“The Soul Selects Her Own Society”, by Connie Willis

“The Soul Selects Her Own Society”, by Connie Willis (originally
published in ‘War of the World: Global Dispatches”, 1996)

In 1996, the ‘Global Dispatches’ anthology commemorated the centennial of HG Wells’s ‘War of the Worlds’ by showing what was happening elsewhere on Earth while Wells focused on England. The POV character had to be someone who readers would recognize, AND who’d been alive in 1897. Willis picked Emily Dickinson…. who died in 1886. But what if… WHAT IF…. the Martian invasion caused Emily Dickinson to RISE AS A ZOMBIE?!?!?!?

Instead of using a standard narrative, Willis romps through this
gleefully ludicrous premise via a graduate student’s blatantly
fraudulent dissertation; as such, most of the humour value comes from what she does with the formulaic academic prose. And the gleefully ludicrous premise, of course, but mostly the prose. Which is funny, sure, but presumably it’s funnier if you’ve read many dissertations. If you haven’t, then you might wonder how this ever earned a Hugo nomination (much less a win).

Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association