At first glance, the next three stories in the Subversion anthology don’t seem to have a whole lot in common. They take place in a dreary, futuristic call center, a fantastic world of dragons and their human snacks, and Hell itself. The characters are worker drones, royalty, and demons. No obvious theme besides subversion, the theme for the entire anthology, for me to develop into a clever introductory paragraph for today’s reading.
But who said the connection between them had to be obvious? A closer examination shows us that these are three very different stories about daring escapes from cruel systems that care nothing for the individuals they depend on for maintenance.
Scrapheap Angel by RJ Astruc and Deirdre M. Murphy is the baldest, cheeriest example of today’s unifying theme. I’m particularly fond of this story because, like the main characters, I spend my weekdays toiling in a corporate cubicle. Also like the characters – and probably everyone else working in similar situations – I pass a lot of time daydreaming my escape and quietly undermining oppression. Still, I doubt the contents of my cubicle will ever combine to form anything quite as amazing as a Scrapheap Angel.
CA Young’s story, The Dragon’s Bargain, contains a warning against ignorance and blind trust. Also, plans formed at the last minute often disappoint, and sometimes catastrophically. To escape a messy fate on the teeth of a hungry power, one must come prepared to the fight. Lest one’s sacrifice be for someone else’s gain…
A Tiny Grayness in the Dark by Wendy N. Wagner is a tear-jerker. Although other stories in the Subversion anthology have children as main characters, none give parents credit for much good. It’s true that some parents are simply awful or too wholesome to be healthy, but most parents sacrifice a lot of themselves for the benefit of their offspring. A Tiny Grayness in the Dark shines a light on love as both motive for and quintessential expression of subversion.
This series of reviews will end soon, but why wait for me to finish reading the book? Buy it here.