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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Joseph Bates's debut short story collection Tomorrowland offers stories full of strange attractions and uncanny conceits, a world of freakish former child stars, abused Elvis impersonators, derelict roadside attractions, apocalyptic small towns, and parallel universes where you make out with your ex. At its core, the world of Tomorrowland is our own, though reflected off a ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Curbside Splendor Publishing (first published September 10th 2013)
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Laura There was a prequel called Before Tomorrowland, but I haven't finished it yet. From what I've heard from others is that it doesn't have much to do…moreThere was a prequel called Before Tomorrowland, but I haven't finished it yet. From what I've heard from others is that it doesn't have much to do with the movie that came out. It's set earlier. (less)
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Curbside Splendor
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We're the publisher, and we think it's dope.
One Sentence Summary
It’s not possible to summarize all the stories in a collection of short fiction, but in this case it is possible to compress all the themes into one concept: the terribly frustrating, painful, sorrowful inability of humans to move in any direction but forward in time, regardless of the mistakes we make in our past, the plans we have for our future, and the belief that if we tell a story enough times, the memory will change.

5/5 The stories all complemented each othe
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Tomorrowland is a mash-up of genres that comes around full circle. Each story caught my attention immediately and left me wanting another dose upon finishing. The maturity of Joseph Bates's writing is apparent. The stories do eventually come to an end, and I both discover and lose part of myself in each. I can only hope Joseph Bates feels like writing more stories, if he does, I'll be in line to get my copy.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've finally gotten around to reading Bate's collection--a delightful, thoughtful, and odd collection that captivated my attention enough for me to read it in a single setting.

Tomorrowland is funny and absurd but counterbalanced by an intense emotional weight. Bates takes on death, religion, politics, guilt, shame at the same time as magic and good intentions. He tempers real life absurdity with real life tragedy. He pokes fun at extremism. These stories read like a good cup of black coffee to
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This was a very enjoyable collection of stories. When at his best Joseph Bates channels the more cerebral and affecting episodes of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. My favorite story of this collection was Tomorrowland, where Bates flexed his strongest muscle: his ability to describe apathy and despondency and to make you feel it right in your gut. That description of the Dad of the future, hunched over ont he edge of the bed in his space suit, literally made me well up inside.

The only story which d
Megan Kirby
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
It took me about a week to read Tomorrowland, and during that time I kept yanking it out of my bag and demanding that people admire just how attractive this book is as a physical object. The best word for it is "sharp." This is a sharp book design.

And it's not just a pretty package. The short stories were engaging, funny, and tinged with just enough science fiction to make them really stick out. The only time I really got bogged down was during the longer final story--the concept felt a little f
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it

At risk of oversimplification, these stories read like Ray Bradbury writing for The New Yorker.

I very much enjoyed it. Slow going in the beginning, but it really clicked with two of the middle stories--the survey of exes and the city of guilt--each of which made me laugh in the beginning and then proceeded to hollow out my heart by the end. The middle aged baseball player league was another highlight, and I pretty much imagined myself as the protagonist of "Future Me."

I don't generally read shor
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. It's been a long time since I read a story collection so creative, entertaining, tragic, and heartfelt. I felt like I needed to get and dance a little jig after finishing each story...I needed some way to shake out my excitement, like a kid opening an NES on Christmas morning. The creativity and artistry of each one of Bates's stories is just mind blowing.

Quit reading this review. Read Tomorrowland. Seriously.
Erika L. Miller
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, 2014-book-bingo
An excellent series of short stories that each dealt with human nature and the secret desire of correcting ourselves or making us and the world around us better. The stories ranged from parallel universes, a strange man telling the story of his arsenic driven life, an old man trying to find something that the lost in a baseball game with the New York fucking Yankees and to a Bible belt town driven to rebellion over an overzealous Bible thumping vacuum salesman.

Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A slim collection of absolutely terrific short stories. A little reminiscent of George Saunders - both tell moving stories largely about lost, middle-aged men in an exaggerated, funhouse version of America - but Bates' style is a little leaner and a lot funnier, and I'll absolutely buy the next book he writes.
Sam Westby
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. Bates was a little inaccurate with a couple of the technologies he described, but it didn't take away from the sense of wonder and fascination he created.
Melissa Reddish
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
These are gorgeous, inventive, and intricately wrought stories that examine those fears endemic to getting older -- losing the ones we love, losing our youth or sense of self, making the wrong choices, or losing that intangible sense that good things are still just around the bend. Of course, in order to make the ordinary extraordinary, these stories incorporate fantastic elements as well, including a device that shows alternate realities, a time machine, and an Elvis impersonator exclusive to t ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fun book of stories, most of which take a slightly out there premise, like a tv that lets you watch yourself in alternate universes, and then plays it out to see what would happen.

There's not a whole lot more to it than that, though the conceits themselves are at once creative and kind of familiar-- so in one story, the narrator is asked by an older version of himself who has a time machine to join a mission to go back in time to change the present and future to convince his past self to behav
Apr 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
There's a thread of regret, self-loathing and trying to recapture a kind of glory days running through Tomorrowland. Days which that may or may not have happened. Each of the short stories could feel weighted down by the missed chances, looking up at what could have or should have been. But, the writing has a dark sense of humour about it, fully aware of what's going on and it's what makes this collection a charming read.

The characters themselves don't seem to like their situations, or even them
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this up on a whim in the sci-fi section at the library because I thought that it would probably be cooler than whatever they based that new Disney movie of the same name on.

This is a collection of short stories--I wouldn't really call them science fiction. The first one, "Mirrorverse," and the later "Future Me" come closest in that respect. I would say the overall conceit comes slightly closer to weird fiction, but weird in a still very human, if heightened, sense.

Most of the stories
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Too many readers (and even libraries and booksellers) want to classify this book as a work of Science Fiction. True, it contains a few anchor stories that include time travel, alternate universes, etc. However, this book is far better categorized as quirky literary fiction that just happens to employ sci-fi tropes (think: Charles Yu, not Phillip Dick). And if read as quirky literary fiction, I think readers will find it a satisfying mix of unique forms, fresh ideas, and witty phrasing. I do thin ...more
Abby Pickus
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tomorrowland is a fantastic collection of short stories. I must say my favorites—and the ones that taught me the most about Dr. Bates—have to be Guilt City, A Survey of My Exes, and Future Me. I found them heartwrenching and heartbreaking in their own special ways. It shows that it is entirely possible to be self-aware of yourself and your problems, and clearly the effort is made by each of the narrators to fix himself. It truly explores the human vices and the human desire to better oneself. Ea ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Joseph Bates is a fantastic writer, and I hope he writes a lot more. The majority of the stories I really loved. In almost all of them he creates something unique, or twists what we already know. Like Kevin Brockmeier, he mixes fantasy, science-fiction, and realism. Unlike Brockmeier, Bates was unable to do so as cohesively. Two of the stories, while good on their own, didn't fit in well with everything else in the book. It left me wanting more out of those stories. I'm referring to "Broadwalk E ...more
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The stories in Tomorrowland mix the mundane and the surreal, delivering time travel narratives and alternate universes filled with memorable losers, like Raymond Carver writing dispatches from somewhere on the fringes of the Twilight Zone. It's an impressive collection, especially when it plays around with sci-fi memes like it does in "Future Me," in which the protagonist meets a future version of himself who's traveled back in time to set his younger self straight with results both poignant and ...more
May 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
'How far back would you have to go to correct the mistakes if your life? Which was the first? Would you not have to correct every new one? Would you not correct this one right now? What do we do?' ~ "Future Me"

This one's been titled Tomorrowland with ironic intent. Its characters are pretty much all consumed by the rear-view mirror and are generally sad or apathetic. Their collective emotional range is consistently juvenile. Between Guilt City and Future Me (although there are others that suppor
Matt W
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Tomorrowland is packed with humor, pathos, and remarkable death. I'm not sure whether I laughed or cried more. It is hard to describe how powerful stories like "Survey of my Exes" and "Guilt City" and "Yankees Burn Atlanta" are so it's best you just go read them yourself. "Mirrorverse" too. And "Future Me." And "Gas Head Tells All." Hell, they're all amazing. This whole collection makes my heart swell. You'd be hard pressed to find a book as inventive and entertaining all year and none that will ...more
Darren Thompson
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Great stories in this book. And imaginative, too. Tomorrowland introduced me to a fading child celebrity, who has a giant burning ball of gas for a head, and to a spattering of ex girlfriends with varying degrees of scorn. But the story that stuck with me most is Mirrorverse -- a thoughtful exploration of our inner wants and fears, of the consequences of our decisions, actions and inactions. Swinging pretty wildly between realism and absurdism, Bates has a comedic voice that can make you laugh e ...more
Luke Schamer
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bates's collection consistently merges humor and deep emotional impact in creative (and experimental) forms that provide an amusing and thought-provoking experience. This is a 10-story collection of varying characters and themes that are all wound tightly together by Bates's concise writing style and clear voice.
Erika Wurth
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Vonnegut-funny & smart. Fantastic/al parody mixed with momentary flashes of beauty & language when you least expect it.
Victor Giron
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Will blow you away.
∞Bertha _
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really liked this book! Great writing, great stories, really great characters and sense of humor!
Chad Brock
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I enjoyed this so much, but I really did. Very glad I rescued it from the endangered books shelf at the library.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Thought this was for the movie by the same name. Once I realized I was wrong I figured I was too far through not to finish. It's fine, if a little offbeat and dark.
Dee Rakestraw-Arnett
rated it it was ok
Mar 22, 2017
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Joseph Bates is the author of Tomorrowland (Curbside Splendor, 2013) and The Nighttime Novelist (Writers Digest, 2013).His short fiction has appeared in such journals as The Rumpus, New Ohio Review, Identity Theory, South Carolina Review, Fresh Boiled Peanuts, and InDigest Magazine. He teaches in the creative writing program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Visit him online at www.josephbates. ...more
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