RaveFull StopShort and tightly written, each story presents a lesson that leaves the reader thinking deeply about themselves and how they relate to people from other cultures. Composed with humor and empathy for the subjects and readers, Alien Stories leverages the imaginative fun of science fiction to thoughtfully reflect on the experiences of those born outside of, but living, in America ... Part of the brilliance in Osondu’s stories is in showing how closely a person’s imagination may link the concepts of earthborn and extraterrestrial \'aliens\' ... Alien Stories feels very aware of itself and of how to make meaningful ideas connect with a broad audience: the stories are accessible, but thought-provoking, with clarity and concision. In each brief piece, readers encounter tightly focused ideas that expand exponentially the more one thinks about the stories.
Nam-Nyong Paek, Trans. by Immanuel Kim
PositiveFull StopTo be transparent, Friend is overtly propagandistic ... The story sways between heavy-handedly didactic dialogue in some scenes and thoughtful realism in others. Western standards might call the novel melodramatic or moralistic. A reader could certainly find plenty in the novel to reinforce a critical view of DPRK’s ideological totalitarianism, but that’s not what makes Paek’s story interesting ... What makes the novel fascinating are the depictions of a class-integrated society and the chance to see North Korean values, which are never discussed in Western media’s permanent focus on the Kims and their atrocities ... Its propagandistic properties may feel heavy-handed compared to how US media propaganda ties our citizen’s worth to employment, earnings, and conspicuous consumption ... While an anti-divorce novel might seem very conservative, the characters are sometimes complex enough to avoid feeling overly quaint ... Paek’s portrayal of daily life is, in my opinion, the most compelling non-political reason to read Friend ... Americans, with our own bizarre leader and his cult of personality, should read Friend precisely because we can no longer consider DPRK as ideologically contrary to the US as we once could.
PositiveFull StopThe book grew out of a joint project between Slate, New America, and Arizona State University ... I would suggest checking out the corresponding science articles on Slate ... Though the collection is enjoyable reading, pairing the stories and articles together added another layer of depth to the project that is absent in the book ... Future Tense is an exciting and self-conscious celebration of what science fiction has often done best—predict the future. Readers who appreciate Arthur C. Clarke and William Gibson’s attention to science and Ursula Le Guin and Ted Chiang’s beautiful literary voices will find a lot to love here ... Each story takes some element of our current scientific or technological moment and follows the thread in to believable future, one refreshingly free from aliens and spaceships and superweapons.