Kit Reed’s “The Food Farm” first appeared in Damon Knight’s Orbit 2 in 1967. It has been reprinted in Judith Merril’s SF 12, Voyages: Scenarios for a Ship Called Earth, Fat, Women of Wonder, Alpha 6, The Science Fiction Weight-Loss Book, Weird Women, Wired Women, and The Story Until Now: A Great Big Book of Stories, as well as being translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese.
In this story, Reed offers up Nelly, a teenage girl who is obsessed with two things: the singer Tommy Fango and eating. While her parents do not have any problem with her musical tastes, they are concerned with her voracious appetite and do everything they can to control her caloric intake. Their concerns makes them take extreme steps to keep her from eating too much, including locking her in her room. Nothing they could do, including starving Nelly worked as Nelly would break out of her room in the middle of the night to find food, either in the refrigerator or outside the house if necessary. Eventually, her parents sent her to the facility of the title, where food is not made available.
Seen through Nelly’s eyes, everything about the place is torture with the sole exception of her roommate, Ramona, who tries to help her get used to the idea of living on the massively reduced rations they are allowed. Ramona also has access to a recording of Tommy Fango, although the girls are only able to listen to it once a day. Although Ramona is able to come up with ways to make it through her days and tries to get Nelly to try her methods, Nelly refuses to give in, insisting in wallowing in the lack of food and focusing her energy on the matron who controlled her access to food.
Kit Reed was born Lillian Craig on June 7, 1932 and died on September 24, 2017.
Reed’s collection What Wolves Know and The Story Until Now were both nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. Her novel Where was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her books Little Sisters of the Apocalypse and Weird Women, Wired Women were short listed for the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the story “Bride of Bigfoot,” which appeared in Weird Women, Wired Women also made the short list. Her short story “The Singing Marine” was a nominee for the World Fantasy Award. In 1958, she was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best New Author of 1958, a forerunner of the John W. Campbell Award.
“The Shop of Little Horrors” was original to Kit Reed’s 2005 collection Dogs of Truth. The story has never been reprinted.
In “The Shop of Little Horrors,” Kit Reed explores the life of Lynn and Martin Larkin, a couple of New Yorkers who have made the decision not to have children. Ten years into their marriage, they are free to live the life they want to, travel as they desire, and mock those around them who have decided to have children. “The Shop of Little Horrors” specifically looks at one Saturday when they are relaxing at a coffeeshop watching the harried parents with their children on a beautiful day.
Their calm is destroyed, however, when one particular child invades their space. Stanley bumps their table, causing their cappuccinos to spill all over them and, when they are distracted mopping up the mess, the juvenile delinquent grabs and eats Lynn’s doughnut while Stanley’s mother is oblivious to the destruction he has caused.
The perfect days turns into abject terror as they try to make their way home in a city crawling with children. A lunch in the Tavern on the Green helps reestablish their equilibrium until they find themselves face-to-face on their walk home with a woman pushing an enormous stroller that contains six children.