A review by raix
Brave New Love: 15 Dystopian Tales of Desire, by Paula Guran


I'm gonna give the book overall a rating but I'll mention each story on its own. This book actually surprised me and was a lot better than I expected.

Hidden Ribbon by John Shirley
I didn't really like this one at all. I found the writing to be kind of immature and the characters seemed to fall flat. Things happened without much building up to them. The romance wasn't didn't feel real - the author made sure to mention that the two main characters "talked all night", but nothing was shown of any conversation that might make their relationship deeper. The reader is expected to assume.

The Salt Sea and The Sky by Elizabeth Bear
I really liked the atmosphere of this one. I think it seemed to capture the setting very nicely. Bear took "dystopian" in a new direction - instead of living in poverty and hardship, the dystopia comes in having to live a life of uneventful comfort without being able to follow one's passion. I liked that it was based on an established relationship, and not new love. It was also nice to see gay couples treated as a normal thing.

In The Clearing by Kiera Kass
The beginning of this story was a bit troublesome because the male lead kidnaps the female lead, referring to it as "taking something for himself". Not cool. World building is sort of interesting but lacks a big-picture kind of view. It seems to be kept to one little town only. The romance is decidedly teen, with the two falling in "forever love" after what seems like only one night. The captor/captive romance - although that dynamic doesn't last the whole story - is a little off-putting, but I did enjoy the story.

Otherwise by Nisi Shawl
Excellent voice. A very nice view of a dystopian world, and what kind of people emerge from such a world. Certain things were left unexplained, but I find that the allusion to them works well enough to carry on the story. A nice diversity in characters, and it involves a polyamorous relationship, which I have not seen written about in a positive way before. Very good story, one of my favourites.

Now Purple With Love's Wound by Carrie Vaughn
I really liked what this one explored. It used a dystopian society to explore feelings, and how we know what is real. It had a very tense ending, though I liked that it ended where it did.

(adding more later)