Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a terrific writer. Unfortunately, however, it seems most fantasy readers don't agree with me, since few of her books are still in print and only one is readily available in bookstores (the newly-released mass market A Fistful of Sky). I just spent an irritatingly long time trying to find used copies of her short story collections online, but apparently they were published by a small press and have, even in this age of wonders and eBay, vanished from the reading sphere. So I suppose I must resign myself to continue my search for anthologies that contain her stories, though it's so much more difficult to appreciate them when sandwiched between authors who by some chance of blind luck became well-known and have all of their books still in print and stocked in bookstores. Not that I'm bitter.

During recent forays to Powell's, I picked up several anthologies for the sole reason that Hoffman's stories appeared in them (not, I must admit, that I scorned to read the rest of the stories!), and one in particular was really excellent. I enjoyed nearly all of the stories in Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City (edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers), but Hoffman's was especially charming--a tale of that strange entity known to society as a mall. In fact, I think I have to quote from the beginning of it, as I found myself quite tickled.

Gwen hated the mall. It had eaten her three best friends when they were all in sixth grade, and even though it threw them up later, they had come back partially digested by shopping acid and were never the same. --"Mallificent"

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