Edited by Elly Blue
Elly Blue Publishing of Microcosm Publishing (2017)
Reviewed by Keshia Mcclantoc for Reader Views (10/17)
“Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures,” demonstrates the possibilities when a niche genre is explored. In this edited collection, Elly Blue presents twelve short stories that revolve around the common themes of science fiction, feminism, and bicycles. At first, I was surprised by the latter and wondered how anyone could possibly write an interesting story about a bicycle. The collection not only proved me wrong, but also taught me that bicycles are the most logical, and freeing, from of transportation during an apocalypse.
This riveting collection covers a myriad of extreme futures, from bike powered space station farms to grassroots feminist groups freeing themselves in a world where men have ceased all forms of power. What was most thrilling about this collection was the breadth of variety in these stories. These authors proved themselves to be more than creative when tackling the themes of feminism and cycling. “Riding in Place” by Sarena Ulibarri, “Shelter” by Cynthia Marts, and “Signal Lost” by Gretchin Lair proved themselves to be the most compelling narratives within the collection. I also found the comic narrative, “Meet Cute” by Maddy Spencer, to be a visually stunning, quirky addition to the written narratives.
I considered the collection a hit and miss. While some stories, like the above, left me speechless at the end, others left me bored or confused. Some of them spent too much time in world building and not enough time with their characters, while others had characters that vibrantly leapt off the page set in a barely present landscape. Although the premise of the collection is based in feminism and bicycles, I felt as though some of the narratives totally lacked any inclusion of feminism and in turn, they felt as though they did not fit into the collection. Ultimately, it was a series of stories that yielded great, good, and mediocre results.
Additionally, Blue included several short reviews of books and television shows at the end of the collection. All pieces up for review included some reference to bicycles, feminism, science fiction, or a combination of all three. Their addition in the collection grounded the narratives in “Biketopia” in relation to similar narratives. The reviews were both informative and interesting and ended the collection on a note of familiarity.
Overall, Elly Blue’s “Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures” is one of the most creative and unique short story collections I have read. It brought me into worlds of zombie apocalypses, dystopic health care systems, and robot daydreams. “Biketopia” is presently the fourth collection in the series and it left me wanting to read the earlier versions of feminist bicycle stories. Future additions could benefit from remaining more in theme and pushing beyond the standard tropes of science fiction. It would also be great to have more inclusion of black and white comics. This collection, and the others in the series, would find themselves at home with any reader who loves science fiction or has interests in feminism. Most of all, this collection seems most suitable for those who miss the childhood feeling of wind in their hair, legs aching from peddling, and the utter joy and freedom that comes from riding a bike.