Unwelcome Bodies

( 4 )


Pain. Pleasure. The sensation of touch...we feel everything through our skin, that delicate membrane separating “I” from “other,” protecting the very essence of self.

Until it breaks. Or changes. Or burns.

What would you do if you were the one called on to save humanity, and the price you had to pay was becoming something other than human? Or if healing your body meant losing the only person you’ve ever loved?...

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Unwelcome Bodies

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Pain. Pleasure. The sensation of touch...we feel everything through our skin, that delicate membrane separating “I” from “other,” protecting the very essence of self.

Until it breaks. Or changes. Or burns.

What would you do if you were the one called on to save humanity, and the price you had to pay was becoming something other than human? Or if healing your body meant losing the only person you’ve ever loved?

Wander through worlds where a woman craves even a poisonous touch...a man’s deformities become a society’s fashion...genetic regeneration keeps the fires of Hell away...and painted lovers risk everything to break the boundaries of their caste system down.

Separate your mind from your flesh and come in. Welcome...

Table of Contents

“For the Plague Thereof Was Exceeding Great”

“Big Sister/Little Sister”

“Immortal Sin”


“The Call”

“Captive Girl”

“Last Bus”

“The Last Stand of the Elephant Man”

“Songs of Lament”



“Pelland handles difficult topics with assured storytelling chops, bringing us to the brink of tears, fear, desire, and beyond. Worth your time AND money AND sincere attention.”

—Steven Gould, author of Jumper

“Her already-glowing reputation may still be just a hint of promising light on the horizon of those who like their fantastic fiction smart, imaginative, and driven by the mysteries of the human spirit, but each new story as brilliant as ‘Brushstrokes’ and ‘The Last Stand of the Elephant Man’ brings her inevitable future even closer. Trust me on this: Jennifer Pelland’s star has only just begun to rise.”

—Adam-Troy Castro, author of Emissaries From the Dead

“Jennifer Pelland is a very good writer. She can evoke a setting, an environment, a mood in just a few sentences. And she does it so intensely that the reader really feels the fear of touching any potentially diseased subway riders; feels the thirst of a world without water; feels the aloneness that comes behind the metal mask.”

—Ian Randal Strock, SFScope.com

“Jennifer Pelland is addicted to writing short stories. She’s written an essay about this addiction but you don’t need to read the essay to know it’s true. Each of the tales in this collection is a testament to her love of story-telling, and her imagination. She has a keen sense of irony, and a gift for juxtaposing images and events in a way which enables her to extract emotion at crucial moments from her characters and from the reader.”

—Sarah Hilary, theshortreview.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780978867683
  • Publisher: Apex Publications
  • Publication date: 2/29/2008
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Pelland lives in the Boston area with an Andy, three cats, and an impractical number of books. Her short story collection Unwelcome Bodies was released by Apex in 2008, and contains her Nebula-nominated story “Captive Girl.” In her so-called copious spare time, she studies bellydance in a futile attempt to be graceful before she completely loses her knees. Her web site, which includes a link to her blog, is at www.jenniferpelland.com.
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Read an Excerpt

For the Plague Thereof Was Exceeding Great

December 1, 2010: World AIDS Day

Kathleen Murphy gripped her can of Mace tightly as she rode the Red Line to work, hands sweating inside the latex of her surgical gloves. All around her, her fellow T riders were openly clutching Mace or pepper spray as well, all glancing around the car from behind safety goggles and surgical masks. Technically, it was still illegal to carry chemical sprays without a license, but no one enforced those laws anymore. It was safer not to.

The T pulled into Harvard Station, the end of the line, and she rose to get off the train. She remembered the days when people would crowd around the doors and bustle off in a mass of closely-packed bodies. No one touched anyone anymore. They wouldn't even come close. She never thought she'd miss that.

She made her way up the escalator, not touching the handrails, crossed Mass. Ave., and headed toward the gates of Harvard Yard. At least the university was still open, even though enrollment had been dropping precipitously over the past four years. No one wanted to send their children away to school anymore. Not unless they lived in a country with even higher infection rates than the U.S. The only schools that were still doing well were Harvard Medical School and the School of Public Health. They even offered scholarship money. That was unheard-of.

At the gates, she flashed her employee ID to the armed guards, waited for them to scan it, and was let in. Still, she remained vigilant as she dashed through the Yard. The crazies had gotten into plenty of secure areas, armed guards notwithstanding. She didn't feel safe until she'd sprinted up the stairs toWidener Library, flashed her ID again, and then heard the doors close behind her. She realized her safety was illusory, but she'd take it.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    Fantastic collection! This is the book that showed me that I can

    Fantastic collection! This is the book that showed me that I can love science fiction. Everyone should read this. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Scenarios that range from slightly eerie to full blown frightening

    Unwelcome Bodies is a collection of, well, frankly, utterly unnerving tales. It¿s rare for me to review SFF and rare for me to review short stories, so a combination of both is practically unhead of. However, Jennifer Pelland¿s collection looked to be full of intriguing ideas and I wanted to try something new.

    Pelland presents a range of scenarios that range from slightly eerie to full blown frightening. From the story about the woman whose sister has been sewn into her body to the man on a quest to find the key to eternal life, these are thought provoking stories of what life in the future could be like. I found myself flitting from repulsion to fear to awe as I worked my way through the volume.

    Each story is a relatively short length and easily digestible. All are followed by notes from the author, divulging ¿the story behind the story¿. The volume is well narrated by Linette Geisel, who applies a steady pace and clear enunciation, making this a relatively easy listen for such a disturbing volume. If it lacks in one thing, it¿s quite possibly in the editorial of the narration. There were times when the end of a story and the beginning of the ¿notes¿ ran so closely together it took me a moment to realise that the story had finished. However, this is a minor complaint and only occurred a small number of times across the seven hour volume.

    As a fan of John Wyndham and Isaac Asimov I often wonder why I don¿t really consider myself a science-fiction fan these days. Reading/listening to a volume such as this makes me realise that this isn¿t a genre I should close myself off to. This was one of the most intriguing volumes of short stories I¿ve encountered. Pelland is an excellent storyteller with a vivid imagination. I wouldn¿t hesitate to recommend her writing or to look out for future volumes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2008

    A Must Read in Science Fiction!

    This is an amazing book! It's social relevant and very interesting, exploring both science fiction and humanity. If English classes read books like this more kids would be true reading die hards. Pelland speculates about the future and cuts to the core of the human soul with a collection of story that should be required reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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