The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change
by Kij Johnson
(It’s a universal fantasy, isn’t it?—that the animals learn to speak, and at last we learn what they’re thinking, our cats and dogs and horses: a new era in cross-species understanding. But nothing ever works out quite as we imagine. When the Change happened, it affected all the mammals we have shaped to meet our own needs. They all could talk a little, and they all could frame their thoughts well enough to talk. Cattle, horses, goats, llamas; rats, too. Pigs. Minks. And dogs and cats. And we found that, really, we prefer our slaves mute.
(The cats mostly leave, even ones who love their owners. Their pragmatic sociopathy makes us uncomfortable, and we bore them; and they leave. They slip out between our legs and lope into summer dusks. We hear them at night, fighting as they sort out ranges, mates, boundaries. The savage sounds frighten us, a fear that does not ease when our cat Klio returns home for a single night, asking to be fed and to sleep on the bed. A lot of cats die in fights or under car wheels, but they seem to prefer that to living under our roofs; and as I said, we fear them.
(Some dogs run away. Others are thrown out by the owners who loved them. Some were always free.)
About the Author
Kij Johnson is the author of the novels The Fox Woman and Fudoki, as well as the short story collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees. She’s worked at Tor Books, Wizards of the Coast, Dark Horse Comics, and Microsoft, and is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Kansas. We spoke with her about her novella The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, a feminist take on H. P. Lovecraft.
About the Narrator
Heather Lindsley is an author.