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Once Human: Stories

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  26 ratings  ·  15 reviews
A manga artist who is afraid that she herself is slipping into a cartoon version of life, a lab technician who makes art with the cloning technology she uses at work, a sociologist hunting for the gene that makes some people want to take risks—these are some of the characters that populate the stories in Once Human. Exploring the spaces where life is shaped by science and ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 31st 2014 by Fiction Collective 2 (first published September 5th 2013)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  26 ratings  ·  15 reviews


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MJ Nicholls
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
These stories explore the possibilities of narrative to cross-breed visual art with prose, turning in some impressive results. Opener ‘The Colour of Flesh’ is a feminist fable with manga illustrations from Maria Tomasula where the text is weaved into the art with seamless panache, making each turn of the page an exciting event. ‘C-U See-Me’ is a less subtle satire on the Big Brother CCTV state-of-the-nation and its visuals pertain (on purpose) to the bland. ‘The Color of Pain and Suffering’ expl ...more
Andretta Schellinger
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this book from the First Reads Giveaway. Thank you for that.

Now to the review.

I won this book and I usually don't read collections. lately I have been reading a lot of vampire type books so this really was outside of what I have been reading. It was nice to change it up a little.

I liked this book, it is actually a collection of small stories that deal with elements of human life that some people want to over look, like the girl without a leg who deals with how individuals see her.
...more
Bill Hsu
Aug 31, 2017 added it
Shelves: abandoned
There are good ideas here, but I'm afraid I'm not convinced by the execution.
Steve Owen
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In Once Human: Stories, the idea of the human being hasn’t disappeared or been discarded so much as it’s been multiplied into infinite fields of language, cartography, genetics, genre, history, faith, and surveillance. And while lesser authors might lose hold of their reader in such an abyss of representation and big ideas, Steve Tomasula stitches his infinities together with human threads of desire that allow the human a bed, however nomadic and transitory, to rest at night.

The literary critic
...more
Jessica
Apr 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I won this book from Goodreads First Reads giveaway. This book of short stories "Explor[es] the spaces where life is shaped by science and the technologies we bring into being…." I gave this book three stars because, while there were several stories I enjoyed, a few things about the writing, stylistically, were not my cup of tea.

My favorite story was "The Color of Pain and Suffering," which tells the tale of a Croatian immigrant working and adjusting to life in America. One sentence on p.72 was
...more
Michelle
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
I got this for free from a Goodreads giveaway.

Once Human is a collection of nine short stories that seem, to me, to be exploring the theme of what it is to be human amidst all of the science and technology of the 21st century.

The first thing to know about Once Human is that it is a very visual experience. Each story comes with a change of font and page layout that seems to complement its mood. Pictures and charts abound, adding emphasis to different elements of the stories or providing a bit mo
...more
Heather
Apr 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
I really tried to enjoy this book (a collection of various short stories), but I'm throwing in the towel with a story and a half left to go. Many of the stories do not follow the typical conventions of plot, characterization/character development, and so forth, so if that is something you quite enjoy, then you would probably like this book. I found it *too* unconventional for my tastes and thus, too confusing or too dull to maintain my interest. There were a few stories that had interesting subj ...more
Yvette
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: short story readers looking for something a bit different
Once Human is a collection of 9 distinct short stories. I struggle to find the words to describe the reading experience beyond "different." The stories are well written and include what I think of as illustrations for mature readers - added interest in the form of graphics, typography, and manipulation of text.

These stories are not easy reading, as they left me with a feeling of being slightly off kilter. The story I was able to enjoy the most was the one with which I could identify most closel
...more
Claire Dix
Aug 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
** I received this book through Goodreads Firstreads **

I won this book on one of the times that I went down the list of giveaways entering each one. When I was notified that I had won it, I didn't even remember what it was. Soon it came in the mail and I started in on the first story in the collection. And that is as far as I got. Maybe the rest of the stories aren't as weird and disturbing as the first one, but I wasn't willing to risk it at the time. Someday if I feel like it I might make anot
...more
Ellen
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit. This is overall a very good book, but those last two stories took this from 4 stars to 5. The penultimate story, "Medieval Times," is an anxious meditation on unrequited love, modern warfare, capitalism, epidemic disease, and a host of other things. Then "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is told through the point of view of an elderly Ernest Hemingway (if he had lived), and includes a journey through time and space in a plane while in a coma. Both are amazing, and the other stories in this b ...more
Mystry
Jun 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
I do not understand this book. None of the stories are anything more than a confusing jumble of words. Words that don't tell a story, they just happen to be on the same page and form, for lack of a better word, sentences.
Not only that, but most of the stories read like something that should be featured in a dirty magazine. I mean, what the heck? Smut, smut, and more smut. For what purpose??
I could only get through one entire story: the "Risk-Taker" one. And even then I had no clue what I was eve
...more
Pink Freud
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
For a collection that is so varied and so experimental I was surprisingly bored by many of the stories. Still, there were a few standouts that kept me going through the book, and if nothing I'll applaud Tomasula for what he was trying to do. Even the dullest of his stories had interesting ideas behind them, even if they weren't executed well.
Melanie Page
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A collection of experimental/conceptual stories that often pair understanding human nature with science and art. Coming soon will be the Once Human virtual book tour that I am coordinating. It's going to be bigger than any tour I've done before!
Kyle Muntz
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The two novellas that finish this collection are glorious. Along the way it's a rigorous meditation on science (and its effect on human life), history, the nature of knowledge, and occasionally political issues. Plus there are pictures, so yeah.
Ted Earley
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very easy to read, Great stories! Got this free from the author, And autographed! Absolutely will go on my keep shelf, Thanks!!
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Steve Tomasula is the author of the novels The Book of Portraiture(FC2); VAS: An Opera in Flatland (University of Chicago Press), an acclaimed novel of the biotech revolution; TOC: A New-Media Novel (FC2/University of Alabama Press, and also as an multimedia app for iPad); and most recently, IN&OZ (University of Chicago Press). He is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Once Human: St ...more

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