Ã¢Â€ÂœThey are, after all, in this together,Ã¢Â€Â she wrote. Ã¢Â€ÂœHunter and hunted. Instrument and destiny, for every great pursuit demands the cooperation of both parties. For every Jean Valjean there is a Javert and if either died the other would be desolate. Imagine Ahmed and Rushdie, the perfection of pursuit and flight. Neither exists without the other.Ã¢Â€Â
Ms. Reed saw herself as a writer of speculative fiction who trafficked not in aliens or flying saucers but in quirky, fantastic and tough-minded leaps from the realities of contemporary culture. In one novel, Ã¢Â€ÂœThinner Than ThouÃ¢Â€Â (2004), she satirizes a modern preoccupation with body image; in Ã¢Â€ÂœThe Night ChildrenÃ¢Â€Â (2008), runaway children live in a shopping mall and come out only at night.
Rather than feel bound to science fiction, Ms. Reed saw herself as part of a group of imaginative writers that included Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury and George Orwell.
Ã¢Â€ÂœFor me,Ã¢Â€Â she told The Hartford Courant in 2011, Ã¢Â€ÂœitÃ¢Â€Â™s a great big literary ballpark.Ã¢Â€Â
In Ms. ReedÃ¢Â€Â™s first published story, Ã¢Â€ÂœThe WaitÃ¢Â€Â (1958) Ã¢Â€Â” which evokes Shirley Jackson as well as Stephen King Ã¢Â€Â” a mother falls ill in a small Southern town, leaving her teenage daughter, Miriam, to become part of a bizarre ritual involving 18-year-old virgins.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWhen they came to the field,Ã¢Â€Â Ms. Reed wrote, Ã¢Â€ÂœMiriam first thought the women were still busy at a late harvest, but she saw that the maidens, scores of them, were just sitting on little boxes at intervals in the seemingly endless field.Ã¢Â€Â When the frightened Miriam asked why she was there, a woman tells her little more than Ã¢Â€ÂœRemember, the man must be a stranger.Ã¢Â€Â
One of her more famous stories, Ã¢Â€ÂœThe Attack of the Giant BabyÃ¢Â€Â (1976), follows the misadventures of Leonard Freibourg, a 14-month-old who accidentally swallows a culture in his fatherÃ¢Â€Â™s laboratory, turning him into a giant who terrorizes New York City. Similarities between her tale and the plot of the 1992 Disney film Ã¢Â€ÂœHoney, I Blew Up the Kid,Ã¢Â€Â the sequel to Ã¢Â€ÂœHoney, I Shrunk the Kids,Ã¢Â€Â led Ms. Reed to sue the Walt Disney Company. In a settlement, she received a Ã¢Â€Âœspecial recognitionÃ¢Â€Â credit.
Kit Reed was born Lillian Hyde Craig in San Diego on June 7, 1932, and was known as Kitten from a young age. Her father, John R. Craig, was the commanding officer of the Grampus, a submarine that is believed to have been sunk by the Japanese in early 1943. Her mother, the former Lillian Hyde, was a schoolteacher. Before she could read, young KitÃ¢Â€Â™s father read her L. Frank BaumÃ¢Â€Â™s Oz books.
At age 7, she read Ã¢Â€ÂœBeowulfÃ¢Â€Â in her bathroom Ã¢Â€Âœbecause it was the only way the babysitter would let me stay up,Ã¢Â€Â Ms. Reed told The Los Angeles Review of Books. By 12, she had written a series of books about a stand-up bunny rabbit. At the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame of Maryland University), nuns let her write short stories instead of a research paper for her senior thesis, allowing her to avoid the research she hated.
For five years Ms. Reed was a reporter, first for The St. Petersburg Times in Florida and then for The New Haven Register, where she won awards for a series of articles about juvenile courts in Connecticut. Reporter characters would later turn up occasionally in her fiction, like the one in the novel Ã¢Â€ÂœSon of DestructionÃ¢Â€Â (2013) who investigates three cases of spontaneous human combustion in his motherÃ¢Â€Â™s hometown.
Writing for the online Weird Fiction Review in 2013, Adam Mills praised Ms. ReedÃ¢Â€Â™s mind-set. He described her Ã¢Â€Âœweirdness of perspective, a knack for finding the strangest, most faithful way for inhabiting a characterÃ¢Â€Â™s head and plumbing the depths for the things that are both surprising and compelling, things we wouldnÃ¢Â€Â™t think to look for without Reed pointing them out.Ã¢Â€Â
Her final story, Ã¢Â€ÂœDisturbance in the Produce Aisle,Ã¢Â€Â was published this month in AsimovÃ¢Â€Â™s Science Fiction.
Ms. Reed is survived by her husband, Joseph; her daughter, Kate Maruyama, also an author; her sons, Mack and John; and four grandchildren.
Ms. Reed, who was a professor and resident writer at Wesleyan University in Connecticut for decades and wrote a few thrillers under the pseudonym Kit Craig, had an unconventional, no-holds-barred personality. On Facebook, Mack Reed wrote of his mother: Ã¢Â€ÂœShe loved like a child, worked like a stevedore, cursed like a sailor and sampled the world with Twainian zest.Ã¢Â€Â
And Jen Gunnels, her editor at Tor Books, said in an interview that Ms. Reed had a Ã¢Â€Âœlusciously warped mind.Ã¢Â€Â One day, she said, Ms. Reed described to her a new story she had written about a womanÃ¢Â€Â™s nightmarish relationship with parrots.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI remember thinking, Ã¢Â€Â˜YouÃ¢Â€Â™re really sick,Ã¢Â€Â™ Ã¢Â€Â Ms. Gunnels said. Ã¢Â€ÂœBut that was part of her charm.Ã¢Â€Â