“The Candide of our #@$\*%?! age.”— Ken Liu, award-winning author
Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past Is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world.
A Hugo Award finalist! An inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction finalist! A Locus Award finalist!
The future is blue. Endless blue…except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown.
Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it. She’s the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it’s full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time.
But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.
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Valente expands on her 2016 short story "The Future Is Blue" with an entertaining and moving peregrination that sometimes raises more questions than it answers. In "The Future Is Blue," reprinted here, 19-year-old Tetley Abednego recounts the events that made her "the most hated girl in Garbagetown," a far-future settlement built on an island of floating garbage. In the title novella, Tetley is 29 and still Garbagetown's star dissident: while others dream of a 21st-century-style life of ease, Tetley loves her life in Garbagetown in spite of the ostracization that has forced her to strike out on her own, and she refuses to sacrifice Garbagetown's stability to chase a misguided fantasy of dry land. In the course of her wandering, she finds love and discovers a shocking secret about her world. Tetley's distinctive voice and cheerful resilience in the face of misfortune make her a delightful guide through this bleak future, but her mistreatment by nearly everyone she encounters, along with her excoriations of humans of the past (the "fuckwits"), makes for a melancholy reading experience. This volume will appeal to fans of Valente's characteristic vivid prose and anyone wanting a sketch of what might remain after the climate apocalypse.