told me this is temporary--a kind of shock that happens sometimes when you've seen a person die that way. Although I try to picture David's face, it's only his pale eyes I can see.

My sister squeezes my hand in the back of the limo. "It's almost over," she says.

Up the road, against the long, wrought iron railing, the protestors grow excited as our procession approaches. They're standing in the snow on both sides of the cemetery gates, men and women wearing hats and gloves and looks of righteous indignation, carrying signs I refuse to read.

My sister squeezes my hand again. Before today I had not seen her in almost four years. But today she helped me pick out my black dress. She helped me with my stockings and my shoes. She helped me dress my son, who is not yet three, and who doesn't like ties--and who is now sleeping on the seat across from us without any understanding of what he's lost.

"Are you going to be okay?" my sister asks.

"No," I say. "I don't think I am."

The limo slows as it turns onto cemetery property, and the mob rushes in, shouting obscenities. Protestors push against the sides of the vehicle.

"You aren't wanted here!" someone shouts, and then an old man's face is against the glass, his eyes wild. "God's will be done!" he shrieks. "For the wages of sin is death."

The limo rocks under the press of the crowd, and the driver accelerates until we are past them, moving up the slope toward the other cars.

"What's wrong with them?" my sister whispers. "What kind of people would do that on a day like today?"

You'd be surprised, I think. Maybe your neighbors. Maybe mine. But I look out the window and say nothing. I've gotten used to saying nothing.

* * * *

SHE'D SHOWN UP at my house this morning a little after 6:00. I'd opened the door, and she stood there in the cold, and neither of us spoke, neither of us sure what to say after so long.

"I heard about it on the news," she said finally. "I came on the next plane. I'm so sorry, Mandy."

There are things I wanted to say then--things that welled up inside of me like a bubble ready to burst, and I opened my mouth to scream at her, but what came out belonged to a different person: it came out a pathetic sob, and she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around me, my sister again after all these years.

The limo slows near the top of the hill, and the procession tightens. Headstones crowd the roadway. I see the tent up ahead, green; its canvas sides billow in and out with the wind, like a giant's breathing. Two-dozen gray folding chairs crouch in straight rows beneath it.

The limo stops.

"Should we wake the boy?" my sister asks.

"I don't know."

"Do you want me to carry him?"

"Can you?"

She looks at the child. "He's only three?"

"No," I say. "Not yet."

"He's big for his age. I mean, isn't he? I'm not around kids much."

"The doctors say he's big."

My sister leans forward and touches his milky white cheek. "He's beautiful," she says. I try not to hear the surprise in her voice. People are never aware of that tone when they use it, revealing what their expectations had been. But I'm past being offended by what people reveal unconsciously. Now it's only intent that offends. "He really is beautiful," she says again.

"He's his father's son," I say.

Ahead of us, people climb from their cars. The priest is walking toward the grave.

"It's time," my sister says. She opens the door and we step out into the cold.

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