Review: Long Live Us by Mark R. Brand

Title: Long Live Us
Author: Mark R. Brand
Publisher: CCLaP Publishing
Released: September 9, 2013
Source: CCLaP website

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A family tensely waits out a meningitis scare in a quarantined home during the Great Recession. Small-town farmers in pre-war America battle a tree the size of a skyscraper. In a day-after-tomorrow dystopia, the new naughty contraband among rebellious teenagers is starchy carbohydrates. And in a barely recognizable far future, enlightened humanoids debate the implications of a mother who has smothered her child. These are just some of the speculative visions collected in the new “Long Live Us” by Chicago writer Mark R. Brand, author of the previous CCLaP hit “Life After Sleep.” Known primarily as a science-fiction author, this new collection will certainly not disappoint Brand’s existing fans, with pieces set among lunar colonists and blue-collar astronauts among other fanciful situations; but this is also Brand expanding his scope and vision for the first time, treating us with more down-to-earth stories set among contemporary families and even offering up a Great Depression tall tale. A multiple past winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award, Brand is at the height of his creative power in “Long Live Us,” and the stories found within are sure to delight, disturb and thrill you long after you’ve finished reading.

I’ve had a winning streak on the short story front this year, and Long Live Us was no exception. This new collection by Mark Brand is an eight-course meal of speculative fiction, giving readers tastes of dystopia, sci-fi, satire, and everything in between.

What really delighted me about these stories was how vividly each character and scenario came to life. Sometimes that also chilled me to my core, as was the case with “The Woman in the Pit,” a society in which “unlike animals, human children were taken as quickly as possible from their parents and raised en masse in seclusion.” From the schoolboy in “Red Rocket” to the father in “Nose Goblins,” each character’s distinct, individual voice showed off Brand’s versatility with equal amounts of mastery and finesse.

As the synopsis says, this collection remains “down-to-earth” even while exploring fantastic premises. That balance keeps the reader grounded and heightens the thrill of each story.

I can’t wait to read more by Mark Brand!

I downloaded a copy of this book from the CCLaP website. A review was not requested or expected; I did not receive compensation for this honest review.