Dystopia via Plattsburgh, Montreal, and Points Beyond


Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead

“People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” … With these words from Ray Bradbury, editor Gordon Van Gelder extends his Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead—a new anthology of short (and very short) fiction from OR Books. And when I say “fiction”, I feel compelled to add “alleged”. Because let there be no doubt, the “45” in the title is no accident.

Ray Bradbury
Gordon Van Gelder

In the wake of the 2016 US election, many individuals of a certain social or political persuasion would argue that Bradbury’s preventive efforts (Fahrenheit 451, The Pedestrian, and A Sound of Thunder among them) succeeded only in part and only for a time. If the future he feared isn’t upon us in its grim entirety just yet, there’s no missing the feeling it’s fast approaching.

With Welcome to Dystopia, Gordon Van Gelder enlists a varied group of writers to take up Bradbury’s mantle. As he states in his introduction, “Happy endings are scarce in these pages. The stories gathered here are angry, bold, snarky, defiant, nervous, and satiric … I like to think that readers of any political stripe will find this book interesting, but fans of our forty-fifth president will definitely be put out … Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

I’m happy to say my short story, SNEAKERS, has somehow been included in the mix. Or, at least, I think I’m happy about it. Then again, perhaps “happy” isn’t quite the right word. More like … uh … terrified?

Dystopia, Now! Or Kafka Wears Sneakers

SNEAKERS is the charming tale of two young lads from Montreal’s West Island who head off to Plattsburgh, NY, to buy … you guessed it! … sneakers. Nothing unusual in that, eh? Cross-border shopping is as Canadian as hockey, poutine, beavers and, of course, BeaverTails®. It’s been a pastime since John A. MacDonald went searching for Zagnut bars in Massena, NY.  Except for one tiny detail: This is now. And as America steamrolls to renewed greatness, any number of surprises await the unsuspecting, the Plattsburgh-bound protagonists of SNEAKERS leading the oblivious pack.

Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead is available from all the usual places, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks. From dark and dangerous to laugh-out-loud funny and dangerous, the collection makes for compelling reading. Harry Turtledove’s The Terrific Leader. Jay Russell’s Statues of Limitations. Lisa Mason’s Dangerous. Paul Witcover’s Walls. Ron Goulart’s The Amazing Transformation of the White House Dog. Ray Vukcevich’s The Men Will Be Hungry Afterwards. Janis Ian’s His Sweat Like the Stars on the Rio Grande. Michael Kandel’s Precaution at Penn Station. Barry Malzberg’s January 2018 … If I keep this up, I’ll end up listing the entire table of contents. So let’s make it simple: Buy it. Read it. And hope that every author’s “vision of what lies ahead” has totally missed the mark.