I’ve been meaning to pick up something by Nalo Hopkinson ever since we first started this blog, so the release of Falling in Love with Hominids was a timely reminder to get on with it. This is a collection of previously published and original work, together forming an excellent set of short fiction that I enjoyed dipping into over the course of a few weeks. Introductory notes set each piece in context, adding some details that might otherwise have passed me by.
The pieces are diverse in style and setting, from the historical to the contemporary, and Hopkinson draws in features of the urban landscape alongside motifs of nature. My favourite stories were those which wove natural themes with supernatural contexts, putting plants and animals centre stage. The imagery is graphic throughout, sometimes skating a little further into gore and horror than I’m really comfortable with: it’s testament to the skill of the writing that I kept on, and read every story regardless.
It starts with a bang: The Easthound begins with children playing an innocent game, but swiftly takes us deep into the horrors of a virtually post-apocalyptic world. When adults transform into monsters, the kids must fight to protect themselves for as long as they can… set against the inevitability of their own encroaching adolescence. It casts a harsh light on the same certainty of death that we all face, made all the more vivid and immediate by the contrast with childhood innocence.
Another one that really stuck with me was Delicious Monster. Jerry’s dad is a keen botanist who fills his apartment with plants, but when Jerry visits on the day of the eclipse, it’s dad’s partner Sudharshan who’s acting strangely. This is a tale of family and love and duty… and a snake-eating bird from the pages of legend.
Falling in Love with Hominids is available on Amazon.