Edited by Robert Kingett and Randy Lacey
Most anthologies have some sort of unifying theme, and the “hook” in Artificial Divide is that each of the sixteen contributing authors – and their protagonists – are blind.
That’s it – that’s the connecting thread, and diving into the stories knowing that fact adds an unexpected depth to one’s reading. Some of the authors are well-established, some are newcomers, but each of them just charges ahead and tells a story – a story about the adventures of a character who happens to be visually impaired, as opposed to a story about a visually impaired character who happens to have adventures.
Not all of the affected characters (or authors) are what a layperson might consider to be “completely” blind, nor are they all heroes. As Robert Kingett says in his introduction, “That’s the point, though. This anthology compiles snapshots of blindness to show that Blind people can be witty. Blind people can be crude. Blind people can be whimsical. Blind people can be clever or brash.”
Since the common thread in these stories is not plot-driven, there is something here to appeal to almost everyone. There is a literal fairy tale (Heather Meares’ Night Pixie), a celestial guardian (Touched by an Angel, Rebecca Blaevoet), a post-Apocalyptic love story (Melissa Yuan-Innes’ Catgirl, Heart and Skin), and comedy (Inspiration Porn Star, by M. Leona Godin). My favorite is A Firefly of Hope by Alice Eakes, a gripping page-turner that grabs you by the throat and drags you directly into the visceral narrative.
Ultimately, Artificial Divide is no different than any other lovingly-curated collection of short stories.
And, to paraphrase its editor, that’s kinda the point.
October 14, 2021
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