Silvia Moreno-Garcia knows apocalypses. Her previous anthology for Exile Editions, Dead North, featured an entire volume of them, brought on by a blight of zombies. Her latest carries on telling stories of Canadians on the brink of destruction, but this time without a single zombie in sight.
The 23 stories in Fractured cover incredible breadth, from the last man alive in Haida Gwaii to a dying Matthew waiting for his Anne in PEI. All the usual apocalyptic suspects are here – climate change, disease, alien invasion – alongside less familiar scenarios such as a ghost apocalypse and an invasion of shadows. Stories range from the immediate aftermath of society’s collapse to distant futures in which humanity has been significantly reduced, but the same sense of struggle and survival against the odds permeates most of the pieces in the collection.
Though grounded in vignettes featuring small groups of survivors who share the simple goals of acquiring food, supplies, or safety, the anthology shines brightest when the stories range further afield. “Snow Angels,” A.M. Dellamonica’s story of a depressed artist building shrines to a population that went to sleep and never woke up, contains some of the anthology’s most original world-building and feistiest characters. G.M.B. Chomichuk’s “Manitou-Wapow” reimagines the bleak (but culturally inclusive) founding of Manitoba in the wake of a 19th-century alien invasion. Claude Lalumière’s “Maxim Fujiyama and Other Persons” doesn’t dwell on the end of homo sapiens, but instead considers the continued life of non-humans.
The anthology occasionally strays into experimental territory, with mixed results. Frank Westcott’s surreal, stream-of-consciousness story “Last Man Standing” varies the reading experience, but lacks the thrill of some other entries.
What Fractured really drives home is how perfect Canada is as a setting for the post-apocalypse. Vast tracts of wilderness, intense weather, and the potentially sinister consequences of environmental devastation provide ample inspiration for imagining both humanity’s destruction and its rugged survival