Author Archive

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)

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L.S. Bassen is a finalist for 2011 Flannery O’Connor Award; Fiction Editor for Prick of the Spindle. Reader for Electric Literature, won the 2009 APP Drama Prize & a Mary Roberts Rinehart Fellowship; book reviewer for Brooklyner, The Rumpus, Press1, bigwonderful press.com, Sobriquet Magazine/The Literary Life blog; poetry in print & online, some awards.

Summary:

Maureen F. McHugh’s collection of stories is an outstanding solo in the zeitgeist fiction chorus including Gods Without Men (Hari Kunzru) and The Truth and All Its Ugly (Kyle Minor) that at long last begins building the bridge between The Two Cultures invoked by C.P. Snow decades ago. In these stories, despite the title, destruction and despair are not the key motif: survival, even transcendence, is. “These are Prodigal stories – what has been lost can be found (changed) again. The author, also a computer game creator, writes tales in which computers become conscious, reminiscent of The Forbin Project, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Karel Capek’s 1920 R.U.R. and E.M. Forster’s 1925 The Machine Stops but even more keenly aware of Kurzweil’s prediction of a 2025 Singularity when AI may supersede humanity.
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