Trickster Stories

I highly recommend Kij Johnson’s short story, “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change.” It’s part of an anthology and written with the younger set in mind; had I known this beforehand, I admit I probably would have passed on it, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I’m not a dog owner, but I am privileged to be owned by two dogs who have graciously deigned to live with me for most of the past decade. One of them seems to still think of me as an “owner” but is getting better at asserting his individuality since coming to live with us from his previous home. The other, however, has lived with us since being weaned, and has no illusions as to who is the boss of her life. She is. And she has no reservations about “reminding” folks of the fact.

It’s one of the things I most appreciate about her….

Given my own relationship with the four-footed members of my family, I was moved by the story and, unlike much of the drivel I wind up reading, I can see that the characters and plot will stay with me for quite some time. I don’t believe there is much higher praise to be lauded upon an author and I thank Kij Johnson for the effort. Well done.

I do have one quibble, though (yes, the other shoe has landed). One of the points made by the author is that we don’t want comprehensible language in our slaves. Thus if our pets ever developed the means of speech, most people will do their best to just be rid of them. Given mankind’s history, however — with the plight of human slaves held by every country on this planet — I believe Ms. Johnson is perhaps over-simplifying the subject. The fact that slaves could talk to their masters has never prevented masters from possessing them.

Perhaps she’s simply giving the human race more credit than it deserves.

The story is free online at


“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” – Woodrow Wilson


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