Nalo Hopkinson’s FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS is a celebration of human potential to survive, create, accommodate, and cooperate
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS (2015) is a short story collection filled with a radical hope, a radical imagining of possibility, each speculative work a celebration of human potential to survive, create, accommodate, and cooperate. Hopkinson rewrites, reimagines, reclaims. Every line and object is tactile, animate.
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS is not only a collection of beautifully written speculative prose, it takes the what-if-ness of the genre and expands it. Hopkinson asks what we can love about being human, what we can love about the relationships and communities we form, how we can celebrate each other, adapt to each other, and seek each other out. This collection, as with so much of Hopkinson’s work, is a vital response to the “Zombie Doctrine” of neoliberalism, to the enforced solipsism being shoved down our throats, and an argument against hegemony and against supremacy. It seems almost clichéd to state this now, but, in the wake of Brexit and Trump, with the continuing hopelessness that accompanies almost everything, we need stories like this, we need stories from marginalised voices, perspectives on the world that aren’t the ones responsible for fucking it up.We need stories about hope, community, and empowerment that critically address how the world is fucked up, and how it can be un-fucked. And, most importantly, why it is worth trying to unfuck.
SFF BOOK REVIEWS includes Hopkinson in their #READDIVERSE2017 – A RECOMMENDATIONS LIST (PART 1).
Hopkinson is one of those authors who effortlessly make two ideas come together and turn into something new and beautiful. Her books are heavily influenced by Caribbean folklore, they are sometimes set in Canada, and they mostly feature women of color as protagonists. But Nalo Hopkinson also does amazing things with language. If you read MIDNIGHT ROBBER and don’t fall in love hard, then I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends.
Recommended starting point: You could start with Hopkinson’s debut novel BROWN GIRL IN THE RING which is accessible enough but (comparatively) not that good. I recommend MIDNIGHT ROBBER and if the language puts you off, go for the short story collection FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS.
Photo: David Findlay
Tiffany M. Davis in the January 2017 issue of the CLARION E-BULLETIN interviews Nalo Hopkinson.
Tiffany Davis (TD): You were a Clarion student as well as an instructor, correct?
Nalo Hopkinson (NH): I was a student in 1995. I have been asked to teach both Clarion and Clarion West a number of times, and when there was a Clarion South for a while (in Australia), I taught the first one. I taught Clarion West either last year or the year before–I can’t quite remember–but I’m going back to Clarion San Diego this summer [summer 2017].
TD: Do you ever cook anything and it triggers something in your mind like, “Hmm, this might make an interesting novel, or an interesting story?”
NH: Everything does that, so probably. *laughs* Sometimes the mistakes are more likely to do that. The last short story I sold, which is going to show up in Uncanny magazine, it’s about stuff you find in the drains because you know, you cook a lot, and stuff gets in your drains, and you have this kind of hair, and you have to be cleaning the drain out often.
Sometimes the ideas come when it’s something I actually heard, but heard it wrong. The Easttowns [FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS] story came from me not hearing what the guy on the subway was saying. When he said “Eastbound”, I heard “East Town”. I thought, “Alright, so what’s in East Town?” It took about three years, but the story came from that.
The world is a pretty weird place and if you have any kind of imagination at all, you tell yourself stories about things. I don’t tell myself whole stories because that’s what I do for a living, and it’s work, but I get a notion and I’ll write that down. I’ll put it in my “Ideas” file and when I look for a story idea, I look for two or three of those ideas and smush them together, particularly if they don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. The tension of finding the through-line creates the plot.
For more information on FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Chuma Hill
Design by Elizabeth Story