The Fate of Mice

Susan Palwick

Gathering together the most outstanding short stories of Susan Palwick’s twenty-year literary career, The Fate of Mice is a powerful collection from an extraordinary fantasist with the perceptiveness of Joyce Carol Oates and the inventiveness of Ray Bradbury.


The Fate of Mice

by Susan Palwick

ISBN: 9781892391421

Published: 2007

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and eBooks

Gathering together the most outstanding short stories of Susan Palwick’s twenty-year literary career, The Fate of Mice is a powerful collection from an extraordinary fantasist. These unflinching tales, including three original pieces, consider a woman born with her heart exposed and the heartless killer who protects her, a wolf who is willingly ensnared by a devious academic, a businessman resurrected to play at politics, and an ingenious mouse dreaming beyond the laboratory.

With the perceptiveness of Joyce Carol Oates, the inventiveness of Ray Bradbury, and the emotional resonance of Alice Sebold, The Fate of Mice is a meditation on the very art of storytelling: mythic, beautiful, and often brutal, filled with authentic compassion.

“A potent brew of mystery and heartache…gracefully knotted, densely lyrical.”
Sci Fi Weekly/

“Spanning the past 20 years of Palwick’s career, the eight previously published and three new stories in this outstanding collection (after her 2005 novel The Necessary Beggar) display the author’s versatility. The fine title story about an IQ-enhanced mouse named Rodney recalls Flowers for Algernon. ‘Gestella’ centers on a woman werewolf whose accelerated aging complicates her doomed marriage to a self-obsessed professor. In ‘Jo’s Hair’ Palwick imagines remarkable alternate fates for Louisa May Alcott’s little woman, Jo March, and her chopped and sold chestnut braid. The quintessential fairy tale ‘Stormdusk’ depicts a child worried about her mother, a trapped snow maiden; the wise, whimsical concluding gem, ‘GI Jesus,’ addresses friendship and sacred smalltown “miracles.” Palwick’s genre-bending short fiction defies categorization and blends humor with pathos.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Palwick’s literary output until now has been limited to two critically acclaimed novels, the most recent of them the complex and moving ghost story The Necessary Beggar (2005). Thus her first story collection is a welcome addition to her oeuvre and a fitting introduction to her wide-ranging talent and vision. In the title story, a touching homage to Daniel Keyes’ classic ‘Flowers for Algernon,’ an IQ-enhanced lab mouse awakens to the knowledge of his own impending demise. ‘Gestella’ recounts the unsettling fate of a female werewolf who ages more rapidly than her increasingly less interested human lover. In one of the volume’s standouts, ‘GI Jesus,’ a small-town woman finds hope in the face of Jesus imprinted on an X-ray of her abdomen. All 11 pieces explore the most challenging conundrums of human existence, from the perennial pursuit of utopia to the many faces of mortality. Embracing elements of both horror and speculative fiction, Palwick’s unique and commanding fiction never fails to trigger an emotional response as it captures the imagination.”

“Palwick combines sharp political commentary with pleasing flights of fancy with deep psychological insight—and all in prose clear as water. Delicately balanced between hope and heartbreak, these are stories you’ll remember.”
—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

“Palwick uses both fantasy and science in her fictions, flinching from neither the rational nor the ineffable in her quest to write stories exploring the fate of all living things.”
Seattle Times

“Elegantly crafted short fiction.”

“Palwick offers the kind of variety that we find in our best, our most powerful, and versatile authors.”
The Agony Column

“This is a collection of magnificent, heart-breaking stories. Susan Palwick sees the world with a fearless clarity and tells a truth so sharp it makes you weep. Be warned: Long after you close the book, these stories will haunt you. They’ll stay with you, changing who you are and how you see the world around you.”
—Pat Murphy, author of The City, Not Long After

The Fate of Mice shines light on our dark secrets with compassion, wit, and very fine writing.”
—Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s

“Palwick provides dramatic commentary with innovative structure…. Masterful writing, magical realism, slipstream, and literary fiction are all descriptors that come to mind.”

“These stories are brilliant and thought-provoking as well as packing an unexpectedly intense emotional punch.”
—Jo Walton, author of Tooth and Claw and Farthing

“These are strong stories full of dry humor and a powerful sense of what it means to collide with the hard, sharp edges of unforgiving reality and immutable truths. Palwick’s style is spare, direct, and a pleasure to read.”
—Suzy McKee Charnas, author of Stagestruck Vampires

“…a powerful and complex utopian streak…displays a keen intelligence and a fierce imagination.”
Montreal Gazette

“The effect of the stories will linger long after the last page is turned.”
The Spectrum Circus

Susan Palwick is the author of the acclaimed novels Flying in Place, The Necessary Beggar, Shelter, and Mending the Moon. She is a Rhysling and Crawford award recipient, and her novella GI Jesus was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Palwick is an Episcopalian lay preacher. She holds a doctoral degree from Yale and teaches as an associate professor of English at the University of Nevada.

Praise for Shelter

  “Palwick’s haunting, often heart-wrenching, SF-tinged story presents the terrible things people will do for love and those terrible things’ consequences, played out by humanly multidimensional characters.”

Praise for The Necessary Beggar

 “A triumphant testament to the transcendent power of love and tribute to what being a stranger in a strange land truly means, Palwick’s long-awaited second novel (after 1992’s Flying in Place) succeeds as a heart-wrenching romance, a sharp meditation on refugees and displaced persons, and a tragicomedy of cultural differences….. A lyrical denouement and discovery that the gifts of self are ‘the most prized presents’ of all conclude this outstanding fantasy novel.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Palwick’s beautifully crafted tale of exiles struggling to come to terms with a deeply troubled Earth is exquisite.”
Booklist, starred review

Praise for Flying in Place

“Packs a huge emotional wallop…. Flying in Place is a brave and honest work, an impressive and important debut.”
San Francisco Examiner

“Unflinching clarity and great dramatic power…. Susan Palwick, a young writer who has hitherto attracted some notice for her stories, poems, and essays, is with Flying in Place a novelist of moment.”

“One of the best and most moving novels by a new author I have read in years.”
—Alison Lurie

“I read it in one night and a morning train trip, arriving for work dazed, distracted, and drinking in the last few pages. It is a deeply moving book. Palwick’s withering understatements of pain are laced with a regret for the lost magic of childhood—even a ruined childhood.”
—Geoff Ryman

Visit the Susan Palwick website.

Introduction by Paul Di Filippo

Beautiful Stuff
Ever After
GI Jesus
Going After Dobo
Jo’s Hair
Sorrel’s Heart
The Fate of Mice
The Old World