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.
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.
...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 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.
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.
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.
...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.
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.