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Birthday Reviews: Patricia Anthony’s “Lunch with Daddy”

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk

Cover by Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk

Most days in 2018, I’ll be selecting an author whose birthday is celebrated on that date and reviewing a speculative fiction story written by that author.

Patricia Anthony was born on January 3, 1947 and died on August 2, 2013. Her debut novel, Cold Allies, won the 1994 Locus Award for Best First Novel. Booksellers often tell stories about customers who come in looking for a book with a basic description like “It’s blue.” When I was working for a bookstore in the mid-1990s, I had a customer come in looking for “A science fiction book with a blue cover and red print.” Based on that, I was able to correctly identify the book as the paperback edition of Cold Allies.

Her story “Lunch with Daddy” was originally published in Pulphouse Hardcover Magazine issue 8 in Summer 1990, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It was reprinted in Anthony’s collection Eating Memories in 1997.

“Lunch with Daddy” tells the story of a woman who is visiting her abusive father five years after the last time she has seen him. During that time, she has managed to come to terms with her hatred of both her father and her mother, although she has put it aside rather than confronting either of her parents. Her father has summoned her to his mansion to give her a gift just before he is set to take a four year posting to Geneva, Switzerland at the request of the new President.

At first, he merely seems distant and oblivious to any harm he caused his daughter when she was younger, however, as the story unfolds it becomes clear that the technology which is preserving his life and making him an asset for the government has also impacted his ability to have emotions or relate to those around him. His former inability to feel empathy has been technologically augmented, making him even more monstrous than the wife and child beater he was.

An attempt to make amends to his estranged daughter take the monster that he is and adds a pitiable veneer to him. The story is well written and draws the reader into its world in a short space, leaving a more emotional impact than either of the characters is able to show.

Reviewed in its original publication in Pulphouse Hardcover Magazine, Summer 1990.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a fifteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Big White Men—Attack!” in Little Green Men—Attack! Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 5 times as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.


  1. Interesting choice for January 3. Was the reason you didn’t do a Tolkien work, like The Silmarillion or The Hobbit, because someone reviewed Children of Hurin on here yesterday?

    Comment by Amy Bisson - January 3, 2018 10:24 am

  2. Amy,

    Well, The Silmarillion and The Hobbit hardly qualify as short stories, so they don’t really fall under the purview of this series of reviews. There is “Smith of Wooten Major,””Farmer Giles of Ham,” and Roverandum, but otherwise most of Tolkien’s short fiction is made up of excerpts from longer works.

    I also want to call attention to some authors who aren’t huge names, so in some cases have chosen to go with a lesser-known author rather than the “obvious” choice.

    Comment by Steven H Silver - January 3, 2018 10:57 am

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