Falling in Love with Hominds is a collection of Nalo Hopkinson’s short fiction, and the variety and depth is amazing. Horror, fantasy, magic realism, and science fiction. A story or two that I’m sure mainstream editors might buy without noticing it’s not mainstream, the touch of the fantastic is so light and gentle, and yet absolutely there. In that way, and in no other way than being an excellent writer, Hopkinson resembles Le Guin. Go find this book and read it.
Falling in Love with Hominids, by Nalo Hopkinson
Tachyon Publications, ISBN 9781616961992, July 2015
Review by Lis Carey: This is a wonderful collection of short stories, and Nalo Hopkinson kept me reading stories that were just straight up horror that I would ordinarily just skip right over. Along with the horror, there’s dark fantasy, lighter, happier fantasy, and even a couple of stories that can fairly be called science fiction. There’s a reworking of the story of Caliban, and a new Bordertown story. It’s an impressive range.
What sets this collection apart, aside from the fact that Hopkinson is just a really excellent writer, is that she writes from her own Afro-Caribbean heritage, giving us stories that are new, and bringing an entirely different perspective to stories grounded in more familiar material. There’s folklore and storytelling traditions here that are a new experience, and take me places I haven’t been.
The Caliban story flips the narrative and changes how we see not just Caliban, but Ariel, as well as their mother. The Bordertown story widens the world not just of Bordertown itself, but of the “other side,” the elf world. Turns out there’s ethnic diversity there, too, and it’s extremely well done. There are stories that leave me feeling warm, and reconnected to the good parts of my childhood without denying the bad parts, and…okay, what just happened there? Was it real? Does it matter, when it leaves that warm glow behind?
There’s a zombie apocalypse story, “Easthound.” I hate zombie apocalypse stories. This one kept me reading. Or “Emily Breakfast,” which starts out seemingly without fantastic elements. Chickens, cat, lizards — all have their elements of the fantastic, and you don’t notice it sneaking up on you.
Vishnu figures prominently in one story, and an elephant about whom I will say nothing more in another.
Ghosts relive their deaths, daily, in a shopping mall. Indigenous people defend themselves against invaders, at great cost. A self-conscious teenager struggles with her unruly hair, and a tree that won’t stop talking to her.
There’s so much here, and it’s so rich and rewarding.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.