Anthology: Wings of Renewal

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Reasons for Inclusion: Stories take place in post-discrimination worlds. Characters are various races. Several disabled characters. Three stories with bi/lesbian women. Several nonbinary supporting characters.

My Review:

(4.5/5 stars)

I’ve fallen in love with solarpunk. It combines the best of nature, technology, and human cooperation in settings where harmony is valued over profit and prejudice has long ago been defeated.

Solarpunk is a vision of the future that couldn’t be more different than dreary visions of war-torn dystopias ruled over by oppressive governments. It’s a return to the hopeful visions of 60s science fiction: worlds built by environmentalists and social justice activists, engineers and innovators. Societies that run on solar and wind power, where people work together instead of fighting, where anyone of any gender, race, and ability can achieve their dreams.

Add dragons and witches and spaceships to that, and I’ll never look back.

Not only are these stories full of imaginative worldbuilding and hope for the future, they’re also highly diverse.

This collection proudly features disability, racial diversity, and queerness, and various intersections of these. Wings of Renewal hits the ground running: the first story is about a girl who uses and designs prosthetic limbs building a leg for a dragon injured by poachers.

And that’s just the beginning. Following stories include all sorts of characters and settings: airships, spaceships, colony planets, farming communities; witches, shapeshifters, engineers, princesses.Three stories feature queer woman protagonists, and there are dozens of characters of color. Nobody is questioned for their skin color or gender. Instead of having to struggle against an ignorant society, they rescue dragons, save communities, and travel through space.

That’s what I most love about the diversity in this collection- it’s unchallenged. The problems characters face are all related to their adventure, not to having their identities accepted. Which is as the future should be!

On the critical side, I am little disappointed that none of the protagonists were nonbinary and/or transgender, though several minor NB characters did show up. The intended audience also seemed inconsistent. Some stories felt more YA or middle grade, while others felt like standard adult reading. But even with those nitpicks, the collection was amazing.

Solarpunk is the perfect stage for diverse SFF. It’s a future where we’ve overcome oppression and averted ecological crisis, where working together can achieve far more than anyone working alone.

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