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Iraq + 100
Edited by Hassan Blasim
Tor, $17.99 TPB, 210 pp
Published: September 2017

This was an extraordinary concept:  find Iraqi writers to write science fiction when the genre doesn’t exist in their culture.  So the editor proposed to them:  write about Iraq one hundred years from now.

The results are quite interesting.  I confess that much of the writing and plots left me unsatisfied; undoubtedly due to cultural differences.  Which opens the question of where this book fits…it probably couldn’t be effectively marketed in the Middle East.  And while there would be a sympathetic audience in the West (some…anyway) the content may prove as unsatisfying as I found it.  I do hope the effort Tor has made to allow these writings to come to light will be rewarded so that more can be done to encourage those brave writers.

The most interesting story to me was a fun piece about a Corporal who died as an Iraqi hero shot by an American sniper.  Unfortunately for the Corporal, the rules of his paradise for martyrs didn’t apply to him as he was shot while trying to extend a flower of peace to the American invaders.  So he was sent back to Iraq as a prophet for God.  The problem began when no one believed he lived a hundred years earlier.  The culture had changed so much that his manner of speaking and his message were misconstrued.  I got a kick out of this one.

There was a very satirical piece about the “Great Leader” that carried more than a grain of truth and actually made me feel rather sad.  And there’s a nice take on the “human cookbook” theme that should feel familiar.  Overall, I feel it was a good read and use of my time.  ~~ Catherine Book

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