REVIEW SUMMARY: An eclectic, enjoyable mix of fiction and nonfiction suffering only from one or two significant absences.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 17 remarkable stories and four insightful essays all dealing with our simian cousins.
PROS: The strength of the fiction included in the anthology, from groundbreaking genre classics such as Leigh Kennedy’s “Her Furry Face” and Pat Murphy’s “Rachel in Love” to lesser-known tales such as Gustav Flaubert’s “Quidquid Volueris”; interesting essays from Jess Nevins and Scott Cupp on apes in literature and comics, respectively.
CONS: Odd if understandable exclusions; one or two obvious inclusions; the editor’s own contribution on apes in cinema a bit too brief.
If one wanted to get technical, any story featuring a human being is an ape story; zoologist Desmond Morris even identified us as such in his 1967 book The Naked Ape. So our fascination with gorillas, chimps, and orangutans, among others, in ethology and in popular culture, should come as no surprise; after all, our nearest genetic cousins share so many of our features that we cannot help but feel kinship and awe. We gaze into these alien faces and of course see ourselves.
Prior to The Apes of Wrath, award-wining editor Richard “Rick” Klaw co-founded the pioneering Mojo Press, one of the first publishers to produce both graphic novels and prose books. Since leaving Mojo, he became the initial fiction editor for RevolutionSF, where he still serves as an editor-at-large, and emerged as “the smartest mouth on the Internet” (Michael Moorcock) with his popular columns on pop culture for SF Site and his acclaimed blog The Geek Curmudgeon. Over the past decade, Klaw has written about fictional simians for a variety of publications including Moving Pictures Magazine, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, King Kong Is Back!, and Kong Is King. His essays and observations were collected in Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century (Monkeybrain), adorned with a magnificent gumshoe gorilla cover. Klaw lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, a large cat, an even bigger dog, and enormous collection of books. His shrine of assorted ape knickknacks is the stuff of legend.
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro: In the introduction to “The Apes of Wrath” you acknowledge the role that SF Signal’s John DeNardo played in the genesis of this project, when he invited you to contribute to a Mind Meld on the perfect SF anthology. I think it’s important to establish the following facts upfront: Have you had John over for bagels? Has he had you over?
Rick Klaw: Actually John and I have only met face-to-face maybe 2-3 times and always at Armadillocon. I like John and would gladly break bread with him.