, ,

Genre and Length:

Science fiction novella


As the only woman on the first contact team, xenolinguist Toni Donato expected her assignment on Christmas would be to analyze the secret women’s language — but then the chief linguist begins to sabotage her work. What is behind it? Why do the men and women have separate languages in the first place? What Toni learns turns everything she thought they knew on its head.

Originally published in Asimov’s in 2003, “Looking Through Lace” was a finalist for the Tiptree and Sturgeon awards. The Italian translation won the Premio Italia for best work of speculative fiction in translation in 2007.

How did the story come about?

It might sound strange, but the initial inspiration for the story came from misuse of German in a story I read. It made me want to write a story that would illustrate how complex language really is, much more difficult than many people who have never become fluent in a second language realize.

Do you prefer writing short fiction over novels, and if so, why?

I enjoy both. Some ideas are just smaller than others and aren’t right for a novel. Short stories are also very gratifying because they can be completed so quickly, whereas a novel (for me) takes years to write.

Which short fiction writers have most influenced you?

James Tiptree, Ursula Le Guin, Connie Willis and Shirley Jackson are some of the names that come to mind.

Available on Amazon.