There's a delicate balance between mental health and mental illness . . .
Who are the STRANGERS AMONG US?
We are your fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and lovers. We staff your stores, cross your streets, and study in your schools, invisible among you. We are your outcasts and underdogs, and often, your unsung heroes.
Nineteen science fiction and fantasy authors tackle the division between mental health and mental illness; how the interplay between our minds' quirks and the diverse societies and cultures we live in can set us apart, or must be concealed, or become unlikely strengths.
We find troubles with Irish fay, a North Korean cosmonaut's fear of flying, an aging maid dealing with politics of revenge, a mute boy and an army of darkness, a sister reaching out at the edge of a black hole, the dog and the sleepwalker, and many more.
After all, what harm can be done…
AUTHORS: Kelley Armstrong, Suzanne Church, A.M. Dellamonica, Gemma Files, James Alan Gardner, Bev Geddes, Erika Holt, Tyler Keevil, Rich Larson, Derwin Mak, Mahtab Narsimhan, Sherry Peters, Ursula Pflug, Robert Runté, Lorina Stephens, Amanda Sun, Hayden Trenholm, Edward Willett, A.C. Wise
Introduction by Julie E. Czerneda
Edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law
Recommended by Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Locus, Foreword Reviews, and Quill & Quire.
2017 Prix Aurora (Canadian SF&F) Award Winner
2017 Alberta Book Publishers Award Winner (Speculative Fiction Book of the Year)
2016 Foreword INDIES Finalist (Anthologies)
One honorable mention in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 (ed. by John Joseph Adams & Charles Yu)
Six honorable mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fourth Annual Collection (ed. by Gardner Dozois)
The anthologies in this series (Strangers Among Us, The Sum of Us, Where the Stars Rise, Shades Within Us) have been recommended by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Locus, Foreword Reviews, and Quill & Quire.
About the authors
When librarians finally granted Kelley Armstrong an adult card, she made straight for the epic fantasy and horror shelves. She spent the rest of her childhood and teen years happily roaming fantastical and terrible worlds, and vowed that someday she'd write a story combining swords, sorcery, and the ravenous undead. That story began with the New York Times bestselling Sea of Shadows and continues with Empire of Night.
Armstrong's first works for teens were the New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies. She lives in rural Ontario with her husband, three children, and far too many pets.
Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of fantasy, science fiction, and non-fiction for all ages. He won Canada’s top science fiction award, the Aurora Award, for Best Long-Form Work in English in 2009 for Marseguro (DAW Books); the sequel, Terra Insegura, was shortlisted for the same award. Other science fiction books from DAW include Lost in Translation, The Cityborn, and the upcoming Worldshaper (September 2018), which will launch a new series. He’s also the author of the fantasy novels Magebane (written as Lee Arthur Chane) and the Masks of Aygrima trilogy (written as E.C. Blake). Other titles include the five-book Shards of Excalibur series for Regina’s Coteau Books, and the young adult fantasy Spirit Singer, which won the Regina Book Award at the 2002 Saskatchewan Book Awards. Ed began his career as a reporter, photographer, columnist, cartoonist, and eventually editor for the Weyburn Review, then spent five years as communications officer for the then fledgling Saskatchewan Science Centre. He’s been a fulltime freelance writer (and actor and singer) for twenty-five years. His nonfiction runs the gamut from science books and biographies to local history. He lives in Regina with his wife, Margaret Anne Hodges, P.Eng., their teenaged daughter, Alice, and their black Siberian cat, Shadowpaw.
Gemma Files is an award-winning horror writer, and has also been a film reviewer, teacher and screenwriter. A twenty-year veteran of the short fiction market, she had published two story collections and two chap-books of poetry by the time she wrote her first novel, A Book of Tongues, Volume One of the Hexslinger Series. It was nominated for a first novel Bram Stoker Award, and won the DarkScribe Magazine Black Quill Small Press Chill award, in both the Reader’s Choice and Publishers’ Choice categories. It was followed by a sequel, A Rope of Thorns. Her latest book, A Tree of Bones, completes the trilogy.
Rich Larson was born in West Africa, has studied in Rhode Island and worked in Spain, and now writes from Ottawa, Canada. His award-winning short fiction has been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Polish, French, and Italian, and appears in numerous Year's Best anthologies.
Mahtab Narsimhan is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Silver Birch Award winner The Third Eye. Her novel, The Tiffin (Dancing Cat Books, 2011), was nominated for numerous awards in Canada and was recently published in the United Kingdom and Taiwan. Mission Mumbai is her publishing debut in the United States. Mahtab is a native of Mumbai, India, and lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her online at www.mahtabnarsimhan.com.
Ursula Pflug is author of the critically acclaimed slipstream novel Green Music (2002). She has published over 70 short stories in professional publications in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. She has published dozens of art and book reviews in Canada and the U.S., and has had several plays professionally produced, one (Nobody Likes The Ugly Fish, 1994) solo-authored, and the remainder collaboratively created. Recipient of an Ontario Arts Council Works In Progress Award in 2005 to complete a new novel, Thin Wednesday, Pflug was short-listed for the K. M. Hunter Award the following year. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has also been shortlisted for the Aurora, the Sunburst, Pulp Press's 3-Day Novel, Descant's Novella Contest, and many more. Currently, she edits short fiction for The Link and teaches creative writing with a focus on the short story at Loyalist College. Her long awaited and highly praised story collection After the Fires appeared in 2008. Harvesting The Moon, a new collection, is forthcoming in 2013. from PS Publishing, a UK boutique press specializing in literary speculative fiction including the Bradbury estate. Her latest novel, The Alphabet Stones, was published by Blue Denim Press in 2013.
Robert Runté is an editor and critic specializing in speculative fiction. He contributed the essay on “Science Fiction and Fantasy? to The Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, and has served as editor, for many years, for New Canadian Fandom, the first Canadian national SF newsletter. He won Aurora Awards in 1989 and 1990 for his contributions to Canadian SF and was Fan Guest of Honour at ConAdian, the 52nd World Science Fiction Convention.
Hayden Trenholm is a native of Nova Scotia who has lived in various areas of Canada. He is best known in Alberta for his playwriting. A Circle of Birds is his first published novel.
Since 1980 Lorina Stephens has worked as editor, freelance journalist for national and regional print media, authored six books both fiction and non-fiction, been a festival organizer, publicist, lectures on many topics from historical textiles and domestic technologies, to publishing and writing, teaches, and continues to work as a writer, artist, and publisher. She has had several short fiction pieces published in Canada’s acclaimed On Spec magazine and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s fantasy anthology Sword & Sorceress X. She lives with her husband of three plus decades, and two cats, in a historic stone house in Neustadt, Ontario.
Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto. The Paper Gods series, which includes Ink, Rain, and Storm, was inspired by her time living in Osaka and traveling throughout Japan. She is an avid video gamer and cosplayer. Visit her on the web at www.amandasunbooks.com and on twitter @Amanda_Sun.
Former biologist and textbook author Julie E. Czerneda is now an award-winning science fiction author. Among her works are In the Company of Others, winner of the Auroral Award for Best Novel, and To Trade the Stars. Julie also edits the Wonder Zone series, science fiction anthologies that teach science concepts to younger readers. She lives in Orillia, Ontario.
- Winner, (Canadian SF&F) Prix Aurora Award (Best Anthology)
- Winner, Alberta Book Publishing Award (Speculative Fiction Book of the Year)
- Short-listed, Foreword INDIES Award (Best Anthology)
Excerpt: Strangers Among Us: Tales of Underdogs and Outcasts (edited by Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law; by (author) Kelley Armstrong, James Alan Gardner, Edward Willett, Suzanne Church, A.M. Dellamonica, Gemma Files, Bev Geddes, Erika Holt, Tyler Keevil, Rich Larson, Derwin Mak, Mahtab Narsimhan, Sherry Peters, Ursula Pflug, Robert Runté, Hayden Trenholm, Lorina Stephens, Amanda Sun & A.C. Wise; introduction by Julie Czerneda)
The Cullng by Kelley Armstrong
We grew up with stories of how the Cullings saved us. Stories of the famines and the aftermath, a world that once grew grain and corn in abundance, the forests overrun with rabbits and deer, lakes and streams brimming with trout and salmon. How all that had come to an end, the water drying up and everything dying with the drought—the grain and the corn and the rabbits and the deer and the trout and the salmon. And us. Most of all, us.
Left with so few resources, it was not enough to simply ration food and water. Not enough to reduce birth rates. Not enough to refuse any measures to prevent death. We needed more. We needed the Cullings.
The Cullings removed surplus population by systematically rooting out “weakness.” At first, they targeted the old and infirm. When that was no longer enough, any physical disability could see one culled. Even something that did not impair one’s ability to work—like a disfiguring birthmark—was said to be enough, on the reasoning that there was a taint in the bloodline that might eventually lead to a more debilitating condition.
The population dropped, but so did the water supply, and with it, the food supply, and eventually more stringent measures were required. That’s when they began targeting anyone who was different, in body or in mind. If you kept too much to yourself, rejecting the companionship of others; if you were easily upset or made anxious or sad; if you occasionally saw or heard things that weren’t there . . . all were reasons to be culled. But the thing is, sometimes those conditions are easier to hide than a bad leg or a mark on your face. It just takes a little ingenuity and a family unwilling to let you go.
“Who are you talking to, Marisol?” my mother says as she hurries into my room.
I motion to my open window, and to Enya, who had stopped to chat on her way to market. She says a quick hello to my mother and then a goodbye to me before carrying on down the village lane.
I murmur to my mother, “A real, living friend. You can see her, too, right?”
“I was just—”
“Checking, I know.” I put my arm around her shoulders. Having just passed my sixteenth birthday, I’m already an inch taller and making the most of it. “I have not had imaginary friends in many years, Momma.”
“I know. It’s just . . . I’ve heard you talking recently. When you’re alone.”
“I argue with myself. You know how I am—always spoiling for a fight. If no one’s around to give me one, I must make do.” I smack a kiss on her cheek. “I don’t hear voices, Momma. I’m not your sister. I have a little of what she did, but only a little, and I know how to hide it. I don’t talk about my imaginary friends, even if they’re long gone. I don’t let anyone see my wild pictures. I don’t tell anyone my even wilder stories. I am absolutely, incredibly, boringly normal.”
She makes a face at me.
“What?” I say. “It is boring. But I will fake it, for you and Papa.”
“For you, Mari. Our worries are for you, and yours should be, too.”
“But I don’t need to be worried, because I am very careful.”
“The Culling is coming.”
“As you have reminded me every day for the past month. I will be fine. I’ll even stop arguing with myself, though that means you’ll need to break up more fights between Dieter and me.”
“Your brother will happily argue with you if it keeps you safe.”
“It will.” I give her a one-armed hug. “I’ll be fine, Momma.”
Excerpted from Strangers Among Us Copyright © 2016
"Mental illness is an exciting theme for an anthology, leaving plenty of room for variety." (Library Journal)
"The writers of these stories address such varied subjects as agoraphobia, depression, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety, and addiction. Though this book has some shortcomings, readers who have mental illnesses may find themselves somewhere in these pages and as a result may no longer feel so alone or isolated." (School Library Journal)
" Stories do a masterful job of knitting legitimate and painful mental illnesses to characters who still retain agency and power." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A solid effort, a mixed SF/fantasy original anthology, with a number of entertaining stories to be found within its pages." (Locus - Gardner Dozois)
"The writing is excellent throughout . . . This is a unique collection that should attract readers of all genres." (Foreword Reviews)
"The stories in Strangers Among Us are as varied in tone and approach as their authors. The power of the collection derives from this variety; while each story can be read in isolation, the assemblage of outsiders feels, on a whole, exultant. There is, indeed, strength in numbers, when each individual is accorded space and respect." (Quill & Quire)
"Strangers Among Us . . . is important, shining a much-needed spotlight on issues that get far too little attention. A wonderful anthology, one of the major SF&F books of the year. Bravo!" (Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo award-winning author of Quantum Night)
Other titles by Susan Forest
Other titles by Lucas K. Law
Other titles by Kelley Armstrong
The Deepest of Secrets
A Stranger in Town
A Rockton Novel
The Serpent's Fury
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 3
The Gryphon's Lair
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 2
Alone in the Wild
A Rockton Thriller (City of the Lost 5)
Life Is Short and Then You Die
Mystery Writers of America Presents First Encounters with Murder
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
Watcher in the Woods
A Rockton Thriller (City of the Lost 4)
Other titles by James Alan Gardner
Other titles by Edward Willett
Shapers of Worlds
From the Street to the Stars
Master of the World
One Lucky Devil
The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow
Paths to the Stars
Twenty-Two Fantastical Tales of Imagination
I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust
The Sum of Us
Tales of the Bonded and Bound
Government House, Regina, Saskatchewan
An Illustrated History
Door Into Faerie
Other titles by Suzanne Church
Other titles by A.M. Dellamonica
Other titles by Gemma Files
Other titles by Bev Geddes
Other titles by Tyler Keevil
Other titles by Rich Larson
Other titles by Derwin Mak
Other titles by Mahtab Narsimhan
Valley of the Rats
Valley of the Rats
A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets
Embrace the Chicken
You and Me Both
Mission Mumbai: A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets
A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets
The Tara Trilogy 3-Book Bundle
The Third Eye / The Silver Anklet / The Deadly Conch
The Deadly Conch
Other titles by Ursula Pflug
Other titles by Robert Runté
Other titles by Hayden Trenholm
Other titles by Lorina Stephens
Other titles by Amanda Sun
Seasons Between Us
Tales of Identities and Memories
Seasons Between Us (Large Print)
Tales of Identities and Memories
Shades Within Us
Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders
Where the Stars Rise
Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Sum of Us
Tales of the Bonded and Bound