‘Whose Upward Flight I Love’ by Nalo Hopkinson

In 2020, in the tributes for her award as 37th SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master (it’s a big deal), writer Curtis C. Chen noted how powerful Hopkinson’s visions were for him: the reality of modern Toronto now completely replaced in his mind with her magical realist cityscape. One great example of how that’s done for me is this small but mighty piece, set on a cold winter’s morning.  A kind of militarised municipal park workforce has the unfortunate job of going to wrestle down the city’s last panicked trees which are trying to fly away to freedom. The frustrated worker hanging on to the roots as one tree soars away –  as if clutching to the rope of an escaping balloon – is just perfect. 

Collected in Falling in Love with Hominids, Tachyon, 2015. Also collected in Skinfolk, Open Road, 2001. Originally published in Dark Planet Webzine, 2000

‘Greedy Choke Puppy’ by Nalo Hopkinson

I read this story from Nalo Hopkinson’s collection Skin Folk (2001) a long time ago, and though I don’t remember all the details as well as I would like to, it has stayed with me. The protagonist, Jacky, is a PhD student who lives with her grandmother. Her story is interspersed with the myth of the soucouyant, a vampire-like figure who leaves her skin at night to go and suck the life spirit from children, and a recurring character in Caribbean literature, from Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘My Mother’ (1983) and Edwidge Danticat’s ‘Nineteen-Thirty Seven’ (1995) to David Chariandy’s Soucouyant (2007).

First published in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, Warner, 2000. Collected in Skin Folk, Aspect, 2001