Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories

Drew Hayden Taylor. Douglas & McIntyre (Partners Publishers Group, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $18.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-77162-131-1
This short story collection mixing sci-fi with First Nations myths and contemporary politics highlights prolific writer Taylor’s formidable talents across genres. Taylor (The Night Wanderer) cleverly uses the tropes of science fiction—alien connections, government conspiracies, thinking machines, time travel—to frame colonial-indigenous relations in an off-kilter way. The funniest and most fully realized of the stories is “Dreams of Doom,” in which First Nations people discover the government has been spying on them using specially adapted dream catchers. A more poignant story is “Lost in Space,” in which Mitchell, a First Nations astronaut on a long mission, learns of his grandfather’s death back on Earth. His vessel’s artificial intelligence, known as Mac, is a wholly inadequate companion for grieving—until it tracks down some lost footage of Mitchell’s grandfather. Exploring the complicated no-man’s-land that looms large between modernity and tradition, this collection is an unromanticized attempt to make sense of the world we live in with all its problems and benefits. Although the collection is probably too retro to appeal to serious fans of speculative fiction, its intriguing combination of serious politics and good fun will appeal to a broad readership. Agent: Janine Cheeseman, Aurora Artists. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
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