Abbey Mei Otis’s first long-form collection...is a powerful debut ... Otis’s fiction has a dynamic blend of contemporary and speculative approaches, diamond-edged and furious in her exploration of power, oppression, and grief. The titular story also serves as a statement of themes: outsider or abject characters; viral, haunting, gruesome physicality; hunger mixed with passion and crooked adoration; cataclysm before-during-and-after. It isn’t a pleasant or simple experience for the audience. The bodies in Otis’s short fiction are subject to a grim though often lyrical brutality, one step too far for comfort at all times ... We recognize it all. It recognizes us. Otis’s prose brings the intense affect of her stories not simply to life but to embodiment—it’s the kind of phrasing and artistry that a reader feels in their guts. Calling it 'body horror' doesn’t quantify the full extent of the visceral detail Otis gives through her protagonists’ often-internal, often-narrow point of view ... She is recording a lived existence with dirt, hunger, and sorrow down to the cellular level. It’s something I don’t see enough of in SF but she’s got it on lock. These people feel like people, and it makes their suffering almost unbearable to read ... It’s a collection that will keep your heart half in your throat and half in your toes, and I recommend it.
Abbey Mei Otis is an exciting voice in contemporary science fiction. Her new book...explores those left behind in typical sweeping science fiction adventures—the children, discarded robots, school dropouts and blue-collar workers with the misfortune of being near something toxic ... dreamy but with an intense physicality that belies the violence behind the longing.
Otis is a writer of vision, attuned to the complexities of privilege and the ways technology married to capitalism tends to produce and exacerbate inequality. Like most science fiction, these aren’t tales of the future, but stories about our world now ... Otis highlights the ways technological advancement doesn’t benefit us all equally or in the same ways. These observations aren’t necessarily new, but Otis breathes unique and compelling life into them ... A reader might expect stories freighted with these kinds of critiques to be bleak, but throughout this collection characters find ways to survive in their environments, even if they’re not exactly thriving. In a present where so much writing seems to fetishize an apocalyptic future, Otis’ work suggests that there’s too much uncertainty about what comes next for any of us to say, with any kind of certainty, whether the arc of the moral universe will ultimately bend toward justice or injustice.