At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories
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At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  685 ratings  ·  145 reviews
A sparkling debut collection from one of the hottest writers in science fiction: her stories have received the Nebula Award the last two years running. These stories feature cats, bees, wolves, dogs, and even that most capricious of animals, humans, and have been reprinted in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and The Secret...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Small Beer Press (first published August 14th 2012)
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278th out of 408 books — 803 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,735)
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Trudi

The very short and dirty review for this collection could be -- when it is good it is very, very good. But when it is bad it is horrid.

I did not love all these stories equally. In fact, several verged on epic fail for me. Which is not hard to do. I am probably the worst reader of short stories. However, those that did work sent me into such shuddering, paroxysms of delight there are no words to express my infinite admiration. My favorites worked so exquisitely on a sub-atomic, cellular level th...more
Lynne King
I purchased this book on a whim because the stories mentioned in the “blurb” looked intriguing and I was seduced by the cover.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first story, even though it was zany: “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”. I hadn’t realized there were so many species of monkeys. I also like zany books on the whole and had been taken with the first ten or so books in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.

The second story here, “Fox Magic”, I enjoyed to a certain extent, although it was very odd and I wa...more
Minyoung Lee
I have some extreme mixed feelings about this book, wanting to give it both a five star and a one star at the same time. Will compromise with a three, but that score really does not give it justice to the complicated emotions racing through my head right now.

Let's start with the five star review, I thought the writing was for the most part extremely well done, especially for short stories of such diverse range in subject matter. I almost wanted to write like the author! I was especially surprise...more
M—
All of these stories are exquisite. And reading them is like reading razors. You don't even feel the cut, then suddenly you're bleeding.

Very highly recommended.

An ARC of this book in PDF format was provided to me by the publisher, given through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
J.P.
It took a long time, but finally here is the first short story collection from Kij Johnson. There are 17 stories, and quite a few of them have won major science fiction awards. I really enjoyed this book. The best part about her writing is there’s always an undercurrent of mystery and things are never quite like they seem. Even though a few stories are weaker, there isn’t a clunker in the bunch.
The themes of the stories show a wide range of topics. There’s a road trip, talking animals, a communi...more
Zoeytron
This is a diverse collection of short stories that runs the gamut from beautifully mind-boggling to I-don't-even-know-what-to-say.

The title offering is lovely, touching, and very different. It is the one that will stay with me. "Ponies" tells a disturbing tale of unicorns, rainbows, and mean girls. "Schroedinger's Cathouse" is a variation on the paradox of Schroedinger's cat, employing the use of a much larger box. "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles" is charming, as seen from eyes of a small...more
Tom
Finished. Below are my thoughts on each of the stories. Overall an amazing collection, and even the stories I liked the least were still well written. Anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy HAS to read this collection. It'll last through time as a defining work of the genre.

*An asterisk indicates one of my favourites of the collection.

*26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss - Really great. One of the few stories by Johnson I'd read before this collection. I love the structure, and the characterisa...more
Alexandra
Turns out I have loved Kij Johnson longer than I thought I had. I first remember reading something of hers and being blown away with "Spar," in 2009. Except, though, it turns out she wrote "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss," which I read and adored (possibly unreasonably) in 2008. And


now I own these two and a whole bunch of other glorious work in this fabulous collection. Also, "Ponies."

"26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" is told in 24 parts of varying length and purpose. It revolves around Aimee, who one...more
Garth Snyder
I want very much to give this collection five stars in honor of its best stories, which constitute some of the most superb short-form writing I've read in years. But truth be told, the quality is somewhat uneven.

Not knowing anything about Kij Johnson, I developed a little fantasy as I was reading: Kij was a hotshot young writer in her early 20s, probably female, whose best stories were so good that they had instantly attracted the attention of the publishing industry. A story collection was sla...more
Nancy
May 10, 2012: I received a package from Small Beer Press today. I expected it to be my goodreads first-reads win of At the Mouth of the River of Bees but it turned out to be Fountain of Age: Stories. I'll take a look at the book that arrived, but it looks like I won't be reviewing this one.

July 27, 2012: The right book has arrived. I'll be reading and reviewing it soon.

October 16, 2012: Usually if I have been "currently-reading" a book for months without finishing it, I know it is a lost cause...more
Sarah
I am in awe. Also in tears. Some of these stories are just devastating. The monkeys! The dogs! The ponies! Sob. While a couple of pieces didn't quite connect with me ("My Wife Reincarnated..." and "Story Kit") and a couple connect but make me queasy (here's looking at you, "Ponies" and "Spar"), the rest move me in a way that more than makes up for those.

I've read "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" numerous times before, and still read it three times again when I started this book. I just love the way...more
Alan
May 30, 2013 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Discriminating palates
Recommended to Alan by: Roberta
There are speculative fiction anthologies and collections—a lot of 'em, actually—that are like bags of potato chips: they're good enough, but what's in them is all one flavor. You can devour one story right after another until you've gone through the whole bag in one sitting, and then it's empty and you're sad and maybe a little nauseated, even, in a pleasurable, stuffed way.

Other books, though, are like boxes of assorted chocolates that you pick and savor one at a time, letting each one melt sl...more
Lori
from publisher

Read 7/24/12 - 7/28/12
4.5 Stars - Highly Recommended to readers who have a little of the animal in them and love stories that will turn them to mush
Pgs: 300
Publisher: Small Beer Press
Release Date: August 14, 2012

The thing with short stories? I wish the ones I liked were longer. Like full-length-novel longer.

At the Mouth of the River of Bees is bursting at the seams with great short stories, most of which I was reluctant to see end. Kij Johnson's quirky characters made their way thr...more
Nikki
Not sure what I thought of this collection as a whole. Some of the stories were gems -- and I say that even of ones that are dark and shudder-inducing, like Spar -- while others made little impression on me. Kij Johnson's writing seems carefully considered and paced, words doled out in just the right amounts, but it doesn't really shine for me in general. A case of "it's not you, it's me"?

The ones that will stick in my head are Spar (gross, but visceral and intriguing, if that's the right word),...more
Scott Mcj
I have to get better about logging the non bubblegum books I read. But this book was so amazing, especially if the venn diagram of your literature includes the intersection of magic realism and sci fi. While not truly science fiction, it does explore a lot of what-if questions framed in imaginary worlds. But marvelously well crafted and told in a manner that just drags you to the feelings and trials of the characters. I had to pause reading a few times because I was getting too swept up. Finally...more
Marie
Gorgeous, exquisite, and humbling writing. GAWGEOUS. I mean, like... wow. Read this book, read it now. I'll be over in a corner sobbing about my inability to ever write such breathtakingly beautiful short stories. K?

Um... details? Right. So there were a couple Japanese folk-tale-like things that were what I cared for least in the book, though I did like the one about The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles. It paired nicely with the last story in the book, which was about the stories dogs tell after...more
Cheyenne Blue
These surreal little gems are a delight. Kij Johnson's stories have been widely published in magazines and on websites, but (to my knowledge) this is the first collection in book form.

There are stories about animals, stories about journeys, stories about water. Landscape is important, particularly in the journey stories. Many are dark and disturbing on an elemental level. Others resound with joy. The language is both rich and beautiful, and simple and poignant.

I have so many favourites in this...more
Stefan
It’s hard to believe that it’s taken until 2012 to get an actual, printed volume of Kij Johnson’s short stories. After all, Kij has been publishing stories for a quarter of a century now, and several of them have won the genre’s highest awards. Yes, there’s a ten year old collection up on Fictionwise, but still, you’d think that someone since then would have managed to collect her best works in print, right? Thank goodness Small Beer Press is here to make things right with At the Mouth of the Ri...more
Benjamin
I hope to god that Kij Johnson keeps writing stories. This collection is amazing: an incredible blend of fantasy, science fiction, fables, horror stories, surrealism, and experimental fiction. Across eighteen stories, Johnson manages to show both wild creativity and mature balance, all while telling truly memorable tales.

I surprised myself somewhat by giving this collection five stars: it probably deserves four. There are a couple stories that I found to be too long, too predictable, or too indi...more
Judy
Oh my goodness. I think I can honestly say I have never read such an amazing collection of stories. I am still struggling to come to terms with the implications of some, notably Ponies and the last one The Evolution of Trickster Stories. The searingly brutal insight into human character spilling on to the page in such a wonderfully gripping flow of words is stunning. I am by far most affected by the title story At The Mouth of The River Of Bees. I have reread it and even being forewarned as the...more
Michelle
not every tale in here is 5-star flawless, but so many of them are 6- or 8-star amazing, you have to round up. there's a real trick to catching the whole of a reader's interest in a short story, without the longer narrative's space to spin out exposition, and Johnson absolutely has that trick. each of the tales here takes a unique "what if?" and spins it out into uncharted territory, with the human response to the what-if being infinitely more important than any gee-whiz factor. there are themes...more
Kate O'Hanlon
Wow.

Johnson is an amazing talent, who , despite being laden with awards, I never would have heard of it were it not for Coode Street podcasts frequent championing of her.
There are too many stand out stories in this collection to mention. And I was surprised to enjoy so many stories that involve animals, as I am usually irrationally against animal stories. (Though I still enjoyed the stories with a focus on people, or at least primates, more.)

"26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss", "The Man Who Bridged the...more
Clay Brown
Enigmatic yet Spare Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees reminds of Watership Down and Charlotte’s Web, creatures of all kinds that can talk and metamorphosis seems just a dream away. With a refreshing candor and clear telling Mrs. Johnson does good Animal, I suppose one would say. Fox’s, Monkey’s and Horses just to name a few are generally the focus of these stories.

Many of the stories are fantastic but told in a very fresh and new imaginative writers voice. You would be ‘hard presse...more
Stasia
These stories are phenomenal. Sometimes, collections of short stories end up feeling like different versions of the same thing over and over. But here, each story feels way different than the others, creates a whole different world--and yet the feeling left behind by all of them coheres as a whole. I didn't realize they were going to be sort of sci-fi-ish, fantasy-ish stories, which made me a little skeptical at the beginning until I realized what was going on, but I seriously loved this book.
Meran
18 short stories- I rated it 4.5 stars, but we can't do half stars and this book deserves 5 stars.

This author doesn't write enough! I've loved everything she's written (that I've been able to find.) Always very exceptional stories.The variety of her imagination is of the highest caliber, strange, beautiful, heart breaking, compelling. Every thing good written about her is deserved! I thank the author for such rich mind candy (crack??) :D As good as short stories as she is at novels.

26 Monkeys, A...more
Allison
I started this collection knowing nothing about the author. Simply I got it because it was one of few short story collections that was readily available as an ebook from my library and I was looking for something I could read while proctoring an exam.

The stories are like adult fables. Some are more fantasy, others more mystical or magical realism. The collection is pretty mixed. The first story is whimsical and others are more violent and sad. All of her stories are imaginative and unique, and f...more
Jessica
I found this collection very enjoyable. The stories were dark but light and easy to read. Johnson really knows how to give you an interesting story and then leave you disturbed or bawling by the time you've finished reading. I'm someone who enjoys dark, play-with-your-emotions kind of stories, and this definitely did just that.
James Tierney
The quality of Johnson's writing removes any temptation to patrol the boundaries of genre.
This is simply suburb storytelling.

Highlights include:

- 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss
- Fox Magic
- The Bitey Cat
- The Horse Raiders
- At the Mouth of the River of Bees
Bridgitte
I'm not yet sure how to articulate my love of this book...Short stories and one or two novelettes, each with a world that stays with me long after I finish it. There is such a beauty and darkness in Kij Johnson's view of the world(s), and it/they are familiar.
Craig Childs
Hands down, this was one of the best, most consistent single-author anthologies I've ever come across. This is a collection of fun, imaginative, shocking, and wildly diverse stories from an author I'd never even heard of until I ran across an online review of this book. Her styles and genres vary: magical realism, Japanese fables, traditional science fiction, even "straight" literary fiction.

Of the 18 stories represented, five were major award-winners:

1. "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" (World Fanta...more
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Kij Johnson is an American writer of fantasy. She has worked extensively in publishing: managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the Coast/TSR, collections editor for Dark Horse Comics, project manager working on the Microsoft Reader, and managing editor of Real Networks. She is Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and serves as a fina...more
More about Kij Johnson...
The Fox Woman Ponies Fudoki Dragon's Honor (Star Trek: The Next Generation, #38) The Man Who Bridged the Mist

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“There would be sadness and nightmares. And there would be lovemaking and the holding close of children and friends and dogs -- affirmations of life in the cold wet night.” 1 likes
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