In general, I prefer stories (short, epically long, and in between) that are hopeful. Where people see a way out of bad situations and are generally decent human beings despite their bad lots. Bleak and hopeless Is Not My Bag, Baby. (Shut up, like you’ve never quoted Austin Powers before.) Some of the stories in After definitely fall into the “bleak and hopeless” category. Some of them managed to be good despite that, but mostly those stories just made me weary. Your mileage may vary.