Alien Virus Love Disaster

Abbey Mei Otis  - published August 2018

trade paper · 224 pages · $16 · 9781618731494 | ebook · 9781618731500

Neukom Institute Debut Literary Arts Award shortlist
Philip K. Dick Award finalist
Booklist Top 10 Debut SF&F
Locus Recommended Reading List

“An exciting voice. . . . dreamy but with an intense physicality.”
Washington Post Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2018

Fiction that will inspire you to blow open the doors and kick out those supposedly in charge.

Listen

Abbey Mei Otis is interviewed on KMSU’s The Weekly Reader.

Read

An interview by Ian McDowell in YES! Weekly

“Rich People” in Tin House.
Read “Blood, Blood” on Strange Horizons.
Read “Sweetheart” on Tor.com.

Abbey Mei Otis’s short stories are contemporary fiction at its strongest: taking apart the supposed equality that is clearly just not there, putting humans under an alien microscope, putting humans under government control, putting kids from the moon into a small beach town and then the putting the rest of the town under the microscope as they react in ways we hope they would, and then, of course, in ways we’d hope they don’t.

Otis has long been fascinated in using strange situations to explore dynamics of power, oppression, and grief, and the twelve stories collected here are at once a striking indictment of the present and a powerful warning about the future.

Table of Contents

Alien Virus Love Disaster [Recommended by Dan Chaon on Electric Lit’s Recommended Reading]
Moonkids [The Offing]
If  You Could Be God of Anything
Teacher [Watch the author’s reading at Flyleaf Books]
Blood, Blood [Strange Horizons]
Sex Dungeons for Sad People
Not an Alien Story
Sweetheart [Tor.com]
I’m Sorry Your Daughter Got Eaten by a Cougar [Guernica]
Rich People
If You Lived Here, You’d Be Evicted by Now
Ultimate Housekeeping Megathrill 4

Reviews & Praise for Abbey Mei Otis’s stories:

“Otis actually belongs with writers like Kelly Link, who freely borrow genre materials to construct elegant literary fictions far more about character than spectacle. . . . As odd as these worlds are, they are populated by sharply drawn characters we come to care about through Otis’ luminescent prose.” — Gary K. Wolfe, Chicago Tribune

“Abbey Mei Otis is an exciting voice in contemporary science fiction. Her new book “Alien Virus Love Disaster” (Small Beer) is a short-story collection that explores those left behind in typical sweeping science fiction adventures — the children, discarded robots, school dropouts and blue-collar workers with the misfortune of being near something toxic. A stand-out story is “Moonkids,” about young humans from the moon who find themselves living and working on a beach town on Earth after being expelled from lunar society. Humans born on the moon end up becoming physically changed from the atmosphere, and if they fail a high-stakes exam, they are returned to Earth with nothing to do but be gawked at by normal people. Like many of Otis’s stories, it’s dreamy but with an intense physicality that belies the violence behind the longing.”
— Everdeen Mason, Washington Post Book World

“It’s a collection that will keep your heart half in your throat and half in your toes, and I recommend it.” — Tor.com

“In these stories, yes, there are aliens, robots, sex dungeons, chicken puppets, ghosts, and blobs of unknown origin and nature. But there is also tenderness and the absence of it. There is prose that delights. There are plastic people, and people not sure if they can bleed. What these stories do best is sci-fi. What these stories do best is love. And if you need to distinguish between the two, then Abbey Mei Otis is here to deny you. For if barriers between what is ‘science fiction’ and what is ‘literature’ haven’t already broken down, then this collection is Abbey Mei Otis burying a glowing-neon hammer into that tired beige wall.”
Columbia Journal

“Otis is a writer of vision, attuned to the complexities of privilege and the ways technology married to capitalism tends to produce and exacerbate inequality.” — Evan Fackler, Entropy Magazine

“Abbey Mei Otis publishes in literary journals as well as SF magazines, so many of the weird SF and fantasy-infused stories in Alien Virus Love Disaster will be new and delightful for our readers.” — Tim Pratt, Locus

“Taut, freaky, unsettling speculative fiction where actual aliens, viruses, love, and disaster abound. So do great sentences. This book feels like the future. All hail the new writer generation.”
— Chelsey Johnson, The Millions

“Otis doesn’t use science fiction to lift the veil of the familiar and peer at what’s beneath. Instead, with great shrewdness and courage and originality, she reveals that the veil was itself an illusion, and the familiar a construct of anything but.”
— Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, IGMS

“Many of the stories share an emphasis on physicality and embodiment, whether it be bodies distorted by alien environments or artifacts or people thrown into their own bodies through suffering at other, human hands. . . . highly recommended for anyone interested in weird fiction, sf, or just a breathtaking reading experience.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Abbey Mei Otis’s stories are incandescently dark, if you can imagine such a thing (but maybe only she can). Full of danger and strangeness, but written in carbonated and astounding prose that is all her own, these stories create worlds and will make you contemplate (and worry about) our own.”
— Elizabeth McCracken, author of Thunderstruck & Other Stories

“These are amazing, electric stories—you can feel the live wire sizzling in them from the first sentence, and you know you’re about to take a wild, unforgettable trip. Abbey Mei Otis is my favorite kind of writer: her worlds are uniquely strange yet eerily relatable, and she knows how to make you laugh and weep at the same time.”
— Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will

“Abbey Mei Otis deposits the reader in bargain bin worlds remaindered from the near futures of the more fortunate, worlds filled with space junk and toxic glitter, gel candy and gutted elk. These are stories for the many, for lovers and mourners, for those who want to split their minds from their bodies and those who know how to merge their organs in a single skin. In Alien Virus Love Disaster, language itself is in phase change. This book is a volatile, dangerous gift.”
— Joanna Ruocco, author of Dan

“After I read this book, I woke up with bumpy, reddish growths along my spine. They burst, releasing marvels: aliens, robots, prefab houses, vinyl, chainlink, styrofoam, star stuff, tales from the edge of eviction, so many new worlds. Alien Virus Love Disaster is a super-intelligent infection. Let Abbey Mei Otis give you some lumps.”
— Sofia Samatar, author of Tender

“Abbey Mei Otis speaks for a generation of people with fractured futures and complicated hopes. It is a collection about right now.”
— Maureen F. McHugh, author of After the Apocalypse

“The aliens have already arrived in ‘Blood Blood.’ Abbey Mei Otis has them visiting in a way we’ve seldom seen before in genre science-fiction: Not as hunters, conquerors or even ambassadors, but as wildlife observers. . . . As brilliant as this cosmos and narrative is, Otis also manages to supply rich characterizations. It’s a concept sci-fi piece that tries something new and succeeds on every level.” —Matt Funk, Full Stop

Cover art copyright © 2018 by Te Chao.

About the Author

Abbey Mei Otis is a writer, a teaching artist, a storyteller and a firestarter raised in the woods of North Carolina. She loves people and art forms on the margins. She studied at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, TX and the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and now teaches at Oberlin College in Ohio. Her stories have recently appeared in journals including Tin House, StoryQuarterly, Barrelhouse, and Tor.com.

 

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