All the Names They Used for God: Stories by Anjali Sachdeva
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Featured on The Thread: In 'All the Names They Used for God,' the magical meets the harrowing
Spanning centuries, continents, and a diverse set of characters, these alluringly strange stories are united by each character’s struggle with fate. In a secret, subterranean world beneath the prairie of the Old West, a homesteader risks her life in search of a safe haven. A workman in Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills is turned into a medical oddity by the brutal power of the furnaces—and is eventually revitalized by his condition. A young woman created through genetic manipulation is destroyed by the same force that gave her life.
Anjali Sachdeva demonstrates a preternatural ability to laser in on our fears, our hopes, and our longings in order to point out intrinsic truths about society and humanity. “Killer of Kings” starts with John Milton writing Paradise Lost and questions the very nature of power—and the ability to see any hero as a tyrant with just a change in perspective. The title story presents a stirring imagining of the aftermath of the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram that leaves us pondering what is lost when we survive the unsurvivable. And in “Pleiades,” genetically modified septuplets are struck by a mysterious illness that tests their parents’ unwavering belief in the power of science.
Like many of us, the characters in this collection are in pursuit of the sublime, and find themselves looking not just to divinity but to science, nature, psychology, and industry, forgetting that their new, logical deities are no more trustworthy than the tempestuous gods of the past. Along the way, they walk the knife-edge between wonder and terror, salvation and destruction. All the Names They Used for Godis an entrancing work of speculative fiction that heralds Anjali Sachdeva as an invigorating, incomparable new voice.