Weird Dream Society

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This collection of speculative fiction was published in order to support the refugee and immigrant center RAICES. In the introduction, the editor compares the treatment of present-day South American refugees to the way Jews were treated during World War II, which is an apt comparison. After all, FDR turned away thousands of Jewish refugees and sent them back to Germany due to fear that they would threaten national security. Many of them ended up dying in the Holocaust. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself due to the anti-immigrant sentiment of Americans today. Organizations like RAICES need all the help they can get.

I was initially drawn to this book by its title. I enjoy weird dream-like fiction, however it’s often difficult to find exactly what I’m looking for since the word “weird” gets applied to different types of fiction. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s, any supernatural fiction was labeled as weird. With the advent of Weird Tales magazine, weird fiction came to be associated with the authors published in that magazine such as H. P. Lovecraft. Today, I’d say “weird fiction” has gone back to being used to describe pretty much anything with a speculative element.

However, in addition to “weird”, this book also has “dream” in the title, giving me hope that the stories would be more on the surreal side. Of course, the term “dream” can be just as nebulous as “weird” so not all of the stories lined up with my expectations, but this isn’t anybody’s fault.

Even though it’s a collection of reprints, I hadn’t read any of these stories before, so they were new to me. Some stories are fantasy, some are sci-fi, and some are horror. I liked some stories more than others, but this of course has more to do with my own personal preferences than any objective standard.

My favorites in this collection are “Thin Places” by Gemma Files about someone lost in the woods, “HigherWorks” by Gregory Norman Bossert, a cyberpunk story about US refugees in the UK planning a rave which uses nanotechnology, “And Sneer of Cold Command” by Premee Mohamed in which the narrator searches for a missing person in a world that has been conquered by aliens, “The Bricks of Gelecek” by Matthew Kressel in which a being of destruction meets a being of creation, “They Said the Desert” by A. T. Greenblatt, a story with a lot of imaginative world building in which the narrator crosses a desert with a ghost, “A Girl Who Comes Out of a Chamber at Regular Intervals” by Sofia Samatar in which an automata has a dream, “Into the Wood” by Sarah Read, a horror story about a women seeing faces in the wood grain of a cabin wall, and “The Pyramid of Amirah” by James Patrick Kelly about a girl trapped inside a pyramid.

Overall, a good collection for a good cause.

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