Contagious Tales, Edited by Andrew Simms: #BookReview.

176 pages.
22 modern folk tales.

Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian and now editor of Prospect magazine remarks, ‘These stories matter because they help us grasp a world that is seemingly out of control, and imagine what steps we can take to make things better.’

This anthology is subtitled ‘22 modern folk tales in the wake of the pandemic & climate crisis’. It contains some retelling of older tales brought up to date, some remarkable poetry, and a number of entirely new stories relating to our current chaotic, confusing, and damaged world.
I had a couple of déjà vu moments when I encountered two stories I’d previously read in other publications, but the rest were new to me. There is realism here, descriptions and warnings of futures we’d prefer to avoid, but there is also fantasy, imaginative retellings of traditional tales from other lands, and, mostly, new stories about the possibilities open to us as a species should we take the necessary steps to change course.
The problems we, as a species, have caused and continue to cause with the environment, are not insoluble but they do require us to think deeply about the causes of our self-generated troubles. These days it’s easy to become bogged down by the apparent impossibility of solving multiple problems within the short timeframe still open to us. But, with concentration, application, passion, and a real understanding and acceptance of the issues we’ve created, we do have a chance of saving our own species and the many others threatened with extinction.
There are, of course, deniers, and obfuscators, there are many with vested interests that collide with the truth and the very real problems we must solve. Here, in this book, are ideas and provokers of positive thoughts that just might serve that purpose.
The truth is that if we fail to address these environmental concerns right now, we, as a species, will decline and become a footnote of a history that may disappear with us. The planet will continue to revolve, continue its billions of years journey around our life-giving sun with or without us. But we humans are a unique convergence of multiple unlikely coincidences, accidents, conjunctions, and sheer good fortune. So many opportunities existed along our evolution and that of our home planet that might have resulted in our non-existence, yet here we are. Do we want to be the bright future of a species with huge potential for creative greatness? Or do we want to be the promise that died out due to indifference, complacency, denial, greed, and selfishness? The choice is ours.
Read this book and enjoy the stories told, the ideas explored, and make up your own mind about the direction you’d prefer for humanity. But time is rapidly running out, so please do it soon.

[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]

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