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Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

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Sisters of the Revolution gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, the award-winning Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Including stories from the 1970s to the present day, the collection seeks to expand the conversation about fem Sisters of the Revolution gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, the award-winning Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Including stories from the 1970s to the present day, the collection seeks to expand the conversation about feminism while engaging the reader in a wealth of imaginative ideas. Sisters of the Revolution seeks to expand the ideas of both contemporary fiction and feminism to new fronts. Contents: The forbidden words of Margaret A. / L. Timmel Duchamp -- My flannel knickers / Leonora Carrington -- The mothers of Shark Island / Kit Reed -- The palm tree bandit / Nnedi Okorafor -- The grammarian's five daughters / Eleanor Arnason -- And Salome danced / Kelley Eskridge -- The perfect married woman / Angélica Gorodischer -- The glass bottle trick / Nalo Hopkinson -- Their mother's tears : the fourth letter / Leena Krohn -- The screwfly solution / James Tiptree, Jr. -- Seven losses of na Re / Rose Lemberg -- The evening and the morning and the night / Octavia E. Butler -- The sleep of plants / Anne Richter -- The men who live in trees / Kelly Barnhill -- Tales from the breast / Hiromi Goto -- The Fall River axe murders / Angela Carter -- Love and sex among the invertebrates / Pat Murphy -- When it changed / Joanna Russ -- The woman who thought she was a planet / Vandana Singh -- Gestella / Susan Palwick -- Boys / Carol Emshwiller -- Stable strategies for middle management / Eileen Gunn -- Northern chess / Tanith Lee -- Aunts / Karin Tidbeck -- Sur / Ursula K. Le Guin -- Fears / Pamela Sargent -- Detours on the way to nothing / Rachel Swirsky -- Thirteen ways of looking at space/time / Catherynne M. Valente -- Home by the sea / Elisabeth Vonaburg.


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Sisters of the Revolution gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, the award-winning Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Including stories from the 1970s to the present day, the collection seeks to expand the conversation about fem Sisters of the Revolution gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, the award-winning Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Including stories from the 1970s to the present day, the collection seeks to expand the conversation about feminism while engaging the reader in a wealth of imaginative ideas. Sisters of the Revolution seeks to expand the ideas of both contemporary fiction and feminism to new fronts. Contents: The forbidden words of Margaret A. / L. Timmel Duchamp -- My flannel knickers / Leonora Carrington -- The mothers of Shark Island / Kit Reed -- The palm tree bandit / Nnedi Okorafor -- The grammarian's five daughters / Eleanor Arnason -- And Salome danced / Kelley Eskridge -- The perfect married woman / Angélica Gorodischer -- The glass bottle trick / Nalo Hopkinson -- Their mother's tears : the fourth letter / Leena Krohn -- The screwfly solution / James Tiptree, Jr. -- Seven losses of na Re / Rose Lemberg -- The evening and the morning and the night / Octavia E. Butler -- The sleep of plants / Anne Richter -- The men who live in trees / Kelly Barnhill -- Tales from the breast / Hiromi Goto -- The Fall River axe murders / Angela Carter -- Love and sex among the invertebrates / Pat Murphy -- When it changed / Joanna Russ -- The woman who thought she was a planet / Vandana Singh -- Gestella / Susan Palwick -- Boys / Carol Emshwiller -- Stable strategies for middle management / Eileen Gunn -- Northern chess / Tanith Lee -- Aunts / Karin Tidbeck -- Sur / Ursula K. Le Guin -- Fears / Pamela Sargent -- Detours on the way to nothing / Rachel Swirsky -- Thirteen ways of looking at space/time / Catherynne M. Valente -- Home by the sea / Elisabeth Vonaburg.

30 review for Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

  1. 5 out of 5

    El

    Authors in this collection I have read before : Leonora Carrington Octavia E. Butler Angela Carter Pat Murphy Joanna Russ Tanith Lee Ursula K. Le Guin All the other authors : L. Timmel Duchamp Kit Reed Nnedi Okorafor Eleanor Arnason Kelley Eskridge Angélica Gorodischer Nalo Hopkinson Leena Krohn James Tiptree Jr. Rose Lemberg Anne Richter Kelly Barnhill Hiromi Goto Vandana Singh Susan Palwick Carol Emshwiller Eileen Gunn Karin Tidbeck Pamela Sargent Rachel Swirsky Catherynne M. Valente Elisabeth Vonarburg Clearly I need Authors in this collection I have read before : Leonora Carrington Octavia E. Butler Angela Carter Pat Murphy Joanna Russ Tanith Lee Ursula K. Le Guin All the other authors : L. Timmel Duchamp Kit Reed Nnedi Okorafor Eleanor Arnason Kelley Eskridge Angélica Gorodischer Nalo Hopkinson Leena Krohn James Tiptree Jr. Rose Lemberg Anne Richter Kelly Barnhill Hiromi Goto Vandana Singh Susan Palwick Carol Emshwiller Eileen Gunn Karin Tidbeck Pamela Sargent Rachel Swirsky Catherynne M. Valente Elisabeth Vonarburg Clearly I need to do more reading. This is a pretty solid collection. The authors I were already familiar with did not disappoint, and I came across some new-to-me authors that I want to check out in more detail now (Kit Reed & Hiromi Goto to name just a couple), and reminders to read the ones I've heard of but have not read previously (James Tiptree, Jr. & Catherynne M. Valente to name a couple again). What was lovely about this collection is that it is not entirely Anglo. There are writers from several different countries here, and while their agendas may be similar, their stories are not which made for an exciting read throughout. With any collection or anthology, there are some stories that are better than others, and this is no different. But I appreciated that each of these women were given a voice in a genre (or classification of a genre, if you want to be specific) that do not always get as much attention and that other cultures were represented here. Some of these stories were written in the 70s, such as Joanna Russ's "When It Changed". For those of us who recently read The Female Man, "When It Changed" will be familiar because Russ wrote again about Whileaway, the utopian society in which men died out from a plague (specific only to menfolk) some 800 years ago. "When It Changed" was written about three years before The Female Man, so I think Whileaway was a society Russ felt strongly about. Other stories were more recent, and those are a lot of the authors I had not been familiar with yet, but again I look forward to searching many of them out now. I know I requested this collection from the library, but I no longer remember what it was that prompted me to search it out in the first place. That's my good ol' memory for you. But whatever it was, I am glad I paid attention to it and requested it right away. A collection of short stories was what I needed right now, and it felt good to be able to get through it in a few days without tasking the brain cells too much. Some of these stories are especially powerful and one that actually broke my little heart (because animal!), but it was so well-done that I can't help but keep thinking about it. And holding onto my dogs with all my strength.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    I love the idea behind this anthology: sci-fi/fantasy stories, written by women from many different places and times, coming together to form a multi-faceted view of feminism. It was an exciting combination of authors: old favorites, some I'd been meaning to check out, and several I'd never heard of before. There were some compelling and thought-provoking stories in here, but overall... I found it a bit tedious. Part of the reason is that, despite the variety of settings and styles, there's a de I love the idea behind this anthology: sci-fi/fantasy stories, written by women from many different places and times, coming together to form a multi-faceted view of feminism. It was an exciting combination of authors: old favorites, some I'd been meaning to check out, and several I'd never heard of before. There were some compelling and thought-provoking stories in here, but overall... I found it a bit tedious. Part of the reason is that, despite the variety of settings and styles, there's a dearth of themes. I felt that I was reading the same story over and over again: the patriarchy abusing and oppressing women, with grim consequences. While I realize that this theme is an important part of feminist fiction, reading so many similar stories back-to-back lessens the impact of each one. I would have loved to see a few stories focused on, say, female friendship, or *gasp* men and women treating each other with respect. The overall presentation and editing of the book is mixed. I liked the author mini-biographies that prefaced each story, but really disliked the one-sentence take-home messages that were tacked on to the end. I would think that any reader inclined to pick up this book would be capable of identifying such themes and messages for themselves, without having to be told that "the moral of the story is..." With that said, there were a few stories that did stand out: The Mothers of Shark Island, by Kit Reed. If I were to recommend just one story from this book, it would be this one. It's about how we treat and think about our mothers. It's heartbreaking and universal, written in a graceful and eerie style reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale. The Grammarian's Five Daughters, by Eleanor Arnason. A smart, funny fairy tale about how language shapes the world, and how even the most maligned parts of language have importance and power. Being in the style of a fairytale, the characters weren't especially well-developed, but the story is more than delightful enough to make up for that. The Screwfly Solution, by James Tiptree, Jr (aka Alice Bradley Sheldon). I have always held that if you want inspiration for a truly mind-bending dystopian society, look no further than the lives of the plants and animals in your own back yard. This story looks at how humans interact with "unwanted" parts of the natural world... and then takes those interactions to the logical next level. And a few of the weaker stories: My Flannel Knickers, by Leonora Carrington. I'm not usually one to complain about lack of plot, or about world-building that leaves open questions... but this was a bit of an extreme example. And Salome Dances, by Kelley Eskridge. This story is basically about how the narrator comes to realize that trans people exist. Not exactly "speculative fiction". Sur, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin is one of my favorite authors, yet the editors somehow found a boring story by her. My disappointment is immense. But all in all, if you're interested in learning about female SFF authors, this is an ok place to start. Maybe dip in and out of it rather than reading it straight through, and keep in mind that the stories featured here don't necessarily represent the authors' best work.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    This is an interesting and well curated anthology that brought me into contact with several authors I haven't read (or even heard of) before. As with nearly all anthologies it was a combination of hit and miss, but there are much more stories that intrigued me than ones that left me with a shoulder shrug. The stories that stood out to me were: The Palm Tree Bandit by Nnedi Okorafor is a delightful story about the unusual beginning of a myth. I love Okorafor's prose and her down-to-earth characters This is an interesting and well curated anthology that brought me into contact with several authors I haven't read (or even heard of) before. As with nearly all anthologies it was a combination of hit and miss, but there are much more stories that intrigued me than ones that left me with a shoulder shrug. The stories that stood out to me were: The Palm Tree Bandit by Nnedi Okorafor is a delightful story about the unusual beginning of a myth. I love Okorafor's prose and her down-to-earth characters. The Grammarian's Five Daughters by Eleanor Arnason is a quite innovative kind of story, a fairy tale kind of narration about several sisters who go out and conquer the world with grammar. One of my absolute highlights in this selection and a new-to-me author whom I put high up on my must-read-more-of list. The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree Jr. is a very bleak view on the future, yet nonetheless fascinating to read. The evening, and the morning, and the night by Octavia Butler is a story about her pet topic, self-determination and the loss thereof. Like all of her stories absolutely fascinating for me. She always hits my innermost. The woman who thought she was a planet by Vandana Singh is a lovely surrealistic story. A new-to-me-author whom I fortunately already have on my TBR-list. Thirteen ways of looking at space/time by Catherynne M. Valente is, together with Karin Tidbeck's "Aunts", the most weird story of this collection. I was fascinated by this very different kind of creation story. Valente is another new discovery that I must pursue. Home by the Sea by Elisabeth Vonarburg ended the collection on a beautiful, poetic and hopeful note with this story about an artificial being.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    First of all, I would like to award myself a medal for FINALLY making it through one of the anthologies on my VanderMeer shelf. It is one of the slimmer collections but I have been saying I will do this for several years! It took one of my reading groups declaring February the month of revolution, and I decided this was as good of a time as any to work through these stories. There is a wide range of stories here, wide in theme and in time period, some old enough to give tastes of "old school" spe First of all, I would like to award myself a medal for FINALLY making it through one of the anthologies on my VanderMeer shelf. It is one of the slimmer collections but I have been saying I will do this for several years! It took one of my reading groups declaring February the month of revolution, and I decided this was as good of a time as any to work through these stories. There is a wide range of stories here, wide in theme and in time period, some old enough to give tastes of "old school" speculative fiction and some much more contemporary feeling. Some were already old friends like the Tiptree, and some were complete discoveries of both author and story. I appreciate that the VanderMeers do not always pick the top 20 female authors' top 20 stories of speculative fiction, and that instead there is a wide range of expected and surprise. I also definitely noticed the threads joining the stories together, and how naturally they flowed from one to the next. My favorites: "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A." by L. Timmel Duchamp "The Mothers of Shark Island" by Kit Reed "The Screwfly Solution" By James Tiptree Jr. "The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet" by Vandana Singh "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" by Eileen Gunn (I laughed, out loud, several times with this one) "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time" by Catherynne M. Valente, even with the difficult subject matter I enjoyed reading a story by Leonora Carrington even if it didn't rank in my favorites, because I have another short story collection of hers that I'm looking forward to reading later this year. Other favorite authors that I was happy to read more of, even if those stories were also not my favorites, include Octavia Butler, Angela Carter, Nalo Hopkinson, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Viv JM

    This is a really excellent and diverse collection of sci-fi and fantasy stories with a feminist slant. A lot of the stories (as might be expected) are dystopian, but not all. There is a good mix of well known and lesser known authors, and there are many stories in translation too. As with any anthology, I enjoyed some stories a lot more than others, but the overall quality was very high and I would recommend this anthology to anyone who enjoys speculative fiction.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Siemann

    An exemplary collection of feminist speculative fiction, with a nice combination of contemporary and classic authors. Although, as with all anthologies, some stories appeal more than others, there wasn't a story here that I felt didn't belong. (Disclaimer: I was a Kickstarter backer for this project, which really just means I paid for my copy quite a bit in advance.) Stories that especially stood out for me: "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A." by L. Timmel Duchamp Speculative *legal* fiction about An exemplary collection of feminist speculative fiction, with a nice combination of contemporary and classic authors. Although, as with all anthologies, some stories appeal more than others, there wasn't a story here that I felt didn't belong. (Disclaimer: I was a Kickstarter backer for this project, which really just means I paid for my copy quite a bit in advance.) Stories that especially stood out for me: "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A." by L. Timmel Duchamp Speculative *legal* fiction about a woman, seemingly ordinary, but the power of whose words are so intense the Constitution has been amended to stop her. "The Screwfly Solution" by James Tiptree Jr. Best last line ever. "Gestella" by Susan Palwick What if a werewolf fell in love with a human? How would that actually work? "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ A classic that I should have known already; powerful. "The Evening and the Morning and the Night" by Octavia Butler A horrifying new disease, human-created, and the issues of stigma and treatment -- which sounds maybe dull, but is incredibly not so. "The Grammarian's Five Daughters" by Eleanor Arnason A fairy tale to make an English professor smile. A lot. In addition to these writers, there's Ursula LeGuin, Angela Carter, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedi Okorafor, Carol Emshwiller, Eileen Gunn, Karin Tidbeck and many others. If you're interested in speculative fiction from a feminist view point, this is a must-have.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    Favorites: "My Flannel Knickers" by Leonora Carrington (which actually made me physically dizzy, which was a new one on me) "The Grammarian's Five Daughters" by Eleanor Arnason (really loved this one! Will be reading more Arnason soon) "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A" by L. Timmel Duchamp "The Fall River Axe Murders" by Angela Carter (which prompted me to spend the next 5 hours researching Lizzie Borden) and "Boys" by Carol Emshwiller Plus of course the James Tiptree Jr and Octavia Butler stories, b Favorites: "My Flannel Knickers" by Leonora Carrington (which actually made me physically dizzy, which was a new one on me) "The Grammarian's Five Daughters" by Eleanor Arnason (really loved this one! Will be reading more Arnason soon) "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A" by L. Timmel Duchamp "The Fall River Axe Murders" by Angela Carter (which prompted me to spend the next 5 hours researching Lizzie Borden) and "Boys" by Carol Emshwiller Plus of course the James Tiptree Jr and Octavia Butler stories, but those I had read before.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Sadly overall, the impression I am left with is that I simply do not like anthologies all that much. Some standout stories. Some ok stories and some very weak ones. Still, I am more convinced than ever that I just have to get my behind in gear and finally read Octavia Butler.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This book is something of a challenge for me. I picked it up because it has the word “feminist” on the cover, and is an anthology (something that I find significantly easier to read during the school year because I can review in parts.) I would like to make it clear that I will not understand some of the works included in this anthology, and I hope you will not judge me for this. I will rate each piece on my enjoyment of it, but in this book more than any other, my opinions might be very wrong. This book is something of a challenge for me. I picked it up because it has the word “feminist” on the cover, and is an anthology (something that I find significantly easier to read during the school year because I can review in parts.) I would like to make it clear that I will not understand some of the works included in this anthology, and I hope you will not judge me for this. I will rate each piece on my enjoyment of it, but in this book more than any other, my opinions might be very wrong. I do not intend to offend by my words, but regard this book as a learning experience for me, and one I will try my best to take advantage of. Some of the pieces in this collection were really important and well done and spectacular and I will remember them for a long time. In some other pieces, I was significantly less pleased and there were a good amount right in the middle. Overall, I’m very glad that I read this collection and recommend it to anyone interested in getting into the genre. (The below discussions will not mention any major spoilers for the stories but may contain some minor ones. Proceed with caution.) "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.” by L. Timmel Duchamp. 3.5/5 I feel like this work really went over my head. I mean, I liked it, but I felt like there was a lot right there beneath the surface that I truly wasn’t picking up on. That being said, the premise is incredible (I am just overcome with the desire to know what Margaret A. said; I cannot fully express how much I just want to know) and the writing is wonderful and totally fits the mood of the piece. The quality of the censorship, in even denying her a last name (a quality I find particularly interesting given the author’s decision to represent her first name as just an initial, just as Margaret A.’s last name becomes just an initial…) is a) terrifying but also b) so incredibly intriguing. I must know more about this government and this woman and she is such a sad, enigmatic person. This story left me wanting more, but also kind of embarrassed that I don’t feel like I read it like I should’ve. “My Flannel Knickers” by Leonora Carrington. 1.5/5 So I just literally have no idea what happened (basically a theme for this book, if you were wondering.) I mean, it’s definitely very pretty, but I felt the whole time feeling like I was playing catch up towards something I would never truly understand. For me, this wasn’t that great (despite the really kind of wonderful start?) Also, I loved how it came full circle and even I, playing some intense catch up, could begin to make some connections and glimpses. “The Mothers of Shark Island” by Kit Reed. 4/5 So I really liked this one. Of course, I didn’t understand a lot and was kind of out of it at times, but also I really liked it. Now, though I haven’t ever been a mother, I’m a little sad about the nature of motherhood in this piece (which is basically just like a thankless terrible job.) Still, it’s very gripping and, even, pretty at times. “The Palm Tree Bandit” by Nnedi Okorafor. 2.5/5 First story I could actually understand the majority of! Sweet and cute and all that, but didn’t really resonate with me or contribute to my understanding of this collection. Enjoyed it, but nothing all that special for me. “The Grammarian’s Five Daughters” by Eleanor Arnason. 4.5/5 Really loved this one! I mean, a) it’s about grammar and the power of words and b) it’s told like a fairytale and I just adore fairytales. In some ways (like the selling of words) it reminds me a lot of Dos Palabras by Isabel Allende. Any story that appreciates story and words has great value in my book. “And Salome Danced” by Kelley Eskridge. 2.5/5 I’m marginally conflicted about this one. Like, I definitely didn’t dislike it by any means, but also it really didn’t stand out to me at all. I found it remarkable only in that it mentions the theater and I really like the theater and it provides a little bit of insight into the casting process etc. but I didn’t love it. “The Perfect Married Woman” by Angélica Gorodischer. 2/5 I don’t remember this one even after reading through it… Interesting mentions of the murders and stuff, but overall didn’t particularly stick with me or anything. “The Glass Bottle Trick” by Nalo Hopkinson. 5/5 Terrifying and I love it. First of all, I tend to just really like retellings of Bluebeard because I think that they offer these really interesting insights into relationships (especially ones that can very easily escalate into abusive relationships.) Every little detail added by the author was really interesting and special: the race aspect, his anger over things like the air conditioning, and the glass bottle… all of it was truly exceptional. “Their Mother’s Tears: The Fourth Letter” by Leena Krohn. 2/5 Of the two most explicitly about mothers, the Mothers of Shark Island stuck with me a lot more. Mostly, I didn’t get it. It went over my head (as I said, I’m not quite smart enough to appreciate all of these yet. I aspire to get there and have my opinions change.) “The Screwfly Solution” by James Tiptree Jr. 5/5 This story… is so incredible. Gripping and remarkable and terrifying and… One of my favorites, if not my very favorite, of the entire anthology. The fear and the idea of this disease that just… takes over a person and how Alan tried to desperately to fight against it… I loved the letters and how the entire world was really freaking out about this thing… it felt realer than some of others (despite being dated.) It really created a world in an admirable way for such a short little story. It also truly packed a punch. And, kind of like “The Glass Bottle Trick” I loved the titular element of the Screwfly Solution. Amazing. Love. “Seven Losses of na Re” by Rose Lemberg. 4/5 Beautifully written and well put together with powerful images and wonderful ideas. Also, this story was grounded in history and reality in a different way from many others from this collection and I appreciated that layer. “The Evening and the Morning and the Night” by Octavia E. Butler. 5/5 Huge huge fan. This is another story that I really liked and have remembered (which, to some degree, is kind of how I know which of these I really liked. If I’ve forgotten it, it probably didn’t have that huge of an impact on me.) The relationship between the narrator and her boyfriend is really intriguing and complex, the whole premise is SOOOO intriguing to me and I kind of want to check out all of the books that Ms. Butler mentioned at the very end of the story. Loved it. “The Sleep of Plants” by Anne Richter. 1.5/5 Just not it for me. Skimmed it and kind of forgot what was happening while I was reading. “The Men Who Live in Trees” by Kelly Barnhill. 3.5/5 A very intriguing story. I liked the style, with excerpts from the journal kind of interspersed throughout, and just the general narrative voice. The idea of becoming part of a new family (and getting past the mother-in-law) was discussed in a way I don’t think that it was in any of the other stories in here. Also, I just liked the premise again (and that can kind of go pretty far for me.) "Tales from the Breast” by Hiromi Goto. 4/5 I hope that this is not what everyone’s experience breast feeding is like, but I did really enjoy this and found it to be incredibly poignant. Gorgeously written and illuminating some interesting relationship dynamics… painful and well put together. Very good! “The Fall River Axe Murders” by Angela Carter. 2.5/5 Very interesting premise but the actual action and composition of the story didn’t appeal to me quite as much. I was also unfamiliar with the history that this short story was based on, so that might have also decreased my enjoyment a little bit. I wish that we also witnessed more of the actual murder and aftermath and not just the buildup… “Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates” by Pat Murphy. 3/5 Interesting and cool with a little bit of pain kind of sprinkled on top. Not sure I entirely agree with or understand the overall message of the story, but still enjoyed the reading experience! “When It Changed” by Joanna Russ. 3.5/5 Super super interesting take on the idea of splitting up the binary genders and then reintroducing the two together. l liked the family aspect of this story but the rest of it wasn’t as powerful for me. Also, I do kind of get a little uncomfortable with the idea of men as a pure and unadulterated evil… I don’t know. “The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet” by Vandana Singh. 2/5 These “women as _______” didn’t really work for me, unfortunately. A little bit too much meaning for me to really latch on and appreciate what they had to offer. I’m sure that they’re amazing for some, just not for me! “Gestella” by Susan Palwick. 5/5 This was beautiful and devastating. The controlling nature of the relationship and just basically every element of the story kind of broke my heart but I still adored it. How she was tamed… just limited in every single way and not allowed any agency in her own life. I loved this. I think this is my actual favorite. Spectacular. “Boys” by Carol Emshwiller. 2.5/5 Fine, interesting world, but overall didn’t really strike me in any particular ways. “Stable Strategies for Middle Management” by Eileen Gunn. 4/5 Super cool idea, well executed, unique in this anthology of very unique stories, and at least the general idea has remained with me and is at the top of my head when I sat down to write this. So, this is to say, that I liked it and it worked well but wasn’t necessarily the best, in my opinion. “Northern Chess” by Tanith Lee. 2.5/5 I very much liked the very end of this story and the “moral” or kind of ending message type thing, but the rest of it really wasn’t my cup of tea (I mean, it was fine, but just really didn’t stick out to me and I kind of rushed my way through because I just wanted it to be over.) That being said, I was very pleasantly surprised by the ending. “Aunts” by Karin Tidback. 2/5 So I don’t know exactly what happened here… I definitely meshed a lot better with the ones that were less… out there? This was definitely cool and interesting, but I didn’t get a lot out of it or enjoy it all that much… “Sur” by Ursula K. Le Guin. 2.5/5 Definitely not as enamored with this one as I really wanted to be (as I know that Ms. Le Guin is definitely one of the most influential writers of the genre.) I liked the relationships between them all, but like… the adventure type and like wilderness… I don’t know, it just really wasn’t for me. “Fears” by Pamela Sargent. 3/5 Kind of difficult to read, but still a good story, in my opinion. Again, very interesting premise, though. “Detours on the Way to Nothing” by Rachel Swirsky. 5/5 REALLY liked this story about people projecting their desires onto others (especially women, in this case) and not letting those people have their own identities apart from how others construct them. Anyway, I really appreciated a lot about this story, even when it was kind of heartbreaking and difficult to read. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” by Catherynne M. Valente. 3/5 I mean, to be fair, I didn’t understand a lot of the science-y parts… they just kind of went over my head so I basically skimmed those parts. I liked the idea of putting together these creation myths with science stuff, but really the part which was most impactful for me were the parts where she wrote about the “science fiction writer” which was a lot more like what I was looking for. “Home by the Sea” by Elisabeth Vonarburg. 2.5/5 I didn’t… get anything out this, really. Like, I’m looking back at it now, and obviously it was the last one that I read so it should be fresh in my mind… but I’m not really remembering lots. Average, not bad, but not exceptional or one of the ones from this that will really stick with me for a while. A very interesting collection: 88%

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    A good collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories from a wide range of authors. I enjoyed a number of the stories, all of which had a feminist slant. Some stories were scary commentaries on gender relations, while one in particular gave me a few chuckles (the one about the grammarian). I liked the editors' picks. A good collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories from a wide range of authors. I enjoyed a number of the stories, all of which had a feminist slant. Some stories were scary commentaries on gender relations, while one in particular gave me a few chuckles (the one about the grammarian). I liked the editors' picks.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ginny

    There's not a bad story in this collection (though there is one that I totally did not understand - the surrealist story My Flannel Knickers by Lenora Carrington). Here are a few of my favorites: - The Forbidden Words of Margaret A. by L. Timmel Duchamp; 1980 A woman's ideas are so radical and powerful, the government makes it illegal for her to speak. - The Glass Bottle Trick by Nalo Hopkinson; 2000 A woman learns to see her husband in a new light after she accidentally breaks the bottles he keeps There's not a bad story in this collection (though there is one that I totally did not understand - the surrealist story My Flannel Knickers by Lenora Carrington). Here are a few of my favorites: - The Forbidden Words of Margaret A. by L. Timmel Duchamp; 1980 A woman's ideas are so radical and powerful, the government makes it illegal for her to speak. - The Glass Bottle Trick by Nalo Hopkinson; 2000 A woman learns to see her husband in a new light after she accidentally breaks the bottles he keeps to contain the spirits of his dead wives. - The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.; 1977 As scientists bioengineer pests to eradicate themselves, humanity itself starts to come under the spell of a terrifying cult of violence against women. Probably my favorite story in the collection. Amazingly, the first Tiptree I've read (I know, a terrible gap in my education that I will soon rectify.) - The Evening and the Morning and the Night by Octavia E. Butler; 1987 Young people born with a devastating disease that causes delusions they are trapped in their own skin try to make their way in a world that fears them and misunderstands their illness. - Tales from the Breast by Hiromi Goto; 1995 A horror story about breast feeding you really shouldn't read if that's something you ever plan to do, but that might provide some relief if you have breast fed and felt unsupported in the endeavor and its difficulties. Lord, this story haunts me. - When It Changed by Joanna Russ; 1972 A space colony is cut off from Earth, and after the men die off the women adapt and thrive in a mono-gendered society for hundreds of years until one day Earthling men return. This vies with the Tiptree for my favorite story in the collection. Reminds me of Ammonite by Nicola Griffith, though the publication of this story preceded that novel by 30 years. - Gestella by Susan Palwick; 2001 A female werewolf tries to make her relationship with a human professor work as she ages at seven times his rate. Another haunting story. - Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time by Catherynne M. Valente; 2010 Remixing the world's creation myths with origin stories, scientific and personal. Valente's stunning talent on display here. - Home by the Sea by Elisabeth Vonarburg; 1985 A woman journeys to confront her mother after coming to terms with discovering she's an artificial life form. Pretty close to my idea of a perfect sci-fi short story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christine Prevas

    There were maybe 5 stories that made reading this worthwhile (Octavia Butler's "The Evening and the Morning and the Night," L Timmel Duchamp's "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A," Pat Murphy's Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates," Eileen Gunn's "Stable Strategies for Middle Management," and Catherynne M Valente's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time") but for the most part I ended up infuriated and offended that an anthology published in 2015 could include stories that demean and fetishize t There were maybe 5 stories that made reading this worthwhile (Octavia Butler's "The Evening and the Morning and the Night," L Timmel Duchamp's "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A," Pat Murphy's Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates," Eileen Gunn's "Stable Strategies for Middle Management," and Catherynne M Valente's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time") but for the most part I ended up infuriated and offended that an anthology published in 2015 could include stories that demean and fetishize trans/nonbinary identity quite as much as a few of the ones in this collection (I'm looking at you, Kelley Eskridge).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marie-Therese

    An exemplary anthology. There is not a single weak or even mediocre story here and many of the works included rank among the finest tales in the canon. This is an absolutely essential read for anyone who loves speculative fiction. (Parenthetically, I am thrilled my little participation in the Kickstarter that helped bring about this volume contributed to something so fine. My money has rarely been so well spent!)

  14. 5 out of 5

    l

    Refreshing! Favourites: - Nalo Hopkinson's take on Bluebeard - James Tiptree Jr's The Screwfly Solution - Vandava Singh, the Woman Who thought She Was a Planet - Susan Palwick's werewolf story Refreshing! Favourites: - Nalo Hopkinson's take on Bluebeard - James Tiptree Jr's The Screwfly Solution - Vandava Singh, the Woman Who thought She Was a Planet - Susan Palwick's werewolf story

  15. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Dhu

    Sisters of the Revolution, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, is a reprint anthology that brings together work from some of the most important feminist voices in science fiction. This is not hyperbole. Among the works collected in this PM Press publication are Joanna Russ’s When It Changed, James Tiptree Jr’s The Screwfly Solution, Octavia Butler’s The Evening and the Morning and the Night, and Ursula Le Guin’s Sur, as well as several other stories I’ve read and loved before from authors Eleanor Sisters of the Revolution, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, is a reprint anthology that brings together work from some of the most important feminist voices in science fiction. This is not hyperbole. Among the works collected in this PM Press publication are Joanna Russ’s When It Changed, James Tiptree Jr’s The Screwfly Solution, Octavia Butler’s The Evening and the Morning and the Night, and Ursula Le Guin’s Sur, as well as several other stories I’ve read and loved before from authors Eleanor Arnason, Vandana Singh, Nalo Hopkinson and Elisabeth Vonarburg. There were also a fair number of stories new to me, by authors both familiar and new. It’s an outstanding collection of writing by remarkable women. In their introduction, Ann Vandemeer and Jeff Vandemeer write of this anthology as part of an ongoing conversation around feminist speculative fiction, neither a defining nor a definitive work. “We think of this anthology—the research, the thought behind it, and the actual publication—as a journey of discovery not complete within these pages. Every reader, we hope, will find some writer or story with which they were not previously familiar—and feel deeply some lack that needs to be remedied in the future, by some other anthology.” As such, it is both deeply enjoyable in its right, and an encouragement to seek out further examples of the feminist vision in speculative fiction. The stories contained in this collection examine many aspects of women’s lives and struggles. Woman as mother, woman as daughter, woman as leader, woman as revolutionary, woman as healer, woman as explorer, woman as hero. Women who defy the expectations of their society, women who choose to escape, women who try to do the right thing, women who rebel, women who kill, women alone, women betrayed, women who survive. I recommend it highly.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Beautiful This one sat on my digital shelf far too long. What a treat to begin the year with. Definitely recommend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    The style of the first two stories really got in the way of the interesting premises, and I started the third one but have kind of lost interest. The writing just makes it too difficult to get carried away with the stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie McDaniel

    There's a nice trend on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites, of crowdfunding anthologies based around specific themes that might not find a home in traditional publishing. This book is a good example. I participated in its Kickstarter, and I'm proud that my money helped this book find a home in the world. It's a very professional effort, as would be expected from the editing team of Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. Unfortunately, all the stories are from years past and cannot be considered for this There's a nice trend on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites, of crowdfunding anthologies based around specific themes that might not find a home in traditional publishing. This book is a good example. I participated in its Kickstarter, and I'm proud that my money helped this book find a home in the world. It's a very professional effort, as would be expected from the editing team of Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. Unfortunately, all the stories are from years past and cannot be considered for this year's awards, although the anthology itself could be nominated for, say, the Locus Awards. It would make a worthy nominee, as far as I'm concerned. Some of my favorites: "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.," L. Timmell Duchamp--Margaret A. is so feared by the US government that the Constitution is amended to silence her, and she is held in a one-person concentration camp with no contact with the outside world, save for a monthly visit from a journalist. We never find out exactly what she says, and that's not the point. (It is mentioned, though, that Margaret A. is a black woman, which is rather telling, even more so now than when the story was written.) The story is not really about Margaret A., but rather the journalist who speaks with her, and who discovers she cannot live with the status quo any longer. "The Grammarian's Five Daughters," Eleanor Arnason--a delightful, beautifully written fantasy about the power of words (quite literally the parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions) and the women who wield them. "The Screwfly Solution," James Tiptree, Jr (aka Alice Sheldon)--a classic of the genre, just as disturbing now as it was nearly forty years ago. "The Evening and the Morning and the Night," Octavia E. Butler--I've read a lot of Butler's stuff, but somehow I missed this story. It's tremendous. "Tales from the Breast," Hiromi Goto--the premise of this story sounds absurd, but man, the ending bites. "Northern Chess," Tanith Lee--a lush fantasy story that hinges on a similar reveal to Eowyn's "I am no man!" from The Return of the King. But my favorite of the bunch, as dark and depressing as it is, is Susan Palwick's "Gestella," which asks a simple question: what happens when a female werewolf, with canine aging patterns, falls in love with a human? For modern sensibilities, the beginning is a bit squicky, but the story is a powerful treatise on how women are often used and discarded as they age. And the ending is just...oh my God. There were a couple of stories I liked less, but the general quality is quite high. You won't go wrong with this collection.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Felice Picano

    Anne and Jeff Vandermeer are superb anthologists and Jeff's a pretty good writer too. This book isn't as "revolutionary" as the title implies and it's only sometimes "feminist." But it is the best collection of modern speculative fiction by women about women I know of, ranging all over the world in good translations and containing some true classics of this genre. Among the latter are James Tiptree, Jr.'s The Screwfly Solution, Olivia Butler's The Evening and the Morning and the Night, L. Timmel Anne and Jeff Vandermeer are superb anthologists and Jeff's a pretty good writer too. This book isn't as "revolutionary" as the title implies and it's only sometimes "feminist." But it is the best collection of modern speculative fiction by women about women I know of, ranging all over the world in good translations and containing some true classics of this genre. Among the latter are James Tiptree, Jr.'s The Screwfly Solution, Olivia Butler's The Evening and the Morning and the Night, L. Timmel Duchamp's The Forbidden Words of Margaret A., Joanna Russ' When It changed and Ursula Le Guin's Sur. Other superb stories I didn't know are Carol Emshwiller's Boys, Susan Palwick's Gestella, Pamela Sargent's Fears, Deborah Vonaburg's Home By the Sea, Hiromi Goto's hilarious Tales From the Breast,Eleanor Arnason's mythic The Grammarian's Five Daughters, Kelly Barnhill's The Men Who Live in Trees and Nnedi Okorafor's The Palm Tree Bandit. I never "got" Angela Carter and so her The Fall River Murders falls flat for me and Tanith Lee has done better than Northern Chess included here. Otherwise the hit just keep coming. .

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Hall

    Really solid collection. My perennial favorite Le Guin is present in a story I hadn't read before, as well as James Tiptree/Alice Sheldon's The Screwfly Solution, one of her most feverish and finest stories, and Catherynne Valente who I have lately enjoyed. The others were all new to me, but of particular interest were Carol Emshwiller, Pamela Sargent, L. Timmel DuChamp, Leena Krohn, Pat Murphy, Eleanor Arnason and Octavia Butler. Loved the stories of Arnason, Emshwiller and Octavia Butler's The Really solid collection. My perennial favorite Le Guin is present in a story I hadn't read before, as well as James Tiptree/Alice Sheldon's The Screwfly Solution, one of her most feverish and finest stories, and Catherynne Valente who I have lately enjoyed. The others were all new to me, but of particular interest were Carol Emshwiller, Pamela Sargent, L. Timmel DuChamp, Leena Krohn, Pat Murphy, Eleanor Arnason and Octavia Butler. Loved the stories of Arnason, Emshwiller and Octavia Butler's The Evening and the Morning and the Night probably best. I have tried to get into Butler before without much success, but this story, which had as much to do with disability and agency as it did feminism, hit me particularly hard.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Johanna

    uneven. opens with some pretty leaden, plodding parables, then moves onto some really interesting older stories i had missed (why haven't i read james tiptree before? because my library has no tiptree books, that's why.) and then i stopped reading. you know how authors use bad things happening to animals to prove points about human characters? i react badly to that and the most extreme example of it i have ever seen is in the middle of this anthology. not only could i not finish the story, i coul uneven. opens with some pretty leaden, plodding parables, then moves onto some really interesting older stories i had missed (why haven't i read james tiptree before? because my library has no tiptree books, that's why.) and then i stopped reading. you know how authors use bad things happening to animals to prove points about human characters? i react badly to that and the most extreme example of it i have ever seen is in the middle of this anthology. not only could i not finish the story, i could not open the book again to a different story because i no longer wanted to give the editors any room in my head.

  22. 4 out of 5

    kari

    This anthology, everyone. A beautiful, multi-faceted collection showing the many shades and shapes that feminism can take; addressing a variety of issues; and showing how the female voice and identity in SFF were forged. A great introduction to those interested in this aspect of genre lit, and a powerful read that will stay with you for long after. So many amazing voices, and so many of them I haven't read before. This anthology, everyone. A beautiful, multi-faceted collection showing the many shades and shapes that feminism can take; addressing a variety of issues; and showing how the female voice and identity in SFF were forged. A great introduction to those interested in this aspect of genre lit, and a powerful read that will stay with you for long after. So many amazing voices, and so many of them I haven't read before.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ava

    While a few of the stories were well-written and compelling, a number of the stories relied on ham-fisted, forced imagery and overdone tropes of the genre to illustrate tired, vague messages about patriarchal existence. However, it did introduce me to some new speculative authors, so for that I'll give it 3 stars instead of 2. While a few of the stories were well-written and compelling, a number of the stories relied on ham-fisted, forced imagery and overdone tropes of the genre to illustrate tired, vague messages about patriarchal existence. However, it did introduce me to some new speculative authors, so for that I'll give it 3 stars instead of 2.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mari Monte

    FINALLY. ALL MY SCI FI GIRLS HOLLAR AT ME

  25. 4 out of 5

    William Leight

    “The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.” seems to go out of its way to ignore the possibilities of speculative fiction. The story concerns one Margaret A., whose mere words are accounted so dangerous that the U.S. Constitution was amended solely to ban them, with all copies destroyed and Margaret herself imprisoned for life at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Apparently, in the past her speaking and writing prompted “massive civil disorder” to the point that the overthrow of the government seemed possible “The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.” seems to go out of its way to ignore the possibilities of speculative fiction. The story concerns one Margaret A., whose mere words are accounted so dangerous that the U.S. Constitution was amended solely to ban them, with all copies destroyed and Margaret herself imprisoned for life at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Apparently, in the past her speaking and writing prompted “massive civil disorder” to the point that the overthrow of the government seemed possible. Even now, sitting in a two-room cottage that has been built for her in a corner of the base, forbidden to talk about anything controversial, she still has a powerful effect, causing her guards, hardened men and women who are thoroughly screened before the assignment, to quit regularly. Clearly, Margaret A.’s words have a power not granted to the words of people in the real world. If this were fantasy, she would be a wizard of some sort; in science fiction, it’s trickier, but there are any number of mechanisms that could be used to explain the extraordinary power of her speaking. But Duchamp refuses to use any of them. Margaret A. is, it seems, just an ordinary woman who is intelligent, insightful, and persuasive. This is, of course, harder for the reader to accept than if she was somehow hacking the minds of those she spoke to. It’s one thing if she had just led a civil uprising, but the government’s excessive and obsessive determination to eradicate everything she ever said or wrote, as well as her impact on her prison guards, clearly points to something more: Duchamp’s refusal to give it sabotages the story. (Perhaps she was worried about lack of realism, but Margaret A. is already unrealistic: an unrealistic mechanism would make the story more coherent, not less.) “My Flannel Knickers” is a fairly weird, vaguely psychedelic story, with a central metaphor for high society as a competition of Faces, all trying to eat each other. For some reason the metaphor gets more complex as the story goes on, in a way that doesn’t really make sense. Bits of oddball humor keep it from getting too serious. Leonora Carrington is an acquired taste, perhaps. “The Mothers of Shark Island”, about an island prison where mothers are sent once their daughters are grown was “not without controversy” when it was published in 1998, according to the story’s introduction. However, its “different perspective on motherhood” is perhaps more common these days then it once was — certainly it doesn’t stand out in this collection — and it ends on a rather sentimental note. The story itself is rather disjointed, and I suspect that it would not have merited inclusion were it not for the controversy. “The Palm Tree Bandit” is a fun folktale, presumably at least partly based on traditional Nigerian folktales, in which a new spirit is birthed out of some anti-patriarchal mischief. Light-hearted and amusing. “The Grammarian’s Five Daughters” is based on the traditional fairy-tale structure in which one son after another goes out to seek his fortune with whatever minimal help his parents can supply, only in this case it’s daughters and, because they are the daughters of a Grammarian, they are given parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions respectively). It’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t quite work. “And Salome Danced” is one of the few stories by an author I didn’t know (in this Kelley Eskridge) that I liked. The shapeshifting Joe/Jo character, strongly reminiscent of Desire of the Endless (which is a good thing), is pitch-perfect, and the playwright Mars and his stage manager Lucky are (despite their strange names) also well-done. “The Perfect Married Woman” gets a few chuckles from the incongruity of its heroine murdering Marat and Holofernes (or very similar people) and then going back to her ordinary lower-middle-class life, and its parting shot at the horrors of everyday life is well placed, but it’s mostly pretty thin. “The Glass Bottle Trick” takes the Bluebeard story, moves it to Jamaica, and posits self-hatred induced by racism as an explanation for why Bluebeard murders his wives. Hopkinson manages the story expertly, slowly introducing bits of wrongness that add up until we figure out what’s going on: the fact that the reader beats the heroine, Beatrice, to this realization only makes it more satisfying when the forbidden door is opened. An excellent, if gruesome, adaptation. “Their Mother’s Tears: the Fourth Letter” is an excerpt from a longer work, which presumably explains why it seems to be missing so much context, such as why the ant (or termite) nest that the character visits cannot be simply described as such. Rather than being a story, it’s more of a proposition about the nature of motherhood: or at least, without the context, it’s impossible to evaluate its qualities as a story. “The Screwfly Solution” is a brilliant story in which aliens devise an ingenious solution to wipe out humanity in a similar fashion to the way that humans would try to get rid of a pesky variety of insect. The really scary part, though, is how plausible Tiptree is able to make the incorporation of the mass murder of women into human culture seem. Note only is the idea really good, Tiptree just writes better prose than most of the other authors here. “Seven Losses of na Re” mostly left me cold: the expressionistic, free-associating style has been done better elsewhere, as has the topic of Jewish/Ukrainian suffering under Stalin and Hitler. “The Evening and the Morning and the Night” is a wonderful story that is probably the best thing I’ve read by Octavia Butler to this point. Duryea-Gode disease sounds chillingly plausible, the characters work beautifully, and Butler writes really well. “The Sleep of Plants” is a story about a woman turning into a plant, apparently because that’s what she really wants to be. Since this just involves her getting in a tub with some soil and exerting her will, it’s not the most interesting story of vegetable transformation. “The Men Who Live in Trees” is another story by an unfamiliar writer (Kelly Barnhill) that I quite enjoyed. The character of Carmina, a teenager struggling to control her life as she is forced into an arranged marriage by her aunt and her mother-in-law-to-be, is perhaps not original, but she’s interesting and sympathetic. Originality is supplied in plenty by the titular tree-dwellers, the Molaru: the introduction, an excerpt from the journals of Carmina’s father, declares that they are the most puzzling of all the groupings of people in the “Glorious Empire” where the story takes place, and they remain tantalizingly enigmatic through the story. The one downside to this story is that, unlike “The Screwfly Solution” and “The Evening and the Morning and the Night”, it’s not self-contained: I feel like it might have been even better if it were longer. “Tales from the Breast” is about the frustrations of new motherhood: I don’t know if the problems of breastfeeding it describes really do happen, but if so, my respect for breastfeeding mothers increases significantly. “The Fall River Axe Murders” is, of course, about Lizzie Borden, who retains her fascination (a movie was released about her just last year) over a century after she murdered her parents. Carter concentrates on setting the scene, working more naturalistically — both in terms of subject matter and prose style — then is her usual wont. Whether her depiction of Lizzie’s state of mind has any relation to reality is probably unknowable: that’s likely why this qualifies as “speculative fiction” and can be included here, as there are no fantastic or science-fictional elements. Regardless, it’s well-written, with an eye for period details like the clothes and the smells that creates an atmosphere (realistic or not) in which Lizzie’s act appears almost reasonable. “Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates” unfortunately reminds me of a Thurber essay (the name of which escapes me at the moment) which has a similar structure of describing mating behavior in various species (in his case, taken from an Encyclopedia Britannica article) and relating it to human courtship. Thurber does not have a post-apocalyptic setting, or any robots, but his version is much funnier. Plus, the plot just seems a little too implausible: the protagonist, dying of radiation poisoning in a not-too-far-future world, is nonetheless able to construct two robots which are able to mate and produce offspring even though she didn’t design that capability in them? It’s just a bit much to swallow. I suppose that could be a hallucination on her part, but then what’s the point of the story? In this case, I’ll stick with Thurber. “When It Changed” is a powerful story of the appearance of men in an all-female world. Joanna Russ is not one to pull punches: the men are appropriately infuriating and the final outlook dismal. It’s a bit too schematic to be as effective as the best stories in this collection, but it’s still quite strong. “The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet” is a rather oddball story. The underlying plot is of an aging woman who realizes, now that her children are grown and her husband has retired, that her life and her marriage have been largely meaningless. So she comes to believe that she’s a planet, which is weird, and then starts to almost turn into one, which is weirder. Singh cleverly tells the story from the point of view of her husband: his increasing but overwhelmingly selfish distress perfectly illustrates why Kamala has decided to become a planet, but it can’t quite overcome the disjuncture between humanity and planethood. “Gestella” has a fresh and well-executed take on werewolves, the amazingly despicable Jonathan, and a wonderfully powerful ending. Susan Palwick (another writer I had never heard of whose contribution I quite liked) does a great job of depicting sexual politics using a relationship between a female werewolf (who ages in dog years) and a male human. There’s a great deal of cynicism — Diane seems more like a token gesture towards the idea that not all relationships are like Gestella and Jonathan’s than a genuine counterexample — but the ending is very strong nonetheless. Quite well done. “Boys” is, I guess, aiming for a sort of timeless parable, with its nameless narrator, largely formless setting, endless but meaningless war, etc. And it might work, if it were longer. As it is, the narrator is a potentially interesting and sympathetic character, but he needs a chance to shake off, or not, his pre-existing beliefs, and that requires more time than the story can give. And the story is also too short to allow Una, his foil, or any of the other characters to command our attention. There are a couple of interesting ideas here, but (as is often the case with short stories) they need more space. “Stable Strategies for Middle Management” is an amusing, slightly absurdist satire of corporate culture, in which bioengineering allows middle managers to evolve in ways best suited for the survival of the company, and hopefully also their careers. Gunn doesn’t really have anything all that new to say about the travails of middle management, but she is good at keeping a totally straight face and integrating her premise with corporate PR-speak. “Northern Chess” is old-fashioned sword&sorcery, with maybe a dash of horror: the resemblance to the Jirel of Joiry stories goes beyond the fact that both feature a female heroine. The twist at the end is not new, but Lee is at least able to joke about it. A well-written example of a kind of story that I personally don’t find very interesting. “Aunts” is a deeply strange story, a surreal fable that is too surreal to have a point. “Sur” is not one of Le Guin’s best stories but is still very good, a story of an expedition of South American women to the South Pole in 1909. Le Guin approaches the idea with the straightforward simplicity of her character Juana’s question “Well, if Captain Scott can do it, why can’t we?” The question sounds ridiculous at first, but given the resources, why not? Of course, the resources do represent a significant problem, one Le Guin solves by introducing an anonymous benefactor whose motives remain obscure, but aside from this contrivance the expedition comes together in a fairly realistic fashion, and Le Guin has clearly put some thought into its design. In keeping with the tone of the story, there are no deeds of heroism on the expedition: the narrator is unassuming and self-deprecating, and Le Guin gently pokes fun at the desire of explorers to leave their mark on the world (as when Juana names mountains “Bolivar’s Big Nose” or “Whose Toe?”). The slightly old-fashioned style in which the story is written adds to the verisimilitude. “Fears” seems to be trying to make the same general argument as “The Screwfly Solution”, only it’s not as well-written, its premise doesn’t totally work, and it’s just generally not as good. “Detours on the Way to Nothing” is about a member of a sect that believes in abnegation of self by becoming someone else’s desire, in this case through a process of literal physical transformation. Your interest in the story will probably depend on how philosophically interesting you find this concept. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” has no connection whatsoever to the Wallace Stevens poem. Instead, Valente has taken various creation myths — Christian, Shinto, Kiowa, Aztec, Greek (technically the story of Persephone is not a creation myth, I suppose) and Haida — and interwoven them with science or science-fictiony elements (verging at times on technobabble): an interesting approach that she doesn’t try to push any farther than it can go. In between these sections, there are pieces of her own creation myth, episodes from her life before she become a writer that she feels come together to make her what she is today. The result is very reminiscent of her early novels, but moves quickly enough to avoid the pitfalls that those works occasionally fell into. “Home by the Sea” is by Elisabeth Vonarburg, a writer who I think deserves to be better known (among English-speaking readers, at least: I don’t know how well known she is among readers in her native French). The story is about what it means to be human in a world where artificial people are possible, while environmental degradation is rendering it more difficult for Homo Sapiens to reproduce itself. But it’s also a very-well executed story about a woman reconciling with her mother. The fact that the woman is herself artificial ties the two themes neatly together. There is an awful lot of exposition, but Vonarburg doesn’t let it slow down the story too much. And though the story could fit into a larger work, it is clearly complete in and of itself. A very good story that ends the collection on a high note.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    The broad banner of speculative fiction is, bar none, my favorite. I love it all -- fantay, sci fi, horror, everything in between. This is a speculative anthology, the unifying theme being all works by women, and truly covered all bases (in the broadest sense -- I mean thirty stories still can't cover the myriad of sub genres but there were so many flavors represented here). I don't even know how to begin shouting my love of this anthology. So many utterly unique and diverse stories gathered toge The broad banner of speculative fiction is, bar none, my favorite. I love it all -- fantay, sci fi, horror, everything in between. This is a speculative anthology, the unifying theme being all works by women, and truly covered all bases (in the broadest sense -- I mean thirty stories still can't cover the myriad of sub genres but there were so many flavors represented here). I don't even know how to begin shouting my love of this anthology. So many utterly unique and diverse stories gathered together in one spot -- more than one story I finished with my mouth hanging open, bowled over by something unlike anything I've ever read before. I started keeping a list of my favorite selections but soon realized that was a fool's game as my particular favorites far outweighed the ones I didn't connect to as much. And, a truly rare thing in anthologies, there were barely any I was indifferent about or outright disliked. Actually I think there were zero I completely disliked, just one story that went over my head. Absolutely a must-read for speculative fiction fans. I'm so excited to read more from all the women represented here!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Camille McCarthy

    It took me a little while to get into this collection but when I did I really enjoyed the majority of the stories. The anthology does a great job of connecting stories with similar themes in how it's organized and representing a wide variety of female speculative fiction authors. My favorites were "the Screwfly Solution," Vandana Singh's "the Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet" and Octavia Butler's "the Evening and the Morning and the Night" but there were a lot of other strong stories and even It took me a little while to get into this collection but when I did I really enjoyed the majority of the stories. The anthology does a great job of connecting stories with similar themes in how it's organized and representing a wide variety of female speculative fiction authors. My favorites were "the Screwfly Solution," Vandana Singh's "the Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet" and Octavia Butler's "the Evening and the Morning and the Night" but there were a lot of other strong stories and even the ones I didn't particularly like were still unique and interesting. There were a lot of authors I'd never heard of and I would love to read more of their work, so I'm glad I had the chance to be introduced to them through this anthology. I agree with other reviewers who said this wasn't exactly "revolutionary" and that a lot of the stories were more about oppression than envisioning a feminist future, but they were still good stories and I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes speculative fiction.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    This book is a veritable Who's Who of powerful women writers in SF and F. The Vandermeers carefully edit the work to intersperse women associated with the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 70s (Russ, Le Guin, Tiptree, Carter) with contemporary authors (Singh, Swirsky, Valente, Jemisin), to show the influence and progression of feminist writing. Some strong women authors are not represented here, probably because their better work is not at short lengths (there are 29 stories crammed into 3 This book is a veritable Who's Who of powerful women writers in SF and F. The Vandermeers carefully edit the work to intersperse women associated with the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 70s (Russ, Le Guin, Tiptree, Carter) with contemporary authors (Singh, Swirsky, Valente, Jemisin), to show the influence and progression of feminist writing. Some strong women authors are not represented here, probably because their better work is not at short lengths (there are 29 stories crammed into 340 pages). I'm thinking of Bujold, Cherryh, and McCaffrey. However, there were a few omissions I noted (Connie Willis' “Even the Queen” would fit right in). I missed this anthology when it came out in 2015. I'm glad I caught up with it. While I had read a half dozen or so of the stories before, it was great to see them again and discover stories I hadn't encountered. Want to get a short course in how women's voices have expanded the range of SF and F narratives? Get this book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Like most anthologies, a bit of a mixed bag. I did have a problem with some sloppy editing. At first I thought it was one particular author whose story had a lot of typos, but then they appeared in quite a few other stories so I guess someone actually typed some of these up and didn't do a great job. Favourites: The Grammarian's Five Daughters - Eleanor Arnason The Glass Bottle Trick - Nalo Hopkinson The Screwfly Solution - James Tiptree Jr The Evening And The Morning And The Night - Octavia E. Butl Like most anthologies, a bit of a mixed bag. I did have a problem with some sloppy editing. At first I thought it was one particular author whose story had a lot of typos, but then they appeared in quite a few other stories so I guess someone actually typed some of these up and didn't do a great job. Favourites: The Grammarian's Five Daughters - Eleanor Arnason The Glass Bottle Trick - Nalo Hopkinson The Screwfly Solution - James Tiptree Jr The Evening And The Morning And The Night - Octavia E. Butler When It Changed - Joanna Russ Fears - Pamela Sargent Least Favourites: My Flannel Knickers - Leonora Carrington The Perfect Married Woman - Angélica Gorodischer The Sleep Of Plants - Anne Richter The Men Who Live In Trees - Kelly Barnfield Love And Sex Among The Invertebrates - Pat Murphy Honourable mention for almost favourite to Sur - Ursula K. Le Guin, but only as I'm a big fan of polar exploration stories anyway. Also Northern Chess - Tanith Lee, but the twist was too obvious.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shelley Anderson

    This is a very substantial collection of sci-fi (and occasional sword and sorcery) short stories, written by some 29 writers. The masters are here: Octavia Butler; James Tiptree, Jr.; Pamela Sargent, Ursula K. LeGuin; and Tanith Lee (represented by her clever gem "Northern Chess"), along side newer masters like Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor. And while it is overwhelmingly American writers, there are women like the Japanese-Canadian Hiromi Goto; the Swedish Karin Tidbeck; Englishwoman Angela This is a very substantial collection of sci-fi (and occasional sword and sorcery) short stories, written by some 29 writers. The masters are here: Octavia Butler; James Tiptree, Jr.; Pamela Sargent, Ursula K. LeGuin; and Tanith Lee (represented by her clever gem "Northern Chess"), along side newer masters like Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor. And while it is overwhelmingly American writers, there are women like the Japanese-Canadian Hiromi Goto; the Swedish Karin Tidbeck; Englishwoman Angela Carter and British surrealist Leonora Carrington; and the Indian Vandana Singh. What is astonishing is how well the stories published in the 1970s and 1980s have aged. Tiptree's "The Screwfly Solution" and Sargent's "Fears" are still chilling; Eileen Gunn's "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" still satirically pertinent; Eleanor Arnason's The Grammarian's Five Daughters" still clever; and Joanna Russ's classic "When It Changed" still a game changer. These stories are all classics but not dated. read them to learn about ground breaking sci-fi women writers; teach them in sci-fi classes; read them to feel disturbed; but most of all rad them to be entertained.

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