Soul Jar: Thirty-One Fantastical Tales by Disabled Authors, edited by Annie Carl

 Too often, science fiction and fantasy stories erase--or cure--characters with disabilities. Soul Jar, edited by author and bookstore owner Annie Carl, features thirty-one stories by disabled authors, imagining such wonders as a shapeshifter on a first date, skin that sprouts orchid buds, and a cereal-box demon. An insulin pump diverts an undead mob. An autistic teen sets out to discover the local cranberry bog's sinister secret. A pizza delivery on Mars goes wrong. This thrillingly peculiar collection sparkles with humor, heart, and insight, all within the context of disability representation.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Annie Carl (Editor), Carol Scheina, Danielle Mullen, Meghan Beaudry, Lane Chasek, Travis Flatt, Jae Viner, Cormack Baldwin, Nicola Griffith, Nisi Shawl, A.J. Cunder, Simon Quinn, Mika Grimmer, Holly Saiki, Andrew Giffin, Danielle Ranucci, Ellis Brat, Lily Jurich, El Park, K.G. Delmare, Raven Oak, Adam Fout, Evergreen Lee, Paul Jessup, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Julie Reeser, Eirik Gumeny, Christy George, Dawn Vogel, Kit Harding, Bethy Wernert.
PUBLISHER: Forest Avenue Press
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 400 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Sci-fi

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Trans Main Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).

Soul Jar is a wide-ranging collection of sci-fi and fantasy stories by disabled authors. Most of the stories feature openly disabled and/or neurodivergent characters and some deal with ableism, but mainly they feature many kinds of people in the kind of SFF stories I love to read. They vary widely in tone and topic, meaning that there's something for everyone, probably several stories to catch your fancy. 

I love stories which completely immerse the reader and leave me to figure out the setting with either little or very sly guidance, something that "Which Doctor" by Lane Chasek does masterfully, flipping the assumptions of "traditional" and "alternative" therapies in a way which highlights the absurdities of real-world ableism and institutional issues. "Spore, Bud, Bloody Orchid" by Jaye Viner is an excellent tale which wouldn't be out of place in a horror anthology but which fits perfectly here. "Song of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese" by Nicola Griffith is about stubbornness, grief, and what it takes to come to terms with a new reality. I'm a singlet, but I like the way "The Things I Miss the Most" by Nisi Shawl engages with a kind of plurality and the aftermath of loss. "A Broke Young Martian Atop His Busted Scooter" by K.G. Delmare is a Mars-based story of classism with a very cool setting and immersive worldbuiding. I also like two completely different stories thinking about clothing, presentation, and rules with "The Definition of Professional Attire" by Evergreen Lee and "Wardrobe of the Worlds" by Jennifer Lee Rossman. "Cranberry Nightmare" by Kit Harding uses a maze of unspoken social rules in a great way with an ending that made me wish it was the start of a book rather than just a short story.

If you like sci-fi and fantasy, don't miss this excellent collection!

"There Are No Hearing Aid Batteries After the Apocalypse" - CW for grief.

“Holding Back” - Minor CW for violence, death.

“Survivors’ Club” - CW for grief, ableism, alcohol, chronic illness, terminal illness, medical content, epidemic, suicide, death.

“Which Doctor” - CW for ableism, injury detail, injury detail, medical content.

“Brainstorm” - CW for medical content, seizures.

“Spore, Bud, Bloody Orchid” - CW for vomit, cancer, medical content, gun violence, suicidal thoughts, murder, death.

“Thunderheads and Burial Goods” - CW for chronic illness, death. Minor CW for vomit.

“Song of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese” - CW for grief, chronic illness, terminal illness, injury detail, animal death, death.

“The Things I Miss the Most” - CW for ableism, medical content. Minor CW for sexual content, excrement.

“The Sorrow Stealer” - CW for grief.

“The Weight of Grief” - CW for grief, death.

“The Song of the Forest” - No major CWs.

“Delbrot, Peace Warrior!” - Minor CW for blood, violence, murder, death.

"Everyone's a Critic" - CW for violence, death.

"A Guardsman Remembers" - CW for grief, blood, violence, war, self harm, suicide attempt, child death, death. Minor CW for pregnancy, abandonment, parental death.

"Suffer the Silence" - CW for mental illness, schizophrenia, violence, injury detail.

"Ziabetes" - CW for violence, medical content. Minor CW for excrement.

The Warp and Weft of a Norse Villainess" - Minor CW for sexism, epidemic, war, child death, death.

"A Broke Young Martian Atop His Busted Scooter" - CW for classism.

"Weightless" - CW for body shaming, panic attacks/disorders. 

"A Ripping" - Minor CW for blood, animal death.

"The Definitions of Professional Attire" - CW for racism, xenophobia, medical trauma.

"The Last Dryad" - CW for gaslighting, blood, war, suicide, death.

"Wardrobe of the Worlds" - Minor CW for animal death.

"A Peril of Being Human" - No major CWs.

"Lucy" - No major CWs.

"A Balanced Breakfast" - CW for medical content, blood, violence, war, death.

"The Other Side" - CW for grief, child death, death. Minor CW for sexual content.

"The Arroyo Fiasco" - No major CWs.

"Cranberry Nightmare" - CW for blood, kidnapping. Minor CW for pregnancy.

"The Rising Currents of Ocean Fire in My Blood" - Graphic CW for ableism. CW for gaslighting, confinement, emotional abuse, physical abuse, child abuse, pregnancy, blood, injury detail, medical content, medical trauma. Minor CW for sexual content, abortion.

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