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At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories Paperback – September 25, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kij Johnson: Kij Johnson's stories have won the Sturgeon, World Fantasy, and Nebula awards. She has taught writing and has worked at Tor, Dark Horse, Microsoft, and Real Networks. She has run bookstores, worked as a radio announcer and engineer, edited cryptic crosswords, and waitressed in a strip bar.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press; F First Edition edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931520801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931520805
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Gaynor on October 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not a reader of SciFi and Fantasy, but I was persuaded to pick up this book after a review on NPR and I have no regrets at all. If I could assign this collection of short stories a flavor, it would be Bitter-Sweet. The theme that runs throughout the book is loss, but with hope.

The opening story, "26 Monkeys.Also the Abyss", alone is worth the price of admission as we follow Aimee and her troupe of monkeys as they travel the Northwest as carnival nomads in an old bus, her charges performing a trick that Aimee doesn't understand, but accepts. The story line is clever and told in vignettes, not unlike viewing a slide show.

Other standouts include "Fox Magic", where a vixen falls in love with a human and creates an alternate universe where she appears to him to be a beautiful woman who resides in a grand manor. It is not an original theme by any means, but Kij Johnson's story telling is masterful enough to make the story feel fresh. The title story, "At the Mouth of the River of Bees" is a classic tale of love, loss, and hope as Linna, with her aged dog, discover a river of bees while on a road trip with no destination and she is driven to follow the 'river' to its end.

Among the remaining stories, I would have to count "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles" as a favorite because of its simplicity and I would guess that in this case Ms. Johnson just let the story tell itself as she put the words down. "Wolf Trapping" is a haunting tale of obsession; "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" also deals with obsession, but on a human level.

Of the remaining stories, "Spar" is the most confusing due to its density. My first reaction was, "Huh?", and I was ready to pan it as the worst of the collection.
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Format: Paperback
This kick-butt collection of short stories does Kij Johnson proud. "26 Monkeys" is a funny little story of stupid animal tricks, and "At the Mouth of the River of Bees" is the story of a woman and her old dog going on a road trip, and "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" is the story of an engineer who builds a bridge over a monster-infested river. All of these stories have in common animals in one capacity or other, and many of the other stories in this collection also have to do with animals. It is a successful gambit for Ms. Johnson, as her animals are fully realized characters who bring the stories to life.

Heavy-duty emotionalism is Ms. Johnson's subject matter in this collection, and many of these stories pack an emotional wallop, either funny or contemplative or very, very sad. Another reviewer said have a box of tissues handy for this collection, and I have to second that recommendation. "At the Mouth of the River of Bees" nearly made me weep, and "Fox Magic" struck me as terribly sad as well. Some of Johnson's characters get what they want, some grow and learn, some suffer losses and gain little from them. This collection will engage you, it will push you, it will wring your heart. If you want stories that move you, this is your collection; if you like stories that are cerebral and cool, this book won't do it for you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an incredible collection of stories by one of the best short story writers on the planet. She's won practically every major fantasy and science fiction award and been nominated for all of them multiple times. If you want to read some amazing short fiction, this is a collection you must have. Her work is often featured in the years best collections and her skill at crafting beautiful and thought provoking stories is second to none.

I've been a fan of Kij Johnson since I attended one of her writing seminars at Gen Con in 1998 and have read many of these stories before, but I found a lot that I hadn't read. Having them all in one perfectly packaged book was awesome. Small Beer Press did a great job.

It's hard for me to describe all eighteen stories in the collection, but I'll go over a few of my favorites.

26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss was first published in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine in 2008 and if you haven't read this Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy award winning short story, you're in for a treat. The premise is crazy: a woman buys a traveling monkey show . . . because she must. It's deep, amazing, and will get in your head for a long time. It's still in mine years after first reading it.

Spar, originally published in Clarksworld in 2009, won the Nebula for best short story, and this one will blow your mind. It's a science fiction nightmare about a woman who is trapped with an alien for a very long time. It's a chilling story. I hear people talking about this one at writer gatherings all the time. It's that good.

Fox Magic, originally published in 1993 in Asimov's, and won the Sturgeon Award. It became the basis for the award winning novel, Fox Woman from Tor, which I fell in love with.
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By Mattrss on November 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved this collection so frigging much. Rarely any dead spots (Schrodinger's brothel? Wasn't sure about that one) but almost entirely beautiful, gentle, heartbreaking and strange. Somehow manages to make everything from bridge-building, to castaway jelly alien sex, to the stories cats tell each other, specific, sad and wonderful. Though you may feel a little bad about being a dog-owner, afterwards.

Plus, I basically want to marry the title of the collection, so there's that.
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