Orcs are a species—more commonly labeled a “race”—of wicked, dangerous humanoids found en masse in JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth as well as most of analog and electronic gaming. But Tolkien derived their ugly appearance and savage temperament, like almost all orcish traits common across different media, from a long and painful history.
It is common in the overwhelmingly white genre of speculative fiction for race to be an allegory. In Dread Nation, there is no need for race to be an allegory; it’s simply the historical reality of the genre.
Steeped in the history of the Jewish Diaspora, Barbara Krasnoff’s mosaic novel The History of Soul 2065 charts fifteen decades (1914-2065) of life for two families whose individual members have no idea just how connected they are, nor just how much subtle magic influences the small and large decisions of their lives. The twenty interlinked stories in this collection, five of which are appearing for the first time, center strong women. In story after story, the author reminds us that while we are all the main characters in our own stories, we are also characters in the stories of others, and that we are always influenced by those who have gone before just as we will influence those who will come after.
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