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Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts

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There's a delicate balance between mental health and mental illness…


Who are STRANGERS AMONG US?


We are your fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and lovers. We staff your stores, cross your streets, and study in your schools, invisible among you. We are your outcasts and underdogs, and often, your unsung heroes.


Nineteen science fiction and fantasy authors tackle the division between mental health and mental illness; how the interplay between our minds' quirks and the diverse societies and cultures we live in can set us apart, or must be concealed, or become unlikely strengths.


We find troubles with Irish fay, a North Korean cosmonaut's fear of flying, an aging maid dealing with politics of revenge, a mute boy and an army of darkness, a sister reaching out at the edge of a black hole, the dog and the sleepwalker, and many more.


After all, what harm can be done…


AUTHORS: Kelley Armstrong, Suzanne Church, A.M. Dellamonica, Gemma Files, James Alan Gardner, Bev Geddes, Erika Holt, Tyler Keevil, Rich Larson, Derwin Mak, Mahtab Narsimhan, Sherry Peters, Ursula Pflug, Robert Runté, Lorina Stephens, Amanda Sun, Hayden Trenholm, Edward Willett, A.C. Wise


Introduction by Julie E. Czerneda


Foreword by Lucas K. Law


Afterword by Susan Forest


Edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law


Praise for Strangers Among Us


"Strangers Among Us . . . is important, shining a much-needed spotlight on issues that get far too little attention. A wonderful anthology, one of the major SF&F books of the year. Bravo!"


-- Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Quantum Night

310 pages, ebook

First published March 26, 2016

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About the author

Susan Forest

24 books91 followers
Susan Forest grew up in a family of mountaineers and skiers, and she loves adventure. She also loves the big ideas found in SF/F, and finds fast-paced adventure stories a great place to explore how individuals grapple with complex moral decisions. Aurora Award winners, Bursts of Fire and Flights of Marigold, first books in her Addicted to Heaven series, confront issues of addiction in an epic fantasy world of intrigue and betrayal.

Susan is also an award-winning fiction editor, has published over 25 short stories (Analog, Asimov's, BCS, & more), and has appeared at many international writing conventions. She loves travel and has been known to dictate novels from the back of her husband's motorcycle. http://speculative-fiction.ca/

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
Profile Image for Randy McCharles.
Author 31 books23 followers
June 25, 2016
I'm very picky when it comes to anthologies. This is one of the best I've read in years, with a variety of thoughtful stories that pay homage to the theme while delivering a strong, yet unique, experience with each story. I especially enjoyed the 1st 2 tales by Kelly Armstrong and Suzanne Church, but the anthology continues to deliver one strong story after another. Hat's off to editors Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law for choosing a difficult theme and acquiring stories that deliver. That part of the proceeds from the book go toward deserving charities is doubly laudable.
Profile Image for Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V..
803 reviews124 followers
September 21, 2016
There really is no way for me to accurately review this book of short stories. They are strange, they are speculative, they are intriguing, and they mess with your feels. Each one is different than the last. I tried to put aside a few of the stories to review as my favorites, but I ended up with about ¾ of the stories as being “favorites”. So that being the case I’m just going to say this is one of my favorites of this year, and possibly all time. They were all just so different that I was completely engaged through the whole thing.

I daresay that even if you aren’t a fan of the short story, you will find at the very least a handful of anecdotes within this anthology that would make it worth the read. For those that enjoy Sci-fi and speculative fiction, along with short stories, this is right up your alley and must be read.

Thank you Negalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Lynn.
244 reviews41 followers
August 13, 2016
I am not a fan of anthologies or short stories but I read this book because it has a psychological angle. The book is a series of stories written by fantasy/science fiction writers all of whom write about mental illness or difference. I liked some of the stories but the book did not hold together for me. I was looking for some thread to connect them and there was none.
Profile Image for Ada Hoffmann.
Author 38 books219 followers
January 3, 2017
(Disclaimer: I run a blog doing reviews of books involving autism, and was able to buy a copy of this book at a discounted price for this reason. Two individual stories involving autism from this volume will be reviewed separately on the official blog; the rest of my general opinions are going here.)

"Strangers Among Us" is an anthology devoted to exploring the topic of mental illness. While this is a worthy goal, the anthology itself falls short of expectations in several respects.

The basic difficulty with a book like this can perhaps be discerned from the title, forward, introduction, and afterword. The authors talk effusively about mental illness and about the need for "us" to have empathy and understanding for "them" (mentally ill people), who at first glance appear to be "strangers". Mentally healthy people who have difficulty understanding mentally ill people are clearly the book's target audience. Despite the fact that 1 in 5 Canadians will live with a mental illness at some point, there is no apparent awareness that anyone reading the anthology, or indeed, writing speculative fiction in Canada, could also be mentally ill and wishing for speculative fiction that speaks to them.

The fiction is about what you'd expect given this attitude: uneven and sometimes misguided..

Some of the stories are actually very good, and tell interesting stories with mentally ill protagonists from an informed, respectful, and compassionate perspective. My favorite story in the anthology is A.C. Wise's "How Objects Behave On The Edge Of A Black Hole", in which a schizoaffective woman investigates a scientific mystery while coping with her sister's death. Other genuinely enjoyable stories include Ursula Pflug's "Washing Lady's Hair", A.M. Dellamonica's "Tribes" and Derwin Mak's "Songbun".

However, a great deal of the rest of the fiction in the anthology falls short, in ways that frustrate me because the editors of an anthology specific to mental illness should have done their research about common mental illness tropes and known better. Several stories are othering or exoticizing towards their characters, or vastly oversimplify the kind of difficulties they face. Some feature a mentally healthy protagonist who only grudgingly comes around to accepting their mentally ill fellow characters as worthy people, and only after these characters prove useful to them. A few stories, particularly involving some of the most stigmatized mental illnesses, have genuinely dangerous messages. "Troubles" by Sherry Peters depicts a schizophrenic character going off her meds cold turkey and lying to her doctor about it, and presents this as a logical and good decision. Robert Runté's "The Age of Miracles" revolves around a schizophrenic man's artificially intelligent household devices talking him out of attacking his ex-wife, and plays this for laughs, as if the stereotype of mentally ill people becoming suddenly violent for no reason wasn't a real thing that puts real-life mentally ill people in danger. Lorina Stephens' "The Intersection", while mostly a very good depiction of a character with severe anxiety, ends with the character's brother suddenly uploading modifications into her head without her consent, and presents this as a good decision despite the character's protests.

Most puzzlingly, several stories don't appear to involve mental illness at all. The "strangers" in these stories have some fictional difference from the general population, such as being the only character in a spaceship who doesn't have a brain-chip, or being a genetically engineered Neanderthal hybrid. These are perfectly good stories which I would have enjoyed in another context, but they are strange choices for an anthology which explicitly claims that its goal is to increase "our" understanding of real-life mentally ill people.

This is an anthology which means well, and occasionally hits its mark, but which mostly flounders. Mentally ill people looking for something relatable to read would likely be better off with a different book.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.1k reviews417 followers
June 21, 2017
This review is based only on the story by Kelley Armstrong.

This story is a very short one, but it packs a lot into it. What looks like a very bad situation ends up with lots of hope and a new beginning.
Profile Image for Samantha (AK).
349 reviews38 followers
February 12, 2019
As a collection featuring “underdogs and outcasts,” it succeeds. But as an exploration of “the line between mental health and mental illness,” it doesn’t really work. Preoccupied with dramatic symptoms, most of the stories in this volume miss the mark on positive representation, and only a few subvert the reader’s expectations.

To a certain extent, it’s true that society dictates the definition of ‘mentally unwell.’ This is particularly evident in "The Culling" by Kelley Armstrong, which details the forceful elimination of ‘undesirable’ traits from society. James Alan Gardner’s "The Dog and the Sleepwalker" (one of the few standout stories in this volume) has similar underpinnings, but with non-augmented humans instead of mental illness.

Other good contributions are A.C. Miller’s "How Objects Behave on the Edge of a Black Hole", which features a brilliantly executed sibling relationship after one sister dies, and Derwin Mak’s "Songbun", which is about a North Korean cosmonaut with severe anxiety.

But some of the stories are distressing. Sherry Peters’ "Troubles" depicts a young woman going cold-turkey off her medication because she’s not really schizophrenic, and the protagonist of "The Intersection" by Lorina Stephens is subjected to unwanted neural modification by her brother to treat her anxiety. The violently delusional man in Robert Runté’s "The Age of Miracles" lives under constant surveillance by smart technology, which does nothing to help him determine reality.

On their own, these stories might have questionable themes and representation, but aren’t necessarily bad stories. As part of an anthology with the stated mission of bridging the divide around mental illness, I’m baffled.

Overall, a mediocre collection.
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The backmatter includes an appendix of mental health resources, some more useful than others. Unlike in the past, I’m not going to include them at the bottom of this review, because it takes up several pages.
Profile Image for Shomeret.
1,037 reviews200 followers
Read
September 30, 2017
I normally don't review anthologies unless I've committed to review them due to a request, or I downloaded them from Net Galley or Edelweiss. One reason is that I usually don't read the entire anthology when I haven't agreed to review it. A short story can get very short shrift from me, then I'm on to the next one. So, in order to be fair to the anthology, I'm going to be very open about the fact that I read about a third of Strangers Among Us edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law. I also didn't like every story that I did read. Let me say that I loved the theme of this anthology. Outcasts and underdogs are often favorite characters for me. I thought that there might be stories that would be intensely meaningful for me.

I read some Goodreads reviews and noticed that my favorite story in the anthology was under attack. These reviews then became the primary motivating factor behind my review. I profoundly disagree with the perspective of those reviewers and I think that the opposing perspective should be aired.

In "Troubles" the central character, Melanie, was diagnosed as mentally ill. The story questioned the validity of this diagnosis. The reviewers who were opposed to this story apparently thought that questioning any diagnosis is tantamount to questioning the existence of mental illness. It seems to me that psychology is not a science in the same way that mathematics is a science. Two plus one will always equal three. Psychology involves interpretation of behavior. Interpretations are subjective. This is why psychologists and psychiatrists can disagree about diagnoses.

Fantasy and science fiction are "what if" genres. "Troubles" asks "what if" the Fae were real. One possibility is that it could invalidate a diagnosis of mental illness. If Melanie really wasn't mentally ill because she saw the Fae, then trusting her perceptions is empowerment. I think the idea that you should never question authority is harmful. This is not the same as believing that those in authority are always wrong. I do wonder why people who think that authority should never be questioned were reading an anthology in support of outcasts and underdogs in the first place.

When I averaged the ratings of the stories I read, I came up with a grade of B for the entire anthology. This may be considered grade inflation since two thirds of the stories didn't hold my attention. So I won't be rating this book on Goodreads.

For my complete review see http://shomeretmasked.blogspot.com/20...






Profile Image for The Distracted Bee.
415 reviews61 followers
August 30, 2017
I thought this was excellent. I will go into more detail (especially my favourite authors that blew me away) but suffice it to say, this was a great and noble undertaking that hit all the right notes.

Recommended to anyone who has ever/ always felt like the orange in our apple tree society...

... so I ended up writing a full review on my blog:
https://spinningjennysbookblog.blogsp...

and would be honoured if you read it and gave some feedback!
116 reviews2 followers
June 1, 2016
I read this book as a pre-release .pdf e-book obtained through NetGalley, provided by the publisher.

This is a collection of 19 short stories, by 19 different authors, all Canadian or associated with Canada in some way. These are classified as science fiction or speculative fiction. They have one feature holding them together – a character with a significant mental disability; some of the stories have it associated with a physical disability. In some of the stories, mental health treatment actively interferes with the protagonist's purpose, or are outright abusive, and done for some nefarious purpose of government or alien control.

The stories range from dystopian and cautionary in their nature, to uplifting and full of hope, to the disabled revealing themselves as being “differently abled”, as their disability gives them a distinct benefit in some situation. Some of the stories are somber, some are sad, some are cheerful, some are humorous as to cause me to burst out laughing during the story.

Some of the stories are speculative. One example is whether the event horizons of black holes give rise to ghosts. Some have people with bionic implants – does this make natural humans appear “stupid”? Does that cause bigotry and discrimination? Sometimes, certainly there are tasks which the electronic upgrades are unsuited. Some show how some other entities may be controlling human society – or microcosms of it, such as in a school yard. Some of the “help” offered by society is unhelpful, as seen in the story “The Weeds and the Wildness”.

Everything from space travel through eugenics through human trafficking to hybridization are covered. There's something here for nearly everyone.

My favorite story in the book was “The Age of Miracles”, in which the protagonist is involved with a number of his household appliances which are part of the “Internet of Things” who try to micromanage his life and choices, and report him to his Mom for not eating right, and not doing what she wants, while interrupting him from what he's doing. Talking to objects, even breaking ones to stop them from compromising his privacy, would be considered crazy under normal circumstances – but when the objects actually are talking back and taking actions that their owner does not want and communicating private information outside of his home, he is not crazy.


The publisher, Laksa Media Group, gives a portion of the revenues from their books to worthwhile charitable causes, projects and events.
Profile Image for Ria Bridges.
588 reviews5 followers
January 2, 2020
I was thrilled to hear about this anthology, and yet disappointed at the same time when I realized that it wasn’t exactly getting much advanced attention, especially when social reform and visibility for those with disabilities are hot topics on so many lips these days. Maybe it’s because the book’s primarily Canadian, I don’t know, but either way, I haven’t heard nearly as much as I’d hoped about this anthology, and it’s a damn shame because it’s a great collection filled with powerful stories from some amazing authors.

And with Strangers Among Us shining the spotlight on mental illness and society’s outcasts, well, let’s just say that it has some material that hits pretty close to home.

Some background – I’ve struggled with mental health issues pretty much since hitting puberty. A diagnosis of depression and poor treatment of that when I was a teenager kicked off the whole thing. Throw in a batch of neuroatypical issues as I grew older (obsessive-compulsive tendencies, Tourette syndrome, social anxiety, other things that put me squarely on the autism spectrum, and an unpleasant dose of psychotic depression — also called depressive psychosis), and yeah, it’s no surprise that awareness of mental health issues is important to me. I could go on at length about how all this has affected my life, but I know that’s not really what you’re here for. You’re here for the book review. But I wanted to make it clear that I have experience with being one of society’s outcasts myself. I know what it’s like to doubt your sanity, the very essence of yourself, and I know what it’s like to face discrimination from others over said issues. It’s not fun. The more awareness that can be raised about what mental illness is actually like, the better.

Plus, I’m all about trying to share Canada’s great literary talent. This entire anthology is written by authors who are Canadian or who have a connection to Canada; some of the stories are set in Canada, which is a nice change of pace when the majority of what I see in SFF takes place in the US (or what used to be the US) when it’s set in this world.

So Strangers Among Us focuses on issues just like that. They’re all written by authors who write speculative fiction, and indeed most of the stories sit under the genre headers of fantasy or sci-fi, but not all of them. One rather memorable story is about a man who cannot leave his apartment, who spies on people through a payphone, learning about their lives and fantasizing about heroically saving an abused woman, until the time comes when he is pushed beyond his agoraphobia and steps outside to actually do so. Nothing fantasy or sci-fi about that, but it was a strong story nevertheless, and it definitely earned its place among all the others.

There were a couple of stories that dipped into the old well of, “People see things that aren’t there, only wait, those things actually are there and that person’s really special!” A dangerous well to dip into, really, since there have been so many stories done in the past that almost present that as a handwave to mental illness, downplaying what many people actually suffer through in the attempt to provide some sort of supernatural reason why these people aren’t ill, just misunderstood. The stories that did that, though, did it well, I’m happy to say. One, which blended multicultural mythologies in a school setting, legitimately did feature a character who could see things others couldn’t, but that story didn’t seem to tackle mental illness so much as it tackled the idea of being deliberately outcast from ones peers. Another, in which a young Irish girl could see fay and was later diagnosed as schizophrenic, of course turned out to be schizophrenic, but the story didn’t say that schizophrenia isn’t a real condition. It absolutely is. It’s just that some people get misdiagnosed with it because that’s what fits the pattern of modern human understanding.

There’s a sense of both fear and hope in each story. Fear of the unknown, the things we can’t understand, the things that seem different; hope for a better experience and for better understanding. The little boy who can’t speak and would probably get a diagnosis of autism were he not living in a secondary world, he’s sold like an object and overlooked as being too stupid to understand, until someone hurts him and the things and people dear to him and he gets his revenge, however subtle and historically overlooked that revenge may be. The thread of mental illness that runs through generations of family, tearing apart relationships as a sister feels excluded and ignored by those around her as she sees how that commonality brings others closer together. A dystopian future in which the imperfect are Culled, either killed outright or else just cast into the wastes beyond civilization, only to find that there’s a future out there, and people who are accepting and accommodating of those who aren’t what society deems normal. The person who has no bionic upgrades or implants, referred to as a dog, is the only person awake to repair damage to a spaceship, and he’s forced to wake up someone whose upgrades are offline in order to assist him, forcing that person to be thrown into his unaugmented (and, by that society’s standards, pitifully disabled) world. There’s the idea that mental illness can strike at any time, to anybody, and it can change your life, but in every story there’s a repetition of the idea that it doesn’t mean you’re down for the count. You can contribute. You can make a difference. You can maybe make all the difference.

It’s rare that I find an anthology that I like every single part of equally; there’s nearly always one or two stories that just don’t resonate with me the way the others do. And this is no exception, really. There were, I think, two stories that just didn’t do it for me, though objectively they were still quite good. They just weren’t to my taste. Some stories took a little while to get going, but I ended up liking them in the end, more than I expected to. And I can’t deny that the subject matter they tackled was important enough to keep me reading each one even when I wasn’t enjoying them as much as I’d enjoyed others.

Overall, I’d say this was a fantastic collection of short stories, and one that’s absolutely worth reading, even if mental health issues aren’t a pet passion of yours. The publisher donates a portion of the profits from this book’s sales to mental health initiatives, too, which is a wonderful bonus, and it makes me doubly glad that I was able to get my hands on this and be able to spread the word about it a little bit more. It’s an important collection, a great one to dive into, and that uplifting thread of hope that ran strong was, to be perfectly honest, what I needed during a stressful time. Definitely check this one out if you can; it’s worth it, and you won’t be disappointed.

(Book received in exchange for honest review.)
17 reviews1 follower
August 25, 2016

I Recommend This Book

Yes
I'll be the first to admit that Kelley Armstrong was the main draw to this book as she is one of my favourite authors. However I found myself enjoying all of the stories. It's such a unique anthology based around the themes of mental health and mental illness, issues that are very close to my heart. Normally I find anthologies hard to get through and always some stories I don't connect with; not the case with this one! I will say that my personal favourite was Kelley Armstrongs story The Culling. In this story the world is dying and every year people are selected to die, at first it starts with the weak and disabled but then moves to those deemed to have a mental illness. The ending was brilliant and it was a very affecting story to read. Other works are more sci-fi based such as a story where a man is convinced that there are 'others' who mow peoples gardens and that they are in fact taking over their minds as well. I absolutely loved that and the descriptions of the gardening and the flower arrangements totally made me want to get outside and plant something!

There was such a variety of stories over what is normally a not often talked about subject that i can't recommend this book enough. This is an anthology I know I will keep coming back to in the future.
Profile Image for CrazyCat (Alex).
810 reviews15 followers
August 2, 2016
A very interesting book about how it is to live with mental illness. I really liked the variety in the different stories. Some of the short stories I wished for being longer. A great project to bring the topic mental illness to the younger public. An enjoyable read from the first sentence throughout the book. Highly recommended not only to YA readers.

****ARC received for my honest opinion****
Profile Image for James.
3,256 reviews19 followers
January 4, 2017
A collection of shorts dealing with the mentally different, a mixed bag, some good, some I stopped reading. The nattering smart kitchen was a scary thought! An all Canadian collection by a non-profit? publisher.
Profile Image for Strega.
723 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2016
Really good short story anthology, all dealing with mental illness in some way, even if it's just seeing reality slightly off-kilter.
Profile Image for Peter.
565 reviews19 followers
August 1, 2017
Strangers Among Us is a collection of themed science fiction and fantasy stories, where the theme is characters (usually main characters, although occasionally it's someone ancillary) who either suffer from mental illness or disability or are otherwise neurodivergent. It's a good concept for a book, although like all short story collections, it's a mixed bag, and in this case, I feel like maybe a little more editorial control would have helped.

The problem is that we seem to get too many stories where the message is subtly off from what I feel the book is going for (or maybe just what I think it should be). There's a story, for example, where a character who can't leave their home because of PTSD and anxiety has to do so... which is otherwise fine, except at the end it kind of feels like the author's saying "well, the character tried hard and now they've overcome their problem and can go out again." Maybe it's just because it's a short story and the author didn't have room for an extensive followup, but it felt facile and patronizing, that the mental illness was something a character like that has to battle once and defeat. And there are far too many stories where the "issue" the character's struggling with involves hearing voices or seeing visions... except they really are real, they're seeing a spirit world or faeries or otherwise real things that most people can't see. I'm all for the message that being "different" can be a benefit in some circumstances, but I don't think "hey, don't seek help because then you won't see the magic that's secretly all around us" is a good message to send... and moreover, it's just repetitive, with multiple stories in the collection. Even one of the better ones, "Tribes", by A.M. Dellamonica suffers a bit from it (although not as badly).

My favorite story in the collection arguably breaks the rules as well, although in my case it exemplifies it. In "The Dog and the Sleepwalker" by James Alan Gardner, the main character is a perfectly normal human... the unaltered "dog" on a ship full of people augmented by so much tech they barely qualify anymore, necessary because only dogs can remain conscious in hyperspace. While it seems like the author's taking a cheap "this normal human's mental disability is being normal" approach, it's actually a bit subtler, because the "sleepwalker" in the tale suffers a short term mental disability due to environmental conditions (in addition to the lack of her augments), and that's something that the book as a whole didn't really delve into much, the fact that mental illnesses and impairments are not always lifelong conditions that we must struggle through, but sometimes short intense bouts that hit us at the worst of times.

The other story I'll single out for note is "What We See (When The Lights Are Out)" by Gemma Files who did a really good job exploring the main character who has... well, honestly, I'm not even sure what the diagnosis would be, as much of it is complicated by medication which has plenty of side effects on its own, or even if it's an accurate representation of anything, but it felt real, both the emotional states and the life situation in which she's got a borderline exploitative illegal employer and the struggles through relating to everyday people and going to mandated therapy sessions.

A few of the others I liked, most didn't do much for me, though.
5,870 reviews131 followers
January 28, 2020
Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts is an anthology of nineteen short stories, which was collected and edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law. Nineteen short stories are penned by a mix of authors well known in the science fiction and fantasy genre.

For the most part, I rather like most if not all of these contributions. Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts is an anthology of nineteen short stories of speculative fiction through the lens of mental illness – stories of people whose mental quirks make them outcasts and underdogs. The collection walks a difficult line, as the characters ostensibly all display some form of mental illness.

Like most anthologies there are weaker contributions, and Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts is not an exception, but they were the outliers and not the rule as most stories were written quite well. There are a couple of short stories that didn't resonate with me – comparatively speaking, but was written well nevertheless, and didn't hinder my enjoyment of the anthology.

All in all, Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts is a wonderful solid collection of nineteen speculative fiction short stories that deals and have protagonists with mental issues.
Profile Image for Jenevieve.
937 reviews13 followers
May 8, 2017
Review first published on My Blog.

Nineteen stories that explore mental illness in many different aspects, both in SciFi/Fantasy and things that you could see today. I bought the series because it had a story by Kelley Armstrong and I had a different idea of what the stories would be about. While the stories were not what I was expecting, I found the stories intriguing and extremely well done. They depicted that even those will mental illness of all types are worthy of love and respect, some of them in the stories even got it and those were definitely my favorites.
Profile Image for Jessica.
82 reviews1 follower
September 13, 2017
This anthology aims to try and give voice to those friends, neighbors, and strangers whose lives are impacted in some way by mental illness.

Like any anthology, there are some hits and misses. The pieces that really stood out for me were Amanda Sun's "What Harm", A.M Dellamonica's "Tribes", and Robert Runte's "The Age of Miracles", which really threw into sharp relief the truths behind some of those who may seem different from the norm.

Unlike most anthologies, though, this one is in support of a great cause. It was also a balanced mix of supernatural, fantastic, and science fiction stories. Fair to say it will be difficult not to find something here that will resonate with you.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
357 reviews
Shelved as 'partly-read-anthologies'
May 17, 2021
Only read "The Culling" by Kelley Armstrong

3.5 stars
Marisol lives in a dystopian future where resources are scarce, which led to society regularly "culling" the population, killing anyone who is different (for example because of a disability or mental illness). Since Marisol has a history of mental illness in her family, and she shows some signs as well, she and her loved ones are always worried she'll be found out and killed. The story paints a very bleak and horrifying vision of the future, but it ends on a hopeful note.
Profile Image for Mary-Anne.
27 reviews4 followers
July 2, 2018
A thoughtful anthology that takes the idea of individuals with mental health issues. Many of the stories take those ideas and give them a unique or interesting twist. Sometimes you don't even know that there is anything wrong with the person in your story, it seems like the rest of the world.

I especially enjoyed Kelley Armstrong's entry - The Culling
2,120 reviews11 followers
January 30, 2023
Amazing collection of stories with focus on mental health

An amazing collection of stories written to support mental health problems in a Sci fi setting. The stories, written by some of today's most popular authors, display how mental health issues can affect everyone of us in a different manner. Great stories, a great cause, what are you waiting for
Profile Image for Kemlo.
263 reviews1 follower
May 21, 2022
My rating is for the few stories I finished. Most didn’t interest me enough to keep reading, unfortunately. Seemed overwritten as if to impress a writing workshop - too much emphasis on crafting clever sentences, not enough on telling a good story.
Profile Image for Elena.
34 reviews13 followers
September 10, 2018
To begin, I would recommend reading this book, it has amazing authors. The overall theme is fascinating. However there were a couple stories that lacked something.
40 reviews
May 5, 2019
There was some good writing but a significant chunk of the authors appear to have no real understanding of mental illness and just wanted to play with some ableist tropes.
May 12, 2022
good read

Quick and interesting. Can’t wait to read the other books in this interesting series. Highly recommend you read this book.
Profile Image for Megz.
187 reviews45 followers
December 17, 2016
Because mental health is so important to me, both personally and professionally, it is impossible to give an unbiased review of this collection of shorts.

Initially, I wrote mini-reviews for each story in my GoodReads updates. Around the tenth story I became irritated and deserted that endeavor. The first few stories were really enjoyable, while the latter half became increasingly absurd and/or technical.

I like sci-fi, but I’m not a rabid fan. I think digesting so many different sci-fi worlds one after the other may have become a bit overwhelming. Of course, I tend to like to digest anthologies slowly, over many months, which is not always possible when a book needs to be reviewed.

Some thoughts on my likes and dislikes:

* I preferred the stories where the mental illness being focused on wasn’t spelled out. Sometimes it was easy to figure out (schizophrenia or other delusional disorders), others, like autism and grief, more subtle.

* I feel like the point (one of the points) of this anthology was how pervasive mental health is. It doesn’t need a genre of its own; it needs to be PART OF all our genres.

* Some of the stories made the sci-fi element of their story a result of their character’s mental illness. I did not like this (see paragraph above). I preferred the stories taking place in a sci-fi universe, WITH characters that have mental illness. Example: The Intersection by Lorina Stephens, where a brother on a space station uses technology to be “physically” present while his sister is having a panic attack.

* My least favourite of all the stories are those that cast doubt on whether the delusional party is truly ill. I’m not talking about an unreliable narrator or a mind-bending story. I’m talking about those short stories where the author addresses the diagnoses as being incorrect, for example, in Troubles by Sherry Peters, where the protagonist does not take her treatment, and where the author treats the fay that her character sees as real, but only visible to her. This is a damaging narrative, and allows the romanticisation of mental illness, and ultimately disallows for effective treatment. How Objects Behave on the Edge of a Black Hole by A.C. Wise is at risk of this too; trying very hard to rationalise the sister's ghost, this time by means of science. (I'm not opposed to science explaining apparent paranormal appearances, but using it to attempt to deny a mental illness is risky.)

* Some of my favourite parts were actually in the foreword and the author’s notes. In all, I found this to be an important anthology, and at the very least its faults can contribute to important debate.

“We know what to do about gashed skin or a child’s fever. We can see for ourselves when a wound is healed or a child is over a flu. The mind though. It’s secretive, complex, powerful. When it’s sick, we flinch, not knowing what to do, unable to see. There’s nothing familiar to guide us.”


Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book via NetGalley and Laksa Media Groups in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kristine (The Writer's Inkwell).
487 reviews9 followers
June 17, 2016
Posted originally on my blog:
The Writer's Inkwell

When I originally requested this book through Netgalley, it was because it featured Kelley Armstrong and I’m a huge fan of her work. However, the great things about these kinds of anthologies is that there are several phenomenal pieces beyond that of just the author that caught your attention.

What I took away from these stories is that sometimes the only true strangers in our lives are ourselves. In fact, there are a lot of thought provoking tales that will help to peak your interest. Some of the stories can be difficult to get invested in, or at least up until the point where you get that “aha” moment. But others will leaving you pondering exactly what happened. They touch upon the difference between true reality and that of one’s own belief. There is an undertone of acceptance and understanding for mental illness and how it can affect the world around you. For example, in one where a sister is haunted by the ghost of her living sister, the other sister eventually theorizes that perhaps we all experience our own entrance into a black hole as we meet our end and how these black holes are responsible for creating ghosts.

One of the best examples of this is The Culling, in which the world has begun to die. As time goes on, less food and water is available. In order to ensure there is enough for everyone who is living, there is a yearly culling. First, they began with those who were sickly or physical disabled. Then those who have a physical deformity and then to those with psychological issues. I suppose this was a intriguing story, because in truth, it reminded me of Martin Niemöller’a poem of “First they came for…” But the other thing that intrigued me was the ending. It reminded me of the ending of The Giver, in which you can really infer your own opinion of what truly happens. While it might seem obvious to one reader, another might interpret it differently. Either way, it was thought provoking and as the first story featured in this anthology, it really set the tone for the rest of the book.

A book like this is perfect for anyone because it offers a wide variety of stories. Some feature paranormal or fantastical themes. Some dystopian. Some science fiction. Perhaps you like an underdog story. Or maybe you’re a fan of a story that will keep you thinking after it’s over. And yet, all of them are interesting and though I can’t guarantee you will like or enjoy all of them, I do believe you will be able to find at least one story that you will enjoy, if not more. I highly recommend this as a must read.

Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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