Kij Johnson doesn’t so much write science fiction/fantasy as metafiction, but whatever she’s doing, At The Mouth Of The River Of Bees is a treasury of story-telling by an award-winning author. Now that she’s also accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing at the University of Kansas English Department, there will be ample opportunity to define her “fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality…Metafiction explore[s] a theory of writing fiction through the practice of writing fiction.” Honey-dripping reviews should swarm to this book as in its title story, though I think Story Kit is the key to the hive, echoed in The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change and The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles: “Everyone had their own stories, and the stories of their families and ancestors. There were adventures and love stories, or tricks and jokes and funny things that had happened, or disasters. Everyone wanted to tell their stories, and to know where they fit in their own fudokis.” [medieval Japanese = diaries/records] “She was not that different.” (195) Story Kit helpfully begins with a guide to identify Johnson’s tales among the list of “Six story types, from Damon Knight”:
- The story of resolution. The protagonist has a problem and solves it or doesn’t.
- The story of explanation.
- The trick ending.
- A decision is made. Whether it is acted upon is irrelevant.
- The protagonist solves a puzzle.
- The story of revelation. Something hidden is revealed to the protagonist, or to the reader. (131)