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Short story – “Nobody’s Home” by Joanna Russ

First published in 1972 in New Dimensions II, “Nobody’s Home”, by Joanna Russ is very different to most short stories I have read. For a start it doesn’t have a normal short story structure, as far as I can tell. It needs a second reading, I think.

The story is about a group of people, living in a hedonistic, privileged time, when travel is near instantaneous and the whole world is their stomping ground. They seem to be naked most of the time. The population is very small, and they adopt the attitudes of superior beings, like the upper classes of the nineteenth century, and this clearly comes across when a “stupid” person gatecrashes a party.

Russ was an author that I was turned away from, and this is my first encounter with her writing. She was not well-liked back in the day, perhaps for being an outspoken woman at a time when science fiction was male dominated, perhaps for being an angry and honest writer… I don’t know. This story has intrigued me, though, and I may, if I have time, look at her work more closely. (The problem with reading all these short stories is that it is opening up a whole world of reading for me, and there simply isn’t time to indulge in it all).

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