Archive by Author

Which women rule the universe?

15 Oct

Hello world. I live and so does this blog despite what you may have been led to believe. I fixed my wifi access problems by moving so here is to a bright future for women in sci-fi! You’ll have to forgive me because I am a little hopped up on spiced rum and Dr. Pepper zero. I am feeling all warm and fuzzy and extremely positive about everything. Go me!

I extend the open call hand again. Please, pretty please. If you have read a science fiction (see the about page) book written by a woman published since 1999 and would like to review, good or bad, (you didn’t have to like it just don’t be nasty) we’re accepting submissions. A few people have contacted me over the past few months to submit reviews, but I never heard back from them. Please get in touch if this is you.

A discussion topic: not just women who write science fiction, but women who appear in science fiction. Something struck me the other day when reading “Intrusion” by Ken McLeod on my Kobo:his female characters in this particular novel are better than in his previous novel. Now, I’ve only read four (including Intrusion) novels by Ken so I am not a McLeod expert. I only know that even though I did like Restoration Game there was something odd about the lead character who was a woman. I struggled to imagine her as a woman. In fact I thought of her as a man for quite sometime until she suddenly put on a dress and painted her nails. Of course she could have been transgendered or a transvestite, but this was not evident anywhere so I had to assume it was a woman after all.

I wanted to acknowledge Ken’s women this time round because they feel much more like ‘women’. This got me thinking (dangerous). Shouldn’t this blog not only discuss women who write science fiction, but the representation of women in science fiction? Shouldn’t we acknowledge men who write women well and cast a Spock like eye brow in the direction of those who do not? Then all the other questions came to me: what do I mean by represent Women well? Who defines this? Do I define this? to me a Mary Sue character is not evidence of a good female character, but sometimes Mary Sues are favoured by readers. When we say a ‘strong’ female character, what do mean? Is she a warrior or does she simply not back down from her moral conviction? Is she ballsy and brassy? or is she a wife and mother who strands strong against adversity and protects her family? Maybe she is all of these.

What do you think?

mmm cinnamon frosting.

An update

16 Jun

Hi all. Well it felt like such a great idea at the time and I was all full of enthusiasm after EasterCon to get this blog going. Unfortunately, personal circumstances meant that I had to move and I’ve ended up with limited internet capability to do much of my own posting. I have to thank Ian Sales for continuing to persevere to put up reviews. I do want to say that I really appreciate all who have contributed to the blog so far and we are always looking out for new submissions. Just because my lack of interwebs prevents me from doing a lot of posting, doesn’t mean the blog has to suffer. So if you have reviews or want to write a review, even if you’ve never written one before, please check out the About page and get writing!

Cyber Circus by Kim Lakin-Smith

30 Apr

Cyber Circus cover

Cyber Circus

By Kim Lakin-Smith

New Con Press, 2011

isbn 978-1907069307

Review by Pornokitsch

Kim Lakin-Smith’s Cyber Circus (2011) follows the adventures and misadventures – of the titular circus. A group of performers in a flying dieselpunk machine bound from one post-apocalyptic town to another, barely eking out a living. The setting is a dust-choked, war-torn version of the United States, with only a few hollow reminders of our own reality.

Cyber Circus is only the latest of the 2011 books that investigate the idea of exceptionalism using genre fiction. Al Ewing’s Gods of Manhattan is a contemporary steampunk look at pulp heroes. Mark Charan Newton‘s The Book of Transformations explores the failure inherent in the very concept of “superheroism”. Cyber Circus belongs in their number – a darkly poetic examination of what it means to be something other than human.

The key difference between Cyber Circus and the other two is that it explores not superheroism but subhumanism. The book is packed with a wild cast of characters, all of whom have been lessened in some way; physically or mentally, they’ve had something taken from them or been altered into something deplorably specialised. The genre-typical fantasy tale explores the idea of identity by following a character’s search for their own pre-determined greatness. Cyber Circus is the reverse – a quest for acceptance, as undertaken by a true group of misfits. Continue reading

Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge

26 Apr

Solitaire cover

Kelley Eskridge
Small Beer Press, 2011
isbn 9781931520102
Review by Nicola Clarke

There was no risk in letting herself believe that these trees belonged  to her; the rough trunks, the startling soft meat of a broken branch,  the knobbled twigs rising in rows like choirs. The ground belonged to  her, the human-made rises and falls of root and rock, carefully random,  beautiful. The flowers were hers, stuporous in their mulch: the light  and the stippled shadow, the stones and the rich rot underneath them,  were all part of this place that felt like part of her. For the few  minutes of passing through it, she was drawn into it like a breath.

Back in October (2010), there was a very long discussion thread over at Torque Control – sparked by an interview with Tricia Sullivan – about why so little of the science fiction published in the UK these days is written by women. One of the ideas that came out of this fascinating conversation was that we should celebrate women’s genre writing, both in the UK and elsewhere, by putting together a list of the best sf by women from the past ten years. (Voting is open to everyone, and runs until the end of December 5th; details of how to vote are here: go on!)

I’m still mulling over my own list of nominations, but one of them is certainly going to be Solitaire (2002, returning to print next year with Small Beer Press), by Kelley Eskridge. It’s a coming of age story done as psychological thriller: a compelling portrait of a young woman battling both the system and her self after her world collapses, to emerge older, wiser and sadder from an extremely long dark night of the soul. The first chapter is available online here. Continue reading

Water to burn by Katharine Kerr

15 Apr
Water to burn by Katharine Kerr

Water to burn cover

Water to burn
Katharine Kerr
Daw, 2011
isbn 978-0756406912
Review by Foz Meadows

Last night, I stayed up until 2am finishing my ARC of Water to Burn, the second Nola O’Grady novel by Katharine Kerr. Despite being set in San Francisco and following the exploits of Nola, a psychic employed by a secret government agency on the side of Harmony, it’s not quite accurate to describe the series as urban fantasy. For one thing, an ongoing plot point from book one, License to Ensorcell, focuses on the discovery and exploration of deviant world-levels – that is to say, alternate and parallel realities both similar and dissimilar to Earth – populated in some instances by doppelgänger inhabitants raised under vastly different circumstances. This puts the flavour closer to SF than fantasy at times, raising questions about the setting’s scientific theories and contributing to a rich sense of narrative possibility. The series is also distinguished by its strong sense of Earth politics: Nola’s offsider, bodyguard and love-interest since book one, Ari Nathan, is a high-level operative with both Interpol and the Israeli government. While some writers might be tempted to mention this merely by way of exotic background detail, Kerr actively incorporates it into events, not only in terms of Ari and Nola’s respective efforts to balance duties and secrets with their personal relationship, but also as a source of cross-cultural commentary and plot relevance. Just as Nola’s character is defined in large part by her family ties, psychic gifts, religious upbringing and Irish-American heritage, so too is Ari defined by his family ties, martial gifts, religious upbringing and Israeli heritage. Kerr has done her research, and if ever Nola lapses into forgetting that Ari, despite his perfect English, was raised in a different culture, neither she nor the reader is allowed to keep that ignorance for long. Continue reading


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