(MonstraCity Press, December 2020, tpb, 294 pp.)
“The Beach at Ocolondé” by Claude Lalumière
“Xenophobe” Liam Hogan
“A Singular Outrage” Ian Creasey
“Basilisk” Karl K. Gallagher
“For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls” Liu Xiaodan
“Chelsea’s Rescue” J. L. Hagen
“The Promise of King Washington” Joe Vasicek
“Struldbrug” David Wesley Hill
“Retrograde” Jay Werkheiser
“The Responsible Party” Margret A. Treiber
“Impy” Fiona M. Jones
“The Fourth Ticket” Keltie Zubko
“Doggy Style” Andrew Fox
“As the Earth Intended” PJ Higham
Reviewed by Eric Kimminau
After a 2 year hiatus from reading and reviewing new science fiction and fantasy, I had the pleasure to read and review Hazardous Imaginings: The Mondo Book of Politically Incorrect Science Fiction with five stories by Andrew Fox. I told Tangent’s editor, Dave Truesdale that I wanted first crack at volume two, Again, Hazardous Imaginings: More Politically Incorrect Science Fiction, this time edited and with story introductions by Andrew Fox, and with an introduction by Barry N. Malzberg. Subtitled “an international anthology” with 14 new stories, I hope this is a sign that Fox has gained the interest of those no longer interested in fitting into the “new normal” of the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I am writing this introduction to my review before having ready anything but the Introduction. To be clear I had only limited expectations prior to reading this anthology. Will this group of “politically incorrect” stories be able to break new and old ground and have anything new to offer beyond a catchy title or will it fail to meet the implied expectations of its title? Is it truly offering something Hazardous to the Science Fiction field or is it merely another mirrored cesspool of social and political liberal progressivism?
My hope and expectation is that this anthology again allows me to experience my love of the written word, the escape of current reality (trust me, a LOT of us need an escape from November of 2020) and force me to stop and think and imagine what the world or situation presented means? Will it be socially safe, gender neutral, liberal progressive tripe or will it be “Politically Incorrect?” We shall see.
As I began reading “The Beach at Ocolondé” by Claude Lalumière discussing a male architect’s “dream” vacation trip to a beach village in Spain, being met by an androgynous hermaphrodite, “Sasha,” and immediately going into a homoerotic scented bath, my hopes for this anthology immediately began to sour. As the subject proceeded to discuss the death of his female wife, (yay! A bi-sexual) and his “glam-rock phase decrying labels of sexual orientation and gender neutrality,” I was already wondering if I was even going to make it through the first story. As progression into sea amphibian-zombie-hermaphrodite procreation became just another gender bending erotic dream, I was not impressed. I wouldn’t think for a moment this would be considered either politically incorrect or taboo. This story would be celebrated by the liberal left. From this story am I to believe that this anthology believes this is the antithesis of the direction and state of modern science fiction? Meh.
To be clear and precise, a xenophobe according to Merriam-Webster is “one unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin.” The first paragraph of “Xenophobe” by Liam Hogan started by discussing self-help, online diagnosis and anxiety disorders. Apparently all the norm in the 22nd century. Sounds like the last 8 months of the Covid-19 scamdemic to me. Oh boy, forced “United Council” (Nations?) Government interracial breeding to eliminate racism. Another liberal dream. Only after suffering through the plebian attempt at forecasting humanity’s state 120 years after a global war did things go “full retard” progressive by calling a green blob alien “a dirty stinking other,” apparently the worst possible insult one could use in this future society, requiring a year of mental reprogramming. Then this story degrades even further by drawing parallels to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, albeit backhandedly, implying that the tumultuous event had obviously saved the world, just as the xenophobic TV repairman had in this new reality. After only 2 stories I’m pretty much convinced this anthology is a backhanded attempt to imply that our country, “Camelot,” was anti-American and Kennedy, the President who started the space race and proudly stated during his inauguration speech “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” which challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good, was somehow bad. His death being the salvation of humanity was supposed to be “politically incorrect”? If you want to celebrate the death of the last Democrat President who loved the United States of America, I guess it is.
As I read the introduction to “A Singular Outrage” by Ian Creasey announcing “Cultural Appropriation,” I felt myself shaking my head. This is a story of “RIP’s” (aka Rip Van Winkle), people from hospitals given an injection that cures all their ills, giving them longer life and allowing them to return to society. For one social justice warrior, nothing has changed, or has it? I have Native American heritage. I am Cherokee & Sioux from my mother’s father. When the Principal of the Grandson’s school corrects herself saying “when white people—sorry privileged people,” I knew this was just another liberal progressive anti-white, anti-history tale wrapped in technology to make it “science fiction.” I guess I’m just “holding a grudge that creates friction” waving this off as inappropriate in a future nirvana because it somehow “stifles creativity.” Curious that the first “friend” the lead character Novanita has, someone she isn’t at odds with, is her indentured robot servant. Her caretaker. “Had social justice finally arrived?” Apparently the only way to insure her memory of her culture will be saved is to partner with the new media reality and sell out her heritage so that it might be remembered through a video game. At least this story had me thinking “what would I do?” in a similar situation.
At least with “Basilisk” by Karl K. Gallagher, I hoped we might get to something that wasn’t going to describe a movement or provide commentary on society and a story into the realm of classic science fiction. A “Basilisk” in this context is something in your face that everyone intentionally ignores (because looking into its eyes will turn you to stone). This is certainly an interesting take on artificial intelligence. It explores who might be interested in developing, or preventing, AI from consuming the world. A decent “whodunit” that kept me entertained.
The introduction to “For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls” by Liu Xiaodan should be enough to interest any conservative science fiction fan. The second paragraph of this story alone should be enough to make any post-Covid tracing application supporter cringe in fear. It probably won’t, but it should. What followed was immersion into a futuristic society where separation from electronic tracking was today’s equivalent of driving without a license. Cutting one’s self off from your electronic tether is both illegal and the realm of the anarchist. Some see this as a protest. This had such a wonderful beginning only to revert into white privilege. I could honestly see the stupidity of this future becoming the American reality. Rather than just rewarding intelligence, ambition and sacrifice to become a success, the social progressives must apply an equalizer to eliminate their perceived white privilege. A society where you are punished just for your family having a history of being educated, successful and white. Then this story goes so far as to state the excessively taxed and penalized privileged white “serfs” see their existence as “righteous racial penance.” THIS is truly a politically incorrect story describing where we are headed as long as someone thinks being successful obviously means you aren’t “paying your fair share.” The scary part is that the liberal social progressive science fiction critics will hold this story up as a description of how wonderful life could be for everyone else if the privileged would just become serfs. But what is the cost of social justice, brother? I really enjoyed this story.
I have had several pets through my 57 year life and all have been animal shelter rescues. The setting seemed innocent enough as I began exploring “Chelsea’s Rescue” by J. L. Hagen. This humorous story discusses the future of what it means to bring a rescue (animal?) into your home. The further I read, the more it dawned on me what the subject matter discussed. Politically Incorrect? ABSOLUTELY!
I am reading “The Promise of King Washington” by Joe Vasicek on Election Day, November 3, 2020. It presents a future reality in which a member of the military, along with the majority of the American people, stage a coup to eliminate the graft, and corrupted treason running rampant ion our Government. I live in Michigan and I loved this story from the moment I read “the coup against President Whitmer.” Veiled within the lines of this fantastic story is a promise that if we had a media that would return to real, honest, skeptical journalism, we might hope to restore trust in those we elect. It provides discussion that the current media does nothing to eliminate the collusion and corruption, instead it gives power to the traitors trying to destroy a country. Great story!
I had to read the introduction to “Struldbrug” by David Wesley Hill with a sideways glance. In Jonathan Swift‘s 1726 satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels, the name struldbrugg is given humans in the nation of Luggnagg who seem normal, but are in fact immortal. Although they do not die, they do continue aging. I’ll admit I am a bit “prim and proper” when it comes to sexual relations. Discussing them makes me uncomfortable. I have passed years of YPT (Youth Protection Training) for the Boy Scouts and Safe Sport for Olympic and collegiate athletes. I was invested in this story early. Hook, line and sinker. The poor girl! That old guy was a predator if ever there was one. The author got me. Well done!
The introduction to “Retrograde” by Jay Werkheiser prepares for a discussion of rape during a mission to a distant planet. What progresses certainly starts as exposing serious crimes against a woman to preserve her value to the mission and, when given the opportunity to protect herself from a perceived continued threat, she reverts from fear and self-defense to “she was guilty of attempted murder” and the mission priority in mind while saving the one who raped her. Not sure I liked the ending but it made me think.
In the introduction to “The Responsible Party” by Margret A. Treiber, it was stated “Remember: when jokes are outlawed, only outlaws will have jokes. “This should tell you everything you need to know about this story. “Even if someone is weak, they… they deserve to live in a world where they are not offended.” I can absolutely see society moving this direction. Why was the burglar so easily offended? He took things personally.
“Impy” by Fiona M. Jones presents a clear picture of what happens when a child is allowed to mature without requiring mental and emotional growth beyond the age of 4. It describes one youth who is given his robot surrogate “friend” by the social workers at his school. He is allowed to deliver whatever violence he desires, even to the point of damage and destruction, as a means to deflect that violence from the rest of the world. The consequences of physical violence being accepted by a surrogate, any surrogate, without the understanding of cause and effect, action and reaction, become acutely apparent. The true result of the participation trophy mentality.
Reading the introduction to “The Fourth Ticket” by Keltie Zubko, I prepared myself for an assault on being a male, a man. For doing manly things with manly men. I do those things regularly. I’m an archer. I shoot guns. I like sports. I participate in Boy Scots (ne Scouts?) with my son. We speak in short sentences with our manly friends because. I therefore enjoyed the flow and texture of the story but never really got a clear picture of what led to the reality painted in it. One interpretation was that men were no longer allowed in society. This then raised the question as to how was the husband allowed to go with the son (and daughter) onto the transport? I felt sadness for the mother losing her family but I was confused why she had to let them go. Just a little more window dressing would have completed the mental picture for me.
After Hazardous Imaginings: Politically Incorrect Science Fiction, I had a feeling of what was in store from “Doggy Style” by Andrew Fox. Yup. Bestiality. A liberal social progressive doing it with her dog. Granted it was a technology enhanced dog that could communicate through text messages, but it was still dog sex. In the name of giving the progressives a new group for the social justice warriors to defend from oppression. It was imaginative. I read it. I’ll never get that time back and it has left a permanent scar. I will never look at a dog humping a human’s leg the same way again.
As the final installment in this anthology, “As the Earth Intended” by PJ Higham was neither a celebration nor a cheer of victory. It relates the life and death of a man just trying to live within the oppressive restrictions of the Green New Deal. It is a saddened cry from those destined to live through the hell wrought by those afraid of everything. From Pollution, fossil fuels, carbon foot print, holes in the ozone layer, the coming ice age and the impending floods from the melting polar ice caps to the global pandemic. Social distance, wear your mask and FOR GODS SAKE WASH YOUR HANDS! Again, a story within this anthology that so perfectly defines “politically incorrect”. If only the ignorant masses would see what their correctness has wrought on those of us who are unafraid.
I have enjoyed Andrew Fox’s Again, Hazardous Imaginings: More Politically Incorrect Science Fiction. There were some truly great stories and some that, for me, just don’t fit the “politically incorrect” moniker, though they certainly will be for some. It made me smile and think. It made me angry and it filled me with hope. Just like its predecessor, it made me ponder our future and possible alternate realities. It took me away from the reality of the current “pandemic” and allowed a small escape into somewhere else. Even with a few stories I wouldn’t recommend, there are certainly several that I strongly do. I sincerely look forward to another volume.
Eric Kimminau is a BBS geek turned IT professional seeking those of like mind and character with whom I may share in wit and wisdom.