Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind (1985) ed. by Jen Green and Sarah Lefanu

DespatchesFromTheFrontiersoftheFemaleMind

Feather earring, or sparks flying out of her ear?

From the cheesy cover to the confining title, it’s no wonder few have read Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind, edited by Jen Green and Sarah Lefanu. The 1985 anthology of feminist SF welds together a wide variety of feminist SF stories from veteran and budding SF writers of the period who contribute tales that lean on some aspect of womanhood, exploring potential utopias to dreadful dystopias, while sparking reflection on the present.  Continue reading

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Shorts about Shorts! Short Story Collections I read in 2015

Normally, I spend my lunch hours trying to not drip salad dressing on my keyboard, but this year, I promised myself I would interrupt my daily toil to close my office door and read during my lunch hour every day. No email, no clients, no spreadsheets.

(Excuse me while I snicker at my silly January 2015 self.)

That maybe happened like three times. Damn you, capitalist work guilt, which doesn’t even make sense because I am a public servant, but I just can’t close my door to read a book because people might need me. I just can’t.

I’ve gotten a little bit better about taking my lunch hour this fall, which requires physically leaving the premises, but the truth is, I’m just not very good at, nor am I motivated to, read short fiction. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it takes a long time for my wacky attention span to focus on a book. Short fiction doesn’t provide for that kind of luxury, and a lunch hour of ducking the dreaded “what are you reading?” question doesn’t help.

Anyway, I got through a small number of short fiction collections this year. Here they are, in the order in which I read them:

Shorts about Shorts! Continue reading

My Thoughts on the 1939 Retro Hugos: A Sampling

Pigeons_from_Hell

Read with caution.

thetimetrap

Avoid this.

Who_Goes_There-_(John_Campbell_book)_1st_edition_cover_art

Read this.

Due to the likely obstacles that come with obtaining the rights to 75-year-old fiction and converting it to digital format, the 1939 Retro Hugo packet was released just five weeks before ballots were due, with incomplete categories that were riddled with typos. Plus, I was offline for a month.

But, no worries! I didn’t vote, but I got some of the reading done! Here are my thoughts: Continue reading

My Thoughts on the 2014 Hugo Noms: Novellas

Voting closed last Thursday for the 2014 Hugo Awards and 1939 Retro Hugo Awards. I managed to read for some of the categories, and here are my thoughts.

BEST NOVELLA OF 2014

My ranking order (best to worst):

Two of the stories in this category were so good they put a goofy grin on my face like a fiction-based narcotic. If you want to be pinned to the couch for most of an entire day, read Six-Gun Snow White (I’m starting to think that Valente can write anything), and “Wakulla Springs” (gorgeous and brilliant, and kind of not really SF, which is the best kind of SF). If you can ignore the terrible art and RPG background that supports The Butcher of Khardov, it’s a basic premise, but well-written, and I enjoyed the characterization. As much as I appreciate Stross’ jabbing at Lovecraft’s limp attempts at horror, “Equoid” is too colloquial and superficial (like a bare-bones, British version of The Dresden Files), and “The Chaplain’s Legacy” was so terrible, shoddy, and formulaic, it made me angry. Had I not been on vacation, my Twitter feed would have been filled with venomous expletives about this story.

It was tough choosing between “Wakulla Springs” and Six Gun Snow White. Ultimately, my top choice is “Wakulla Springs,” which dances at the fringes of imagination like a horror movie that won’t reveal the monster. Both are excellent reads, though.

My Thoughts on the 2014 Hugo Noms: Novelettes

Voting closed on Thursday for the 2014 Hugo Awards and 1939 Retro Hugo Awards. I managed to read for some of the categories, and here are my thoughts.

BEST NOVELETTE

My ranking order (best to worst):

Ted Chiang’s story about life-logging and personal stories nails what short SF should do: it’s a little bit mind-bendy and a little bit prophetic. I loved it. I teared up with Kowal’s strong story about the choices women make between family and career. I see de Bodard’s name all over the place, but “The Waiting Stars” was an average space operetta. Torgersen presents an average military space romp. I’m still trying to figure out the point of “Opera Vita Aeterna,” other than to co-opt Middle Earth and remove the interesting conflicts and characters. Even the author seems bored with his own story.

Seriously, if there was one Hugo award for all of the fiction categories, Chiang should get it. “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling,” blows away all other competitors. READ IT!

My Thoughts on the 2014 Hugo Noms: Short Stories

Voting closed on Thursday for the 2014 Hugo Awards and 1939 Retro Hugo Awards. I managed to read for some of the categories, and here are my thoughts.

2014 BEST SHORT STORY

My ranking order (favorite at the top):

John Chu’s story about the kinds of lies we feel compelled to tell is intriguing and cool– one of the few shorts I’ve read that deserves an expanded attempt. I hope he revisits this universe again, perhaps with new characters and new lies. The rest of the stories are nice, but fell below my expectations based on the public hype, and it probably didn’t help that I read Chu’s story first. Samatar’s story is cute, addressing the bitter feelings of abandoned children of selkies, and Swirsky’s love letter, styled off of the children’s classic, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, is a sweet, yet stirring, way to address an ugly topic. Heuvelt’s story is a humorous behind-the-scenes take of a classic Thai fable.

If you like cutesy SF pieces, read this entire category. If you click on the John Chu piece, don’t read the Tor.com blurb at the beginning! It’ll kill the effect!