Gregory Maguire is probably best known as the author of Wicked. Featured in the anthology After, this somewhat adorable yet disturbing tale is about a young protagonist who writes about a world half-destroyed, and how that came to be.
While the future-world (mis)spellings are different, to say the least, it's easy enough to get through. And Hapless Joey—along with his teacher, Big Ant—move the story forward at an interesting, fast pace.
What Joey describes is a planet that dissolved, leaving the inhabitants in “The Cold Time.” Joey can't remember the time before that because he was just a baby, but his Grandfather told him stories. And he writes an essay to tell a special committee what he knows.
But what he doesn't know is that Big Ant and the committee have other plans for him and other promising children just like him.
What makes this story disturbing isn't so much that the world is only half of itself (that's a fascinating premise, but the story doesn't make that the central focus). What is unsettling is the system that rises up in the aftermath. Regardless of what happened, some people within that new world still chose to retain much of the corruption found in the previous one. It's an interesting read that can be expanded into a novella or novel, but works just as well as a short story.
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Nancy O. Greene started writing at the age of nine. Her short story collection, Portraits in the Dark, received a brief mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007. Other works have appeared or will appear in ChiZine; Lovecraft eZine; Cemetery Dance; Tales of Blood and Roses; Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror; Shroud Publishing's The Terror at Miskatonic Falls; Dark Recesses; Flames Rising; Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! and others. She has a BA in Cinema (Critical Studies) and a minor in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southern California, and is a Fellow of Film Independent's Project: Involve.