2084 Review

Unsung Stories ran a wildly successful Kickstarter earlier this year to create an anthology of stories inspired by Orwell’s 1984. I got a sneak preview of the book before receiving my own copy and it’s a delight.

From the Kickstarter (follow the link above there’s a bunch of author interviews there that are worth seeing & more info on the book):

“Today we know how prophetic Orwell was, with the very language of his imagined future entering our present. With the seismic shocks, politically and culturally, still resonating after 2016, the time is right to look ahead again.

2084 features 14 stories from leading science fiction writers who were all asked the same question – what will our world look like 67 years from now? The anthology features new and exclusive stories from:

  • Jeff Noon
  • Christopher Priest
  • James Smythe
  • Lavie Tidhar
  • Aliya Whiteley
  • David Hutchinson
  • Cassandra Khaw
  • Desirina Boskovich
  • Anne Charnock
  • Ian Hocking
  • Oliver Langmead
  • Courttia Newland
  • Irenosen Okojie
  • EJ Swift
  • Malcolm Devlin

In 1948 Orwell looked at the world around him and wrote 1984, now a classic dystopian novel. Here 15 writers asked themselves the same question as Orwell did – where are we going, what is our future?”

There are many names here known to me and some that I’m reading for the first time in the book. Like all such anthologies there is a range of styles and although all are quality stories some hit the mark more than others YMMV.

The anthology kicks off with Babylon, a story by Dave Hutchinson which was very much in his ouvre, if you like the Fractured Europe series you’ll enjoy this tale of border crossings and the future of immigration.  Other stand outs for me were Anne Charnock’s exploration of unintended consequences arising from Universal Basic Income in A Good Citizen. Jeff Noon’s haunting Room 149 about the things we leave behind in a digital universe. The Endling Market by EJ Swift which was a nifty piece of environmental writing with a kick. Aliya Whitely investigates the age gap and the coming tension between virtual and real in Uniquo. Saudade Minus One (S-1=) by Irenson Okojie is an evocative future wild west tale of new nuclear families and Lavie Tidhar’s 2084 Satoshi AD a tale which could possibly be described as Heart of Darkness meets Bladerunner. And that’s a full half of the tales -so you can see it’s difficult to choose stand outs!

1984 is one of my favourite books, it’s bleak but compelling, and Orwell is one of my favourite writers – I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written and have an Orwell shelf (well half shelf, he wasn’t that prolific). So I was especially interested in this collection. The stories are all great but most of them are inspired by the question and less by Orwell & his writing. Although there are many nods along the way. I was expecting very political stories, and playing with the language – for example Orwell’s Politics and the English Language is more relevant today than it ever has been. This would be my only criticism of the book – and it feels like a mean one, that is –  it wasn’t what I’d constructed it would be in my head, it didn’t meet my specific expectation. But that would be a silly reason to mark a book down! Especially when the stories are this good.

I thoroughly enjoyed this anthology and recommend that you go buy a copy as it’s a handsome collection of stories from some of the most exciting names working in SF&F right now.

Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

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