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A hopeful, speculative short story collection about how humanity grapples in a world transformed by climate change.
“Climate fiction does not owe readers hope, but through humor and humanity Hyde manages to present a harsh reality without descending into despair, offering a space for mourning and for reimagining life in a permanently changed world. Each of the 15 stories is swiftly paced and engaging, rich with detail, highlighting and celebrating nature as it borders on the unnatural.” —The New York Times Book Review
A vast caravan of RVs roams the United States. A girl grows a unicorn horn, complicating her small-town friendships and big city ambitions. A young lady on a spaceship bonds with her AI warden while trying to avoid an arranged marriage. In Allegra Hyde’s universe nothing is as it seems, yet the challenges encountered in these pages mirror those we face in our modern age. Spanning the length of our very solar system, the fifteen stories in this collection explore a myriad of potential futures through the concept of “global weirding,” planetary and social disruptions due to climate change. In unexpected and genre-defying ways, this revelatory collection reminds us that our world is precious, and that protecting it has the potential to bring us all together.
About the Author
ALLEGRA HYDE is the author of the novel Eleutheria and the story collection Of This New World, which won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, The Best Small Fictions, The Best American Travel Writing, and elsewhere. She lives in Ohio and teaches at Oberlin College.
*Named a most anticipated book of the year by Our Culture Magazine and The Millions* *Named a most anticipated science fiction and fantasy book by Polygon* “Climate fiction does not owe readers hope, but through humor and humanity Hyde manages to present a harsh reality without descending into despair, offering a space for mourning and for reimagining life in a permanently changed world. Each of the 15 stories is swiftly paced and engaging, rich with detail, highlighting and celebrating nature as it borders on the unnatural.” —The New York Times Book Review
“While The Last Catastrophe is a brilliant collection from many angles, Hyde particularly excels in one notoriously difficult way: making the amorphous and incomprehensible aspects of climate change and its effects feel tangibly real. The climate crisis, unfortunately for activists and everyone else who inhabits this planet, can be simultaneously unfathomable and more than a bit boring in the technical details of how many degrees Celsius the temperature can rise before we’re all done for. Fortunately for readers, The Last Catastrophe is neither unfathomable nor boring. Quite the opposite. The stories proceed jauntily and are each so captivating that by the time you reach the last story—“The Eaters,” which, at over fifty pages, qualifies as a novella—you’re even a little sad it isn’t longer.” —Chicago Review of Books
“Amazing. . . . Each story presents personal catastrophes amid the larger, more cataclysmic catastrophe of climate change.” —Buzzfeed “The Last Catastrophe is akin to watching an episode of Black Mirror. The stories are strange and dissociating and unapologetically bizarre. Hyde is a strong-voiced writer with an energy that pulsates on the page. This control of language amplifies the story’s speculative elements. . . . A personal favorite is “Cougar,” where forty-something LeeAnn from Dallas is sent to the Udall-Meyers Treatment Center for Digital Disorders. . . . LeeAnn herself is in denial about the effects of her own disorder, which is initially kept from the reader, and the ending of this story is as satisfying as one might find in one written by George Saunders. . . . Hyde is a writer utterly her own. For readers interested in the speculative and short stories outside the usual subjects and forms, “The Last Catastrophe” is one to add to the shelf.” —Newcity Lit “Hyde follows up last year’s environmentalist satire Eleutheria with a new collection of brisk and somewhat upbeat speculative stories about a girl with a unicorn horn, foster husbands looking for forever homes, and more.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“These excellent stories dig into ruined biomes and food chains, reveal humans haunted by the ghosts of trees and creatures that have gone extinct. Hyde explores what humanity will do to distract itself from the destruction it’s wreaked and what illusions we’ll create to hide from the damage we’ve done—while exposing the absurdities of trying to survive in a world increasingly warped by climate change, hunger, and capitalist priorities.” —Booklist (starred review)
“After Eleutheria (2022), Hyde returns to the climate crisis with a collection of short stories that jump between dystopias and parallel universes, seamlessly blending humor and tragedy. . . . There’s a sublime, filmic quality to the stories, in which Hyde expertly inverts the familiar. . . . We're invited along on an often bizarre ride in which we see the ridiculousness of our own world reflected back at us, with Hyde managing to stress the urgency of the climate catastrophe without lecturing us. At once a testament to and a caution against ‘the despairing human’s capacity for ingenuity.’” —Kirkus Reviews
“Allegra Hyde wrote one of 2022’s best novels, Eleutheria, and her second story collection, The Last Catastrophe, contains more optimistic visions of the future than most of the books on this list, despite the specter of climate change.” —Polygon, "The Science Fiction and Fantasy Books We’re Excited for in 2023"
“Dazzling, inventive, and glinting with dark humor, Allegra Hyde’s stories stare apocalypse straight in the eye and find precious glimmers of grace therein. This enthralling collection speaks powerfully to our time, and to those times that are still to come.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
“I always keep an empty space on my bookshelf for my next favorite book, and The Last Catastrophe has taken that spot. A dazzling and unassumingly brilliant collection, Allegra Hyde’s stories take hold and never, ever let go. These aren’t stories you will forget—these are stories that will become part of your DNA: undeniable elements of the human experience. The Last Catastrophe is a masterwork of hope against a changing—and oftentimes unforgiving—world.” —Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez
“Even the ghosts in this fierce, visionary story collection are vibrantly alive, full of questions about the precarious world we’ve made, and who we might become as we hurtle forward to uncertain futures. What awaits us there, in Allegra Hyde’s rowdy, unsparing imagination, is not just devastation, but sharp humor, delightful strangeness, and flashes of deliverance.” —Caitlin Horrocks, author of Life Among the Terranauts “I’ve admired Allegra Hyde’s stunning stories of near future and small apocalypses for years. This new collection is electrifying, filled with astonishing beauty and lyricism at the same time that it warns us of the horrors of what our futures could become and what America already is. Zookeepers, RV nomads, high school drama teachers who glow with light, body-switching beauties, zombies—the voices in this collection will keep you rapt, awestruck at what unfolds.” —Brenda Peynado, author of The Rock Eaters “A Molotov cocktail is a bottle of gasoline. An Allegra cocktail is a collection of stories. Both are on fire and should be hurled at the nearest representative of a corrupt regime." —Matthew Baker, author of Why Visit America and Hybrid Creatures