AGE OF BLIGHT
Los Angeles, California
Trade paperback, 144 pages
Publication Date: January 2016
List Price: $14.00
Cover and interior art by Alessandra Hogan
Design & typesetting by Jaya Nicely
In this collection of speculative, horror-tinged stories, human cruelty, in all of its abundant diversity, compels humanity toward the final stages of the Anthropocene: the Age of Blight. What if the end of man is not caused by some cataclysmic event, but by the nature of humans themselves? In Age of Blight, a young scientist's harsh and unnecessary experiments on monkeys are recorded for posterity; children are replaced by their doppelgangers, which emerge like flowers in their backyards; and two men standing on opposing cliff faces bear witness to each other's terrifying ends. Age of Blight explores a kind of post-future, in which the human race is finally abandoned to the end of its history. Muslim's poetic vignettes explore the nature of dystopia itself, often to darkly humorous effect, as when the spirit of Laika (the Russian space dog that perished on Sputnik 2) tries to befriend a satellite, or when Beth, the narrator's older sister, returns from the dead. The collection is illustrated throughout by the charcoal drawings of RISD artist Alessandra Hogan. In haunting and precise prose, Kristine Ong Muslim posits that humanity's downfall will be both easily preventable and terrifyingly inevitable, for it depends on only one thing: human nature.
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Press and Reviews for AGE OF BLIGHT
"As suppositional literature does, Age of Blight offers a message to the current world – a warning, a prophecy, a lamentation; call it what you will. It’s an important message; it’s also bleak and deeply troubling.... There are moments in several of Muslim’s stories when the animals mirror the ultimate image of this collection: a moment when humanity has not managed to survive but the animals persist. It’s an oddly positive message in the end – just not for humanity."
—Christopher Allen, Necessary Fiction
"Kristine Ong Muslim’s collection of speculative short stories is haunting, fearless, and wildly imaginative. In spare, deceptively simple prose, Muslim writes the kind of unpredictable stories you want to re-read the instant you finish. It’s a difficult book to classify; it is “literary,” “horror,” “science fiction,” but more than anything, Age of Blight acts as a ruthless look in the mirror."
—Adam Morgan, Electric Literature
“Age of Blight is unendingly fascinating.”
—Krishan Coupland, Neon Magazine
“Muslim is a master of the small, sometimes ironic, detail...."
“As the glaciers melt, the sea levels rise and the human project accelerates toward its inevitable decline, Kristine Ong Muslim is building a world of her own, one story at a time. It's hard to say with any kind of authority what this world is like or how it came to be, as we only catch glimpses of it in her fascinating new short story collection, Age of Blight....”
—Jim Ruland, San Diego CityBeat
“What grants Blight its strange grace is the reality that in this world, like ours, the degree to which people hold fast to one another in combating the unknown remains. We grieve our end in the same way we grieve for anything gone.”
—Kayla Rae Whitaker, Split Lip Magazine
"Every story here offers its own apocalyptic and grim view of humanity’s brutality, while remaining emotionally profound and haunting the reader long after finishing the book. Each tale works as its own, concise, potent thing, but the cumulative effect of the collection builds like a catalytic reaction. A brilliant collection.Every story here offers its own apocalyptic and grim view of humanity’s brutality, while remaining emotionally profound and haunting the reader long after finishing the book. Each tale works as its own, concise, potent thing, but the cumulative effect of the collection builds like a catalytic reaction. A brilliant collection."
"Where Calvino is joyful and whimsical, Muslim is cynical and exacting, and absolutely a match for Calvino in terms of skill and imagination. "Calvino for environmentalist pessimists" might well be a quick elevator pitch to recommend Muslim’s work."
—Julian Kelsey Jarboe, Strange Horizons
"[Age of Blight] is a book of glimpses, shards, and lost myths; it works like a nightmare recollected during the day before you know the nightmare will return and sleep cannot be kept at bay indefinitely."
“I picked up Age of Blight off of a twitter recommendation. It said that it was one of the best sci-fi short story collections that they had read in some time. I’m glad that I happened to have seen that testimony on that particular day and followed up by ordering it because it is one of the weirdest, eeriest, and well put together collections of recent work that I have seen in a minute."
—Daniel Mark, Plague Mouth
“The stories are masterfully written, evocative and memorable.... Age of Blight deserves praise for its willingness to confront complex questions. If you revel in the uncanny, this is a collection you will not want to miss."
—Sauleha Kamal, The Missing Slate
““What if the end of man is not caused by some cataclysmic event, but by the nature of humans themselves?” This is the central question posed by Age of Blight, a dark yet captivating collection of speculative short stories by Kristine Ong Muslim. The stories’ answers to this question are as varied as they are troubling and, at times, they are disturbingly plausible."
—Beth Castrodale, Small Press Picks
“.... a fast and fascinating, albeit dark, read."
—Rebecca Davis, Monkeybicycle
“.... Age of Blight will be a tough act to follow."
—Carol Shetler, Amazing Stories
"The main thing to take note of here is that you are entering Kristine Ong Muslim’s universe. It may not be so easy to get out again."
—Seana Graham, Escape Into Life
"I think there's a reasonable comparison to Kelly Link here, but where Link keeps her tongue firmly in cheek throughout, Kristine Ong Muslim succeeds in perfectly balancing her stories on the line between disturbing and ridiculous."
—Jeff Raymond, The Artolater
"Age of Blight is the kind of book that challenges the reader to look at the world and see how what she describes applies to where he or she is now."
—Alan Catlin, Misfit Magazine
"Muslim’s stories not only explore the means by which the environment is degraded and remade, but also delve into the psychology of alienation that causes such actions to take place."
—Tobias Carroll, Electric Literature
- Interview at Weird Fiction Review
- Interview at SmokeLong Quarterly
- Interview at The Mangozine
- Chicago Review of Books: "The Best Fiction Books of 2016"
- Horrorphilia: "Jeremy’s Best Horror Fiction of 2016"
- Book Club for Masochists: "Episode 019 - Weird Fiction"
- Library Journal: "Unnamed Press: LJ Talks to Press Founders C.P. Heiser & Olivia Taylor Smith"