Ghosts of Future Wastelands: Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Latchkey

What do you call a ghost story that doesn’t feel remotely like a ghost story? Nicole Kornher-Stace’s novel Archivist Wasp brought together a host of seemingly disparate elements that would normally clash and turned them into a bizarre and compelling coming of age story abounding with surreal adventures in a postapocalyptic landscape. At the heart of it was a young woman then known as Wasp, who embarked on a journey to strange landscapes both tactile and metaphysical, assisted by the nameless ghost of a soldier.

Kornher-Stace’s take on ghosts departs from conventional portrayals of revenants and spectres. Some are largely dissipated, almost cartoonish shells of the people they once were. Others are as tactile as the humans with whom they interact: the ghost featured prominently in Archivist Wasp is a prominent example. The highly advanced ghosts also wear clothing, possess weapons, and can interact with the physical world in the ...