cover image Drive or be Driven: Stories of Travel

Drive or be Driven: Stories of Travel

Aliya Whiteley. NewCon, $16.99 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-914953-70-5

These 19 genre-defying shorts from Whiteley (The Loosening Skin) are a triumph of interiorities, bringing together a remarkable assemblage of characters from disparate pasts and futures into whose psyches readers are given brief, elucidating glimpses. The range is impressive; Whiteley drops readers into a gripping, Yellow Wallpaper–esque historical drama, “Wrapped,” featuring a female Egyptologist in the early 20th century, whose husband and male colleagues attempt to discredit her groundbreaking discovery, only to follow with “The Librarian,” which describes the “Dataworld,” a collection of all the information ever, accessible through VR technology. The brief, meditative “Beast” explores motherhood in an AI-driven future as a new mother watches her child sleep while the two are driven in endless circles at night by her AI companion. Though thematically disparate, the stories are united by Whiteley’s skill at conjuring a deeply immersive atmosphere, regardless of subject matter. There are no misfires here; readers will think they’ve hit the standout story of the collection, only to turn the page and find another contender. It’s a marvel. (Apr.)