The Last of the Winnebagos: Hugo and Nebula Award winning novella

Connie Willis The Last of the WinnebagosConnie Willis The Last of the WinnebagosThe Last of the Winnebagos by Connie Willis

After a virus has killed all of the dogs on Earth, the Humane Society (“The Society”) has been given the power to prosecute and punish anyone who, even accidentally, harms an animal. The government has started putting walls around highways, tracking vehicles with videocameras, and banning recreational vehicles from the roads.

After a photojournalist stops to report a dead jackal on the highway, he becomes involved in The Society’s investigation. During the process he meets an elderly couple who claim to own the last Winnebago, and he visits the woman who accidentally killed his own dog, one of the last to survive, 15 years earlier. Along the way, he keeps hoping to get a candid photo that will show, through its owner’s face, one of these beloved dogs who’ve been lost.

The Last of the Winnebagos, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella after it was published in Asimov’s in 1988, is a touching story about guilt and forgiveness, the pain of the loss of a beloved animal companion, and the extraordinarily stupid things that the government sometimes does in its quest to do the right thing.

The Last of the Winnebagos is a beautifully written and often poignant story. The last scene is particularly moving. However, I had a hard time giving in to the premise that the Humane Society had such free rein, so to speak, in the U.S. government.

I listened to Dennis Boutsikaris narrate Audible Frontiers’ version which is 2 hours long. He did a great job.

The Last of the Winnebagos — (1988) Publisher: In this Hugo Award-winning novella, dogs have become extinct after an epidemic, and the Humane Society has been granted extraordinary police powers to protect the remaining animals. As the Society investigates the death of a jackal on a highway, its attention turns to a photojournalist whose own dog was one of the last to survive.

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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

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4 comments

  1. I don’t think i could ever read this — I’d be a sobbing mess. Good review, though.

  2. It’s short and moving. I think you should try it. Definitely a book for dog lovers.

  3. I have to say that Connie Willis always convinces me with her masterful use of the Law of Unintendeed Consequences. When I first read this story, I was totally convinced by the Humane Society part of the plot because she set it up so well. Maybe it wouldn’t hold up now, but I work in government, and I thought it was plausible.

  4. You’d know better than me, Marion, but I just can’t see people putting up with walling in interstates to protect animals… I couldn’t suspend disbelief. Maybe I just can’t face the thought of all that concrete… But, still, the story is touching, especially for animal lovers. It’s a good story.

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