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Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction by…
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Title:Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction
Authors:AJ Fitzwater
Other authors:M Bennardo, Sean Jones, Barbara Krasnoff, Camille Alexa, A.D. Spencer14 more, Andrew C Releford, Matthew Cherry, Angeli Primlani, Jasmine M Templet, Margaret M Gilman, Kevin Bennett, Jude-Marie Green, Clifford Royal Johns, Sophie Constable, Dany G Zuwen, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Kelly Jennings (Editor), Shay Darrach (Editor), Jael Bendt (Cover Design)
Info:Crossed Genres Publications (2012), Paperback, 148 pages
Collections:Your library

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Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction by Kelly Jennings (Editor)

  1. 00
    Space, Inc by Julie E. Czerneda (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the truly excellent short story, "I Knew a Guy Once", about a bartender's new gig in the space station's hole-in-the-wall joint.

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I very much enjoyed this collection. You get lots of scifi dedicated to the high profile heroes who save the galaxy from various perils, but it's nice to see stories that focus on the little guy, the background characters who only get bit parts in most books. From the space station sewer jockey to the folks who repair the habitation domes, these are the people who keep things running quietly behind the scenes. They might not hold epic laser sword battles or have crazy telepathy, or be space royalty, but without them, everything would still come crashing to a halt.
  zannyvix | Sep 22, 2013 |
Most science fiction stories are bout tall, square-jawed adventurers exploring the galaxy and singlehandedly vanquishing the alien foe. What about the people who perform the unexciting "blue collar" jobs that make the voyages possible?

A being, of indeterminate gender, maintains a ship's waste treatment system. A female asteroid miner has a unique companion. It is an alien-constructed being, made from human sperm. It looks exactly like a human, but, on the inside, there is no mind or personality. Imagine an episode of the TV show "The Deadliest Catch" moved to the asteroid belt.

On Titan, a human miner is caught in the conveyor belt that carries the pieces of rock out of the mine, and deposits them in a giant pile, in open vacuum. A trio of women spens their days walking on top of a domed city, patching up holes and cracks in the dome. Another story takes place on an Earth that has run out of energy. The only working motor vehicles are those that people build themselves. There is also a news story about the hazards involved in being part of the crew building a space station in orbit.

This is a strong, well done group of stories about a not-well-known part of society. There is a good variety of stories, from lesser-known authors, that are well worth reading ( )
  plappen | Aug 27, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The title of this book would seem better suited to an academic monograph, not a work of fiction. Not to mention that I'm not sure that "menial" and "skilled labor" go together! But this is a collection of sf stories about labor, the sort of thing that immediately appeals to me. I wish I'd been able to pitch to this!

In execution, though, I often found the book somewhat lacking. Most of the stories here are what we might call "literary sf", which is to say they're pieces of science fiction written by graduates of creative writing programs, and focus on effect and characterization a lot. Which I like, and I often write that way myself, but I felt these stories often tipped over too far into "literary" territory, in that nothing happened. For example, in M. Bennardo's "Thirty-Four Dollars," the only co-worker of a young woman working on a wind farm dies. Someone comes to pick up their electricity, and years later that person leaves her thirty-four dollars when he dies. That's it! There's emotion, but no story, and it's frustratingly typical for this collection. 

The other common difficulty were stories that just got started when they ended, stories that felt like they were beginnings of novels because the writers didn't know how to get to the plot any faster. A. J. Fitzwater's "Diamond in the Rough" and Barbara Krasnoff's "The Didibug Pin" are among those that begin right when something finally happens. I liked them a lot up to that point, but when they ended, I had to go "...that's all?"  "Storage" by Matthew Cherry, about an inventory specialist on a spaceship who finds something strange in storage, almost had the same problem, but it was so moody and so intriguing that even though it ended unresolved it still worked. Which just goes to show that there's nothing you shouldn't do in writing; it's just that if you're gonna do it, you gotta do it well.

Maybe the worst story was slightly different from these templates: Clifford Royal Johns's "Big Steel in the Sky" is a faux news article about a construction project that just  worldbuilds. Could be the foundation for a great story... but it's just a collection of details as is.

There were a few I flat-out liked: Angel Primlani's "Snowball the Rabbit Was Dead" was a fine tale of a girl whose father owns a restaurant coming to deal with mortality (sort of). Margaret M. Gilman's "All in a Day's Work" was probably my favorite, managing to have mood, story, and character all at ones: a group of women who repair atmospheric domes on a space colony dealing both with a crisis and themselves; the end of this story had me on tenterhooks! Other ones were fine, but overall this was a disappointing anthology, a bit of a struggle to make it through.
  Stevil2001 | Aug 13, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a fascinating idea. So many science fiction stories are about extraordinary people: explorers, adventurers, rebels, fugitives. These stories are about ordinary people, working people, almost boring people, simply going about their lives. It's an entirely different perspective. Unfortunately, in many of these stories nothing much happens. I also can't help feeling that some of the stories are distinctly amateur.
  Foretopman | May 12, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wow, I have never read something like this. Fast short-stories with a punch. Great fun!
Only problem for me a not native english reader was the slang-words but that was a huge part of the wow-effect.

Most of the stories center around a character that would only have a small dump actor roll in other books and that is what makes this one so special.
Read and enjoy is the only thing I can say.
  omf | Apr 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennings, KellyEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Darrach, ShayEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexa, CamilleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bennardo, M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bennett, KevinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cherry, MatthewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Constable, SophieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fitzwater, A. J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gilman, Margaret M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Green, Jude-MarieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johns, Clifford RoyalContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, SeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Krasnoff, BarbaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Primlani, AngeliContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Releford, Andrew C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spencer, A. D.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Templet, Jasmine M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vourvoulias, SabrinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zuwen, Dany G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Description: Miner. Harvester. Mechanic. Sanitation Worker. These are not the typical careers of your average science fiction protagonist. Until now.

MENIAL: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction presents seventeen stories about the people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

From the literal guts of a spaceship, to the energy-starved lands of a future Earth, to the inhospitable surfaces of other planets, MENIAL explores the stories of people who understand and maintain the building blocks of civilization. They work hard, live hard, and love hard. They’re not afraid to build the future they want to live in, even knowing the often high human cost of hard labor.

AJ Fitzwater - “Diamond in the Rough”
M. Bennardo – “Thirty-Four Dollars”
Sean Jones – “A Tale of a Fast Horse”
Barbara Krasnoff – “The Didibug Pin”
Camille Alexa – “Sarah 87″
A.D. Spencer – “Carnivores”
Andrew C. Releford - “Urban Renewal”
Matthew Cherry – “Storage”
Angeli Primlani – “Snowball the Rabbit Was Dead”
Jasmine M. Templet – “Leviathan”
Margaret M. Gilman – “All in a Day’s Work”
Kevin Bennett – “The Belt”
Jude-Marie Green – “Far, Far From Land”
Clifford Royal Johns – “Big Steel In The Sky”
Sophie Constable – “Air Supply”
Dany G. Zuwen – “The Heart of the Union”
Sabrina Vourvoulias – “Ember”
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