Friday, June 7, 2019

Birthday Review: Short Fiction of Kit Reed

Kit Reed was born June 7, 1932, and died in 2017. She was a particularly sharp satirist, and always ready to see horror in ordinary(ish) situations. She wrote quite a few novels, often non-fantastical, but for me (and I suspect, for many readers) her best work was her short fiction. This is a selection of my reviews of her work for Locus -- as with many writers with long careers, much of their best work appeared before I started writing for the magazine, and I regret thus missing her some of her best work, but she wrote incisively to the end of her life.

Locus, June 2002

May's Sci Fiction offerings are a decent set. Best is probably Kit Reed's "The Last Big Sin", about an obese man at a religiously oriented "fat farm". It seems overeating is "the last big sin", and this man struggles to comply with the boot camp conditions – only to discover a bitter secret behind the camp's operation. Reed does mordant satire as well as anybody, and this is pretty solid mordant satire.

Locus, May 2003

Kit Reed in particular is impressive in the May F&SF, with "Incursions", a striking paranoid fantasy of an ordinary man's alienation from his life. Dave Travers takes a train from his suburban home into the city, planning to apply for a job that might free him from his boring routine as a college instructor. But his sense of desperation increases, and he escapes the train in rural Connecticut: but his life is still going nowhere. The base story here is fairly familiar, but Reed's use of imagery from sources such as the old computer game Zork makes it seem new again.

Locus, September 2003

Kit Reed's wicked "Focus Group" tells of a woman who falls for a soap actor and manipulates her focus group to help his career. Sort of.

Locus, June 2004

The May lineup at Sci Fiction is strong. ... Better still is a scary little domestic piece from Kit Reed, who does domestic scariness better than anybody. "Family Bed" is told by a teenaged girl in a large family. They live their life as an advertisement for the virtue of family togetherness, including everyone sleeping in the same bed. Reed portrays the creepiness of this situation beautifully, upping the ante at nearly every paragraph, making the really icky climax effective.

Locus, September 2004

Kit Reed's "Yard Sale" (Asimov's, August) is about two sisters trying to sell their father's various obsessive collections after his death. But her father's acquisitive and hoarding spirit has survived. Reed is perhaps the most effective writer of truly original and off-center horror around, and this is another example. 

Locus review of Nine Muses (February 2006)

Kit Reed’s “Spies” is a better fit, and it too is one of the better entries here, a funny Southern story about another group of goddesses, hinted at by their names (Ada, Clo, and Lally).

Locus, September 2006

Kit Reed is perhaps the best writer we have of satirical SF horror, and “Biodad” (Asimov's, October-November) is anotherstrong example. A successful woman has two children by artificial insemination, but eventually decides to find their biological father. But his ideas of his fathering responsibilities are a nasty surprise.

Locus review of Naked City (August 2011)

Kit Reed’s “Weston Walks” takes quite a different look at New York, about a rich orphan whose only contact with the rest of the world seems to be unusual tours he gives of the city – until an odd young woman tries to get to him.

No comments:

Post a Comment