“The Funeral” — Kate Wilhelm

Kate Wilhelm is the winner of three Nebulas, two Hugos, and two Locus awards, and is an inductee to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Her short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Omni, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, Orbit, and has been collected in several volumes, notably in The Mile-Long Spaceship; Listen, Listen; and The Infinity Box. Her SF novels include Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Juniper Time, Welcome Chaos, and the Constance and Charlie series (The Hamlet Trap et seq.). She has also written several legal thrillers, beginning in 1991 with Death Qualified. The latest of these “Barbara Holloway” mysteries, Cold Case, was released in 2008.

The story of two boys’ quest for freedom, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the greatest American novels.  Jim wants to escape slavery.  Huck wants to get away from his horrible father.  Their adventures rafting down the Mississippi River have become a part of the American identity, stirring up hopes and dreams inside the hearts of generations of dissatisfied children.

Our next story is set in a regimented society that, like the antebellum South, maintains some people are property, without voice and fully disposable.  For girls like Clara, their lives are spent in frightened obedience, waiting for their futures to be set for them.  Only the dying words of one mad woman offer Clara hope:  the hint of a secret cave, a mysterious hideout that no one has ever found.

The Widow Douglas was always trying to “sivilize” Huck Finn—but she could never bend his indomitable spirit.  If she could escape from her world, perhaps Clara could teach him a thing or two.