Edited by Vivian Caethe
I have discovered that while I am working on the initial few drafts of a fiction piece, it is best for me not to read other novels in the same sub-genre. I tend to second guess myself more, excessively comparing and contrasting my own work to the work of the author I am reading. During this time, I find that my writing is stronger if I stick with non-fiction or fiction that is considerably different than what I am working on. When looking for a new book to read a friend of mine recommended a short story collection by the name of Humans Wanted, edited by Vivian Caethe.
Each of the twelve short stories in this collection is based around a subject that is both simple and complex; humans and their convoluted blend of emotional susceptibility, incredible ingenuity, and sheer stubbornness. The authors of the stories each describe in their own unique voices how that might apply to relations with new species that we might encounter once we become an intergalactic society. As the fiction that I am currently working on involves only Earth-based species, it was different enough to satisfy my needs, and it had been a month or more since I read any solid science fiction.
The collection had a delightful blend of humor and sentiment. Stand out stories in the humor department highlighted how human behaviors, such as procrastination, perseverance, relationships, and attachments, might be seen through the eyes of alien species. To the many different species observing us in this book we are strange, amusing, useful, but very possibly completely insane. Stories such as New Union Requirement, by Gwendolynn Thomas, and Human Engineering, by Marie Desjardin, feature these traits and show just how amazing our species is and how perplexing. Other stories were much more sentimental, reminding readers of the human capacity for unity, love, and selflessness. The Sound of his Footsteps, by Mariah Southworth, and Sidekick, by Jody Lynn Nye, both highlighted the human imperative to protect others, even those who are vastly different from ourselves, and The Dowager, by Richard A Becker, placed a spotlight on racism, aging, and forgiveness in a beautifully rendered piece of prose.
While not each story in this collection will strike a chord for every science fiction fan, there is enough variety to the stories that most fans of the genre are likely to find at least a few that they love. The stories are well-crafted and give readers the opportunity to look at themselves and their fellow humans in a completely different way. There is some repetitiveness to the content and to how the varied new species react to our strange ways. When I read the book the first time I was in the middle of a move, so I only had time to read two or three stories every day or two. The breaks between stories seemed to help break up the repetitiveness.