Speculative Los Angeles

The Akashic Noir series, begun in 2004, collected noir short stories set in cities around the world. Now Akashic has launched a series of speculative fiction anthologies similarly set in specific cities, beginning with Speculative Los Angeles, edited by Denise Hamilton, author of the Eve Diamond series.

Each of the 14 stories in Speculative Los Angeles is based in a particular neighborhood, and the stories are organized around four themes: "Changelings, Ghosts, and Parallel Worlds," "Steampunks, Alchemists, and Memory Artists," "A Tear in the Fabric of Reality" and "Cops and Robots in the Future Ruins of LA." While the overall setting ties the collection together, the range of approaches is broad. In the first story, "Antonia and the Stranger Who Came to Rancho Los Feliz" by Lisa Morton, an idyllic, pastoral alternate-future L.A. is invaded by refugees from an apocalyptic high-tech parallel universe. In Aimee Bender's "Maintenance," the woolly mammoths displayed outside the La Brea Tar Pits mysteriously vanish. Of course, some stories riff on L.A.'s most iconic industry: in "Walk of Fame" by Duane Swierczynski, psychic terrorists target celebrities, and in "Peak TV" by Ben H. Winters, the showrunner of a controversial hit show about teenage suicide is the victim of ghostly revenge.

As with the Noir series, the stories have added resonance for readers familiar with the locations, but Los Angeles is a particularly appropriate and broadly appealing place to begin the series, given its outsized role in the American imagination. --Linda Lombardi, writer and editor

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