Lee Mandelo’s New Novella Feed Them Silence Dives Into the World of Wolves

Tordotcom is thrilled to announce the acquisition of World English rights for Feed Them Silence, one of two upcoming novellas by author Lee Mandelo and Editor Carl Engle-Laird from Tara Gilbert at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Feed Them Silence begs the question: what does it mean to “be-in-kind” with nonhuman animals? Dr. Sean Kell-Luden uses a neurological interface to translate a subject-wolf’s perception for human consumption, but as her relationship with the subject becomes complicated, she puts her research and her marriage at risk.

When Dr. Sean Kell-Ludon’s grant is accepted, she begins her research of cooperative behaviors in one of Minnesota’s last remaining wolf packs, but she is wholly unprepared for the emotional turmoil that comes with inhabiting and translating a wolf’s consciousness. The longer she observes the subject-wolf and her pack, the more Sean drifts away from her wife. As the harsh winter months threaten the pack’s survival and Sean’s marriage spirals down the drain, Sean will have to face the consequences of her negligence or let the world of wolves and the world she’s known both slip through her fingers.

They had this to say about Feed Them Silence:

“I was supremely excited by the enthusiastic response I got from Carl and the Tordotcom team about Feed Them Silence, and couldn’t imagine a better group of folks to work on the project. The novella emerged from the earliest months of the COVID-19 lockdowns, which for me were spent in full isolation pouring research reading from a social theory seminar on animals into my eyeballs… then stewing in the resultant swamp of ethical discomfort, grim awareness of the world around me caught fire, and gnawing disillusionment with the procedures of academia. At its core Feed Them Silence is digging at the underbelly of neoliberalism, scientific research, and the unavoidable sticky web of power—whether that appears in the marital arena, like Sean’s complicated relationship to her wife, or between human and non-human beings, like the researchers and their wolf.

Because when we say we’d like to have real kinship with animals—domesticated or otherwise—what do we mean, precisely? And who gets to consent to the whole thing, if we’re trying to “become in kind” with those other beings? On the ground the realities of who gets to do damage to whom for what reasons, and what sort of person it takes to get their hands dirty, are messier than we might prefer to imagine. Exploring those complications and conflicts through the lens of near-future sf felt just right, and I hope readers appreciate the journey also.”

Carl Engle-Laird, the editor, said of the book:

Writing about non-human animals is profoundly difficult. Their experiences differ from ours in fundamental ways, and any step we take towards translation runs the risk of overwriting our differences and misrepresenting their needs as subservient to our own. It’s a problem that’s fascinated me for years, and one that Lee Mandelo understands well. Feed Them Silence is gripping, moving, and dire, giving the problem of comprehension all the tension it deserves, while casting a harsh lens on humanity’s ability to study and care for the world we’ve claimed as our own.

***

Lee Mandelo is a writer, critic, and occasional editor whose fields of interest include speculative and queer fiction, especially when the two coincide. They have been a past nominee for various awards including the Nebula, Lambda, and Hugo; their work can be found in magazines such as Tor.com, Uncanny Magazine, Clarkesworld, and Nightmare. Aside from their brief stint overseas learning to speak Scouse, Lee has spent their life ranging across Kentucky, currently living in Lexington and pursuing a PhD at the University of Kentucky.

Feed Them Silence is forthcoming from Tordotcom in Fall 2022.

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