I was provided an electronic review copy by the publisher.
Not One Of Us is a reprint anthology edited by Neil Clarke of stories about human encounters with aliens on earth. That is also the single point uniting all these stories, they detail all human encounters of aliens on earth. In total, this anthology collects 21 stories with a wide range of authors such as Rich Larson, Nancy Kress, Cixin Liu or Ian McDonald.
Neil Clarke’s work speaks for itself, Clarke is a highly distinguished editor who has proven time and time again that he has a knack for finding the very best short stories, this is also true for this collection: all of these stories are very good if not excellent and, this might be even more important, they are quite diverse in what they are telling us and how they handle aliens. This won’t read like every other story is yet again an indpendence-day-like doomsday scenario. The only critique I might offer is that the anthology is a tad to long for my taste even though it is quite diverse, I would have preferred fifteen or so stories along the same range. Don’t get me wrong, there is no filler content to be found here but I found it a bit tiring story after story. But you know, this is just nitpicking.
Alien stories have always been a way to reflect the other, they are a great way to reflect group mentality: us versus them. Having so many stories reflecting upon the other was quite marvelous, it can only extend one’s horizon.
There are three stories I wish to highlight here, I will not discuss the plot of these stories since I consider discussing plots of short stories to, more often than not, spoil the first reading of a story.
Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman
Such a calm and atmospheric story. It is wonderfully written and extremely captivating. I especially liked the narrative voice.
Taking care of god by Cixin Liu
A great idea executed to perfection. I have read this as a reflection upon the following question: What if creations pity their makers?
Tendeléo’s story by Ian McDonald
This was probably my favorite in the complete anthology. To me, this reflected the best kind of science fiction, it talks to us about our world in a speculative setting. Great stuff and a real tenderness towards its characters.
Overall, as you might imagine, if you like alien sci-fi, this is the anthology to get. A great selection of short stories and a lot of stuff worth thinking about.
We are a maelstrom of salamanders.
Thanks for reading us.