When one of your favourite authors releases a new book, there’s always some trepidation along with the excitement. Is it going to be as good as your old favourites? What if you get really excited only to be let down when you actually have the book in your hands? What if they’ve decided to veer in a different direction from their older work?
Well, Nalo Hopkinson’s latest book, a short story collection called Falling in Love with Hominids, has managed to surpass even my insanely high expectations. It is simply an amazing, mind-blowing, I-can’t-think-of-enough-superlative-adjectives-to-describe-it kind of book. As the blurb by Junot Diaz on the cover says, Hopkinson is a “writer with an imagination that most of us would kill for.” Time and again, the twists and turns in these stories will leave you in shock, awe, and with a trippy, WTF kind of feeling that will probably remind you of being stoned.
The collection opens with a stunning, scary story: “The Easthound.” It’s a post-apocalyptic, zombie story with this twist: you only change when you hit puberty. Imagine a destroyed Toronto urban wasteland populated only with kids under twelve. The story opens with a bunch of these kids sitting around a fire playing a story telling game. You’ll never guess where it ends. It scared the crap out of me.
The most memorable story for me was “Message in a Bottle.” I read this book four months ago, and I can still vividly remember it. It’s definitely the trippiest story in the bunch. The narrator is a artist who doesn’t hate kids, but doesn’t understand them. One kid, especially: the adopted daughter of his friends, who is part of a group of kids with “DGS,” aka delayed growth syndrome. These kids have the heads of adults, but the bodies of children, and it’s a new condition doctors haven’t figured out yet. You know from the beginning that Hopkinson is going to explain what’s all behind this, but what she comes up with is fucking unbelievable. I can’t tell you anymore or I’ll ruin the story.
Other things you have to look forward to in this book:
- a “what if God was one of us?” story where God is a black tomboy girl who rides a skateboard
- a story addressed to a “you” who turns out to be a rat that has somehow turned into part orchid
- a revenge story where a bullied fat girl turns into a dragon
- a Tempest re-telling where Caliban is running from his island roots by dating white girls
- an elephant stomping inexplicably into the living room of a fifteenth floor apartment
- a ghost who died in a mall and is now stuck there
- a story set in the fantasy Bordertown shared-world series revived by Ellen Kushner and Holly Black
Aside from all that incredible content, what you should also know is Hopkinson’s writing is gorgeous, and the stories are populated by an ethnically diverse cast and plenty of queer characters (men and women). You can especially look forward to black and indigenous characters, a gay dad, and a bit of a love triangle between queer women.
What are you waiting for? I dont know if you’ll be in love with all hominids, but I bet you’ll be in love with a certain one by the time you’re done reading this book.