Forward Collection Review
The Forward Collection is a series of six short stories around similar themes involving the future and technology.
I initially saw this collection on one of my good friends’, Jessia @readswithfoxes bookstagram page. She had posted about reading the first book, Ark saying how she really enjoyed it and went on talking a little bit about this whole collection. Just from her post about this collection, I knew I needed to read them. I’m a fan of Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent Series, and I’m also a fan of Blake Crouch just after reading his book, Dark Matter. So seeing these two authors, I knew this collection was going to be good.
The Forward Collection is a series of six short stories around similar themes involving the future and technology. It all started with Blake Crouch, the curator behind the Forward Collection, who then reached out to the five other authors featured. All were given the same questions on what to write around and each came back with their own unique short story to add to this collection. None of the stories are connected in any way, so they can be read in any order or as a standalone. At the end of each story, there’s a letter written by Blake Crouch regarding the creation and inspiration behind this collection. I decided to read these in order as I was interested in the entire collection.
The first three stories, I read within about two days of each other. And I loved them all! It gave me high hopes for the remaining three as I didn’t get a chance to continue those until later that same month. And I couldn’t help but be disappointed when I finally did get to those last three…
I think if you enjoy science fiction or are a fan of any of these authors, then I highly suggest checking out one or all of these!
Keep reading for my thoughts on each of the stories individually! With these being short stories, I don’t want to say too much! Otherwise, I would completely spoil the endings. So I guess you can say I’ll be giving mini-reviews for all six of these.
Book One ~ Ark by Veronica Roth Rating: 5/5
On the eve of Earth’s destruction, a young scientist discovers something too precious to lose, in a story of cataclysm and hope.
It’s only two weeks before an asteroid turns home to dust. Though most of Earth has already been evacuated, it’s Samantha’s job to catalog plant samples for the survivors’ unknowable journey beyond.
Preparing to stay behind and watch the world end, she makes a final human connection.
As certain doom hurtles nearer, the unexpected and beautiful potential for the future begins to flower.
If I had to pick, I’d have to say this is my favorite of the bunch. I just loved the premise, how it flowed, and how it ended. From being to end, this was such a beautifully written piece. The premise seems so simple. That being said, with the premise being so simple, this could be considered slow especially as there’s not a lot of events going on, mainly just interactions between characters. It can be easy to guess what will happen, but even so, I loved every minute of reading this. I think this was the perfect way to start the collection.
Book Two ~ Summer Frost by Blake Crouch Rating: 5/5
A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human.
Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?
Shortly after finishing Ark, I dove right into the second installment by the Forward Collection curator himself, Blake Crouch. This was easily second place, almost first, but I just loved Ark a little more! It’s also the longest out of the six. The premise of this one was completely unnerving. The whole thing just screams wrong, but I couldn’t stop reading. It vaguely reminded me of the 2013 movie, Her. It was just such an amazing read, I could totally see a full novel around this premise. I would definitely read it. After reading Dark Matter and now this short story, Summer Frost, I want to read all of Blake Crouch’s work. I will definitely be picking up the rest of his books soon!
Book Three ~ Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin Rating: 5/5
What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation.
An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare.
I kid you not, as soon as I finished Summer Frost, I immediately started Emergency Skin. At this point, I was no longer familiar with the rest of the collection’s authors’ work. So I was completely unsure of what to expect going forward (no pun intended.)
However, this third installment did not disappoint. I found Emergency Skin to be such a humorous read. The premise is a little similar to Ark just a little further in the future. From the start, things were off to an interesting start as we follow the explorer. However, we never hear the explorer talk or think. We live precariously through his AI in his mind. And it’s not just a single AI, it’s like a whole little team up there. Talk about a party up there. Sounds a little like Inside Out… It’s nothing like that! Back to Emergency Skin… This AI is supposed to be all-knowing, but it was just completely sexist and racist. So much so it was laughable, I’m pretty sure I was giggling non-stop through this whole story.
Book Four ~ You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles Rating: 2/5
Nature or nurture? Neither. Discover a bold new way to raise a child in this unsettling story of the near future.
When Sam’s wife first tells him about Vitek, a twenty-first-century fertility lab, he sees it as the natural next step in trying to help their future child get a “leg up” in a competitive world. But the more Sam considers the lives that his child could lead, the more he begins to question his own relationships and the choices he has made in his life.
I felt this had so much potential and it just fell flat. The premise involves this futuristic fertility clinic that doesn’t just let you pick the gender of your child, it’s able to determine the exact route the child will go through in life. Doesn’t that just sound completely messed up? How could someone decide the exact life for their child?
I really struggled with this one. After we finish the meeting at the clinic it was hard to follow what was going on with Sam’s thoughts and actions. Even with rereading, things just didn’t fully make sense and it just ended oddly. I really only enjoyed the meeting and seeing the possible paths for their child. But even that was just short and hard to follow. Based on the premise, I just expected something a little more unnerving like Summer Frost.
Book Five ~ The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay Rating: 3/5
What’s more frightening: Not knowing who you are? Or finding out?
Imagine you’ve woken up in an unfamiliar room with no memory of who you are, how you got there, or where you were before. All you have is the disconnected voice of an attentive caretaker. Dr. Kuhn is there to help you—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. She’ll help you remember everything. She’ll make sure you reclaim your lost identity. Now answer one question: Are you sure you want to?
Now this one, I really enjoyed the premise. Just not the execution. This one didn’t fall flat like the previous installment, but I expected a little more than what we got. From the start, it was slow as we see our main character regain abilities and their memories. It wasn’t until the end that everything came out at once. Now this format isn’t wrong, and looking at the idea, it works for this concept. I just would have liked to have gotten more information than we did. It felt like it was missing something. I could see this being a longer novel, I would give it chance.
Book Six ~ Randomize by Andy Weir Rating: 2/5
In the near future, if Vegas games are ingeniously scam-proof, then the heists have to be too, in this imaginative and whip-smart story.
An IT whiz at the Babylon Casino is enlisted to upgrade security for the game of keno and its random-number generator. The new quantum computer system is foolproof. But someone on the inside is no fool. For once the odds may not favor the house—unless human ingenuity isn’t entirely a thing of the past.
Lastly and I can not say “but not least”...
Unfortunately, I’d have to say this one is my least favorite. The premise is super simple, involving a casino that tries to get ahead of the game after a new computer is released with the capability to help people cheat the system. I honestly don’t know what more to say besides I didn’t enjoy this one. Especially compared to the others, this was the least interesting one for me. And I thought the ending was just so annoying. I won’t say more, I just can’t.