Sunday Shorts – “No Man is a Promontory,” by H.N. Janzen

Had some technological issues on Sunday (we had to empty out our living room for the upcoming renovations, and that included unhooking the internet for a bit), so while this is a Sunday Shorts entry, I won’t be able to chat about it until Monday. Things happen. Stuff goes wrong. Technology fails.

Speaking of which…

I recently took part in a great online discussion on Twitter about Canadian literature and diversity in literature (and specifically science fiction and fantasy), and one of many great things about that discussion was finding out about some new anthologies. Today’s Sunday Short comes from one of those anthologies, Fractured, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

This is a collection of Canadian post-apocalypse stories, and while I’m not done the whole collection yet, I’m really enjoying it. The fresh take on having these stories with a Canadian twist is exactly that: fresh. It’s rare I get to see this sort of story happening somewhere other than, say, New York or Chicago or some other major U.S. city. And the difference matters quite a bit to many of the tales.

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“No Man is a Promontory,” by H.N. Janzen

The thing about post-apocalypse is you know you’re going to get dark stories, and this is no exception. But seeing a place I’ve been to (and lived hear) go this dark? Awesome. Kelowna is the setting for this first story in the collection, and we have a native woman – former military – who has survived the fallout and is keenly aware that food is going to be a major issue. The few people who remain are already turning on each other, and though she herself is by no means soft-hearted – I believe the line is “I’ve stolen food from a woman giving birth” – she finds herself drawn to another survivor, a child.

This story is a great example of how less can be so much more. It’s very short, it’s paints a vivid picture of this post-apocalyptic world without listing detail after detail or painstaking worldbuilding, and boils down the narrative to a keen edge. And the last line is both chilling and inspiring – in a dark, broken way.

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There are many more awesome stories I’ve found in this anthology so far – anyone interested in a post-apocalyptic ‘Anne of Green Gables’? – and I’m sure I’ll revisit this anthology again for some future Sundays. Until then, keep it short…

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