The Privilege of the Happy Ending (Preorder)

Kij Johnson

October 24, 2023

trade paper · 304 pages · $18 · 9781618732118 | ebook · 9781618732125 | Edelweiss

A surprising and exciting new collection of speculative and experimental stories that explore animal intelligences, gender, and the nature of stories.

The Privilege of the Happy Ending: Small, Medium, and Large Stories collects award-winning writer Kij Johnson’s speculative fiction from the last decade. The stories explore gender, animals, and the nature of stories, and range in form from classically told tales to deeply experimental works.

The collection includes the World Fantasy Award-winning “The Privilege of the Happy Ending” and “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe,” as well as two never-before published works.

Read the title story on Clarkesworld.


10/24: Raven Bookstore, Lawrence KS.
10/27-28: World Fantasy Convention, Kansas City, MO

Praise for Kij Johnson’s stories:

Wondrously strange and sinister stories of other worlds, future times, and everyday life gone haywire. Plus: A cat walks 100 miles through Heian-era Japan in the loveliest short story I read all year.” — Dan Kois, Slate

“The best short-story collection I read this year was Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees.” — Adam Roberts, The Guardian

“Ursula Le Guin comes immediately to mind when you turn the pages of Kij Johnson’s first book of short stories, her debut collection is that impressive. The title piece has that wonderful power we hope for in all fiction we read, the surprising imaginative leap that takes us to recognize the marvelous in the everyday.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR

“For all the distances traveled and the mysteries solved, those strange, inexplicable things remain. This is Johnson’s fiction: the familiar combined with the inexplicable. The usual fantastic. The unknowable that undergirds the everyday.” —Sessily Watt, Bookslut

“In her first collection of short fiction, Johnson (The Fox Woman) covers strange, beautiful, and occasionally disturbing territory without ever missing a beat. . . . Johnson’s language is beautiful, her descriptions of setting visceral, and her characters compellingly drawn. These 18 tales, most collected from Johnson’s magazine publications, are sometimes off-putting, sometimes funny, and always thought provoking.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[The] stories are original, engaging, and hard to put down. . . . Johnson has a rare gift for pulling readers directly into the heart of a story and capturing their attention completely. Those who enjoy a touch of the other in their reading will love this collection.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“When she’s at her best, the small emotional moments are as likely to linger in your memory as the fantastic imagery. Johnson would fit quite comfortably on a shelf with Karen Russell, Erin Morgenstern and others who hover in the simultaneous state of being both ‘literary’ and ‘fantasy’ writers.” — Shelf Awareness

“The book overflows with stories that, sentence by sentence, scene by scene, can never be taken for granted; they change in your hands, turn and shift, take on new faces, new shapes. Their breathing grows heavy, soft, then heavy again. You lean in close.”—James Sallis, F&SF

“Kij Johnson has won short fiction Nebula awards in each of the last three years. All three winning stories are in this collection; when you read the book, you may wonder why all the others didn’t win awards as well. “Ponies”, to pick just one, is a shatteringly powerful fantasy about the least lovely aspects of human social behaviour… and also about small girls and their pet horses. Evocative, elegant, and alarmingly perceptive, Johnson reshapes your mental landscape with every story she writes.” —David Larsen, New Zealand Herald

“Apparently, Johnson publishes in fantasy and SF mags because they’re the only ones who’d have her, though New Yorker should be so lucky.” — PopMatters

“‘Ponies’ . . . reads like the sort of thing that might have happened if Little Golden Books had inadvertently sent a contract to Chuck Palahniuk. . . . It’s not surprising that [‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’] won the Nebula Award and garnered Hugo, Sturgeon, and Locus nominations, since it’s a stunning example of what Johnson does best – using the materials of SF, fantasy, myth, and even romance not as genres to inhabit, but as tools for building or, you could say, as a kind of story kit. ”— Locus

Cover art by Sophia Uceda.

About the Author

Kij Johnson writes speculative and experimental fiction, and has won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards (among others). She also writes gaming material, puzzles, and nonfiction. She teaches creative writing, novel development, and science fiction and fantasy, for her own Novel Architects group, the Ad Astra Institute, and various universities. For many years, she was the associate director for the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction.