Falling in love with hominids, by Nalo Hopkinson

Falling in love with hominids Book Cover Falling in love with hominids
Nalo Hopkinson
Fantasy, speculative fiction, short stories
August 11 2015

Nalo Hopkinson's Falling in love with hominids adds more evidence to the "Short story collections can be fantastic things!"-pile.   Everything, every story, is flabberghasting. Or bamboozling. Or, y'know, awesome.

It starts with creepy-strange The Easthound.  Can you imagine Octavia Butler setting out to write a Stephen King horror? Or... um... the other way around?  And they were both having a bit of a John Wyndham moment? It's still not an adequate description of what Nalo Hopkinson does here, but attempting to describe it that way might tell you something.

Maybe progressive, inclusive fantasy is what you're thirsting for? There's not one, but several, thriving same-sex relationships in here, protagonists who speak to each other in pidgin English, startling religion, girls claiming ownership of themselves. It's not forced - it's just what naturally grows out of this, uh, this sparkling greenhouse. Yeah, that's right. I said it. Sparkling greenhouse.  There's a review for you.

Message in a bottle is one of the most stunning time-traveller tales I've ever read.  It sounds like a very standard genre trope when described that way, but, I assure you, there's nothing standard about this one.

Many of the stories zoom in on age transitions, especially puberty.  No wonder - living inside a body that changes independent of your own volition or control, sometimes so violently it seems like the difference is visible from one day to the next - what's more alien and fantastic than that? ...At least, that's how Nalo Hopkinson makes me think about it.  Something much, much more magical than just sulking and painting one's bedroom black. (Yes, I did.  No, I have no idea why black walls were important to me at the time.)

Questions are asked, such as: What do you do, exactly, when an elephant appears in your very small apartment, far above ground?

And - there's A raggy dog, a shaggy dog, a story that taught me quite a few things about orchids.  This particular type of orchid is going to haunt me for a long, long time.

It's kind of funny how haunting is an incredibly positive term when talking about fiction, right? (I have one shelf on GR called simply 'haunters', though I only set it up to see what recommendations would be generated from two - indeed, haunting - novels.)  And in a relatively small collection of short stories, finding more than one or two haunters  is highly unexpected.

...And here I found at least three of them.

I absolutely recommend this collection. To any speculative fiction reader when in the mood for organic-magic rather than chilly space.  Though if you're in  a chilly space, this might be the best possible heat blanket.  Well, except for an actual blanket. You understand me.

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