As with the first volume of Transcendent, Lethe Press has worked with a wonderful editor to select the best work of genderqueer stories of the fantastical, stranger, horrific, and weird published the prior year. Featuring stories by Merc Rustad, Jeanne Thornton, Brit Mandelo, and others, this anthology offers time-honored tropes of the genre–from genetic manipulation to zombies, portal fantasy to haunts–but told from a perspective that breaks the rigidity of gender and sexuality.
I received an ARC of Transcendent 2 from the editor, Bogi Takács. I really enjoy reading short story anthologies because I get to experience the writing of many different authors. I was intrigued by this book because the stories are all in the genre of speculative fiction – my favourite genre.
Most of the stories in this book are #ownvoices.
This anthology offers so much variety. Seriously, I sometimes forget how many different sub-genres there are in speculative fiction, because I tend to read the same few sub-genres all the time. As always there were some stories that I enjoyed more than others. However, I will say that I enjoyed reading every story in this anthology.
Solarpunk was a new genre that this book introduced to me and I am so happy about that! Because Change Was The Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy is an interesting take on how climate changes and new energy sources alter how humans live. I also liked how it touched on the impacts humans have on the environment and whether humans can salvage the damage or not.
I was pleasantly surprised to find This is Not a Wardrobe Door in this anthology. I had read it before. It was definitely worth the reread, as I could feel the same happy feelings coming back to me. It’s such a comforting story, and the theme of friendship is so beautiful.
I was also surprised to find a story by RoAnna Sylver in this book: Happy Regards. It was lovely to be transported back to the world of Parole and read such an uplifting, dystopian story. They really write some of the best dystopian fiction I’ve ever found. My reviews for her other books set in Parole are here: Chameleon Moon and The Lifeline Signal. Definitely check them out.
The Way You Said Goodnight was a story that I just could not stop reading. The night aspect was so fascinating and I was intrigued by how the night was part of one of the main characters. It was also a really beautiful portrayal of a relationship.
The last story: Her Sacred Spirit Soars was sad. Really sad. It was an emotional portrayal of partnership and centered on the themes of grief, loss, and hope. I kept hoping for a reunion between the main character and their partner.
I loved this anthology. The stories are amazing. If you enjoy reading speculative fiction, I am certain that you will find a story that you will enjoy in this collection.
Trigger warnings: death, murder.
Have you read Transcendent 2? What do you think of it? Do you have a favourite story? Do you have any recommendations for solarpunk?