{4.5/5} “Alone, she fled Boston, making her way from culverts to abandoned sheds, hiding from the world while building her own place in it. Living off the grid meant no formal education, no military training, no family, no friends. She had constructed a hole in the world and waited for me to join her.”

Elements by Suzanne Church, published in 2014

In “The Wind and the Sky” Polnine, an android, disobeys orders because he cares about humans, who are now technologically backward after some sort of cataclysm. In “Mod Me Down” because of a catastrophe from an attempted fix to global warming, humans who aren’t rich have to become modified to survive — Lucas will be like a rat and Mary will be like a cockroach. In “Soul-Hungry” the main character, who’s forgotten her name, is dead but can still interact with the living in some ways — like eating their souls.

Some stories are funny, some are serious, and some are devastating. The stories have stunning details that would make you think they’re true — if they didn’t take place in the future or on other worlds.

Three stories take place in the same universe — the “couch teleportation universe.” Two of those stories are connected in a very clever way.

Church understands human nature — and alien nature. Each story gives you a snippet of the life of an interesting character in an interesting universe.

One of the stories, “Waste Management,” was originally published in Challenging Destiny.

This is the first book of Church’s I’ve read.

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