The Fate of Mice (2007)

This collection by Susan Palwick collects eleven of her stories. I’m a bit torn about whether I liked reading them. The common structure of her stories is that the main character is powerless and living in a world that is always threating them to some extend. It can be a very subtle dystopic setting like in Going After Bobo or the people who you love (Gestella) or even life itself, grounding you down, like in Jo’s Hair. Some of the characters learn to survive, some grow and some fall prey to whatever lurks around.

The stories aren’t depressive, if I’ve given that impression, but they force a certain viewpoint on the reader, which made them rather uncomfortable reading material for me. We all go through your lives with a certain point of view, emphasizing certain facets of the real world, downplaying others or even going so far as trying to exorcise them completely. Palwick stories exhibit a POV that just doesn’t mingle well with mine. In the end, while most of the stories were well written and clever, many of them did make me want to kick the main characters for acting the way they did.

Still, when the stories worked for me, like the titular The Fate of Mice or Going After Bobo and GI Jesus, they are great. I just wish more of them were to my liking.