Short Story Review: “Drones” by Simon Ings

3 of 5 stars.

Societal collapse could arrive in one of many forms. Then, naturally, survivors would regroup, no doubt changed by the experience and the new reality.

This tale provides a very narrow snapshot of one man’s post-apocalyptic view from outside London. The economy and agrarian support system has dissipated throughout Europe in the wake of the extinction of the bees. Before the bees died, the apian fever they spread killed millions . . . of women. The narrator is one of several brothers, most of whom have had to leave for China, Macao or Dubai to find work. Only brother Ned, who inherited the farm, landed a wife. And then multiple wives, as only large estate holders attract and can afford women. Ned has a houseful of sons now, but he’s dying.

The narrator doesn’t regret his lack of kids and wives–he’s convinced himself–because he works for the greater good. His job is to oversee the fleet of drones protecting England’s agrarian coast from Irish, French and Belgian raiders.

This world could be expanded upon and layered up with a plot to really explore the gender disparity and resource collapse.

This tale appears in a couple “best of” anthologies. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 10 edited by Jonathan Strahan, I received from Netgalley. The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, I received directly from Prime Books.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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