Happy Pride and Indigenous History Month! June is a time of a celebration of how far we’ve come and the necessity of celebrating amidst oppression.
It is also a reminder of the painful battles 2SLGBTQIA+ and Indigenous peoples have fought for to remember the painful, traumatic histories and the fight to dedicate time to honour and celebrate our stories, although we can also do this all year round!
Love After the End is perfect Pride & Indigenous History month reading – it is a short story anthology edited by Joshua Whitehead, of all Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer writers on imagining what the future can look like after the apocalypse has already come. Because for most marginalized groups, the end of the world has already happened, many times over.
Many dystopias or speculative fiction revolves around just before the end; but what happens when the end comes, but you keep on living?
This book looks to answer just that, without the constraints of Western thought of apocalypse meaning bunkering down with guns where it’s every man for himself. That doesn’t mean it’s all daisies – these stories are messy, complicated, and deeply human.
Love After the End adds itself to one of the most exciting developments in speculative fiction (for me, anyways), where marginalized writers are truly creating art that is entirely new to mainstream publishing.
It follows in the footsteps of other great writers like Octavia E. Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin, and countless others who can hold biting social commentary with lush, sometimes brutal, always loving stories about imagining what the future can look like, and life after “the end”.
Whitehead says in his introduction: “I invite you to relish in these oratories, find what you need and harvest earnestly so as to save the roots, because now more than ever we need these stories: stories of Earth, mothers, queer love, trans love, animality, kinship, and a fierce fanning of care.”
One of my favourites is the opening story, “Abacus”, which follows a young boy named Dayan falling for an AI named Abacus, who can turn into a rat, which is a tooth achingly sweet young love story. Move over Her, there’s a new falling-in-love-with-a-computer-story in town.
Water shortages, the complexities of space odysseys fleeing a decimated Earth to live on a new planet, cryogenics, a Two-Spirit Resistance training camp, a story in the format of an instruction book of “How to Survive the Apocalypse for Native Girls”, and so much more fill the pages of this slim but astounding collection of short stories.
These stories play with style and classic sci-fi themes in entirely new ways, which I found so exciting and interesting to read.
The epigraph for this book is taken from a Natalie Diaz poem, which says:
What I love? Is this the glittering world
I’ve been begging for?”
And that’s exactly what Love After the End does. Queer love, and specifically Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer love in these stories is this glittering world we’ve been begging for.