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Bolander, Brooke

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

(?   -    ) US author who has also written as by RoboNinja, and who began to release work of genre interest with "Trickster Blues" in Reflection's Edge for October 2008. Much of her fiction – directly or indirectly, through a range of "animal" protagonists and characters – challenges the Homo sapiens presumption that not only do we rule planet Earth but that we are the only actors in the world. Her first book-length work, the novelette The Only Harmless Great Thing (2018 chap), movingly embodies this angle of perception through a tale set in an Alternate World described partly from a twentieth-century perspective in which elephants are both sentient and articulate; and partly from well into a Near Future immersed in the terrors of the Anthropocene. The first storyline transfigures two historical atrocities: the deliberate radiation poisoning of a group of female factory workers in New Jersey, and the public execution of Topsy, an elephant, at Coney Island, New York. In The Only Harmless Great Thing, talking elephants take over the young womens' jobs (see Horror in SF), within a frame that soon replicates, this time with radioactive consequences, Topsy's murder. In the near future, the toxification of the world is recollected in anguish by a dying woman. Interludes in the mode of the Animal Fantasy [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], reminiscent of the work of Rudyard Kipling, give some surcease. This tale won a Nebula and Locus Award as best novelette. [JC]

Brooke Bolander




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