Rennie, Jason, ed. Forbidden Thoughts (Superversive Press, 2017) Kindle e-book.
This is not an anthology for the easily depressed or for those looking for stories of hope and happiness. There are such tales in the collection, but all of these are dystopic looks at what could happen should the cultural trends seen on college campi, the US and other national governments, and other parts of society are pressed to their extreme conclusion. Are they extreme? Yes. Could I see some of them happening? I hate to say it, but yes, given events over the past year in Europe and other places. Are they well written? Very much so.
The collection starts with an opening essay by Milo Yannapoulis. Yes, that Milo. And I agree with his most important conclusion.* His introduction sets the tone for the stories, starting with a description of a mission to Mars staffed by all the correct people and that goes horribly wrong for a number of reasons. It is entertaining and exciting, and has a bit of humor. Some of the following stories are… grim. “Abortions” done at two years of age because a child isn’t what a parent wanted him to be. “Abortions” done at age twelve because the child causes upset and distracts the mother from her work and social life, in a society where a child does not have a right to live until age thirteen.
Not all the stories are that depressing. Some are satire, although the one about the intricacies of dating I could easily see being taken as a how-to guide by some college administrators. Others provide hope, and the promise that the human spirit will break through in the end.
I suspect people not familiar with the follies of campus speech codes, and “positive, enthusiastic consent” and other developments will find these extreme. They are, which is the point. Like Aldous Huxley or George Orwell, these are imagined possibilities if certain trends continue to their logical conclusion. The book does end on an upbeat note.
The quality of the stories varies a little, as you would expect with any anthology. All are well written, some are more engaging than others, but none struck me as truly bad. John C. Wright’s story took me a little to get into because of how the perspective shifts, but I expect to work a touch more while reading his stories than when reading someone like Sarah Hoyt or L. Jagi Lamplighter. Tom Kratman’s lists are entertaining and all too familiar (and yes, I agree with a number of his observations about the differences between the Left-liberal and less-ideological.)
I recommend the collection if you are interested in political dystopias and what certain trends could lead to, with sci-fi twists. If you are prone to depression when confronted with the current political and academic climate, you might skim through and only read the upbeat stories. You probably don’t want to be caught reading this in Women’s-Studies class, however.
*That an Imperial Star Destroyer would annihilate the Starship Enterprise. Any version of the Enterprise. I agree completely with Milo’s take on the matter.