Birthday Reviews: Bruce Coville’s “The Passing of the Pack”
Bruce Coville was born on May 16, 1950.
Best known as a YA author, Coville won the Golden Duck Award in 1992 for his novel My Teacher Glows in the Dark, won it again in 2000 for I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and in 2006 won a Golden Duck for an audio production of Robert Heinlein’s novel Rolling Stones. His novels have twice been nominated for Mythopoeic Awards and in 2000, he received a Skylark Award from NESFA. He received the Empire State Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People from the New York Library Association in 2012.
“The Passing of the Pack” was originally written for the young adult anthology Werewolves: A Collection of Original Stories, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg in 1988. Coville included the story in his collection Oddly Enough in 1994 and when that volume and its successor were collected in the omnibus Odds Are Good: An Oddly Enough and Odder Than Ever Omnibus, the story saw print again. In 2011, Coville issued the story as an e-book.
Throughout most of history, wolves have been seen as an enemy. They threaten the livestock on small villages and, when particularly hungry can also threaten humans. Bruce Coville channels that fear of wolves in the opening of “The Passing of the Pack,” which describes a wolf attack on a sixteen year old boy and then flashes back to the first time wolves attacked his village when he was five years old.
The story looks at the character’s life as a fatherless boy in a small village, specifically how he was treated almost as an outsider by the rest of the villagers. When he came to the defense of a girl he had befriended, the accusation of witchcraft against her was applied to him as well. By this time, Coville has shown an affinity for him by the wolves and his rescue by the animals is not really a surprise.
Given the original publication location of “The Passing of the Pack,” the story is pretty straight forward, although it may have held some surprises for the youthful audience it was targeted at. Beneath the veneer of a story of an orphan outcast, Coville does look at responsibility and leadership, offering a view of both topics as a way to gain acceptance.
Reviewed in its original publication in the anthology Werewolves: A Collection of Original Stories, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg, Harper Crest, 1988.
Steven H Silver is a sixteen-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 “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” in Galaxy’s Edge. 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.