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Accessing the Future: A Disability-Themed Anthology of Speculative Fiction

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The fifteen authors and nine artists in this volume bring us beautiful, speculative stories of disability and mental illness in the future. Teeming with space pirates, battle robots, interstellar travel and genetically engineered creatures, every story and image is a quality, crafted work of science fiction in its own right, as thrilling and fascinating as it is worthy and The fifteen authors and nine artists in this volume bring us beautiful, speculative stories of disability and mental illness in the future. Teeming with space pirates, battle robots, interstellar travel and genetically engineered creatures, every story and image is a quality, crafted work of science fiction in its own right, as thrilling and fascinating as it is worthy and important. These are stories about people with disabilities in all of their complexity and diversity, that scream with passion and intensity. These are stories that refuse to go gently.


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The fifteen authors and nine artists in this volume bring us beautiful, speculative stories of disability and mental illness in the future. Teeming with space pirates, battle robots, interstellar travel and genetically engineered creatures, every story and image is a quality, crafted work of science fiction in its own right, as thrilling and fascinating as it is worthy and The fifteen authors and nine artists in this volume bring us beautiful, speculative stories of disability and mental illness in the future. Teeming with space pirates, battle robots, interstellar travel and genetically engineered creatures, every story and image is a quality, crafted work of science fiction in its own right, as thrilling and fascinating as it is worthy and important. These are stories about people with disabilities in all of their complexity and diversity, that scream with passion and intensity. These are stories that refuse to go gently.

30 review for Accessing the Future: A Disability-Themed Anthology of Speculative Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shadowdenizen

    This is a wonderfully poignant SF anthology; on the strength of the first half of this alone, I'd already felt strongly enough about this to recc it to many of my GoodReads friends. The best, most-rewarding part of this reading experience is that all the stories in this anthology are excellent, well-crafted pieces of fiction in their own right, with fully developed and fleshed-out characters. While the central theme IS centered around disabilites, thankfully they are generally treated as merely on This is a wonderfully poignant SF anthology; on the strength of the first half of this alone, I'd already felt strongly enough about this to recc it to many of my GoodReads friends. The best, most-rewarding part of this reading experience is that all the stories in this anthology are excellent, well-crafted pieces of fiction in their own right, with fully developed and fleshed-out characters. While the central theme IS centered around disabilites, thankfully they are generally treated as merely one component of a characters' full personality, and the stories are assuredly (and thankfully) NOT treatises full of moralizing on disability and diversity, but rather well-written SF stories in their own right 5 over-the-moon stars for this gem of an anthology; highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Danni Green

    THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. SO GOOD!! Every single story and image (including detailed image descriptions for all visual images!) in this book is incredibly well-crafted and sent chills up my spine. I tried to read it really slowly so it wouldn't end so quickly, but it was just so good that I couldn't slow down! My heart nearly broke when I reached the end and there was no more book left. Hoping beyond hope for a volume two!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Suzi

    So so good. A brilliant anthology. The writing is top notch and themes are so on point. This book takes on disability by centering characters with disabilities as creators of their own narratives and subverts harmful sci-fi tropes such as "technology as cure." The stories avoid treating their characters as "inspirational" and instead create real, flawed people. The stories are subtle and complex in their handling of disability and the collection editors contextualize the stories within our ablei So so good. A brilliant anthology. The writing is top notch and themes are so on point. This book takes on disability by centering characters with disabilities as creators of their own narratives and subverts harmful sci-fi tropes such as "technology as cure." The stories avoid treating their characters as "inspirational" and instead create real, flawed people. The stories are subtle and complex in their handling of disability and the collection editors contextualize the stories within our ableist culture through their foreword and afterword.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Megan Daws

    I thought this was really wonderful – though, like most short story anthologies, it varies in quality, it has a good proportion of 5 star stories – for these authors to create such wonderful characters, such original worlds, each in less than 20 pages, is really something. Beyond that, this book is just important – Accessing the future aims to present disability in a realistic way, where the disabled characters aren’t just sidekicks or villains and where they’re just real people. I need to read m I thought this was really wonderful – though, like most short story anthologies, it varies in quality, it has a good proportion of 5 star stories – for these authors to create such wonderful characters, such original worlds, each in less than 20 pages, is really something. Beyond that, this book is just important – Accessing the future aims to present disability in a realistic way, where the disabled characters aren’t just sidekicks or villains and where they’re just real people. I need to read more books like this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Review originally written for my blog So this was the third book I read for Sci-Fi month over on Twitter but I've decided to review it first just because it's so fantastic. I bought this a while ago on Amazon when I had some money left on a gift card then forgot about it for a while until this month. I've been trying to focus on reducing my physical TBR pile for Sci-Fi month (especially as then I can take a photo at the end of them all in a nice stack) but I just had to make an exception for this Review originally written for my blog So this was the third book I read for Sci-Fi month over on Twitter but I've decided to review it first just because it's so fantastic. I bought this a while ago on Amazon when I had some money left on a gift card then forgot about it for a while until this month. I've been trying to focus on reducing my physical TBR pile for Sci-Fi month (especially as then I can take a photo at the end of them all in a nice stack) but I just had to make an exception for this as it sounded fantastic. Before we even get to the stories, there is a fantastic introduction which discusses the fact that not only does this attempt to represent a diverse range of disabilities, but it wants to ensure the people portrayed are equally as diverse, acknowledging that a lot of disability awareness focuses on straight white people. I was very impressed with that and glad to know they were making a conscious effort to be as inclusive as possible. The range of disabilities represented is very interesting ranging from physical to mental, including even discussing how many disabilities are due to culture and so one story is focused on imagining what a future would be like where grief is considered a disability. I won't say too much about the stories themselves but there is a fantastic range and I really enjoyed them all. It's hard to pick a favourite since all the characters are brilliant and well portrayed. Along with short stories, there are also several pieces of artwork. Each piece of artwork is followed by a description of the image for those who are unable to see it, which I was particularly pleased to see in a collection focused on disabilities. Unfortunately, there is not an audiobook version yet but I hope there will be one eventually to make it even more accessible. Even though my sight is fine, there were details mentioned in the descriptions that I hadn't noticed which helped enrich my enjoyment of the art. My favourite piece of artwork though is definitely the cover, which was one of the reasons I bought the book in the first place. I highly, highly recommend this collection. It's incredibly diverse and full of great sci-fi. I've already got several friends to buy it just because I've been gushing about it so much and if it was possible to gift Kindle books in the UK, I'd definitely have bought it for several more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zara Rahman

    Absolutely wonderful anthology of disability-themed speculative fiction stories. It highlighted many areas of ignorance for me - like the fact that the large majority of speculative fiction that I've read imagines a future where disabled people are totally erased, their conditions "cured" or "corrected." I can't imagine how excluding that must feel for disabled people reading those stories, and I'm incredibly grateful to this book for imagining what some alternative futures might look like. The Absolutely wonderful anthology of disability-themed speculative fiction stories. It highlighted many areas of ignorance for me - like the fact that the large majority of speculative fiction that I've read imagines a future where disabled people are totally erased, their conditions "cured" or "corrected." I can't imagine how excluding that must feel for disabled people reading those stories, and I'm incredibly grateful to this book for imagining what some alternative futures might look like. The book touches on some political debates, some of which are going on today in one form or another - one reminded me of a (real-life) ongoing German court case where a doctor is taking the parents of a deaf child to court to force them to give the child a cochlear implant. How does the use of that technology affect the child and their family, and who gets to decide? I imagine we'll see more and more of these debates in the future, and this collection of stories provides some useful and interesting background for people who aren't yet familiar with the arguments on either side of those debates (such as myself!) All in all, seriously can't recommend this enough.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne McDonald

    This was interesting, entertaining, but most of all, thought-provoking. Each entry centers around a character (or characters) with a disability. I rather enjoyed seeing how they all played out, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wishes to break the mold of the picture-perfect protagonist in a world of imperfection.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susie Munro

    Yes, yes, yes yes yes! Read this brilliant collection now, it might just be the best thing you'll read this year.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Acacia Ives

    3.5 but i'll talk on channel about it!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Samantha (AK)

    Accessing the Future: A Disability-Themed Anthology of Speculative Fiction is one of those anthologies that is thematically important, but uneven in execution. I usually read a couple of anthologies or short story collections per year, so I’m used to their mixed-bag nature. There are 15 stories in this volume, addressing a range of visible and invisible disabilities. There are protagonists that most readers aren’t used to seeing. (e.g. a young woman with spina bifida in “Pirate Songs”, a blind pi Accessing the Future: A Disability-Themed Anthology of Speculative Fiction is one of those anthologies that is thematically important, but uneven in execution. I usually read a couple of anthologies or short story collections per year, so I’m used to their mixed-bag nature. There are 15 stories in this volume, addressing a range of visible and invisible disabilities. There are protagonists that most readers aren’t used to seeing. (e.g. a young woman with spina bifida in “Pirate Songs”, a blind pilot “A Sense all its Own”, and an aging HOH executive officer on a generation ship in “In Open Air”) There’s also a lot of focus on assistive technology: who owns it, who uses it, and how that which is developed and tested for the disabled may later be marketed to able-bodied consumers as enhancement. (Sarah Pinsker’s “Pay Attention” is one of my favorite stories in this volume.) Rachel K. Jones’ “Courting the Silent Sun” also makes a case for agency in the use of assistive technology, rather than universal enforcement of a ‘cure’ that not everyone may want. Finally, some of these stories address privacy concerns relating to technological assistance. (“Screens” by Samantha Rich, “Invisible People” by Margaret Killjoy, and “Morphic Resonance” by Toby MacNutt). However uneven it is as a collection, I’m glad that I read it. Disability in fiction is often ‘inconvenient’-- it tends to be brushed aside, ignored, or compensated for in such a way that it no longer makes a difference in the way that the story is told. But in sweeping visible and invisible disabilities under the rug, creators and consumers reinforce societal taboos rather than facing up to differential experience of the world. Full Table of Contents: Nicolette Barischoff “Pirate Songs” Sarah Pinsker “Pay Attention” Margaret Killjoy “Invisible People” Joyce Chng “The Lessons of the Moon” Samantha Rich “Screens” Sara Patterson “A Sense All its Own” Kate O'Connor “Better to Have Loved” Toby MacNutt “Morphic Resonance” Louise Hughes “Losing Touch” Jack Hollis Marr “into the waters i rode down” Petra Kuppers “Playa Song” A.C. Buchanan “Puppetry” A.F. Sanchez “Lyric” Rachael K. Jones “Courting the Silent Sun” David Jón Fuller “In Open Air” Props to The Future Fire for compiling these stories. They gave me a lot to think about, and that’s worth a fair bit. A Note About the Art: There are eight illustrations in this volume, each with a carefully-written image description on the reverse. With a couple of exceptions, I preferred the concept of each piece over the execution, but it was still a nice inclusion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    There were beautiful illustrations in between the stories, accompanied by image descriptions which was really great! Pirate Songs by Nicolette Barischoff - 4* Pay Attention by Sarah Pister - 2* Invisible People by Margaret Killjoy - 3* The Lessons of the Moon by Joyce Chng - 3* Screens by Samantha Rich - 4.5* A Sense All its Own by Sara Patterson - 3* Better to Have Loved by Kate O'Connor - 3.5* Morphic Resonance by Toby MacNutt - 2.5* Losing Touch by Louise Hughes - 4* into the waters i rode down by Jack There were beautiful illustrations in between the stories, accompanied by image descriptions which was really great! Pirate Songs by Nicolette Barischoff - 4* Pay Attention by Sarah Pister - 2* Invisible People by Margaret Killjoy - 3* The Lessons of the Moon by Joyce Chng - 3* Screens by Samantha Rich - 4.5* A Sense All its Own by Sara Patterson - 3* Better to Have Loved by Kate O'Connor - 3.5* Morphic Resonance by Toby MacNutt - 2.5* Losing Touch by Louise Hughes - 4* into the waters i rode down by Jack Hollis Marr - 3.5* Puppetry by A.C. Buchanan - 3* Lyric by A.F. Sanchez - 4* Courting the Silent Sun by Rachel K. Jones - 4.5* Playa Song by Petra Kuppers - 2.5* In Open Air by David Jon Fuller - 2.5*

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    As with any anthology, some stories in here spoke to me more than others. But it was a refreshing read — diverse in every way, from the authors to their characters to the writing styles. As opposed to almost every other media portrayal, the characters with dis/abilities in these stories are the heroes. And fittingly, the stories grapple with ideas about the role of technology in the lives of people with dis/abilities and even with the question of what makes something a “disability.” I truly enjo As with any anthology, some stories in here spoke to me more than others. But it was a refreshing read — diverse in every way, from the authors to their characters to the writing styles. As opposed to almost every other media portrayal, the characters with dis/abilities in these stories are the heroes. And fittingly, the stories grapple with ideas about the role of technology in the lives of people with dis/abilities and even with the question of what makes something a “disability.” I truly enjoyed many of the pieces in here, and all of them made me think a little differently about the way I perceive and interact with the world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Very disappointed. None of those stories explore in any meaningful way the topic, and not because of their length. There is just no depth or creativity to the examination of the way our world is built to be ableist (and racist and sexist and queerphobic), nor to the fictional integration of disability in any future society. And despite what the foreword and introduction say, the intersectionality is perfunctory at best.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Silva

    This was an interesting idea for an anthology! Short stories that are all (a) science fiction and (b) focus on disability? It is good that this exists. Shout-out to several stories I especially appreciated: 🚀 "A Sense All its Own" by Sara Patterson, about a pilot of animalistic robots trying to bypass rules about vision restrictions and adaptive tech. Super fun story to read! 🚀 "Puppetry" by A.C. Buchanan, about a soldier with an ulterior purpose; really turns the technology-as-cure trope on its h This was an interesting idea for an anthology! Short stories that are all (a) science fiction and (b) focus on disability? It is good that this exists. Shout-out to several stories I especially appreciated: 🚀 "A Sense All its Own" by Sara Patterson, about a pilot of animalistic robots trying to bypass rules about vision restrictions and adaptive tech. Super fun story to read! 🚀 "Puppetry" by A.C. Buchanan, about a soldier with an ulterior purpose; really turns the technology-as-cure trope on its head. 🚀 "Lyric" by A.F. Sanchez, a unique, really well-done story about a semi-non-verbal autistic character, written in second person, where you, the reader, are the character. 🚀 "Courting the Silent Sun" by Rachel K. Jones, a powerful story about the deaf community and its place in the future, with a love story that really hit me in the feels. Recommended!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Overall this was pretty good. There were quite a few I really enjoyed, but there were some that I found lacking and one that I ended up skipping half of because I literally didn't understand what was going on - which it seems from reading reviews has happened to others. But definitely a really interesting approach to discussing disability, would like to see more of this disability/SF combination.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shipofools999

    This anthology has some good stories but I really love is the representation aspect. There are a variety of disable characters in a variety of settings and it helps make it "normal" as in part of our regular experience instead of something special. I think accepting difference and working with it is a good thing. The quality level of the stories is mixed. The type of stories are mixed and I didn't like all of them. But the experience of reading characters where what is considered a disability her This anthology has some good stories but I really love is the representation aspect. There are a variety of disable characters in a variety of settings and it helps make it "normal" as in part of our regular experience instead of something special. I think accepting difference and working with it is a good thing. The quality level of the stories is mixed. The type of stories are mixed and I didn't like all of them. But the experience of reading characters where what is considered a disability here is just a characteristic of someone's nature was a delight. I appreciate the exposure and thought experiments. I would like more of this. I am sad that it had to be funded via an Indiegogo campaign and that there isn't more of a call for stories like this. These are not nitche stories. They are accessible and enjoyable by everyone. Going through my reviews of each story, it appears that I really like the ones that have an element of conflict/contrast between the Haves and the Have Nots. I did not like the more experimental story telling ones. Pirate songs / Nicolette Barischoff - Kick ass space story, loved it. 5 stars.(view spoiler)[ A girl without a spine rescued by smugglers without her wheelchair. And they don't care. She is from the rich side, they are from the poor. She is introduced to reality. (hide spoiler)] Pay attention / Sarah Pinsker - Really good story from the perspective of someone who is not NeuroTypical. 5 stars. (view spoiler)[A high school student without family and without money that has a hard time focussing their attention gets an opportunity to have an experimental implant that makes her hyper aware. And the battery goes dead. (hide spoiler)] Invisible people / Margaret Killjoy - Good story, I liked it. 5 stars(view spoiler)[Homeless man with PTSD and paranoia does some illegal hacking to support himself and the corporate police raid... (hide spoiler)] The lessons of the moon / Joyce Chng - Written in such a way I wasn't really sure what was going on. A review helped me understand what was going on. 2 stars. (view spoiler)[unnamed character in ‘The Lessons of the Moon’ is transferred to a Pod (spaceship) body against the character's wishes, who is then forced to serve as a soldier, for ‘something noble rather than dying of a terminal disease. (hide spoiler)] Screens / Samantha Rich - This one left me a little lost on how the world handled the turning invisible disabilities into visual ones. I would have liked a little more direction about what came up around it. But it was a good idea. 3 stars. (view spoiler)[ Samantha Rich's ‘Screens’ imagines an environment where individuals' emotional status is broadcast via digital displays so that no emotional distress, disability or mental health issue goes unnoticed. When a depressed student removes their screen, it prompts conflict between questions of self-determination and the disability rights-centred rallying cry of the screen movement: “We will make the invisible disabilities visible. You will not be able to pretend we don't exist. (hide spoiler)] A sense all its own / Sara Patterson -Great story, well told. 5 stars. (view spoiler)[Bren, in ‘A Sense All its Own’, avoids corrective surgery for her eyes, lest it prevent her from droid fighting (‘a test of human skill, not of human-enhanced-with-robotics skill’),3 instead illegally competing in droid fights from which pilots ‘with physical limitation (hide spoiler)] Better to have loved / Kate O'Connor -This was on ok story. I don't feel it touched any depth. It could have explored the value of feelings or the cost of removing feelings but it stuck to just the process of choosing to do it or not. It was missing thought. 3 stars. (view spoiler)[Kate O'Connor's ‘Better to Have Loved’ imagines a society that medically removes grief as an inefficient and ‘selfish’ process. Take meds and skip the entire grief process (hide spoiler)] Morphic resonance / Toby MacNutt - I enjoyed this one. I think it could have gone much farther. Why was the tech so underground, why weren't people more concerned about exposure if it was so verboten? But a good exploration, 4 stars.(view spoiler)[mass governmental tracking of citizens—a government that presents gender as determined at birth, where androgyny or anything other than cisgender positions are illegal. From the story, I got the illegal bit but not the cigender aspect. Just any modifications were "wrong." (hide spoiler)] Losing touch / Louise Hughes -Interesting idea, robots supporting individual human consciousnesses but don't know what to do to help them. 4 stars. (view spoiler)[‘Losing Touch’, where human consciousness is preserved in intelligent, well-intentioned, and autonomous droids after an apocalyptic event—and where the droids are unable to comprehend the human need for memory or grief. (hide spoiler)] Into the waters I rode down / Jack Hollis Marr -OK story but written in a way I am not fond of. There is a lot of piecing things together to try an understand what is going on. 3 stars. (view spoiler)[neural atypical woman in an experiment to connect with brain of an animal to explore some planet to collect into on aliens because we want to mine the planet. (hide spoiler)] Playa song / Petra Kuppers -This story didn't make any sense to me, even after reading reviews. It has great detail about how people were escaping the end of civilization from the Bay Area. But it was disjointed and some things ended up somewhere unrelated to anything else and unexplainable. Didn't like it. 1 star. (view spoiler)[Petra Kupper's ‘Playa Song’ involves the abandonment of a wheelchair amidst a surreal and beautiful post-apocalyptic landscape. People leaving Berkeley as civilization comes apart. One of them ends up making a lake by singing? Another has a brother die and therefore a girl he picked up becomes super important to him? (hide spoiler)] Puppetry / A.C. Buchanan - Good story, I liked it. 4 stars (view spoiler)['Puppetry’, Merie Jae Tanner volunteers as a soldier, with the promise that in return for 8 years in service she will receive a neurological override for her mobility disability—a position that, without spoiling the plot, is fundamentally challenged by the narrative, alongside a discussion of science fiction and colonialism. (hide spoiler)] Lyric / A.F. Sanchez -This one bothered me. It seemed to focus on the set up and stop before it got to the story. 3 stars.(view spoiler)[The narrative centres around the connection between the autistic narrator and their unnamed ‘Lyric’ animal, an experimental companion animal bought by the narrator at great expense (even after discounts for injury).Things were a little confusing when we were with the autistic character but that was ok. It stopped right when there was work to be done with the animal and there was zero groundwork laid out that there was any hope that this animal would be workable. (hide spoiler)] Courting the silent sun / Rachael K. Jones -Pretty good story a major motivational element was not clear enough for me. The story took on depth after reading a review. 3 stars.(view spoiler)[deaf children are forced to receive a ‘neural implant shortly after birth until the secession of a rebel (deaf) colony offers an alternative; (hide spoiler)] In open air / David Jon Fuller -This had the bones of a good story but the story got lost by focusing on the experience of the main character. 3 stars. (view spoiler)[in ‘In the Open Air’ Soraiya Courchene is a translator with a hearing impairment—where the merging of languages in a slow colony ship has led to the irrelevance of implants, until an interruption from the sending planet (hide spoiler)]

  17. 5 out of 5

    Derek Newman-Stille

    I have to admit that I was hesitant to review Accessing the Future because I wrote the afterward for it and I felt as though it would seem self-serving to review it, but as a disability scholar and a speculative fiction fan who is disabled, I felt that this book needed to be reviewed… well, that and IT IS A REALLY FANTASTIC BOOK. There is nothing so pleasing as finding a collection where every story is appealing. When I read the collection, I kept waiting with worry for the one story that would I have to admit that I was hesitant to review Accessing the Future because I wrote the afterward for it and I felt as though it would seem self-serving to review it, but as a disability scholar and a speculative fiction fan who is disabled, I felt that this book needed to be reviewed… well, that and IT IS A REALLY FANTASTIC BOOK. There is nothing so pleasing as finding a collection where every story is appealing. When I read the collection, I kept waiting with worry for the one story that would disappoint me… but it never arrived. I was incredibly pleased that every story in the collection spoke to me, entertained me, and interrogated the notion of disability in a powerful way. As a disability scholar, I always fear that people will write “inspiration porn”. For those of you who are not in disability scholarship, we use the term “inspiration porn” to refer to media that use disabled people to make able-bodied people feel better, often by talking about how inspirational we disabled people are. This is, of course, infantalising and insulting to disabled people. I was incredibly pleased when none of the stories in Accessing the Future was “inspiration porn”. I should have known that the brilliant Kathryn Allan and Djibril Al-Ayad would make sure that the collection was free of this trope of disability, but it has gotten to the point where when I see disability in any title, I respond with some hesitation, always worried that I am about to be inundated with problematic tropes about disability. Not only does Accessing the Future represent stories that avoid this trope, the collection features stories that actively resist tropes and present disabled characters as complex and complete… as actual people instead of symbols of something that author is trying to represent. And isn’t it about time we are treated as real people instead of someone’s dream about what we should be or what they imagine us to be? To read a longer version of my review, visit my website at https://speculatingcanada.ca/2016/03/...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eggp

    You can't ignore them disabled, but not broken a worthwhile message.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    Accessing the Future is a collection of worlds created by 15 authors, 9 artists and edited by Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad that is much needed in our small world. This book brings the views of those with disabilities or mental illness to the forefront of storytelling. through the creation of inclusive spaces, readers get an in your face view of what life is like and can be like for some in a science fiction setting. This book is a refreshing contrast to the majority of books that feature ch Accessing the Future is a collection of worlds created by 15 authors, 9 artists and edited by Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad that is much needed in our small world. This book brings the views of those with disabilities or mental illness to the forefront of storytelling. through the creation of inclusive spaces, readers get an in your face view of what life is like and can be like for some in a science fiction setting. This book is a refreshing contrast to the majority of books that feature characters with disabilities or mental illness. As they are no longer a side character, the depressing pity story or the inspirational porn that everyone needs to read. The authors inside these worlds have place their characters at the forefront of every story showcasing the down and dirty reality of how life can be depending on your situation from those in privileged settings to those in the slums. Readers can relate to characters, connecting with the stories on a deeper level because these worlds were created with the understanding of what true inclusion means, which allows you to immerse yourself in each short story. At the end of every story, I found myself aching for just a few pages more of each world, which as an avid reader knows will never be enough. Something truly incredible that is included along with each wonderful piece of artwork inside the book is a detailed description of the art. Showcasing just how inclusive literature can be made for everyone, by allowing those visually impaired to share in every part of this fantastic collection. Warning this book will introduce you to a new style of writing through so many amazing authors that you will need more shelf space for all the new books you just have to read. It will also make you look at how disability and mental illness are portrayed in stories in a whole new way when reading books by nondisabled writers.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    What a lovely anthology. Often anthologies suffer due to the chaotic nature of including works by different authors on different subjects, but the highly focused nature of this anthology led it to be a very cohesive collection. The editors did a wonderful job of communicating their message and choosing works that best suit this message. Naturally, I liked some works better than others and didn't feel that the illustrations contributed meaningfully, which is why I gave this work 4 stars out of 5. What a lovely anthology. Often anthologies suffer due to the chaotic nature of including works by different authors on different subjects, but the highly focused nature of this anthology led it to be a very cohesive collection. The editors did a wonderful job of communicating their message and choosing works that best suit this message. Naturally, I liked some works better than others and didn't feel that the illustrations contributed meaningfully, which is why I gave this work 4 stars out of 5. But overall, I think an anthology of this nature is so incredibly important and I was very comforted by it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Miri M.

    This book I read in parts every so often, and i can say that I have already forgotten some of the beginning stories, but I still have vivid scenes of certain ones. I do know that i loved most of these stories or at least liked them, and that was surprising to me bc typically w anthologies I expect to only like a few. I will definitely reread.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kaila

    I could go on and on about how refreshing it is to read about disability without reading about disability--that is, these stories are so good on their own, the characters are great, and their disabilities are a facet of their character, not the single defining trait. Creative, well-written, and the illustrations are great too.

  23. 5 out of 5

    P.

    Really really enjoyed this, and after Kaleidoscope, I wasn't expecting to read another well balanced collection of short stories that have a focus, but aren't stuck on the focus. This proves its point that including disability in sci fi can only lead to richer, more interesting narratives.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Nice assortment of SF dealing with various forms of disability and it does a good job of seeing the characters as individuals rather than focusing just on their disability like so much literature does.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    Actually averaging out what I rated each of the stories gives a 4.17 but the parts I loved I adored enough that I can’t not give this 5 stars. It’s half past two in the morning so I need to go to sleep! We’ll see if I remember to update this properly when I’m actually awake.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gillian

    I find short story collections are often hit and miss, particularly anthologies. There’s always a few stories or authors you don’t like or who don’t stand up as well as the rest. This is the first time I’ve ever read an anthology and loved every single story. Disability is often a topic that’s hit and miss in fiction, most fiction in general but speculative fiction has its own particular tropes. In fantasy there’s the magical cure granted to take away an illness or disability or to heal them from I find short story collections are often hit and miss, particularly anthologies. There’s always a few stories or authors you don’t like or who don’t stand up as well as the rest. This is the first time I’ve ever read an anthology and loved every single story. Disability is often a topic that’s hit and miss in fiction, most fiction in general but speculative fiction has its own particular tropes. In fantasy there’s the magical cure granted to take away an illness or disability or to heal them from a devastating battle wound. You may often see this with people being cured of blindness or deafness, or having limbs grown back after loosing them in battle or perhaps some kind of farming accident. In sci-fi the tropes centre around the mechanical body and how the future will free people from disability since we’ll all be robots anyways. These tropes are really a continuation of the medical model of disability, the belief that disability can be ‘cured’ by medicine and science and that disability is a burden blamed on the individual, rather than the society at large for its intolerance and unwillingness to change and accommodate. Due to the broadness of the issue with topics of disability and chronic illness and how ubiquitous these tropes are in shared cultural knowledge, these depictions often go unchecked and unnoticed by most people, particularly able-bodied people. There’s no magic moment where you suddenly become enlightened about these tropes and the harm them propagate. I credit a really good panel discussion about disability and SFF at CAN-CON last year that I was lucky enough to attend that brought a lot of these issues to my consciousness. Depictions of disability are one of those topics I was familiar with but often don’t notice until it’s pointed out to me due to how normalized these negative depictions are. But that needs to change. To start I recommend checking out Jen Campbell's videos on YouTube about villains and deformity that goes into depth about the cultural history of these depictions and why they still exist. So I was really excited when my library agreed to buy Accessing the Future. Elizabeth from books and pieces had read it and really enjoyed it, so I was eager to pick it up. It was one of the best reading decisions I ever made. Although labelled as a disability-themed anthology of speculative fiction, Accessing the Future is primarily sci-fi. I unfortunately made the mistake of waiting too long to write a review so my memories on the details of every story are a bit hazy. But I always find reviewing short story collections a bit difficult because it’s hard to walk the line between giving away too much and too little. Accessing the Future has everything though. It has an incredibly wide range of stories and writing styles. There’s fast paced action with space truck rallies, only with robots, high stakes kidnapping and ransom and more. But there’s also a number of stories that have a slower, more introspective narrative and pacing that focus on characterization and relationships. Although I do enjoy a fast-paced robot truck rally now and then, my preference is primarily for stories with deeper characterization and that’s where I think this anthology really shines. I lost count how many times a story almost made me cry. I will definitely checking out the contributors other work in the future. Another thing I love about this anthology is how Accessing the Future really digs into the breadth of experience regarding disability, including stories about physical disabilities, intellectual and learning disabilities as well as mental health. Characters with disabilities aren’t inspiration porn, or don’t magically save the day due to heightened senses that have developed due to their disability. From spina bifida, to chronic pain, to dyslexia, to visual impairment, and more, Accessing the Future beautifully explores disability and sci-fi, breaking and remaking tropes and conventions. This is a future I want to be a part of.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I supported this anthology through its IndieGogo campaign, because I support the idea of diverse voices in literature. I hope for the day where we can just have anthologies of science fiction that contain both able-bodied and disable-bodied characters throughout where the point is the character and their actions (this applies to gender, sexuality, colour, all the many ways in which people are diverse) but given that this is not yet that day, it's great to see anthologies like this (and Twelfth P I supported this anthology through its IndieGogo campaign, because I support the idea of diverse voices in literature. I hope for the day where we can just have anthologies of science fiction that contain both able-bodied and disable-bodied characters throughout where the point is the character and their actions (this applies to gender, sexuality, colour, all the many ways in which people are diverse) but given that this is not yet that day, it's great to see anthologies like this (and Twelfth Planet's forthcoming Defying Doomsday) making the point that having spina bifida or being blind or autistic doesn't prevent people from being, y'know, people. And therefore existing in the future. Well, probably. One of the interesting questions raised in a few of these stories, and indeed by people in lots of contexts, is whether/how disability will exist in the future. Pregnant friends remind me of the testing that's done to see whether the foetus is 'normal'; there are implants and prosthetics... and many able-bodied/ perceived 'normal' people would see that doing away with disability (generally in the 'fixing' sense but I guess more sinisterly in the 'getting rid of' sense) is surely a good thing? Because 'normal'. I'm not familiar with all the discussion around this, because I don't inherently need to be, but I know that it's an arena that needs to be seriously discussed. I think anthologies like this help to do that. The stories here present people dealing with different sorts of disabilities - some physical, others mental, or emotional - and with different sorts of reactions: uncaring, wanting to 'fix', accepting. There are very different worlds, different points in the future, and different ways of dealing with the problems before the protagonists. In most cases the protag's disability isn't the point; it's part of their character, of course, and sometimes it hinders them in their negotiating with the world, but there's no fixation on the disability itself. The very first story, by Nicolette Barischoff, sets this tone. Her main character has spina bifida; she's deprived of her wheelchair amongst people who really don't care. Margo gets on with dealing with this, because the situation she's in is far more precarious than her lack of mobility. And, frankly, half the time she's more handicapped by a bad attitude than missing spine (I liked this about her). Samantha Rich's story "Screens" is deeply disturbing - the idea of screens that show your biometrics, like depression or anxiety or pain or pleasure is horrifying, to me. And setting this in a school, where kids can use that information against each other... not nice. The ambivalence of the story, though, is spot on, since the argument from the pro-screen side is that it makes invisible disabilities visible. And I totally get that. Kate O'Connor's story, "Better to have loved", about negating grief is likewise horrific and yet understandable. Another story I greatly enjoyed was AF Sanchez's "Lyric", where Lyric is an app that can help users with language - aimed at non-English speakers, it can also help those with language impairments. But that's just a side issue for this story, written in the ever-creepy second person, which focusses on 'you' buying a pet that may, or may not, help with various disorders (sensory processing, language, gross motor skills). There are other wonderful stories in this anthology; it's well worth checking out if you're interested in science fiction short stories. I'm a bit torn about whether to say the disabilities aspect is irrelevant, because on the one hand it is - this is just a good set of stories - but of course the fact that every character has some form of disability is of huge importance for the visibility of our diverse population. I think the anthology accomplishes both things.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    There are some fantastic and unforgettable stories in this anthology. I was especially impressed with "into the waters i rode down" by Jack Hollis Marr, "Lyric" by AF Sanchez, and Joyce Chng's “The Lessons of the Moon”.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    What originally drew me to sci fi/fantasy was the genre's emphasis on play, humour, and breaking binaries. This groundbreaking anthology does just that as well as demonstrating that disabled persons are as real and tangible and complex as the futuristic/unfamiliar worlds they find themselves in. It also doesn't shy away from asking some of the "big questions": what if all disabilities were made visible? ("Screens"); what if you could literally choose what form your body takes? ("Morphic Resonanc What originally drew me to sci fi/fantasy was the genre's emphasis on play, humour, and breaking binaries. This groundbreaking anthology does just that as well as demonstrating that disabled persons are as real and tangible and complex as the futuristic/unfamiliar worlds they find themselves in. It also doesn't shy away from asking some of the "big questions": what if all disabilities were made visible? ("Screens"); what if you could literally choose what form your body takes? ("Morphic Resonance"); and what is communication? ("Courting the Silent Sun"). A plus of the anthology is its emphasis on visual graphics as well as text, where drawings by artists Fabian Alvarado and Jane Baker tell as compelling stories as their neighbouring pages. Personal favourite: the opening story, "Pirate Songs," where a girl with spina bifida gets taken by a pirate ship, sans wheelchair. Moral: disabled persons are hilarious and gracious and resourceful, often within the same breath.

  30. 5 out of 5

    James

    A pretty good collection of diverse shorts and not Captain Saxon and his Anglo boys. Some stories where a bit disjointed, but it's tough to do radical characterization in a short. Illustrations where a bit bland, might have been better without them.

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