Rod Walker really liked the concept of FORBIDDEN THOUGHTS, an anthology designed around various ideas and thoughts forbidden by the dominant left-leaning worldview of contemporary Western culture. He strongly liked several of the stories contained within the anthology.
That said, the anthology had two major weaknesses.
First, a couple of the stories weren’t actually stories. They were more along the lines of character sketches or situational sketches. For a story to work properly, it needs a problem, rising action, a climax, and resolution. Stories that are character or situational sketches are like half of a meal – the reader is left unsatisfied.
Second, a lot of the stories revolved around dystopias, and it’s hard to write dystopias for a couple of reasons. For one, every possible configuration of society is a dystopia for someone. For another, a dystopia is necessarily an exaggeration of a particular political or social problem, and a fictional society built around that seems inherently unstable. In other words, it is difficult to create a dystopia without gaping plot holes.
That said, there were good stories in the anthology, and here were Rod Walker’s favorite stories in FORBIDDEN THOUGHTS:
Safe Space Suit, by Nick Cole. In this story, mankind prepares to test the first warp drive while using a crew carefully selected for the maximum amount of camera-pleasing diversity. Unfortunately, the test goes drastically wrong, and hilarity results. When a false belief smacks into Reality, Reality wins every time. An excellent satirical story.
A Place For Everyone, by Ray Blank. In the future, the government uses an elaborate computer-calculated formula to assign everyone to jobs using 5,000 different criteria, none of which have anything to do with the job. The system wanders into a bit of a crisis through the combination of a corrupt government official, a bored supervisor, and a professor who desperately wants to stay with his wife. An interesting concept and a satisfying story.
The Secret History Of The World Gone By, by Joshua Young. An “after the apocalypse” story, a wandering barbarian comes to a city of enervated, genderless people sustained by their machines. The barbarian sets out to discover the truth of the city, and discovers a horrifying truth. This story lands in the “gender-based dystopia” category of science fiction which is hard to do right since it tends to become preachy, but this was an interesting story.
Hymns of the Mothers, by Brad Torgersen. This is another “after the apocalypse” gender dystopia story. In this one, a young girl gradually realizes that her society is monumentally unjust and hypocritical, and resolves to change it. It was interesting to see the opposite side of the coin from Joshua Young’s story, since the stories unintentionally dwelled on the same themes.
Rod Walker thinks the best story in the anthology is tied between John C Wright, Vox Day, Brian Niemeier, and L. Jagi Lamplighter.
By His Cockle Hat And Staff, by John C Wright. This is an extremely interesting concept. In a parallel universe, a dystopian Marxist state has figured out how to use psychic projection to possess people living in parallel versions of Earth. In order to spread their revolution to other universes, the dystopians are using psychic projection to try and bring all other parallel Earths under their control. (This is a similar concept to Wright’s Somewhither.) Of course, some of the parallel Earths have figured out how to fight back. Interesting story.
Amazon Gambit, by Vox Day. This is a cynically hilarious story set in the Quantum Mortis universe. An elite soldier is assigned to lead a company of entirely female soldiers, and soon realizes that the soldiers were chosen for their looks rather than competence, and that he has been set up to fail. The elite soldier nonetheless hits upon a solution that is 1.) cynical, 2.) effective, and 3.) possibly the funniest resolution in the book.
Elegy for the Locust, by Brian Niemeier. This story is set in Niemeier’s Soul Cycle universe, and seems very Lovecraftian, both in structure and style. The protagonist is even a disaffected young scholar meddling with things he doesn’t understand, much like many of Lovecraft’s protagonists. It’s a good tale of a man eaten up by envy, and the consequences thereof.
Test of the Prophet, by L. Jagi Lamplighter. This is an interesting story about a woman who travels back to Pakistan in an effort to rescue her cousin from terrorists, and in the process realizes that ghosts have been quietly and deliberately introducing errors into the written texts of religion in order to open people up to the forces of evil.
To sum up, Forbidden Thoughts is worth the read.
If you like books where the Marxists are the villains, you should read Rod Walker’s book.