Earlier this month Carol Emshwiller, beloved author of science fiction and fantasy (not to mention two Western novels), died at the age of 97.
Although her first published story appeared in 1954 (and she wrote more than 150 of them during the next six decades), she did not receive much critical and scholarly attention until after the publication of the first of her six novels, Carmen Dog (1988), which she finished when she was 67 years old. Still, even before then, she was revered within the science fiction community, by both editors and readers, and among the close-knit community of avant-garde writers in New York during the 1960s.
A decade ago, she summarized a prevalent view of her writing: “The nicest thing that was ever said about my science-fiction writing was in a review by Jim Gunn, a science-fiction critic and writer. He wrote that my science-fiction stories ‘estranged the everyday.’ That’s what I like best about science fiction. Or magic realism. You can make the everyday seem strange. You can see ordinary things with new eyes. You can write about the here and now and have the reader see us as odd. Which we are.”
For our (free) Story of the Week selection, we present one of her earliest tales—and one of the most anthologized. Evoking the wintry realism of Jack London, “Pelt” describes the trek of a trophy hunter accompanied by his dog on a distant planet, as seen from the dog’s point of view.