Gathering together the most outstanding short stories of Susan Palwick's twenty-year literary career, The Fate of Mice is a powerful collection from an extraordinary fantasist. These unflinching tales, including three original pieces, consider a woman born with her heart exposed and the heartless killer who protects her, a wolf who is willingly ensnared by a devious academic, a businessman resurrected to play at politics, and an ingenious mouse dreaming beyond the laboratory.
With the perceptiveness of Joyce Carol Oates, the inventiveness of Ray Bradbury, and the emotional resonance of Alice Sebold, The Fate of Mice is a meditation on the very art of storytelling: mythic, beautiful, and often brutal, filled with authentic compassion.
The title story is one of the most famous riffs on Flowers for Algernon, and this whole collection showcases Palwick's elegant and haunting work, which you are bound to fall for! – Lavie Tidhar
"Spanning the past 20 years of Palwick's career, the eight previously published and three new stories in this outstanding collection (after her 2005 novel The Necessary Beggar) display the author's versatility. . . . Palwick's genre-bending short fiction defies categorization and blends humor with pathos."– Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Embracing elements of both horror and speculative fiction, Palwick's unique and commanding fiction never fails to trigger an emotional response as it captures the imagination."– Booklist
"Palwick combines sharp political commentary with pleasing flights of fancy with deep psychological insight—and all in prose clear as water. Delicately balanced between hope and heartbreak, these are stories you'll remember."– Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"Palwick uses both fantasy and science in her fictions, flinching from neither the rational nor the ineffable in her quest to write stories exploring the fate of all living things."– Seattle Times
I remember galloping, the wind in my mane and the road hard against my hooves. Dr. Krantor says this is a false memory, that there is no possible genetic linkage between mice and horses, and I tell him that if scientists are going to equip iq-enhanced mice with electronic vocal cords and teach them to talk, they should at least pay attention to what the mice tell them. "Mice," Dr. Krantor tells me acidly, "did not evolve from horses," and I ask him if he believes in reincarnation, and he glares at me and tells me that he's a behavioral psychologist, not a theologian, and I point out that it's pretty much the same thing. "You've got too much free time," he snaps at me. "Keep this up and I'll make you run the maze again today." I tell him that I don't mind the maze. The maze is fine. At least I know what I'm doing there: finding cheese as quickly as possible, which is what I'd do anyhow, anytime anyone gave me the chance. But what am I doing galloping?
"You aren't doing anything galloping," he tells me. "You've never galloped in your life. You're a mouse." I ask him how a mouse can remember being a horse, and he says, "It's not a memory. Maybe it's a dream. Maybe you got the idea from something you heard or saw somewhere. On tv." There's a small tv in the lab, so Dr. Krantor can watch the news, but it's not even positioned so that I can see it easily. And I ask him how watching something on tv would make me know what it felt like to be a horse, and he says I don't know what it feels like to be a horse, I have no idea what a horse feels like, I'm just making it up.
But I remember that road, winding ahead in moonlight, the harness pulling against my chest, the sound of wheels behind me. I remember the three other horses in harness with me, our warm breath steaming in the frosty air. And then I remember standing in a courtyard somewhere, and someone bringing water and hay. We stood there for a long time, the four of us, in our harness. I remember that, but that's all I remember. What happened next?