Epeolatry Book Review: You are my Sunshine and Other Stories by Octavia Cade
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Title: You are my Sunshine and Other Stories
Author: Octavia Cade
Publisher: Stelliform Press
Genre: Horror, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Solarpunk, Short Story Collection
Release date: 21st September, 2023
Synopsis: Sometimes change can hurt. This collection of short stories traces the growing pains of a new world, beginning with the death throes of our current way of life and ending with a world transformed by science and technology, and by grief, hope, love, and humanity’s will to transform. This is a collection that will both tear you apart and tend to your wounds. Cade’s beautifully wrought stories are informed by science, tracing the biological and emotional threads that bind us, human and non-human alike. Containing a brand new novelette in the Impossible Resurrection of Grief universe, You Are My Sunshine and Other Stories is a promise of what worlds are possible if we allow ourselves to change.
Set in Earth’s not-to-distant future, Octavia Cade’s You Are My Sunshine and Other Stories is a collection of tales regarding a planet that must adapt to survive. Humans aren’t the only ones facing the effects of climate change; plants and animals struggle to find their way in a rapidly changing world. Equipped with a PhD in science communication, Cade wrote this book with consideration while incorporating real world events, studies, and politics, which allows the reader to forget that this is a work of fiction.
The first thing I noticed—the cover by artist Rachel Lobbenberg. I don’t often comment on cover art, but it set a wonderfully weird expectation of things to come. Sunflowers dripping with blood intermingle against the title. A single set of tentacles or legs emerges from one of the blooms. (I won’t get specific regarding the title’s imagery; that’s for the reader to discover). Doesn’t this image send chills down your spine?
The titular story, “You Are My Sunshine”, follows a scientist working to save a species of starfish from extinction. He finds his own world falling apart when a human arm is discovered in his mailbox. This story plays directly into Cade’s work, Impossible Resurrection of Grief, where Grief takes on a form of sickness. While encouraged to read, it’s not necessary to enjoy this story.
“Tidemarks” is a ghost story about the loss and devastation that climate change has on animal populations. While short, it has a unique feel, but also reads similar to a choose-your-own-adventure story.
“Gone to Earth”, a Sci Fi Horror, follows three astronauts who return to Earth after their recent trip to Mars. As trips to Mars become more frequent, the toll on the human mind is more evident. Known as “earth-sickness”, these astronauts will discover their connection to Earth hard to break.
“Tranquility” is about preparing for the future, a future the preparers won’t enjoy. When Mary is diagnosed with a terminal condition, she is offered a chance to help populate a new world. Mary must prepare both physically and mentally for herself and her family, before her journey. (While not body horror per se, I was caught off guard considering how this new world would populate.)
This work focuses on a seldom used topic, climate change. At times, the scientific language felt weighty, but Cade ties it to the story so that it flows without feeling unnecessary. The most powerful aspect of this collection? Most of the stories reflect actual events, and ones that might occur in the future. The characters live in a reality created by the modern population, not an impossible dystopian future.
Octavia Cade’s You Are My Sunshine and Other Stories is a thought-provoking collection. There is something for everyone, from quick impactful reads to longer narrative driven stories. I highly recommend this for fans of all genres, especially those looking for unique subject matter.
You can Pre-order your copy today at Amazon.
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Joseph Pietris is a member of the United States Coast Guard by day and heavily involved in the horror community by night. His work has appeared in several anthologies. When not writing, he’s produced reviews and interviews preferring those works generally lost in the cracks. As an associate editor, Joseph has weeding through the submission piles of horror podcasts.
Joseph’s work can be found at Amazon.com: Joseph P. Pietris: books, biography, latest update