This was a fantastic collection of post-apocalyptic science fiction stories. You might think that this many post-apoc stories in one place would make for a pretty dismal, depressing anthology, but you'd be wrong. There's plenty of hope and joy in some of these stories, too. I've read more depressing so-called "literary fiction" than I have depressing stories in this anthology.
In college, I was subjected to plenty of non-genre and genre short fiction, making me think I just preferred novels. But the truth is, a lot of that junk was "literary," i.e. no plot, no ending, no satisfaction. I didn't even like many of the stories in Gardner Dozois's "Best of" anthologies (e.g. The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-First Annual Collection). These
stories all feature interesting characters in stories that have a beginning, middle, and end--imagine that! Some stories I liked best from Wastelands:
-"The People of Sand and Slag" by Paolo Bacigalupi - A unique look at some post-humans and their view of the world.
-"Bread and Bombs" by M. Rickert - Man, what an ending!
-"Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels" by George R. R. Martin
- If you've read anything else by GRRM, you know better than to expect this to be a happy story, right?
-"Waiting for the Zephyr" by Tobias Buckell
- A hopeful story.
-"Never Despair" by Jack McDevitt - Another hopeful story, with some interesting characters.
-"When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" by Cory Doctorow - An amusing fantasy, hah! :)
-"Artie's Angles" by Catherine Wells - Tugged on the heartstrings even more than I expected.
-"Inertia" by Nancy Kress - Brilliant, inspiring, sad yet hopeful.
-"Speech Sounds" by Octavia Butler
- AMAZING. I was blown away by this story. The idea is that a plague took away humankind's ability to form and understand words. The story that follows is awesome.