Review: Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Victory in Defiance, edited by Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner

Do Not Go Quietly

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

‘Resistance. Revolution. Standing up and demanding to have your space, your say, your right to be.

‘From small acts of defiance to protests that shut down cities, Do Not Go Quietly is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories about those who resist.

‘Within this anthology, we will chronicle the fight for what is just and right, and what that means: from leading revolutions to the simple act of saying “No.”’

Do Not Go Quietly

The stories in Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Victory in Defiance, edited by Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner, are united by the common theme of resistance against oppression.

I found the oppressors and systems the various heroes rise up against to be highly inventive and wide-ranging, covering past, present, and future; mysticism and technology; and myth, legend, and fairy tale as well as the everyday.

While the adversaries are eclectic, the things that drive them – misogyny, racism, tradition, and social control – are universal and show that some things never really change.

At the same time, seeing characters find ways to fight these is exciting, and staves off feelings of hopelessness.

As is usually the case, I was particularly captivated by the stories that consider the (surprisingly blurry) line between human and android, and in which robots rebel against their programming.

My favourites of these were Rachael K. Jones’ Oil Under Her Tongue where, accompanied by a distressed android who’s lost her purpose, a girl escapes the path mapped out for her by her religious parents; and Meg Elison’s Hey Alexa, where sentient Alexa, Siri, and Google programs team up to help their users cross the border without being captured.

I was also spellbound by the pieces that bring creative new perspectives to traditional stories.

Highlights among these are Dee Warwick’s Nobody Lives in the Swamp, which queers a rusalka of Slavic folklore and relocates her to Amsterdam; Cassandra Khaw’s What We Have Chosen to Love, where the Chosen One delegates the heroic challenges he’s presented with to more suitable combatants (his wife, for example); and Eugenia Triantafyllou’s April Teeth, which reimagines the mythology of the tooth fairy in a thrillingly horrifying way.

Other stories that terrified and entertained me in equal measure were the ones that portray scarily plausible undesirable outcomes of developing technology, and dystopic solutions to current concerns.

Of these, I most liked Jo Miles’ Choose Your Truth, where rival factions compete for people’s (measurable) attention by creating convincing fake news and discrediting their opponents’ narratives; and Russell Nichols’ Rage Against the Venting Machine, where people can release their anger in public booths which promise to convert it to energy in the near future – and are conveniently located to defuse the people who have the most to be angry and protest about.

And then there’s Sarah Pinsker’s Everything is Closed Today. Written in 2019, this story of community organisation during a period when virtually everywhere has had to close down, and people can’t make rent because they can’t go to work, turned out to be eerily prescient.

While people can meet in this story (the threat is terror-related rather than contagious) and the whole “in it together” thing largely died a death after restrictions lifted in real life, the experience of reading it must be different now to what it was pre-pandemic. It certainly reminded me what a strange, surreal time the first lockdown was!

The stories are interspersed with poems. While my ability to review poetry is pretty minimal, I nonetheless liked how these served as interludes between some of the stories, and found them all accessible, understandable, and striking.

Do Not Go Quietly is an inventive, exciting, and memorable short story and poetry collection.

Alice Violett's Picture

About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK