Mankind comes face to face with extraterrestrial life in this short fiction reprint anthology from Clarkesworld publisher Neil Clarke.
They Are Strangers from Far Lands . . .
Science fiction writers have been using aliens as a metaphor for the other for over one hundred years. Superman has otherworldly origins, and his struggles to blend in on our planet are a clear metaphor for immigration. Earth’s adopted son is just one example of this “Alien Among Us” narrative.
There are stories of assimilation, or the failure to do so. Stories of resistance to the forces of naturalization. Stories told from the alien viewpoint. Stories that use aliens as a manifestation of the fears and worries of specific places and eras. Stories that transcend location and time, speaking to universal issues of group identity and its relationship to the Other.
Nearly thirty authors in this reprint anthology grapple both the best and worst aspects of human nature, and they do so in utterly compelling and entertaining ways. Not One of Us is a collection of stories that aren’t afraid to tackle thorny and often controversial issues of race, nationalism, religion, political ideology, and other ways in which humanity divides itself.
Collecting 21 stories from the last two decades, this hefty and fascinating theme anthology focuses on one of SF's major issues: If aliens aren't just bug-eyed monsters with no more than rape and plunder on their minds, what else who else could they be? And, for that matter, what do we mean by us? Readers should savor the stories a few at a time to get the most out of Clarke's superior selections, all of which are distinctive attempts to grapple with those questions. The short stories frequently make good use of their length to shift perspectives abruptly, putting readers not just in the presence but inside the skins of aliens who might be conquerors, teachers, betrayers, or lovers or some all-too-human combination. They also aren't afraid to tackle contemporary political hot topics such as immigration, citizenship, and belonging. Outstanding works by Nancy Kress ("Laws of Survival"), Judith Berman ("The Fear Gun"), and Ted Chiang ("Story of Your Life") are highlights, but there are no inferior pieces here. This is a fine, thoughtful book.