Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kij Johnson's "The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change" (novelette): What if dogs could speak?

Among the better stories from this year's Nebula finalists. Very unconventional presentation, but quite enjoyable.

I could particularly identify with the story because the issue of stray dogs is a recurring one in Bombay. Every couple of years, we have a big controversy with substantial newspaper coverage - highly abused & often hungry street dogs attack someone, some people want the city freed of all strays or at least have them all sterilized, others opposing citing even dogs' right to life, municipal corporation doing some half hearted sterilizations, ... but in few weeks, back to status quo!

Full text of this story is available for download.

Story summary.

The "Change" at the end of the title is a technological innovation that made "all the mammals we have shaped to meet our own needs" capable of speech. This story is of speaking dogs. Now suddenly, people start getting uncomfortable treating them the way they always did - so they begin kicking them out, & parks are becoming shelters of these strays.

Linna, a young girl, often goes to North Park - a popular haunt of these strays. She feeds them, & they tell her their stories - sometimes very moving, sometimes childish, accounts of man/dog relations from dog's perspective.

In the end, there is a police drive to kill all strays by poisoning them. Linna will save most of North Park dogs by conning authorities, & find them a new home.

Fact sheet.

"The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change", short story, review
First published: Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Ed)'s "Coyote Road, Trickster Tales", July 2007.
Rating: A
Nebula Awards 2007 finalist in novelette category.
Added to my best of the year 2007 list.