the Little Red Reviewer

Falling in Love With Hominids

Posted on: August 8, 2015

falling in lovewith hominidsFalling In Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

published Aug 11, 2015

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (thanks Tachyon!)

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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.

6 Responses to "Falling in Love With Hominids"

Great review! This book so far doesn’t seem to be getting as much attention as it deserves, so I’m glad to see more really positive reviews of it!

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I think you’re right about single-author short story compilations being a good “gateway” to an author. I haven’t read Hopkinson, but I’m excited to check out this collection. Great review!

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Just got a copy of this and am looking forward to reading it! Also, your posts make me want to read all the books ASAP. 😛

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“your posts make me want to read all the books ASAP.”

My work here is done.😀

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Nice review – I’m not really that ‘into’ anthologies but I am intrigued after reading this – the cover is bloody awesome.
Lynn😀

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Cover art really got my attention too.

Something you might like about this one Lynn, is that the stories are all different lengths and all different types of stories. So if you only wanna read for 5 minutes before bed, no problem, there are a few stories that are only a few pages long. Got a half hour to kill? there are some longer ones. Over the years I’ve gotten more and more enamored with single author short story collections, it’s like flipping through their photo album or something.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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