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Alien Virus Love Disaster

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  90 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Abbey Mei Otis’s short stories are contemporary fiction at its strongest: taking apart the supposed equality that is clearly just not there, putting humans under an alien microscope, putting humans under government control, putting kids from the moon into a small beach town and then the putting the rest of the town under the microscope as they react in ways we hope they wo ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 16th 2018 by Small Beer Press (first published August 14th 2018)
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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  90 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
Philip Roth would sometimes quote Chekhov's observation that the job of the artist is "the proper presentation of the problem." If that's indeed the case, then Abbey Mei Otis's highly artistic debut collection, which gathers a dozen dazzling tales, tells me we have quite the problem on our hands. The majority of these stories--eight previously published, four original to this volume--revolve around dystopic or depressed futures wherein rampant angst, alienation, decadence, and physical suffering ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Exiles and refugees from the hinterlands
Recommended to Alan by: Alvaro Zinos-Amaro via Peter T.
I've got a friend—a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey's West Virginia office—whose slow, thick Appalachian accent might just lull you into thinking he is slow and thick too. Unless you listen to what he's saying.

These are like that. You don't realize unless you're really paying attention. Until.

Let me tell you, mouth lizard to sound cave... Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis is unique, truly amazing work. Every story in this short collection is a goddamn gut punch—and yet, thes
Bill Hsu
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm pretty bummed I didn't like this more. There are some great ideas, and zinger sentences. From "Teacher", the troubled educator in the Vice-Principal's office muses:
"Sometimes when I speak, I can't hear the words. All I hear is the sound of worms pushing up through wet earth."

But I found the longer pieces to be quite a drag. Sorry.
Michelle Morrell
Another of the PKD nominees, this one is a collection of short stories set in the near(ish) future. Not really any sort of future I want to see though. It's a grungy, bleak, tainted place filled with beaten down people discarded by society.

Well written, yes, some of it is quite good. A few of those images will stick with me for a while. I do like to think that humans will always love, always fight to survive. I'd just rather not see them doing it with their heads down, hunched over, getting kick
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t read this yet, but I’ve been following Otis’s work for years, and I expect it to be amazing, as all of the author’s stories have been.
Alex Marianyi
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
These stories are heavily reliant on the concept for a world and then exploring that world and who--or what--lives in it. With few exceptions, there isn't much focus on plot or character development. As a result, I tended to like the shorter stories, and for me, the longer stories tended to go on a little too long. Highly recommended if short stories that focus on voice and world building are your thing.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful selection of stories from an author that is new to me. The stories range from sort of a magical surrealism (similar to the stories of Kelly Link), to more straightforward science fiction. I enjoyed both modes of writing, but the science fiction is grounded in the world as it is now: children born and raised on the moon struggle to make lives on an earth that doesn't want them; a sex robot falls from the sky and is found by a group of kids; aliens pay to watch a couple kids to ...more
Matt W
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a surprising and subversive collection. Every story was a hilarious, heartbreaking delight. Otis has a way of throwing you off your balance with vivid surreal images, daring unexpected point of view shifts, or just plain bizarre how-did-you-think-of-that worlds (looking at you "Rich People") and then slipping in a sentence that grabs your throat or pulls back the curtain of your heart or reveals a stunning vista you didn't know was hiding just behind the leaves. I will be revisiting this co ...more
Julie Demboski
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
The author's poetic turn of mind can't save episodes that in some cases don't even qualify as stories; my sense is the author's in love with language, skillful with imagery, but hasn't disciplined her own voice enough to be sure that the words she puts on paper really count. Characters for the most part were vaguely drawn, navel-gazing youth, with settings consistently 'no future' kinds of places (and none of that is inherently bad, on its own); situations often had mention of any number of unus ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved these short stories, reminded me a bit of George Saunders's book CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. My favorite was the eponymous story, "Alien Virus Love Disaster" which was so captivating, and really the perfect glue for this amazing collection of human stories, mired in the gross details of survival. I also really liked the story, "Teachers" because I can imagine that world so easily, despite the horror of it, it also seems entirely too plausible.

The brutality of the world Otis writes about s
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book is just so bizarre and transporting and delicious that once you read it you'll pester all your friends into reading it because you've got to have someone to spill your guts with over these stories. This collection is speculative fiction at its best: the elements that make the stories fantastical also make them seem more reflective of the real world than our own muddied reality. Where typical sci-fi follows the star captain into space, Otis turns her lens on the fry cook flipping his bu ...more
Aaron Ambrose
I judged this book by its cover - by its amazing title, actually - and I lost. To be fair, I may have liked this book when I was 23. The story titles are hilarious - "I'm Sorry Your Daughter Got Eaten by a Cougar" and "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Evicted by Now" being the hands-down winners. But the stories themselves just don't carry much weight. All the settings are nightmare/comedy dystopias of the near future, and all the characters are amoral grotesques whose thoughts and actions are arbitr ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
A collection of short stories about dystopian realities and and humans that aren't so, it reminds me of someone with an IQ of 170 that took a couple of good hits of something not over the counter and then wrote them down who came down, cleaned them up and realized they had a good thing. While a lot of authors do that, not every publishing company is smart enough to take them up on publishing it. Fortunately for us, this one is the exception. And it made for a good - but brief - quirk fest.

I giv
Michael Hanscom
Some of these are funny, many of them are disquieting and leave the reader a little uneasy. I didn’t dislike it, though I’m not sure I can really say that I liked it, either.

Of course, as with any anthology, some stories will work better than others, and which ones go which way will change from person to person. For me, I think “Alien Virus Love Disaster”, “Moonkids”, and “I’m Sorry Your Daughter Got Eaten By a Cougar” were my favorites (or, at least, the ones I found most interesting).
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not your common SFF stories, even ones about oppression, inequality, etc. mostly I liked them, but they are work. They aren't comfortable but are more out-there. There are other things I'd suggest first unless you're used to reading mainstream fiction maybe? Oddly this reminds me of another SS collection I just finished that was realist, White Dancing Elephants.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A haunting collection of short stories that sometime turn you on and sometime turn your stomach. A brilliant examination of capitalism and its effects in ways that will stick with you. More alien and less tech than black mirror but they would show up to the same family reunion. There are some brilliant turn of phrase and the prose is decidedly abbey Mei Otis' own.
Gerhardt Schuette
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the more impressive collections of short fiction I've ever read. Abbey Mei Otis's style takes a little while to get accustomed to but when you realize the realities she conceals beneath her representations of the grotesque, her stories are beautiful and have a great deal to tell us about what it means to be human.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just finished this book and already I'm starting to suppress it,
so frightening and unprecedented are its stories.
The last paragraph of the opening title story gets 5 stars!
I suspect Dan Chaon of transporting aliens into his workshops.
Warren Dunham
this book of short stories is an odd sort of odds and ends from near but dark futures. Many of the ideas are quite good.
unfortunately few of the story's had a good hook or engaging characters to drive the stories, or at least not good enough to get a 4th star
Christopher Rose
Awesome stories here, elegantly conceived, avoiding predictable, hooky endings, and running over with gorgeous, heartbreaking language. This is what current SF can be. Some of these I reread immediately, and some I’m planning to again in the new year.
Joseph Benedict
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Go read it now. An hour ago. Yesterday. Last week.

With prose like poetry, Otis shines a beautiful light on dark places. As you finish each story, the next is there, smiling, urging you to come sit for a while longer and hear what it has to say. I'd recommend taking a seat.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Abbey Mei Otis comes for your soft spots.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Great writing, but it was not really my style.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and terrifying tales of the marginalized in possible futures. Body horror. Trigger-y. But brilliant.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal collection. Some of the stories are linked and all of them are super well done at a craft level.
Michael Norwitz
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Abbey Otis' first book, with occasionally rough-edged prose. Dark, surrealistic fiction with a science fiction gloss. Cold-eyed stories which will rip your heart out.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories reminded me so much of Kelly Link, but with a more overtly SF slant, and it turns out that they were published by Kelly Link's Small Beer Press. I really enjoyed this collection.
Adam Lair
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting and bizarre collection of 12 stories. Would definitely be interested in a novel from this author.
Tom Allman
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Best new anthology that I have read in years! Moonkids was my favorite and the consensus favorite of my book club.
rated it liked it
Sep 01, 2018
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Abbey Mei Otis is an American writer born in 1989. She is currently a
student in the creative writing program at Oberlin College, as well as
a graduate of Clarion West 2010. Her work has previously appeared in
Strange Horizons and The Susquehanna Review.