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.
The twelve tales in this collection lure you in with the fantastic (Aliens! Sex Robots! Matricide! Giant Cougars!) and fantastical landscapes. The worlds of these stories feel, in our current climate, dystopian, prescient, and deserved. These are lands of neglect ... these Aliens, dystopian worlds, and unusual children all work as clever feints. They lure you in only to get access to your more tender organs. These are stories of human nature; stories that explore wealth, class, sorrow, oppression. In these stories, aliens can’t save you, the moon can’t save you, virtual reality can’t save you, and, all too often, your family can’t save you either ... there is also tenderness and the absence of it. There is prose that delights. There are plastic people, and people not sure if they can bleed. What these stories do best is sci-fi. What these stories do best is love ... if barriers between what is 'science fiction' and what is 'literature' haven’t already broken down, then this collection is Abbey Mei Otis burying a glowing-neon hammer into that tired beige wall.