I read Sim Kern’s Real Sugar is Hard To Find a few weeks ago, and it has stuck with me. The short story collection grapples with some heavy topics – climate change, reproductive freedom and reproductive justice (both to have, and to have not), what we owe one another, parenthood, compassion and understanding. I feel like it really captures some of the highs and lows of thinking about the future (or even just existing in the present.)
I suspect I connected with many of these stories to the level I did, because I’m a both a parent and someone concerned about the environment. Or someone thinking about the future or the world we leave behind for future generations. These stories help create potential futures, and thankfully, in many cases feature moments of repair in ruin (though not always.)
Stand outs for me were The Listener, in which we get to live in a world with at least one person that can talk to trees – but it’s also a story about family and identity. The New Nomad, where a parent confronts the unpopular idea of having another child on a struggling planet. The heartbreaking Tadpoles, where it’s about so much more than tadpoles. The Last Roads was a powerful story of change, restoration, forgiveness, and understanding. The intersections in reproductive and horticultural freedom in The Propagator. I realize now that I’ve started, there are many stories I want to shout out, several weeks after reading this book – they’ve stuck around in my mind.
Worlds where the freedom to reproduce is curtailed, worlds where the freedom from reproduction is curtailed, worlds where family and community and society is restructured, worlds without cars but with accessible transportation, worlds with radical forest sprites, worlds full of imagination, there is so much richness in this work, and I’d recommend it.
Sim Kern has this ability to create worlds that feel like they exist, with relatively few words, and they’ve become an authour I follow and buy the works of. Definitely one to watch I think.
I bought this book, and also received a review copy courtesy of netgalley and the publisher, Android Press. You can get this book directly from Android Press here