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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  44 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published July 1st 2015 by Publishing (first published June 8th 2015)
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Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthology
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
An important anthology, but so many of the stories just didn't work for me for various reasons, or were just okay. There were only a handful that I enjoyed, or at least admired.

Just a heads up for how I personally interpret the star ratings:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Excellent
⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Good
⭐⭐⭐ = Average
⭐⭐ = Disliked
⭐ = Hated

#1: Pirate Songs, by Nicolette Barischoff.
A very poor start to this anthology (aside from the excellent preface and introduction). There was just nothing, aside from the disability rep, that made
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!!! ...more
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 ...more
Megan Daws
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-favourites
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
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Zara Rahman
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jeanne McDonald
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Susie Munro
Yes, yes, yes yes yes! Read this brilliant collection now, it might just be the best thing you'll read this year. ...more
Acacia Ives
3.5 but i'll talk on channel about it! ...more
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
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
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, 2018
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 ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: qr
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.
My review is more of a minority report here, as I surmised while skimming the many reviewers who loved this collection of speculative fiction shorts featuring characters with disabilities. And although I loved the idea of this collection, the execution of a majority of the stories seemed to fall flat for me. There were a few standout pieces that I absolutely adored, but they seemed hit or miss.

Brianna Silva
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
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
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.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can't ignore them
disabled, but not broken
a worthwhile message.
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing

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
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Mar 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the best short story collection I’ve read in a long time. So many good stories. Every short story collection is likely going to have a few you like less than the others, but there were none that I hated here and I really liked an overwhelming majority.

I especially loved “Pirate Song”, “A Sense All Its Own”, “Circling the Silent Sun”, and “In Open Air”. I also liked “Screens” and “Lyric”.

There were a few that just didn’t take the time to explain the tech enough (or some other situation)
Jessica Magelaner
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
A fairly underwhelming collection of stories, and definitely not what I was hoping for. The majority of the main characters seemed to be struggling with their disability in exactly the same way that they would now, and face the same types of discrimination. I suppose I was hoping for stories about characters who aren't primarily defined by their disabilities, or stories that push the definition of what society considers a disability or mental illness. ...more
Miri M.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
2⭐, Okay.

Accessing the Future is an important anthology, but a number of the stories weren't my cup of tea, and I enjoyed the foreword, introduction and afterword the most.

Stories that ticked the enjoy interest box for me were 'Pay Attention' by Sarah Pinsker, 'Better to Have Loved' by Kate O'Connor, 'Losing Touch' by Louise Hughes, 'Puppetry' by A.C. Buchanan.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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