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“The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change”, by Kij Johnson

September 25, 2010 3 comments

“We prefer our slaves mute.”

I had read this story twice when I chose it to recommend.  Then I read it again, to make it fresh in my memory, to write this.

This story is told in two interlocking parts–it details the stories of the dogs in North Park, and also the Stories of the dogs in North Park.  Capital-S Stories.  Their mythology.  I had been so fascinated by this part of the story that I didn’t allow myself the full emotional impact of the actual tale of the dogs that are telling these stories.  And let me tell you, it’s a hard one.  I’m really trying not to spoil anything, but this is a very sad story, and I’m amazed that I didn’t see it the first two times through.

The Change, referred to in the title, you see, is that all domesticated animals suddenly become able to talk.  And gain the memory that comes along with speech.  But Johnson’s animals aren’t political allegory, like in Animal Farm, or even people.  They’re still dogs and cats. . . but now we know what they think of how we treat them.  And of us.

“We prefer our slaves mute.”

On a happier note, this is our first post with a “guest editor”.  You see, Kij Johnson is a very good writer, with several stories I had to choose from.  I happened to still be corresponding with Tim Pratt, who I emailed to ask his permission to link to the Wayback Machine’s copy of “Impossible Dreams”, and asked him if I should recommend this story or one of her other works, “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”.  I was leaning towards this one, and Tim agreed, so I get to count him as a guest editor and still do whatever I want.

“The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.  “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, and won the World Fantasy award.

This story’s text
This story’s audio

This story for sale at Amazon.com

“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” text
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” audio
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” does not appear to have been collected.

The Hugos!

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

In case this blog is your only source of news about the world of science fiction–and that’s all kinds of sad–the Hugo awards were given out a week ago.  The winners  were very satisfying to me, because I thought they were mostly great stories, and also because I got most of them right. 

You can find all the information on the official Hugo page, but here’s the highlights:

  • Best Novel: TIE: The City & The City, China Miéville; The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (my first two picks, in the order I picked them.)
  • Best Novella: “Palimpsest”, Charles Stross (This one I got completely wrong–this was my last choice. Not a bad story in any way, but a tough field.)
  • Best Novelette: “The Island”, Peter Watts  (My second choice, and I understand why it won.)
  • Best Short Story: “Bridesicle”, Will McIntosh (My first choice, absolutely.)
  • I really enjoyed reading the nominees to vote, and will do so again next year.  Heck, maybe I’ll nominate this year, too.