|by Betty Webb|
Spring Issue #124
Neither hope nor sweetness is to be found in Send My Love and A Molotov Cocktail! (PM Press, $19.95) a top flight crime and sci-fi anthology edited by Gary Phillips and Andrea Gibbons, featuring stories by Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Sara Paretsky among others. A collection hardly designed to warm the cockles of your heart, these gritty stories are unsettling and beautifully bleak. In Andrea Gibbons’ extraordinary “The El Rey Bar,” we are given a Los Angeles of the near future, where anarchy rules the day. Gloria, a nihilistic young woman, is enjoying drinks with some friends while ignoring a man who has just been stabbed three times. But he’s recovered enough to get as drunk as everyone else, and why not, because no one has a future. Race and class wars are the order of the day. Wilshire Boulevard is on fire, tanks are stationed on the corners, and the area is walled off to protect the few wealthy neighborhoods still standing. Nihilistic, yes, but also deeply affecting. The varying lengths of the stories in Molotov Cocktail can be startling; some stories verge on flash fiction. At only one and a half pages long, Larry Fondation’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” is a real punch in the gut. In an unnamed foreign country, a soldier tries to talk his veiled lover out of doing something desperate. Don’t expect a happy ending on this one. Longer and creepier (I do love creepy) is Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Lunatics,” which follows a party of slave-like miners on the moon as they attempt to escape the serial killer decimating their ranks. Their hellish lives become even more hellish as they tunnel their way through caverns dug far beneath the moon’s surface, not certain that their surface base remains intact. If you’re in the mood for something futuristic and grim, Molotov Cocktail is right up your dark alley.
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