Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

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[Edit: Originally posted  July 13,  2016]

Adults turning into monsters, time travel, orchids that infect rats, ghosts, missing chickens, abundant casual queerness. All these things can be found in the short story collection Falling in Love with Hominids. I cannot recall the last time I read a short fiction collection that I enjoyed so absolutely. There was not a single story I found myself bored by or disinterested in reading.

Falling in Love with Hominids is a sci-fi/fantasy collection. There isn’t one type that you could boil all the stories down to though. They’re different types of sci-fi/fantasy. Some I would call urban fantasy, others might be slightly more“classic” sci-fi. There are others still that are outside those two categories, there’s a “zombie” story, a ghost story. There’s something here for everyone. Whether you have a preference for fantasy, sci-fi, or something different. 

My particular favorite story in the collection was one called “Emily Breakfast.” A story about a missing chicken and just full of casual queerness and sci-fi/fantasy. The main two characters, a gay couple, Cranston and Sir Maracle get up to make breakfast only to discover that one of their chickens (Emily Breakfast) has gone missing. 

Of course this leads to a search, aided by the neighbors, a lesbian couple and their son and a poly triad and their daughter along with some helpful messenger lizards. Oh and did I mention that chicken are descended from dragons and can snort fire? Because they can. This particular fact comes up when Cranston and Sir Maracle’s cat, Rose of Sharon, gets in a scuffle with the other two chickens, Lunch and Dinner. After the scuffle Cranston lectures Rose of Sharon, “‘Now do you see why we don’t want you in there [the henhouse]?’ he asked her. “Chickens are descended from dragons, you idiot.’”

Emily Breakfast is recovered in the end and all is well.

Another one I really really enjoyed was “A Raggy Dog, A Shaggy Dog.” This was about a woman and the orchids she took care of along with some city rats that were getting infected by orchids like that fungus that infects and takes over the brains of ants. It was very interesting and it’s a very different kind of story than “Emily Breakfast” was.

There are such an excellent variety of stories. There’s even one that’s an extrapolation on The Tempest, focusing on Caliban and Ariel. If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fan there will almost definitely be something in this collection that catches your fancy. Though of course, I can’t speak for everyone.

A few warnings. This is an adult book, there are mentions of sex in a couple stories but nothing explicit. There also one story, “Blushing”, towards the end of the book that has some mildly graphic descriptions of gore and blood.

You can find the book here.

Related reviews: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color, Eggshells

Snaps:

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An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Woman of Color edited by Ellyn Peña and Jamie Berrout

[Edit: Originally posted on April 11, 2016]

I wish there was more. 

I cling dearly to every work of trans created literature I own. Which now includes two anthologies, one of poetry and now this one of fiction.

I loved all the stories, they felt real and intense and were beautifully crafted, every one. Some of them were realism, they took place in the real world, dealing with the struggles and the lives of trans women of color in the world. Jasmine Kabale Moore’s The Girl and the Apple was like that, but there were others that dip into genre fiction, like the two stories I’ve reviewed more in depth below.

Lisa’s Story: Zombie Apocalypse by Gillian Ybabezabout a trans woman who ventures out of her home for the first time after the start of a Zombie apocalypse. She has a run in with a zombie who used to be a cop, and a store owner who tried to salvage what he could from his store after it was raided after everything started. And Lisa’s transness? Vital to the story. Her choices throughout the story reflect the fact that she is a trans woman of color, and it wouldn’t be the same story without it. I don’t think I’d be interested in reading the story without it. But I would read a whole novel about Lisa. I’ve never been the biggest fan of zombie stories, but if there’s any way to get me into a genre it’s to give me something with a trans character.

There was another story that I felt like I wanted to read a whole novel of and that was Space Hunters by Lulu Trujillo. It kind of reminded me of the television show Firefly, but like, a million times better. The four person crew of the ship The Arbiter are looking for their next job. Penny’s impatient but the captain, Gretchen, has something lined up. It was short and fun and even with the shortness of the piece we were given a bigger universe behind the story. There was history. A single line about a war between humans and an alien species that had occurred “only a century before”. That tells us so much about the history of the universe these characters live in. We don’t get told about the war, it’s not important to this particular story, but like all history, it’s still there. It let’s us know that there’s more to this world than just an isolated story, we just don’t need the details. To me, it says, “Look at this universe, things could happen here again.” When I write science fiction, this is always the part I struggle with the most, so when I see it in other peoples work I try to stop and look to see how they’re doing it.

Update 5/19/22: Sadly, this specific collection is no longer available for purchase, but you may still be able to get an updated (and expanded) edition through Amazon.

More information about the anthology can be found at their blog @twocfictionanthology

Related Reviews: Falling in Love with Hominids

No snaps this time, because it’s an e book, which I haven’t figured out how to get good relatively clean snaps of.