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Friday, April 26, 2013

"Home for Christmas" from Nina Kiriki Hoffman's Permeable Borders

Permeable Borders 
Nina Kiriki Hoffman 
Fairwood Press
Originally appeared in F&SF

Finalist for the Nebula, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy awards

Like "Here We Come A-Wandering", this story has the same recurring character, Matt Black, who appeared in her novel, A Stir of Bones. 

On Christmas Eve, Matt finds the wallet of "James Plainfield, Architect".  It told her so (Matt is female though she looks like a young boy, which is what James mistakes her for).  James rewards Matt by inviting her to dinner, later to his home for Christmas because he doesn't want to be alone.  She reads his dreams and says, "What the hell."

There, she talks to his things and learns about his missing family.  James realizes she's not a boy.  When she wants cocoa, she asks, and his things danced.  She explains, demonstrating with his couch.  The wrap-up comes a little out of left field.  Although Matt's personal life is touched on, it uses that to close.

This story is typical of the story Kristine Kathryn Rusch's F&SF (and Dean Wesley Smith's Pulphouse) published--full of fresh, clever ideas that surprise, yet you wonder why you hadn't thought of that.

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