An anthology of futuristic stories

Free to Good Home: collected short storiesFree to Good Home: collected short stories by Anne Kelleher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Human civilization has progressed beyond expectations in the recent times and so has increased the complexity of life. Society has undergone a radical change over the last five decades or so. It will not be an exaggeration of facts if we say that the definition of relation between human is on the verge of a question mark. Particularly after the internet being the controlling force of the world-every definition of terms that defines human psychology are virtually redefined. Today friendship does not mean an emotional relation-but friendship in social networking sites means a bunch of unknown individuals ready to provide likes for the most ridiculous of posts. Gone are the days of romance when there was another type of thrill in biting the forbidden fruit. It is the age of speed dating now. We are virtually heading towards a blind lane of evolution. No doubt we the human species are the fittest till now, but are we making a firm stand on the question of survival? Or we are heading to a point of no return? If the pace of ‘progress’ remains unaltered for the next couple of decades or so-then what will be our future?
‘Free to Good Homes’ by Anne Kelleher is an anthology of short stories. There are seven stories in the collection namely-Free to good home, After the rapture, Enhanced, Conjuring Johnny deep, Finding south side journey, Raising Jerry Garcia and Walking with Elvis. All the stories are portrayed on a futuristic background. But they are not science fiction stories. Anne has made a picture of the world of a future where all the human emotions, all the human sentiments are no longer the same. It s a world where the old values, the ethics have been replaced by codes of conduct, more suited to humanoids. It is the story of the future –projected by the present.
Let us start the discussion of the anthology with the very first story-Feel to Good Homes. In our society we are seeing a radical change towards the outlook of the old. Particularly after the Second World War, family values have been started to be redefined in the west. Even in the eastern countries-the concept of family is getting a new perspective. It is now the nucleus family-where the family members of the generation Y no longer consider the elders as an inseparable part of the family. Elder family members are forced to live a life of the destitute-sometimes literally. Particularly in our Indian society there are daily instances on newspapers where the son or daughter drives away his or her parents out of house, forcibly takes away their possession. And believe me –they are neither instances of horror stories nor exceptional. Nobody these days looks after their emotional needs. They are now truly burden of the family. They are forced to create a life of their own and lives within a cocoon.
In this backdrop Anne glances towards the future-the future where the older generations are literally considered orphans and can be put up for adoption. Anne has a fascinating style of making ideas clear-where a harmless looking advertisement tells the whole story
‘He glanced down as the dino-bot places a plate with a slice of lemon meringue pie in front of him. The pamphlet reads-‘When it’s time to sever the cord’ and features a photograph of a smiling gray haired woman embraced by a younger couple and children, as another younger couple drives off waving the background.’
However our protagonist had some initial hesitation, which means some residue of old values are left within him-but his wife-who is rather interested in raising kittens than children did not have so. However they were not feeling the pinch as their mother was not with them. However, soon he was forced to reconsider his decision amid a rather emberracing situation for himself. He got a call from the cops and discovered that his mother was detained for selling her legal medico drugs in an illegal way. And in the way back home-or rather that should be a home-he had a firm decision.
But could he convert that decision into reality? Or rather still-was he given any opportunity to convert his wish into reality? The reader was compelled to stand on the mirror-to have a look at him-to themselves. It is a crude reality when humanity has been merged into an all prevailing hollowness. The last quote from the mother says it all
‘We are so lucky it’s not the old days.’ She says ‘when people thought the only way to make a family was with blood.’
Anne has a direct approach of saying her things-an approach that can hurt her readers like a sharp pointed arrow. But that does not mean she is a pessimist- she does not think in all negativity. She has only showed the blunt reality-where the wheels of progress can lead us into. The truth is more barely represented in the second story of the anthology-After the rapture.
Many writers have written stories-possibly science fiction stories on the days of holocaust. How it might come-how it is going to hurt the people-and so on. Very few of them have lived off the expectations. ‘After The Rapture’ is the story where the days of holocaust have taken up a new dimension. Throughout the whole story the writer has played with the psychology of the protagonists. It is the game of uncertainty-the theory of improbable that dominates the story. Even after finishing the story the readers minds starts swinging between yes and no-the reader can not get certain whether he had finished a story where the main characters passed through illusions or it was reality. This makes it a remarkable read.
Overall the futuristic stories have all the recipes of being a perfect anthology of short stories.

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The review was done courtesy to the copy provided by the writer in association with Word Slinger Publicity


Quest of light…..

There was darkness everywhere.
And then the creator has commanded-let there be light!
And light it was-darkness was evaporated! From then on human species is afraid of darkness- and all through the life Homo sapiens makes relentless quest for light- from darkness…
Or rather the human conscience tells the soul to strive for the light!
Sometimes it remains unheard- sometimes it is heard-but the whisper is relentless-deep within the soul! It is the eternal journey that had prompted Orpheus to fight with death for the life of Eurydice- it is the eternal journey that had propelled Jesus Christ to be crucified for the human soul- it is the eternal journey that had empowered Mother Teresa to live a lie for the cause of others.
It is the greatness of eternal human soul that on the face of dying of thirst amid a desert, donates his last drop of water to his thirsty foe, saying-‘Thy need is greater than mine.’
This may be an anthology of poems-but it is also the manifestation of life- the beautiful journey of life-from all perspectives and from all angles.
It is a saga of that immortal soul.
The book is divided into eleven parts-deaths, grandmothers, spirits, love and marriage, children, America, sanctity, angels and monsters, aesthetics, immortality and hope.
to him, death is not an object of fear- rather death, when coming in his silent feet- will rest the tired soul into rest and make a transition from the life of grief, despair and pain. Only the creation will remain and will help him memorise-
“When I finished playing
I felt personally utterly free,
Devoid of any grief
Loss of mystery.
I now fully comprehend
The things he left behind.”
A new perspective- a new dimension has been imparted to every object around us- and narrated with utter simplicity. Abstract ideas are not there-it is realism all the way. Aesthetically all the poems are conveying true to life mirror of the world. but sometimes there is a faint hint of Romanism-like this poem where the poet memorises his friend- a friend who is no more-and a friend who should have lived some more moments on this beautiful world-absorbing the aroma of this wonderful creation
“You should have been here tonight.
You should have danced with Claire.
You should have noticed the deer
Silently listening beneath the oak.
You should have seen them there.”
And who is that you? It remains unanswered-it may be the time in which we all live, it may be the life, it may be the long friend of the poet or may be the poet himself. Here the reader swings between yes and no- like the pendulum of a clock-only this epoch has no definite path!
A certain section of the book is dedicated to the grandmother of the poem. But what is amazing is the use of plural here- it is grandmothers. Why the plural-when the section memorises some moments of solitude, some golden moments, some priceless moments with the grandmother. again we get no answer- only we have to imagine-may be the poet assumes every moments as a different grandmother- revealing a different trait of her character or….
She will return again and again- to this mortal world-to this earthy world of flesh and blood-to look after her darling grandson- her spirit may come again and again. The free spirit bound by the attraction of love. What a lovely feeling-is not it? when she tells
“After this body is burned
I will come to visit you
I will look in on you
To make sure you are ok,
To make sure you are fed,
To make sure you are appropriately
Cared for and loved.”
It is noteworthy that the poet has assumed a picture of Hindu rituals-burning of bodies and coming back as spirit-all ideas embedded in Hindu customs and penning down a beautiful picture of the return of the departed soul.
Poems are like discovering the moments of realization-when life takes us to a point of understanding. This book is a chronicle of transition of this eternal human soul- immortal- no pain, no grief, no despair-but a transition to the bigger truth of human soul- a soul that tells that life may be fragile-but the human will is indomitable.

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