I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
Published: 2015 by Tachyon Publications
Source: the publisher
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Falling in Love with Homids is a short story collection written by Nalo Hopkinson, an award-winning Canadian/Caribbean fantasy author. Her books have been on my radar for some time now, and when Tachyon Publications offered me a copy of her newest anthology, I was excited to dive right in.
The introduction to the collection explains that while each of the stories was written at different times and for different purposes, they are loosely united by the theme of the restoration of faith in humanity. Falling in Love with Homids includes scenes both mundane and fantastical, each of which begins with an annotation describing something about the story’s conception. These personal remarks made me feel much more invested in each of the stories, and gave me a sense of Hopkinson’s own self rather than just her characters.
It took me a while to read this collection, which was partially a realization about my own reading style. I like to jump into a story and stay there for some time, and jumping from one story to another too quickly breaks my immersion. That being said, this was a collection where I’d read a story or two at a time and keep coming back for more, because each of them was unique and wonderful and disturbing and made me think and laugh and cry and ponder why the world is the way it is. And yet despite exploring some dark themes, Falling in Love with Homids is at its heart a story of hope.
Here are a few of my favorite stories in the collection. These summaries are not exhaustive though; if you want to hear tales of flying elephants, shopping mall ghosts, a female Jesus meeting a Salvation Army Santa, and a Caribbean retelling of the Tempest, you’ll have to read Falling in Love with Homids for yourself!
The Easthound gets its name after a garbled message on the Toronto subway–rather than hearing “Eastbound,” the author heard “Easthound,” and thus this story was conceived. I found that absolutely delightful, in part because Mike and I have our own inside joke in which I heard him say “Safe Auto” as “Say Fado” and was like, “Fado,” which we thought was silly enough to still be laughing about years later. Where was I? Back to the Easthound. It’s basically a story of the zombie/werewolf apocalypse, but the disease only affects adults. The children have banded together in groups for survival, starving themselves to keep from growing up too quickly and meeting their own swift demise. It’s really messed up, and yet, as one of the characters begins her metamorphosis, we can truly see how much she cares for the others and how she does everything in her power to give them a running start.
Message in a Bottle
This story starts out in a rather mundane way, with this average guy who never wants children talking about what his legacy might someday be. He’s got an adopted niece though whom he helps take care of, and he thinks she’s really weird. The narrator grows up, has a relationship, and winds up accidentally becoming a father, and a pretty good one at that. His niece also grows up, and we see that she’s got some crazy secrets of her own that completely change how we perceive the narrator’s true legacy. It’s a nice thought piece on what we leave behind, whether it’s our genetics, our work, or the seemingly insignificant little things that we touch throughout our lives.
Emily Breakfast was hands-down my favorite story in the entire collection. It’s been almost two weeks since I read it, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. When the story opened, it took me a minute to get my bearings. Cranston wakes up and starts making Sir Maracle breakfast (as I’m thinking “Sir Maracle… a knight? are they in a castle? no, they seem to be in suburbia. oh wait! BDSM couple. got it). He goes out to get some fresh eggs from the chickens, who are named Lunch, Dinner, and Emily Breakfast. Emily Breakfast because she came with the name Emily, but they still wanted to make the joke. The basic gist of the story is that Emily Breakfast is missing, and Cranston and Sir Maracle do everything in their power to find her and bring her back. And as we see their concern for Emily Breakfast, we also see how much they care for each other, and it’s absolutely adorable. There’s a happy ending to this story–Emily Breakfast turns out to be quite capable of taking care of herself.