Falling in Love With Hominids
Posted August 8, 2015on:
published Aug 11, 2015
where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (thanks Tachyon!)
Showcasing fiction from as far back as 2002, Falling in Love With Hominids is a vast and varied collection of Nalo Hopkinson’s short fiction. With a feeling of a retrospective art collection, the stories are everything from straight up science fiction to literary fiction to escapades of pure frolicsome imagination. For an author you’ve never read before, short fiction might be the best way to get a taste of their fiction, to see if this is someone you want to make a 300 page investment in. I also enjoy the reading freedom of single author collections. I can jump around in the table of contents, and guilt-free read the collection cover to cover in any order I please (I do this with all anthologies, actually. Even though I know editors put the TOC in a particular order for particular reasons).
also? Just look at that gorgeous cover art. Just look at it!
Hopkinson opens each story with a few sentences about where the idea for the story came from, and in a few cases a single sentence that acts more as a subtitle. There is a lot of literary fiction in Falling in Love with Hominids, even a Shakespeare homage. But my tastes lean towards the easier to digest, so my favorites included the imaginative flights of fancy, the flirtations with science fiction, the fairy tale retellings. And that’s probably the best thing about this collection: no matter what your particular tastes are, Hopkinson has probably written it.
The flights of fancy I keep mentioning include “Emily Breakfast”, the story of a farmer with a flying cat and three fire-breathing chickens named Lunch, Dinner, and Emily Breakfast; and “Herbal”, in which an elephant suddenly appears in a woman’s high-rise apartment and when an elephant is suddenly thundering through your tiny apartment, what can you do?
Slightly heavier are the stories that bend in and out of themes of reincarnation, coming of age, parent-child relationships and mortality ( all of which taste a bit of reincarnation, depending on how you look at it). “The Smile On the Face” touches on awkward adolescence and knowing who your friends really are with the help of a cherry pit and a hamadryad; “A Young Candy Daughter” is short enough to be flash fiction but powerful enough to ignite religious awareness; “Delicious Monster” wears the mask of a story of a confused son, and even though he is still a bit confused at the end of the story, he has a truer understanding of his father and the strange pet in their house.
Other short stories that really got my attention include “Message in a Bottle”, which had a darkly brilliant Kage Baker-esque SFnal twist and a protagonist I immediately connected with; “A Raggy Shaggy Dog” whose misnomer of a title doesn’t barely hint at the pheromones, chemistry and obsessions that carries this gem of a story through to it’s inevitable end; and “Old Habits”, in which a ghost haunts the mall in which he died, watching his ghost friends relive their deaths and wonder pleadingly what lies outside their limited and tortured existence.
What I most enjoyed about Falling in Love With Hominids was the vast variety of the types of stories, the types of characters, the situations, and where everything was going. I liked the lack of homogeneousness. There really is a little bit of everything here, with most stories being short enough that you can zip through a few every night before turning the lights out. Give yourself a good mix from here, and who knows what kind of dreams you’ll have?
Interested in reading some Nalo Hopkinson but don’t know where to start? right here. this is where you start.