A wildly imaginative collection in which elements of science fiction, fantasy, and even crime fiction blend together in a maelstrom of entertaining darkness that peels away layers of normalcy to reveal the weird, creepy things at the core of each story ... Stories that are very different from each other but that share cohesive elements that give the collection a sense of unity ... Something Fu does time and again — setting up a wild premise and then using it to make a deeper statement ... While each story in Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century takes place in a different world and feels unique, Fu's obsession with infusing the normal with the supernatural, the weird, the bad side of technology, or the grotesque gives the collection a wonderful sense of cohesion ... Full of surprises and strange new things — and those make for truly addictive reading. This collection cements Fu as one of the most exciting short story writers in contemporary literature.
Wonderful ... An endlessly entertaining bestiary from one of the country's most exciting practitioners of fiction ... Fu has a formidable talent for misdirection, and it lends her stories a sly air of the unforeseen ... Nearly every story in Fu's collection is a standout ... There's nothing to fault in this book; it's an endlessly inventive collection from a real talent.
... a short story collection containing twelve narratives that, though disparate in plot and subject, come together in a thematic and emotional symphony ... Fu’s writing has often been highlighted for its precision and freshness, and her latest publication does not disappoint, offering us a novel, sharp, and insightful perspective on the concept of normalcy ... in each story, Fu is determined to take reality and twist it. Ordinary life is teased apart and then slightly altered: a technology is added, a natural process is exaggerated, a standard element of life inexplicably disappears. Despite these alterations, the twists are so seamlessly woven into the fabric of our known world that we quickly come to accept them as just another aspect of reality. Though surprised when we initially find ourselves presented with the unfamiliar or the absurd, we soon find ourselves wondering why a Time Cube is any more difficult to believe than, say, an Apple Watch or a 3D Printer ... Fu’s prose is unembellished but often sparsely beautiful and, true to its title, is deeply resonant for a modern audience. Well-paced, clear, and confident, the narration navigates both the familiar and the absurd with deftness and wit ... There is something achingly and electrically familiar about the way that Fu characterizes the many dangers of modern life ... The familiarity of Fu’s prose is a testament to her ability to drop her readers fluidly and quickly into a fictional mind. The psychology of her characters is wonderfully immersive, and in a matter of lines, we believe them entirely as real and complex people. After the shock of the initial reading, printing a wife’s new body out in the basement comes to seem as ordinary a pastime as looking out a window or pouring a glass of orange juice. It is this combination of familiarity and strangeness, this simultaneous commitment to and deviation from normalcy, that makes Fu’s work so captivating.
Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century...offers the kind of payout you hope for when picking up a collection by an author with whom you are unfamiliar ... an engaging, thought-provoking collection of stories. A dozen works of speculative exploration that utilize and subvert genre tropes in equal measure. These are stories that venture into the shadows without fear and travel darkened pathways with resolute boldness. Smart and sharp, riddled with unsettling bleak humor and emotional impact, Lesser Known Monsters is a first-rate collection for any fan of speculative fiction ... These are stories that manage to be both heavy and buoyant at once, stirring up shadows without ever losing sight of the light. Compelling, thoughtful fiction like this would be difficult enough to generate once; doing it a dozen times is a true feat.
... a weird, mind blowing examination of identity and human relationships within the swirling black hole of modernity ... What might seem like a series of smart, Black Mirror style vignettes, Fu’s dystopian fables run much deeper; they aren’t actually about technology or disease, those well known monsters of the 21st century, but tales of the human condition, tattered and uncertain of itself. Over a dozen stories, characters fail to connect to one another or themselves, awash in dream states, consumed by lassitude, despairing or disinterested in who they are ... Despite the futuristic magic realism of many of the stories in Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, Fu’s message is urgent, relevant, and real—she is interested in the way relationships enrich, damage, and mislead ... The dualism of mind and body, the way our physical and internal selves alter in the wake of biological and technological change, is beautifully laid out. Fu’s prose is bright and lyrical; she makes the supernatural every-day with clarity and ease reminiscent of Kelly Link or Samanta Schweblin. Her stories have a deep level of understanding of what the future could mean for the people trapped inside it. Fu is a writer out there on her own, investigating the places in time and space that require our attention.
With a capable hand and wry voice, Fu...chronicles bizarre events and dystopian realities. As they summon disturbing signs and wonders, the stories invite readers into out-of-left-field portraits—of marriage, childhood, grief, and our glum zeitgeist—that delight, provoke and entertain ... Thoughtful, inventive, and clever, Fu’s Monsters can also provide a balm for anxious pandemic states of mind. Things could be worse, the impressive collection reminds us.
Fu stated she wanted in her work to take 'speculative ideas very seriously and at face value…without a winking eye to metaphor.' Remarkably, she succeeds, avoiding the pitfalls of artfully occluded moralizing while saturating her stories with much-discussed contemporary woes ranging from insomnia to paralyzingly cynical social mores. The opening story, 'Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867,' tugs the reader into a bleakly imaginary but believable world, setting the tone for the whole volume ... At times the stories of Lesser Known Monsters seem more akin to poetry. Tautly controlled language, often to the point of spareness, communicates the lyrical imagination that is the foundation for each piece. Fu tends toward diligently precise descriptions ... this linguistic tension encapsulates what Fu is playing with: merging the surreal and the concrete, the impossible and the way-too-real. Fu’s mastery of clever, strange concepts is undeniable throughout, but it is in the final two stories that her work achieves transcendence.
...the horrors are more intimate, smaller, and less global in scale. This is not a collection filled with fantastic beasts, although a sea monster does make an appearance, but instead illuminates the monstrous nature of humanity ... Technology, rather than magic, catalyzes these changes. That is not to say there are not some traces of unexplained fantasy, such as a girl who sprouts wings from her ankles, but mostly, Fu’s monsters manifest from modernity ... The success of Kim Fu’s stories is the element of the unexpected. There are surprises lurking in these narratives, whether it is a quick final plot twist or unexpected peculiarity ... Although Fu seems more concerned with alienation stemming from individual relationships, there is criticism of conventional consumer capitalism ... The characters in Fu’s collection are eccentric and unexpected in their choices, and many of their stories feature unforeseen endings that strike the right tone for the dark era we live in ... Fu opens a window looking onto the sad possibilities of our own failures.
Fu’s style is tight and visceral, and she brings to life haunting hypothetical possibilities and encounters with the strange with clean prose ... From the surreal masses of june bugs coating an apartment to a runaway bride running towards a sea monster, the mix of technology and fabulism in Fu’s worlds is a fun house mirror or a Zoom self view window onto our world. The stories force us to examine who the real lesser known monsters of the 21st century are. Are the monsters the technologies, winged humans, and haunted dolls? Or are we, the people who live and adapt to the strange, the real monsters? This collection is ideal for reflecting upon the past two pandemic years and for the Internet Age as a whole.
If the gothic stories of Carmen Maria Machado use the monstrous to reveal hidden desires, ones we’ve forced into the subterranean spaces in our subconscious, Fu’s stories serve to recreate the shock of feeling in a landscape of disconnection ... Fu ends her tales of the monstrous on a hopeful note: We can know joy even in a world that is failing all around us. Our spirit sparks in the ruins.
... one of Fu’s greatest strengths is her ability to turn horror on its head, focusing less on the terror the modern-day monsters incite, but what they reveal about ourselves ... With every story, Fu forces us to look in the mirror and search for the fears that lurk within all of us—the dark desires we don’t dare speak aloud, the fears that nestle deep into the back of our skull, and the guilt that lingers long after the decisions we make.
...in a never-ending global pandemic, everything that we once upheld as tenants of reality has been turned upside down, Fu’s latest collection feels like reality in the waiting ... The stories in Lesser Known Monsters of The 21st Century plunge us into radically different worlds and expose the ramification of technological consequences, unrealized dreams, and unmasked contradictions on the individual ... Worldbuilding of this magnitude often requires pages of descriptions, setting, and plotting to anchor readers, but Fu’s sentences are terse and the stories are more character-driven. The juxtaposition of surrealist elements with reality makes these different worlds appear similar and renders a more fictional quality as opposed to magical realism. Each story feels like a potential episode of Black Mirror, exploring futuristic technology and the dangerous hold it has on all of us.
Gripping, sometimes disturbing tales ... Whether outlandish or just odd, each story is a quiet, unforgettable revolution ... Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is a breathtaking collection of speculative fiction stories about how new places and innovations affect timeless emotions.
As someone encountering Fu’s work for the first time, what struck me about her fiction wasn’t so much the range – though I am drawn to authors who are willing to switch genre lanes – but the physical and tactile quality of her prose, the way her stories engage all the senses ... As much as I delighted in Fu’s prose, it would all be a little hollow if the ideas that underpin her fiction were banal or well-worn. Thankfully, that’s not the case ... Monsters, figurative or real aside, Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is a terrific collection of speculative fiction, with evocative, textured prose that left a lasting impression on this reader.
Sly, provocative, fabulous short stories sure to delight and shock ... Fu flaunts an inimitable imagination ... Speculative elements so adroitly and casually inserted into seemingly realistic narratives seem to be stoking a growing genre ... Irrefutably fantastic.
Fu is equally at home chronicling bizarre events and pondering her characters’ inner lives ... In a more realistic mode, Fu addresses questions of technology and community with grace and subtlety ... A powerful collection that demonstrates Fu’s range and skill.