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The Future is Female! Women's Science Fiction Stories from the Pulp Era to the New Wave

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Space-opera heroines, gender-bending aliens, post-apocalyptic pregnancies, changeling children, interplanetary battles of the sexes, and much more: a groundbreaking new collection of classic American science fiction by women from the 1920s to the 1960s Warning: the visionary women writers in this landmark anthology may permanently alter perceptions of American science ficti Space-opera heroines, gender-bending aliens, post-apocalyptic pregnancies, changeling children, interplanetary battles of the sexes, and much more: a groundbreaking new collection of classic American science fiction by women from the 1920s to the 1960s Warning: the visionary women writers in this landmark anthology may permanently alter perceptions of American science fiction, challenging the conventional narrative that the genre was conceived mainly by and for men. Now, two hundred years after Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, SF-expert Lisa Yaszek presents the best of the female tradition in American science fiction, in the most comprehensive collection of its kind ever published. From Pulp Era pioneers to New Wave experimentalists, here are over two dozen brilliant writers ripe for discovery and rediscovery, including Leslie F. Stone ("The Conquest of Gola," 1931), Judith Merril ("That Only a Mother," 1948), Leigh Brackett ("All the Colors of the Rainbow," 1957), Kit Reed ("The New You," 1962), Joanna Russ ("The Barbarian," 1968); Ursula K. Le Guin ("Nine Lives," 1969), and James Tiptree Jr. ("Last Flight of Dr. Ain," 1969). Imagining strange worlds and unexpected futures, looking into and beyond new technologies and scientific discoveries, in utopian fantasies and tales of cosmic horror, these women created and shaped speculative fiction as surely as their male counterparts. Their provocative, mind-blowing stories combine to form a thrilling multidimensional voyage of literary-feminist exploration and recovery. Contents: Introduction / Lisa Yaszek -- The miracle of the lily / Clare Winger Harris -- The conquest of Gola / Leslie F. Stone -- The black god's kiss / C. L. Moore -- Space episode / Leslie Perri -- That only a mother / Judith Merril -- In hiding / Wilmar H. Shiras -- Contagion / Katherine Maclean -- The inhabited men / Margaret St. Clair -- Ararat / Zenna Henderson -- All cats are gray / Andrew North -- Created he them / Alice Eleanor Jones -- Mr. Sakrison's halt / Mildred Clingerman -- All the colors of the rainbow / Leigh brackett -- Pelt / Carol Emshwiller -- Car pool / Rosel George Brown -- For sale, reasonable / Elizabeth Mann Borgese -- Birth of a gardener / Doris Pitkin Buck -- The tunnel ahead / Alice Glaser -- The new you / Kit Reed -- Another rib / John Jay Wells & Marion Zimmer Bradley -- When I was Miss Dow / Sonya Dorman -- Baby, you were great / Kate Wilhelm -- The barbarian / Joanna Russ -- The last flight of Dr. Ain / James Tiptree Jr -- Nine lives / Ursula K Le Guin -- Biographical notes.


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Space-opera heroines, gender-bending aliens, post-apocalyptic pregnancies, changeling children, interplanetary battles of the sexes, and much more: a groundbreaking new collection of classic American science fiction by women from the 1920s to the 1960s Warning: the visionary women writers in this landmark anthology may permanently alter perceptions of American science ficti Space-opera heroines, gender-bending aliens, post-apocalyptic pregnancies, changeling children, interplanetary battles of the sexes, and much more: a groundbreaking new collection of classic American science fiction by women from the 1920s to the 1960s Warning: the visionary women writers in this landmark anthology may permanently alter perceptions of American science fiction, challenging the conventional narrative that the genre was conceived mainly by and for men. Now, two hundred years after Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, SF-expert Lisa Yaszek presents the best of the female tradition in American science fiction, in the most comprehensive collection of its kind ever published. From Pulp Era pioneers to New Wave experimentalists, here are over two dozen brilliant writers ripe for discovery and rediscovery, including Leslie F. Stone ("The Conquest of Gola," 1931), Judith Merril ("That Only a Mother," 1948), Leigh Brackett ("All the Colors of the Rainbow," 1957), Kit Reed ("The New You," 1962), Joanna Russ ("The Barbarian," 1968); Ursula K. Le Guin ("Nine Lives," 1969), and James Tiptree Jr. ("Last Flight of Dr. Ain," 1969). Imagining strange worlds and unexpected futures, looking into and beyond new technologies and scientific discoveries, in utopian fantasies and tales of cosmic horror, these women created and shaped speculative fiction as surely as their male counterparts. Their provocative, mind-blowing stories combine to form a thrilling multidimensional voyage of literary-feminist exploration and recovery. Contents: Introduction / Lisa Yaszek -- The miracle of the lily / Clare Winger Harris -- The conquest of Gola / Leslie F. Stone -- The black god's kiss / C. L. Moore -- Space episode / Leslie Perri -- That only a mother / Judith Merril -- In hiding / Wilmar H. Shiras -- Contagion / Katherine Maclean -- The inhabited men / Margaret St. Clair -- Ararat / Zenna Henderson -- All cats are gray / Andrew North -- Created he them / Alice Eleanor Jones -- Mr. Sakrison's halt / Mildred Clingerman -- All the colors of the rainbow / Leigh brackett -- Pelt / Carol Emshwiller -- Car pool / Rosel George Brown -- For sale, reasonable / Elizabeth Mann Borgese -- Birth of a gardener / Doris Pitkin Buck -- The tunnel ahead / Alice Glaser -- The new you / Kit Reed -- Another rib / John Jay Wells & Marion Zimmer Bradley -- When I was Miss Dow / Sonya Dorman -- Baby, you were great / Kate Wilhelm -- The barbarian / Joanna Russ -- The last flight of Dr. Ain / James Tiptree Jr -- Nine lives / Ursula K Le Guin -- Biographical notes.

30 review for The Future is Female! Women's Science Fiction Stories from the Pulp Era to the New Wave

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Reichenbaugh

    I really loved this book. I was familiar with a few of the well known writers in this collection but most were new to me. Favorite stories from it include "The Miracle of the Lily" from 1928 by Clare Winger Harris, "The Tunnel Ahead" from 1961 by Alice Glaser, "Space Episode" from 1941 by Leslie Perri. I plan on hunting down other works by some of these writers. The last story in the collection is from 1969, "Nine Lives" by Ursula K. Le Guin. The later stories are more in the style of "New Wave" I really loved this book. I was familiar with a few of the well known writers in this collection but most were new to me. Favorite stories from it include "The Miracle of the Lily" from 1928 by Clare Winger Harris, "The Tunnel Ahead" from 1961 by Alice Glaser, "Space Episode" from 1941 by Leslie Perri. I plan on hunting down other works by some of these writers. The last story in the collection is from 1969, "Nine Lives" by Ursula K. Le Guin. The later stories are more in the style of "New Wave" science fiction like you'd fine in the Orbit collections. Yes, there were a few stories that didn't resonate with me as much as many of the others, but variety is what makes for a good anthology. I'm hoping that Lisa Yaszek decides to continue with a second volume from 1969 to the present. If so, I'm buying it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    Miracle of the Lily (1928) by Clare Winger Harris ★★★★★ “Man is not happy, unless he has some enemy to overcome, some difficulty to surmount.” Amazing first story! Just as humans took over for the dinosaurs so the insects are fighting to take over from man in this near future drama. Told from multiple generations of the same family it is more about what drives us, physically and spiritually, as people. It is not enough to merely exist. This was layered, entertaining, and insightful. Loved it! The Miracle of the Lily (1928) by Clare Winger Harris ★★★★★ “Man is not happy, unless he has some enemy to overcome, some difficulty to surmount.” Amazing first story! Just as humans took over for the dinosaurs so the insects are fighting to take over from man in this near future drama. Told from multiple generations of the same family it is more about what drives us, physically and spiritually, as people. It is not enough to merely exist. This was layered, entertaining, and insightful. Loved it! The Conquest of the Gola (1931) by Leslie F. Stone ★★★★★ “They were determined not only to revenge those we had murdered, but also to gain mastery of our planet.” A matriarchal planet is invaded by profiteers from Earth. Those guys had no idea with whom they were messing! The Black God’s Kiss (1934) by C. L. Moore ★★★½☆ “To wreak my vengeance upon Guillaume I would go if I knew I should burn in Hell forever.” After her lands are invaded and subjugated Jirel ventures to the underworld to seek a weapon rather than be raped by Guillaume and his men. The underworld parts of the story were pleasantly Lovecraft-y, but the ending was a disappointment. Space Episode (1941) by Leslie Perri ★★★★☆ The heroic end is the reserve of men, but when Lida’s teammates falter she steps up. That Only a Mother (1948) by Judith Merril ★★★★½ Quietly devastating story in reaction to the use of atomic weapons. From mutations to paternal infanticide this was horror. In Hiding (1948) by Wilmer H. Shiras ★★★½☆ A mirror of the previous story, this is an optimistic reaction to the use of atomic weapons. While the fallout kills, it also produces geniuses who can blend into society. If it were not for the difficult to endure parts about cat breeding, this would have been rated higher. Contagion (1950) by Katherine MacLean ★★★★☆ Max was eyeing the bronze red-headed figure with something approaching awe... “I wouldn’t mind being a Mead myself!” Ah famous last words! A beautiful unexpected red-headed savage welcomes a colony ship to his world. This is a story of identity, sexuality, and acceptance. It was unexpectedly light and rather sexy. The Inhabited Men (1951) by Margaret St. Clair ★★★☆☆ “After the economy was well established, its hosts, had they known it, were potentially immortal.” Basic but interesting story about symbiotic lifeforms and misunderstanding. Ararat (1952) by Zenna Henderson ★★★★½ “Poignant sorrow is a constant undercurrent among The People, even those of us who never actually saw The Home.” Delightful aliens among us, gifted humans story. Published over a decade before the first issue of X-Men! And now I need to read Ingathering: The Complete People Stories. All Cats Are Gray (1953) by Andrew North ★★★☆☆ “They sighted the Empress riding, her dead-lights gleaming, a ghost ship in night space.” In a tame early inspiration for Alien, this spooky space salvage story still has some chills. Always trust your cat, they can see things you cannot. He Created Them (1955) by Alice Eleanor Jones ★★★☆☆ Depressingly bleak post war dystopian future of sexism and a totalitarian regime. Mr. Sakrison’s Halt (1956) by Mildred Clingerman ★★★★☆ “Look at the crazy things she did - like riding the Katy up and down the line for thirty years almost every day, looking for the halt that swallowed Mr. Sakrison!” This was a moving response story to the anger and violence over school integration. A southern woman falls in love with a Yankee with high ideals of racial brotherhood she was not ready to share. On a halt to pick his fiancé, Mattie, a flower Mr. Sakrison hugs and chats with a black man. Mattie is too angry by the scene to join them and the train leaves, separating them. She spends decades riding the train to find the stop again. It is not until she tells her young companion she would now accept the interracial embrace and join them that the stop reappears. Later the young companion, stressed over the burning crosses and baying hounds of her neighborhood laments, I realize how terribly far Chapel Grove still is from Mr. Sakrison’s halt. All the Colors of the Rainbow (1957) by Leigh Brackett ★★★★☆ As the Federation begins integrating Earth with its people a meteorologist, Flin, and his wife meet vicious racial violence in a small town. As Flin prepares to return home for psychological counseling he understands the worst thing about violence is the darkness it imparts. Flin wishes to be free of his newly discovered feelings of hatred, but not before taking revenge. Oh no, not before revenge... Pelt (1958) by Carol Emshwiller ★★★½☆ “We have watched you, little slave. What have you done that is free today?” I was close to tears reading this story about a hunting dog on an ice world. She wants so desperately to do the right thing, to understand, but it’s impossible for her to stop being a dog. Ok, now I am crying, looking at my German Shepherd. Car Pool (1959) by Rosel George Brown ★★★☆☆ Sweet and strange story about a couple reconnecting against the background of alien integration and some frightful child violence. The original illustration for this story... For Sale, Reasonable (1959) by Elizabeth Mann Borgese ★★★☆☆ A cyborg’s resume pointing out the cost benefits of its value verses large scale computers or humans. Birth of a Gardener (1961) by Doris Pitkin Buck ★★★☆☆ A relationship over two planes of existence is fraught by the conflicts between a visual and conventional learner. Payne comes off as hard on Lee but why would you marry someone to teach you physics? And if that was your goal why didn’t you marry a physics teacher? The Tunnel Ahead (1961) by Alice Glaser ★★★★★ This was everything I wanted from Shirley Jackson’s Lottery and did not get; the normalization of the horrific. In a world of staggering overpopulation no one is told to limit their number of children. Everything is fair, room is carved out for everyone equally. But there’s a catch... The New You (1962) by Kit Reed ★★☆☆☆ An unhappy woman pays for a dream makeover to impress her husband... he just finds new things not to like about her. Another Rib (1963) by John Jay Wells & Marion Zimmer Bradley ★★★☆☆ When a small group of men is all that’s left of the human race an alien gives them a chance to convert to women. The story is about homosexual prejudices. When I Was Miss Dow (1966) by Sonya Dorman ★★☆☆☆ Boring story of a morphic single sex alien race changing their form to hustle humans for drugs. Baby You Were Great (1967) by Kate Wilhelm ★★★★☆ I hated this story, it literally made me sick, but I appreciated it’s presentience. The rise in popularity of reality TV leads to the abuse of its stars. The hungry voyeuristic masses must have their thrills, whatever the cost. The Barbarian (1968) by Joanna Russ ★★★★☆ Alyx, aged warrior and thief, woman of the world, faces off with a man of legend. Perhaps he is a god, perhaps he is a lie. This was an enjoyable work of fantasy. The Last Flight of Dr. Ain (1969) by James Tiptree, Jr. ★★★☆☆ The dying earth reaches out to a medical researcher for help. Out of love for her he creates a plague that wipes out humanity. These kinds of stories are usually full of color and gut punch, this was the dishwater slowing going down the drain. Nine Lives (1969) by Ursula K. Le Guin ★★★★☆ A subtle study of identity and human connection. A tenclone on the far reaches of space looses his nine siblings and must learn the about other human companionship. Average 3.82 Stars! This was a wonderful and relevant collection.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe Crowe

    You need this book. Right now. I don't say that about everything I like, but I'm saying it now about this. This book contains 25 stories from Hall of Fame-level female SF authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, James Tiptree Jr., and Marion Zimmer Bradley to people whose names you might be unfamiliar with. Editor Lisa Yaszek includes a terrific foreword that talks about the history of women in science fiction. The TL;DR of it is that women were foundational to the beginning of the genre and to its ri You need this book. Right now. I don't say that about everything I like, but I'm saying it now about this. This book contains 25 stories from Hall of Fame-level female SF authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, James Tiptree Jr., and Marion Zimmer Bradley to people whose names you might be unfamiliar with. Editor Lisa Yaszek includes a terrific foreword that talks about the history of women in science fiction. The TL;DR of it is that women were foundational to the beginning of the genre and to its rise. The editor was not messing around when she put together this collection. Although many of the stories are decades old, I discovered at least seven authors that I have never encountered before. You will, too.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nefeli

    With a title like that, I was expecting this collection of short stories to have some sort of underlying feminist or somehow otherwise political theme. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The stories weren't bad, but none of them managed to impress me. With a title like that, I was expecting this collection of short stories to have some sort of underlying feminist or somehow otherwise political theme. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The stories weren't bad, but none of them managed to impress me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Stories online at LoA: [I'll add more if I come across them] ● "Baby, You Were Great" by Kate Wilhelm: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2018/10... ● "PELT" by Carol Emshwiller: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2019/02... Both of these LoA reprints include biographical sketches, original artwork and story notes. Are those in the book, too? Book Editor's comments, which are.... interesting. She's a Professor of Science Fiction at Georgia Tech! Who knew? https://loa.org/news-and-views/1439-l... Check out the Stories online at LoA: [I'll add more if I come across them] ● "Baby, You Were Great" by Kate Wilhelm: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2018/10... ● "PELT" by Carol Emshwiller: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2019/02... Both of these LoA reprints include biographical sketches, original artwork and story notes. Are those in the book, too? Book Editor's comments, which are.... interesting. She's a Professor of Science Fiction at Georgia Tech! Who knew? https://loa.org/news-and-views/1439-l... Check out the 1951 illo there! That anatomically-correct brass bra is also of interest. And the question begs: why not use that Big Axe first, to cut her chains? Plus, I'd forgotten how good-looking Joanna Russ was in her youth.... But, my God: "While this kind of reproductive futurism might seem suspect to us in the modern moment because it flattens the diversity of gender and links futurity to normative heterosexuality ...." !!! Methinks Prof. Yaszek needs to read "The Futurians" and other such Golden Age accounts. It's not that futurity required "normative heterosex" -- rather, that's all the publishers of the time would buy, and the censors pass. The lives of the actual *writers* were, um, considerably more colorful. Even in the bowdlerized accounts that have survived. Now, there's an MFA thesis for a SF grad student....

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    021118: of the 25 classic stories i had previously read 11. so i read them again. some authors familiar if not stories, mini bios at end, good range of 20th Century sf, as any collection some great, some less. dates mostly golden age, most recent 69. great evidence key texts of sf are often short stories. read great stories never seen before: 'Contagion', 'Inhabited Men', 'All the Colors of the Rainbow', 'Nine Lives'... no critical text, only general intro, but if you know some history the dates 021118: of the 25 classic stories i had previously read 11. so i read them again. some authors familiar if not stories, mini bios at end, good range of 20th Century sf, as any collection some great, some less. dates mostly golden age, most recent 69. great evidence key texts of sf are often short stories. read great stories never seen before: 'Contagion', 'Inhabited Men', 'All the Colors of the Rainbow', 'Nine Lives'... no critical text, only general intro, but if you know some history the dates of stories are great too... and after all, this is 25 stories...

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Agranoff

    This is yet another case of a project I read/reviewed after hearing it featured on Geek's Guide to the Galaxy. First and foremost the editor Lisa Yaszek being a scholar of Science Fiction had me interested in having her as a guest on Dickheads to talk about the history of the genre. Second I knew I wanted to read this book. The concept is simple starting with Claire Winger Harris and a story called 'The Miracle of the Lilly' and ending with A Ursala K Leguin Story Called 'Nine Lives'. That takes This is yet another case of a project I read/reviewed after hearing it featured on Geek's Guide to the Galaxy. First and foremost the editor Lisa Yaszek being a scholar of Science Fiction had me interested in having her as a guest on Dickheads to talk about the history of the genre. Second I knew I wanted to read this book. The concept is simple starting with Claire Winger Harris and a story called 'The Miracle of the Lilly' and ending with A Ursala K Leguin Story Called 'Nine Lives'. That takes the reader through the evolution of the pulp era from 1928 to 1969. In the subtext of this anthology is the journey the women writing in the genre took from the great depression to the year humans landed on the moon. You might expect some Flash Gordan like space opera with lots of laser guns but I was struck by the high concept of many of the ideas stretching back so long ago. CL Moore's 'The Black Kiss' read a bit like a high fantasy story to me, and Joanna Russ's 'The Barbarian' that was I believe a tribute to the former author's work. That style is fine, but it was the more groundbreaking and ahead of their time stories that really sold me. My favorite stories were the opening story 'The Miracle of The Lilly' and 'Contagion' by Katherine Maclean. I enjoyed the majority of the 25 stories but those two were the ones that had the biggest impact of me. I had never heard of those women, and I am ashamed to stay as a student of the genre I had only read previous works by six of the twenty-five featured authors. The book has done its job as I currently reading CL Moore's novel Doomsday Morning. Let's start where the book did with 'The Miracle of the Lilly' which has the most vast scope of any of the stories which and what makes this striking since it is the oldest. This story that goes into a future where humans have wiped out insects, an act with horrifying unintended consequences is pretty much Cli-fi 90 years before the subgenre was invented. I am sure the science is wildly out of date but epic nature of the idea is pure speculative gee-whiz in the best ways. 'Contagion' by Katherine Maclean has a little bit of an Alien or Prometheus feel despite being from 1950, I really enjoyed this trip to another world that played with the idea of going to another planet. This story felt pulpy and wise beyond it's time which is a trick many of the stories pulled off but this one just worked for me. A few others that stood out to me were Leigh Brackett's 'All the Colors of the Rainbow' that was written about racism in 1957. The saddest part is the message is still valid today. That is impressive and depressing at the same time. I also enjoyed Kate Wilham send-up of Hollywood and pre-VR technology in 'Baby You Were great.' The closers by James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon) and Ursula K Leguin showcase by they are gold standards in the genre. As much as I loved the stories, the highlight for sure was the introduction by Yaszek and the biographical notes at the back. As a fan of the genre and a writer myself, I was interested in their stories. I found myself saying to myself I need a book of that history. I was glad to find out that Yaszek has written that book Galatic Suburbia. I will read that one as soon as I can. the biographical notes provided such valuable insights in the writers. On a personal note discovering a pulp-era writer, CL Moore was from my home state of Indiana and published her first stories in the student paper of my hometown university made me so interested in her story. Anyone interested in the classic pulp era and the history of women in it should read this book. The way it follows the progression of the genre gives it an interesting edge. This book is more than just another anthology, it is an important historical document that happens to have more than 20 stand-out works of bold science fiction. It should be taught in MFA programs but sadly I think it will be overlooked just like the contribution of the many women in the genre. The good news is we have this book and can read it, review it and promote it to others. The Future is Female is a must-read for serious fans of the genre. Check out my Dickheads podcast interview with Lisa Yaszek about this book: https://soundcloud.com/dickheadspodca...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a great anthology, not just for the stories, but for the thoughtful foreword and the lengthy biographies of the writers included. There's a good mix of the oft-anthologized and rarer pieces, and of known and obscure authors. Some of the stories didn't age as well as others, but they are still interesting artifacts. This is a great anthology, not just for the stories, but for the thoughtful foreword and the lengthy biographies of the writers included. There's a good mix of the oft-anthologized and rarer pieces, and of known and obscure authors. Some of the stories didn't age as well as others, but they are still interesting artifacts.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marie-Therese

    4.5 stars. Review to follow.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

    Lisa Yaszek, who along with Patrick B. Sharp previously co-edited the notable Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction, here brings us a very special and even more useful reprint anthology, whose impressive and wide-ranging contents--the first story was published in 1928, the last in 1969--more than amply prove Yaszek's introductory contention that "women who dream about new and better futures . . . have always been with us." Yes they have, and The Future is Female! offers eloquen Lisa Yaszek, who along with Patrick B. Sharp previously co-edited the notable Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction, here brings us a very special and even more useful reprint anthology, whose impressive and wide-ranging contents--the first story was published in 1928, the last in 1969--more than amply prove Yaszek's introductory contention that "women who dream about new and better futures . . . have always been with us." Yes they have, and The Future is Female! offers eloquent proof that their visions were intriguing, thoughtful, ambitious, complex, stylistically-encompassing and, for all the futurism avowed by a genre inevitably rooted in the present, steeped in contemporary preoccupations and literary sensibilities, which now cause the texts to dually serve as historical documents. In fact, along with the redoubtable The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction, this is as good a one-volume anthology survey of the history and development of our field as any I know. The twenty-five stories by twenty-six writers--one is a collaboration--are arranged chronologically, and to best appreciate the evolution of the field's tropes, thematic axes, and how later works parallax earlier concepts, I recommend reading them in that order. My two greatest pleasures while working my way through this five-hundred-page volume were discovering writers I'd never heard of before, whose included works have opened up my appetite for further explorations, and encountering new pieces by writers with whom I was familiar. Rather than attempting to discuss every story, then, I'm going to proceed in line with these two considerations. Before The Future is Female!, I hadn't heard of Clare Winger Harris, Leslie F. Stone, Leslie Perri, Alice Eleanor Jones, Rosel George Brown, Elizabeth Mann Borgese, Doris Pitkin Buck, Alice Glaser or Sonya Dorman, and on those grounds alone I'm thankful to Yaszek for her historical acumen and discerning editorial eye. Her inclusion of extensive biographical notes, arranged by author name, at the end of the volume is also extremely helpful. Now to the work. Winger Harris opens the book with "The Miracle of the Lily," which effectively evokes a vast sense of time and evolution, depicting the chilling spiritual coldness that would set in with the destruction of all vegetation on Earth in the face of an endless quest to maximize efficiency (an early narrative foreshadowing of climate change fiction?). The story accomplishes this by lensing in on man's relationship with insects, and as was common in the late 20s and early 30s, ends with a twist. (In its original publication in Amazing Stories, April 1928, this surprise is completely spoiled by the illustration on the story's cover page!). Despite the fact that this story is now ninety years old (!), it remains one of my favorites from this selection. Leslie F. Stone's "The Conquest of Gola", from 1931, might be described as a yarn woven from the entangled threads of exploration and exploitation, and contains the beautiful line: "Their bodies were like a patch work of misguided nature." Leslie Perri's generically-titled "Space Episode," from a decade later, generates a few moments of genuine tension, and ends on a memorable note of gender inversion, but its pulpy aesthetic has dated it. Alice Eleanor Jones's "Created He Them," from 1955, atmospherically conjures a fatalistic, post-nuclear world of forced breeding; its psychological realism makes the doom palpable, and it remains another standout. I wished I liked Rosel George Brown's "Car Pool," from 1959, which features alien refugee children, better--this was the book's only complete misfire for me, but folks and strokes are thankfully myriad. From the same year, "For Sale, Reasonable" by Elizabeth Mann Borgese--daughter of Thomas Mann--takes the form of an ad attempting to refute inevitable technological and existential obsolescence. Though its premise is simple, and was perhaps already shopworn at the time of the story's publication, it's brilliantly executed: a kind of icy, mock-reportage shell trapping a plaintive plea far below the depths. Doris Pitkin Buck's "Birth of a Gardener," from 1961, is a sensitive and sophisticated comeuppance fantasy grounded in hard-sf jargon that also lingers long after reading. If Jerome Bixby's "It's a Good Life" (1953; famously adapted by The Twilight Zone in 1961) tickles your fancy, you'll dig this one too. I found Alice Glaser's "The Tunnel Ahead," from 1961, outstanding, an utterly masterful extrapolation of desperation, repressed angst, and mechanized heartlessness as a result of severe overpopulation. It has for me instantly joined the ranks of J. G. Ballard's similarly-themed "Billennium" (1962) as a classic on the topic. Finally, Sonya Dorman's "When I Was Miss Dow," from 1966, whose single-gender/mode alien protagonist undertakes an exploration of humanity by becoming a female assistant to a male scientist, is a fantastically-rendered extrapolation of the concept of malleability--physical and psychological--vis-à-vis human gender norms and experiences. I'll say, too, that Dorman's narrative hits my stylistic New Wave sweet-spot more strongly than any other in the book. It also suggests one of the anthology's possible limitations: its contents are drawn, almost exclusively, from traditional SF sources and periodicals, which may have somewhat restricted the project's ambit. On the other hand, I'm sympathetic to editorial decisions that impose ultimately necessary constraints, particularly with undertakings of this magnitude. Of the remaining stories, Carol Emshwiller's "Pelt," published in 1958, strikes me as a wonderfully adept portrayal of communication among non-human intelligences, as well as a poignant exploration of how freedom and loyalty can abut or collide. James Tiptree, Jr.'s "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain," from 1969, like Elizabeth Mann's story, deploys a detached voice to intimate the profound despair underlying the actions of a man who travels across the globe spreading a deadly contagion. Margaret St. Clair's 1951 story "The Inhabited Men" is appealingly acerbic and almost fairy-tale like in its tripartite examination of tragically-fated space explorers; its deft, wry touches remind me of C. M. Kornbluth at his best. Judith Merril's oft-reprinted "That Only a Mother," from 1948, taps into common zeitgeist anxieties around families and nuclear mutation; I'd forgotten its clever inclusion of epistolary exchanges, and was glad to be reminded of it. Joanna Russ's "The Barbarian," from 1968, the third in her fantastic Alyx series, chronicles Alyx's temporary employ by a mysterious magician; its seamless blend of science and magic, torqued by its cunning protagonist and sinewy plot, brings to mind Babylon 5's Technomages. Kate Wilhelm's 1967 "Baby, You Were Great," in which actors' emotions can be directly neurally accessed by viewers, posits a convincing manipulation of the human experience in the service of addictive mass entertainment; a prescient look at psychic voyeurism as manifested by something, say, like reality TV. Ursula K. Le Guin's "Nine Lives," from 1969, is another canonical entry, dazzlingly exploring the notion of cloning and what light it may shed on matters of otherness vs. self, in the process suggesting new questions we haven't yet formulated. In addition to the writers I've mentioned, the anthology contains strong work by C. L. Moore, Katherine MacLean, Zenna Henderson, Leigh Brackett, Kit Reed and John Jay Wells [Juanita Coulson] and Marion Zimmer Bradley (whose inclusion will surely raise some eyebrows). Of these I want to single out Brackett's "All the Colors of the Rainbow" as a particularly affecting and sadly more-than-ever-relevant take on racism; this story, with a few tweaks, could easily sit alongside, say, Debbie Urbanski's "When They Came to Us" in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017. Less gripping but still worthwhile are entries by Andrew North [Andre Norton] and Mildred Clingerman. "It is hard to meet a stranger," writes Le Guin in the anthology's last story, "Nine Lives": "Even the greatest extravert meeting even the meekest stranger knows a certain dread, though he may not know he knows it. Will he make a fool of me wreck my image of myself invade me destroy me change me? Will he be different from me? Yes, that he will. There's the terrible thing: the strangeness of the stranger." In The Future is Female! Yaszek's expert touch guides our transformational meetings with such strangeness, while simultaneously reminding us of the preciousness and vitality of these encounters.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shomeret

    Classic fiction stands the test of time without seeming dated. I don't think this anthology can be considered a collection of classic stories. If you're expecting feminist stories, I can't say that these stories are feminist either. A few of these were readable and I loved In Hiding by Wilmar Shiras when I read it many years ago. Classic fiction stands the test of time without seeming dated. I don't think this anthology can be considered a collection of classic stories. If you're expecting feminist stories, I can't say that these stories are feminist either. A few of these were readable and I loved In Hiding by Wilmar Shiras when I read it many years ago.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam Gurri

    What an astonishing collection. There's something for every sort of speculative fiction fan: classic far future battles with insects, space opera, weird fiction, post-apocalyptic, and didactic fiction galore covering issues from race to gender roles and gender identity. Can't recommend it highly enough. What an astonishing collection. There's something for every sort of speculative fiction fan: classic far future battles with insects, space opera, weird fiction, post-apocalyptic, and didactic fiction galore covering issues from race to gender roles and gender identity. Can't recommend it highly enough.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    This was a solid collection and well worth the read for anyone interested in female or classic SFF. I was hoping for something as phenomenal as Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology. It wasn't quite so engaging as that but I really enjoyed this. Some of my favorite stories: Only a Mother The Tunnel Ahead Contagion In Hiding Created He Them And there were others I liked well enough but those were equally weighed with stories I didn't think much of. This is set on chronologi This was a solid collection and well worth the read for anyone interested in female or classic SFF. I was hoping for something as phenomenal as Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology. It wasn't quite so engaging as that but I really enjoyed this. Some of my favorite stories: Only a Mother The Tunnel Ahead Contagion In Hiding Created He Them And there were others I liked well enough but those were equally weighed with stories I didn't think much of. This is set on chronological order by date written and the very earliest stories in particular I couldn't get interested in.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ed Erwin

    Not all stories are 5-star, but there isn't a single dud in the collection, so overall the book is 5-star. The stories are arranged chronologically. The first few are rather "pulpy", but they weren't pretending to be anything else. They are still interesting, though I'm happy that more finely developed SF works are now available. I suppose the editor picked the C.L. Moore story about Jirel of Joiry because of the female protagonist. That Fantasy seems a bit out-of-place in an SF collection, and Mo Not all stories are 5-star, but there isn't a single dud in the collection, so overall the book is 5-star. The stories are arranged chronologically. The first few are rather "pulpy", but they weren't pretending to be anything else. They are still interesting, though I'm happy that more finely developed SF works are now available. I suppose the editor picked the C.L. Moore story about Jirel of Joiry because of the female protagonist. That Fantasy seems a bit out-of-place in an SF collection, and Moore did write lots of SF stories. But I'm glad to have read the story and won't quibble over it. I think I'd have liked a little introduction for each story saying why it was chosen. In lieu of that, there is a general introduction and, in the back, mini biographies of each author. Among the stories I hadn't read before, I particularly liked "In hiding" by Wilmar H. Shiras, "Mr. Sakrison's Halt" by Mildred Clingerman, and "When I was Miss Dow" by Sonya Dorman.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rana

    This was the worst collection of short stories ever. And by worst, I mean the best and I loved them but jesus it was so fucking depressing to read short stories written basically (don't make me do math) a half-century ago or more that are so fucking current with race and gender issues. God, humans are such terrible creatures. This was the worst collection of short stories ever. And by worst, I mean the best and I loved them but jesus it was so fucking depressing to read short stories written basically (don't make me do math) a half-century ago or more that are so fucking current with race and gender issues. God, humans are such terrible creatures.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    4 stars 4 stars

  17. 4 out of 5

    E.

    Whew, older SF is weird, y'all. Whew, older SF is weird, y'all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    What a fantastic collection Dr. Yaszek has curated for us! I feel like I have to address the stories individually. Generally I found almost all of them, if not enjoyable in their own right, very instructive historically. I liked having the stories in chronological order, and found the notes and bios at the end of the volume useful. "The Miracle of the Lily" by Clare Winger Harris 1928 - The 1920s were so much fun for science fiction, its adolescence, it's mad, giddy teen years. This story capture What a fantastic collection Dr. Yaszek has curated for us! I feel like I have to address the stories individually. Generally I found almost all of them, if not enjoyable in their own right, very instructive historically. I liked having the stories in chronological order, and found the notes and bios at the end of the volume useful. "The Miracle of the Lily" by Clare Winger Harris 1928 - The 1920s were so much fun for science fiction, its adolescence, it's mad, giddy teen years. This story captures that and spans so many ideas. World-spanning cities, genetic manipulation, better living through chemistry, civilizations on Mars and Venus, even -gasp- TELEVISION. "The Conquest of Gola" by Leslie F. Stone 1931 - Alien POV as humans (all male of course) attempt to conquer the matriarchy of Venus. Pulpy fun with a little "Oh these strange earth-men might be sexy with their hard bodies ... oops my mistake they want to kill us." "The Black God's Kiss" by C. L. Moore - I was familiar with this story as the inspiration for cover art, but Oh. My. Elder God. The story delivers hard on the promise of the image. Pulptastic with sword fights and flashing anger eyes and magic spells. So glad I got the chance to read this gem. I felt transported to a world of lurid pastel-chalk fantasy. Lovecraft wishes he wrote like this. "Space Episode" by Leslie Perri (1941) - Hard SF feels! Loved that. And at the time, apparently, it was quite controversial for depicting a heroic woman saving less-heroic men. Maybe this needs to always be printed next to "The Cold Equations". So glad to learn about this writer - she was active in fan zines and fandom, briefly married to Frederick Pohl, and did some editing too. "That Only a Mother" by Judith Merril (1948) - Not my favorite, but a good example of maternal sf, and the fear of mutations caused by radiation, that would be quite the hot topic in '48 "In Hiding" by Wilmar H. Shiras (1950) - a child psychologist uncovers a super-intelligent boy who is pretending to be normal. I suspect this coming right after "Only a Mother" is not coincidental! Slow but thorough and thoughtful exploration of the kid and the psychologist. "Contagion" by Katherine Maclean (1950) - Wow has medical knowledge changed since this story. There's something very telling in the way the disease would only affect one gender - that they thought men and women were really that different - and that germ theory meant you could clean a disease away from someone! But still, very interesting, and interesting to see the sexual politics of the characters of their time and compare them to, say "Space Episode." "Inhabited Men" Margaret St. Clair (1951) - Felt ahead of its time, like a Delaney. Though I wanted more resolution, maybe that's me being behind my time. "Ararat" Zenna Henderson (1952) - So touchingly done. Great voice, characterization. Literary. I was like ... "Are these all going to feel ahead of their time or am I too judgemental of the past?" "All Cats Are Gray" by Andrew North (1953) - Another great adventure! And with a cat! I thought the beginning and end were a little rough but I like what it did and the no-nonsense bartender solving a spooky space mystery "Created He Them" Alice Eleanor Jones (1955) - Creepy dystopian suburbia with a loveless marriage and starving for necessities. All the 1950 housewife feels. Mr. Sakrison's Halt by Mildred Clingerman (1956) - content warning: N-word. Exquisite southern gothic where the magic is an end to segregation. Touching characters. Loved it. "All the Colors of the Rainbow" by Leigh Brackett (1957) - content warning: N-word. Oh hey I see why this was put after "Mr. Sakrison's" too. It's the putting stories together like this that shows the editor's depth of knowledge in the subject. Wow, yeah. So it's like ... racists are racist to aliens because they are racists. Dark. "Pelt" by Carol Emshwiller (1958) - MY STARS THIS IS BEAUTIFUL excellent dog POV. So lovely. A poem of a story. "Car Pool" by Rosel George Brown (1959) - So much humor in this one, and the sweet tender aliens! Marries the tragedy of human brutality with the domestic woes of the future-housewife. I would have liked it to be a little clearer on the final disposition of the characters. "For Sale, Reasonable" by Elizabeth Mann Borgese (1959) - didn't care for this one "Birth of a Gardener" by Doris Pitkin Buck (1961)- ever had a man insist you couldn't understand something? I get the feeling Doris Pitkin Buck has. Killer ending! "The Tunnel Ahead" by Alice Glaser (1961) - Make Room! Make Room! but with a trip to the beach. Dark and psychological. "The New You" by Kit Reed (1962) - I just adore the romance between the Old Martha and her husband. Definitely before its time, thumbing its nose at lookism. "Another Rib" by John Jay Wells and Marion Zimmer Bradley (1963) - content warning: Homophobia and transphobia. Like, big time. WOW. It's hard to read. Important, historically, though. For me it was telling how much the story was unwilling even to put in writing. There's a part where, after an alien says it can turn a man into a woman to help the last (all male) survivors of the human race, asks, "Why both of them, if you can only convert one?" and I'm like "what?" and the alien replies "Why, for their physical pleasure." And it took me eight re-reads to realize the captain is asking "Why do they have to have sex with each other?" and not, as I had thought, that they were going to become lesbians and each have a baby. "When I Was Miss Dow" by Sonya Dorman (1966) - a welcome refreshment after that last story - the protagonist alien tries to untangle its feelings of gender and being a human-mimic "Baby, You Were Great" by Kate Wilhelm (1967) - Content warning: rape DARK. Hideously dark, looking unflinchingly at the misogyny of Hollywood. I wanted a happy ending to somehow come out of it, but Kate decided to leave me devastated. "The Barbarian" by Joanna Russ (1968) - Fun to get a backstory for Alyx from "Picnic on Paradise"! Typical Russ adventure. The time rustic outsmarts the future man. "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain" by James Tiptree Jr. (1969) - not my favorite Tiptree. The lyrical prose we've come to expect, but the story didn't surprise me in any way. Though that could be future-bias. "Nine Lives" by Ursula K. Le Guin (1969) - Clones and feels and love. As an identical twin, I should hate this, but darn that Le Guin always seduces with her prose. Liked the ending better than the beginning. Could have used more difference in voice between Martin and Owen.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Kinzer

    Fantastic! All super interesting stories, which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I'm not a huge reader of anthologies, just because the stories are done so fast, after I went to all that work to visualize the world in my mind! But I did enjoy this anthology. The stories that stick out in my mind the most are Pelt, The Barbarian, and Nine Lives. Quotes: "But you recall who it was said that the capacity for wonder at matters of common acceptance occurs in the superior mind?" -James Tiptree J Fantastic! All super interesting stories, which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I'm not a huge reader of anthologies, just because the stories are done so fast, after I went to all that work to visualize the world in my mind! But I did enjoy this anthology. The stories that stick out in my mind the most are Pelt, The Barbarian, and Nine Lives. Quotes: "But you recall who it was said that the capacity for wonder at matters of common acceptance occurs in the superior mind?" -James Tiptree Jr, The Last Flight of Dr. Ain "He did not suppose this would last forever but as long as it did it was a beautiful sort of pain." -Leigh Brackett, All the Colors of the Rainbow And thanks to Dad, who got me this book for Christmas!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bernard

    Given it took me 2 years to read this, I can hardly claim to accurately summarize the entire volume in one review. But I'll give it a go! I admit--this review is weighted toward the latter stories as some of the early stories I read 2 years ago in preparation for Prof. Yaszek's visit to my local bookstore! Some of the stories were baffling--as in, I didn't really follow what was going on. Some of them definitely need a second read to understand, as the payoff at the end of some would be quite use Given it took me 2 years to read this, I can hardly claim to accurately summarize the entire volume in one review. But I'll give it a go! I admit--this review is weighted toward the latter stories as some of the early stories I read 2 years ago in preparation for Prof. Yaszek's visit to my local bookstore! Some of the stories were baffling--as in, I didn't really follow what was going on. Some of them definitely need a second read to understand, as the payoff at the end of some would be quite useful in understanding the first halves. E.g. "The Barbarian." This doesn't make them bad stories. It just makes me realize how unaccustomed I am to stories from decades before my birth! Some of the stories were shocking. I was completely surprised by the twist in "The Tunnel Ahead." Yikes! Some of the stories were way "ahead of their time" with the caveat that some ideas America stumbled across late in the 20th century but which never really took hold, even today, *should not* have been ahead of their time. But the stories are nevertheless a product of their age. E.g. "Another Rib" and "All the Colors of the Rainbow." Some stories predicted the future. Surely some late 20th and early 21st century movies were based on these stories. E.g. "The Truman Show" seems to have echoes of "Baby, You Were Great." Kudos to Professor Yaszek for curating a fine collection. It expanded my horizons on what "American Science Fiction" actually means, is comprised of, and began. One thing I would love to see in a future edition of this volume is Prof. Yaszek's thoughts on each story, tacked on immediately after the stories themselves. Her opening essay is great, but by the time I had read all the stories, I had forgotten some of her setup. She might also enlighten some readers (such as me) on where we stumbled trying to follow the plot, as surely she has digested these many times over by now. I look forward to her recently announced volume II -- the 1970s! Assuredly, that decade also features many amazing women writers of science fiction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    From Mary Shelley writing about monsters and men to the 1970s sub-genre of ‘feminist sci fi,’ women have been fundamental creators and readers of speculative fiction for the entire lifespan of the genre. And yet the myth of male dominance continues to pervade the conventional narrative of the genre’s birth and rise. In this incredible collection, The Future is Female! 26 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin, Lisa Yaszek has spanned a large gap in many From Mary Shelley writing about monsters and men to the 1970s sub-genre of ‘feminist sci fi,’ women have been fundamental creators and readers of speculative fiction for the entire lifespan of the genre. And yet the myth of male dominance continues to pervade the conventional narrative of the genre’s birth and rise. In this incredible collection, The Future is Female! 26 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin, Lisa Yaszek has spanned a large gap in many readers’ knowledge of the genre, bringing together 25 stories spanning from the 1920s to 1960s written by women authors you may not know, but should know. Some of my favorite stories picture future, terrifying worlds: “The Miracle of the Lily” (1928) by Claire Winger Harris, addressing food shortage and the failure or evolution of ecosystems that would come with climate change; “The Tunnel Ahead” (1961) by Alice Glaser is a banally chilling story about an over-populated world that evokes Jackson’s “The Lottery”; “Baby, You Were Great” (1967) by Kate Wilhelm is one of the most horrifying stories I’ve read, a haunting tale about media consumption, reality television, voyeurism, and violence in media. “In Hiding” (1948) by Wilmar H. Shiras was a formative influence for the X-Men universe; “The Black God’s Kiss” (1934) by C.L. Moore is a dark, eldritch fantastic horror revenge tale; “Mr. Skrison’s Halt” (1956) has a tease of a portal fantasy; “The Barbarian” (1968) by Joanna Russ and “Nine Lives” (1969) by Ursula K. Le Guin were, unsurprisingly, incredible tales. Lisa Yaszek’s introduction is a short yet superb introduction, summing up well the eras of science fiction, the contributions of women, and the history of women in the science fiction genre. This book is a must-read for any lover of speculative or science fiction, especially those who want to read early stories by women authors in the genre. (Note: I omitted the story jointly written by Marion Zimmer Bradley from my read of this book and from my review due to her recorded history of child abuse.)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    This was really just okay. I didn’t hate it, and I was really close to putting it in the ditched pile; but I didn’t. I read the whole thing. I just can’t give it more than 2 stars, but maybe it’s a 2 1/2. It started out so slow and every story was meh to me, especially at the beginning of this. I’m glad I didn’t ditch it because it got a lot better towards the end. Surprisingly, there were some, I did end up liking though. I liked All Cats are Gray by Andrew North. I liked All the Colors of the This was really just okay. I didn’t hate it, and I was really close to putting it in the ditched pile; but I didn’t. I read the whole thing. I just can’t give it more than 2 stars, but maybe it’s a 2 1/2. It started out so slow and every story was meh to me, especially at the beginning of this. I’m glad I didn’t ditch it because it got a lot better towards the end. Surprisingly, there were some, I did end up liking though. I liked All Cats are Gray by Andrew North. I liked All the Colors of the Rainbow by Leigh Brackett. Carpool by Rosel George Brown was good and so was Alice Glaser’s The Tunnel Ahead. Baby you Were Great by Kate Wilhelm was good and I liked Joanna Russ’ The Barbarian even though, it was more of a fantasy story. James Tiptree Jr.’s story The Last Flight of Dr. Ain was good also but a little hard to understand on the first read. Most of these fell flat for me including the Ursula Le Guin story. So two to two and a 1/2 stars for this mostly meh collection. Wish I could have rated it higher.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    The last three anthologies about women's speculative fiction that I read weren't what I was hoping, but I really liked the stories in this collection. In fact, I enjoyed every single one! It's a great compilation of female voices from an iconic decade of scifi. The evolution of the stories over that time is cool to see, too. I was inspired to buy a copy for our local library and hopefully inspire a new generation of women to reach for the stars. I do wish there was more of an emphasis on women o The last three anthologies about women's speculative fiction that I read weren't what I was hoping, but I really liked the stories in this collection. In fact, I enjoyed every single one! It's a great compilation of female voices from an iconic decade of scifi. The evolution of the stories over that time is cool to see, too. I was inspired to buy a copy for our local library and hopefully inspire a new generation of women to reach for the stars. I do wish there was more of an emphasis on women of color, though, in the forward and cover art.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    A really well-curated collection without a dud in the bunch! I loved the journey through 20s-60s SFF traced through the stories of these women. Alice Eleanor Jones's "Created He Them" especially, is a real jaw-dropper. A really well-curated collection without a dud in the bunch! I loved the journey through 20s-60s SFF traced through the stories of these women. Alice Eleanor Jones's "Created He Them" especially, is a real jaw-dropper.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Carrabis

    The Future is Female! Is a definite read for historians of writing form, technique, method, and voice. Forget that it's science fiction, forget that it's all women authors; the transition from Clare Winger Harris's "The Miracle of the Lily" (1928) to Katherine Maclean's "Contagion" (1950) is worth the price of admission. The first three offerings (by Harris, Leslie F. Stone, and C.L. Moore) are definitely of their time and - in certain passages - read more like adolescent offerings than mature w The Future is Female! Is a definite read for historians of writing form, technique, method, and voice. Forget that it's science fiction, forget that it's all women authors; the transition from Clare Winger Harris's "The Miracle of the Lily" (1928) to Katherine Maclean's "Contagion" (1950) is worth the price of admission. The first three offerings (by Harris, Leslie F. Stone, and C.L. Moore) are definitely of their time and - in certain passages - read more like adolescent offerings than mature writing. Of course, that was their audience and one writes for their audience if one wants to get published. The tranformation becomes more noticeable in Judith Merril's "That Only a Mother" (1948). One, we begin the atomic age mutant stories. Two, we see the seed of modern science fiction writing springing forth. Example: There was one paragraph in Merril's "The Only a Mother" that literally stopped me reading. It was sensuous and vibrant, just enough different from what came before and after that it stood out as a new voice, a new exploration, without breaking (too much) the tone of the story. Wilmar H. Shiras's "In Hiding" (1948) is both a gem and worthy study for any author maturing a character over a short period of (character) time. The transition in language, vernacular, speech, tone, et cetera, on the character's part is brilliant and I've already planned to return to my The Wings Which Tire, They Have Upheld Me to determine where I could do better. The story's final line left a fine chill in my heart, an excellent example of contrast to drive something home. Katherine Maclean's "Contagion" (1950) is the first recognizably modern story in terms of design, language, structure, dialogue and so on. It's also an excellent example of the science-fictional detective story (in the sense of having to solve a mystery). I would suggest that the story relies heavily on stereotypes and warn the reader that those stereotypes are dramatically emphasized in the last few paragraphs only to have them shattered at the end. Whoa! Margaret St. Clair's "The Inhabited Men" (1951) is a nice little story with the science explained at the end, literally. I don't know if it's the first of its kind, I do know there's been many similar stories, movies and even a few TV show episodes (ST:TNG did at least one variant that I remember) making it a fun read for the genre historian. Zenna Henderson's "Ararat" (1952). I'm keeping my gush in check. I remember reading this story as a child and immediately looking for anything Hendersonish in the library and bookstores. Henderson taught rural elementary schools and it shows. Her knowledge of small, religious communities comes through beautifully. Her use of an adolescent's voice is amazing. There's some editing that could be done to satisfy today's audience and who cares? This is classic. Read it and learn. Andrew North's "All Cats Are Gray" (1953) was the first story in the book that I skimmed. I didn't accept the characters, the tone, the voice, the premise and fought to finish it. Simply couldn't get into it. So it goes. If nothing else, a negative example. Alice Eleanor Jones' "Created He Them" (1955) is the story that drew me into the book. I'd read it on Story of the Week and decided the book was a must. Beautifully crafted, emotive story telling, damning story. Note that this story came out after WWII, after Korea, the Cold War was heating up, the Soviets had The Bomb, ... Mildred Clingerman's "Mr. Sakrison's Halt" (1956) is a short, sweet fantasy ala classic Twilight Zone. Thoroughly enjoyable if somewhat dated. Leigh Brackett's "All the Colors of the Rainbow" (1957) left me scratching my head. I had trouble getting into the story and once in, couldn't wait to get out. Not my cup of tea. Carol Emshwiller's "Pelt" (1958) is a gem of non-human intelligences communicating while the human intelligences don't have a clue. I first read this story long ago and was tearing up in the same places during this read as during the last read. Interestingly, a first reader of my Empty Sky said that I wrote the best dog chapter he's ever read. Rereading "Pelt", I'd offer it as one of the best animal POV stories I've read. It's worth a read to learn how Emshwiller manages to communicate a non-human POV and make the reader empathize with it. Rosel George Brown's "Car Pool" (1959) was another story I could do without. I had no clear indication of voice, character, tone, atmosphere, theme, purpose, intent, plot, ... Not because of those negative aspects, it is one of the few stories in here that I could easily identify as being written from a woman's POV by a woman. That's not a judgment, merely an observation. Elizabeth Mann Borgese's "For Sale, Reasonable" (1959) is a quick, tight gem. Amusingly, it was easy to see the woman's touch in this story, this time based on atmosphere alone (and considering the time it was written). Anybody who's familiar with business should appreciate this rendering of the (perhaps) ultimate commodity; the worker. Doris Pitkin Buck's "Birth of a Gardener" (1961) is beautiful. It's the only story in the book that gave me a definite chill at the end. It made me even more uncomfortable with some of the historical aspects of my own gender. Definitely written by a woman and so skillfully written, the slap at the end should leave males' faces stinging and rightly so! Alice Glaser's "The Tunnel Ahead" (1961) is a wonderful dystopia within a utopia story. When things get terrible, how do we make it good again? I'll reroute my travels to remain under open skies after reading this one. Kit Reed's "The New You" (1962) is another story that's been copied in print, screen, stage and on radio. Read carefully and you have the story of a woman who's husband leaves her only to discover she was exactly what he wanted all along. And that hussy who broke up the marriage? Nobody wants her, anyway. Amusing and nicely done. John Jay Wells & Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Another Rib" (1963) is the first story in the book to address the homosexual experience. It was interesting to see how it was handled in 1963. I enjoyed the story although it is, when read in 2018, a little stereotypical regarding character. Regardless, it's a fun read, especially seeing how science plays a role in solving the core problem of the story (no more women). Dated and still entertaining. Sonya Dorman's "When I Was Miss Dow" (1966). I'm sure I read this story before. It's familiar to me. Imagine a story about forbidden love (Romeo and Juliet type forbidden love), a young girl becoming a woman and exploring her sexuality, set it all in a science fiction setting and you have "When I Was Miss Dow". The ending depressed me. It's well told, I wanted a different ending. But leaving a reader with that kind of disappointment indicates good writing. Kate Wilhelm's "Baby, You Were Great" (1967). Sorry, no, major fail. I'm always intrigued at how someone purported to be a great in a field can produce something so dull and pointless. Joanna Russ' "The Barbarian" (1968) is one hell of a read that ends abruptly. Great story telling, well written, about one page from the end it seemed Russ looked at the clock and said, "Oh, darn, I've got to go ... Let me write a quick ending so I can send this off." A major clue to that rush was the abrupt character change without precedent. I asked, "Really? This character does this and is happy with it? A little foreshadowing would be nice." But up until that last page, a worthy read. James Tiptree, Jr.'s "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain" (1969) is a quick gem. Tiptree is in the same cosmos as Henderson to me, a writer capable of pulling me in and keeping me there. Tiptree wrote better stories, yes, and "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain" is a worthy introduction to how someone schooled in psychology subtly reveals character through action, reaction, activity and other characters' interaction. The end is killer. Ursula K. Le Guin's "Nine Lives" (1969) closes the book and is another story I read years ago, loved, influenced by and found an echo in a work-in-progress, Meteor Man (working title). A story about loss and how we recognize/identify ourselves by our interactions with others. Le Guin is also in the Henderson Tiptree cosmos, definitely someone to learn from.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    The Tiptree and Le Guin stories alone (somehow I'd never read either) made this collection worthwhile, but I'd have loved more context about where the stories were first published, and having the author bios with the stories rather than at the end would have been helpful. But why no Octavia Butler in a collection of pioneering women SF writers? More diversity, please! The Tiptree and Le Guin stories alone (somehow I'd never read either) made this collection worthwhile, but I'd have loved more context about where the stories were first published, and having the author bios with the stories rather than at the end would have been helpful. But why no Octavia Butler in a collection of pioneering women SF writers? More diversity, please!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jasen

    Top notch collection of diverse stories from late 20’s to late 60’s by wonderful female sci-fi authors. So much to love here, but some of my favorites include “The Miracle of the Lily,” “The Black God’s Kiss,” “In Hiding,” “Ararat, “All Cars Are Grey,” “M. Sakrison’s Halt,” “All the Colors of the Rainbow,” “The Tunnel Ahead,” “Another Rib,” “When I Was Miss Dow,” and “Nine Lives.” Some quotes: “...but who and when and how she could not even guess. As to the beings who made the shaft, in long-forg Top notch collection of diverse stories from late 20’s to late 60’s by wonderful female sci-fi authors. So much to love here, but some of my favorites include “The Miracle of the Lily,” “The Black God’s Kiss,” “In Hiding,” “Ararat, “All Cars Are Grey,” “M. Sakrison’s Halt,” “All the Colors of the Rainbow,” “The Tunnel Ahead,” “Another Rib,” “When I Was Miss Dow,” and “Nine Lives.” Some quotes: “...but who and when and how she could not even guess. As to the beings who made the shaft, in long-forgotten ages—well, there were devils on earth before man, and the world was very old.”P.52 C. L. Moore’s “The Black God’s Kiss” “Down, and down. She was sliding fast, but she knew how long it would be. On that first trip they had taken alarm as the passage spiraled so endlessly and with thoughts of the long climb back had tried to stop before it was too late. They had found it impossible. Once embarked, there was no halting. She had tried, and such waves of sick blurring had come over her that she came near to unconsciousness. it was as if she had tried to hold some in accessible process of nature, half finished. They could only go on. The very atoms of their bodies shrieked in rebellion against a reversal of the change.”P.53 C. L. Moore’s “The Black God’s Kiss” “Once, at home, I try to talk with a few of these friends about my feelings. But I discover that whatever female patterns they’ve borrowed are superficial ones; none of them bother to grow an extra lobe, but merely tick the Terran pattern into a corner of their own for handy reference. They are most of them on sulfas. Hard and shiny toys, they skip like pebbles over the surface if the colonists lives.” P.397 of “When I Was Miss Dow” by Sonya Dorman “Well, I have learned, I start to say, but can’t explain what it is I’m still learning, and close my eyes. Part of it is that on the line between the darkness and the brightness it’s easiest to float. I’ve never wanted to practice only easy things. My balance is damaged. I never had to balance. It’s not a term or concept that I understand even now, at home, in free form. Some impress of Martha‘s pattern lies on my own brain cells. I suspect it’s permanent damage, which gives me joy. That’s what I mean about not understanding it. I am talk to strive for perfection. How can I be pleased with this, which may be a catastrophe?” P.398 Sonya Dorman’s “When I Was Miss Dow” “While I float on the taut line, The horizon between light and dark, where it’s so easy, I begin to sense what is under the costumes: staggering down the street dead drunk on a sunny afternoon with everyone laughing at you; hiding under the veranda because you made blood come out of pause face; kicking a man when he’s in the gutter because you’ve been kicked and have to pass it on. Tragedy is what one of the Terrans called being a poet in the body of a cockroach.” P.399 Sonya Dorman’s “When I Was Miss Dow” “ The planet turns at such a degree on its axis, to see the truth you must have light of some sort, but to see the light you must have darkness of some sort. I can no longer float on the horizon between the two because the horizon has disappeared. I’ve learned to descend, and to rise, and to send again. I’m able to revert without help to my own free form, to reabsorb the extra brain tissue. The sun comes up and it’s bright. The night comes down and it’s dark. I’m becoming somber, the brilliant student. Even my uncle says I’ll be a good word and when the time comes. The Warden goes to conjunction; from the cell banks a nephew is lifted out. The koota lies dreaming of races she has run in the wind. It is our life, and it goes on, like the life of other creatures.” P.402-403 Sonya Dorman’s “When I Was Miss Dow” “Pugh looked up with angry eyes: Martin is my friend. We’ve worked together, he’s a good man. He stopped. After a while he said, yes, I love him. Why did you ask that? Kaph said nothing, but he looked at the other man. His face was changed, as if he were glimpse in something he had not seen before; his voice two was changed. How can you...how do you... But Pugh could not tell him. “I don’t know,” he said, “it’s practice, partly. I don’t know. We’re each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark?” P.489 Ursula K. le Guin’s “Nine Lives”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This anthology is a phenomenal remedy to combat erasure. A number of these surprised me with how early some of these concepts were presented before they were absorbed into the primary flow of the mainstream. And so many of these stories were incredibly powerful and resonate through the decades. If you want an idea of what you’re diving into before committing, “That Only a Mother” by Judith Merril is available for a free listen as Episode 542 at PseudoPod. http://pseudopod.org/2017/05/15/pseud... A This anthology is a phenomenal remedy to combat erasure. A number of these surprised me with how early some of these concepts were presented before they were absorbed into the primary flow of the mainstream. And so many of these stories were incredibly powerful and resonate through the decades. If you want an idea of what you’re diving into before committing, “That Only a Mother” by Judith Merril is available for a free listen as Episode 542 at PseudoPod. http://pseudopod.org/2017/05/15/pseud... A couple stories made me set the book down and just rock back to think about them. “The Tunnel Ahead” by Alice Glaser is located in a place adjacent to the Twilight Zone, and the twist followed by the final sting really messed me up. Exceptional craftsmanship. “Baby, You Were Great” by Kate Wilhelm is an unsettling SimSense story that is a precursor to the cyberpunk movement, but would be wholly comfortable within it. It is almost a decade before “The Girl Who Was Plugged In,” two decades before NEUROMANCER, and three before STRANGE DAYS. Like many others in this anthology, this story really jammed up my appreciation of the evolution of science fiction. A number of other stories I found particularly noteworthy. With “The Miracle of the Lily” by Clare Winger Harris I was surprised to see an environmental “bugs attack” story considering this was before the atomic age. Now I am curious as to the other influences in that narrative. “In Hiding” by Wilmar H. Shiras was a chilling look at obsolescence through technology changes and evolution. “Contagion” by Katherine MacLean is an interesting look at what defines identity and how appearances factor with survival. “For Sale, Reasonable” by Elizabeth Mann Borgese is still bitingly relevant in this world where we continue to outsource and automate. It accomplishes a lot in a very compact space. “The Black God's Kiss” by C. L. Moore delivered just the sort of pulpy purple prose I love. Now having read two I really need to hunt down the whole assemblage of Jiriel of Joiry stories. “The Barbarian” by Joanna Russ is some great Dying Earth styled two-fisted fiction. “All Cats Are Gray” by Andre Norton is a cute story but would have been more powerful without the disability compensation of extra powers. That said, this story (plus the excellent cat work in the Captain Marvel film) makes me want to check out more of Andre Norton's stories with cats set in space.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    I usually struggle about with anthologies but this was great! Admittedly it combines a few of my loves: sci-fi, women writers and history. The book starts with an introduction that in and of itself corrected a few of my assumptions, including that it was a mostly male field and that the women who were writing used male pseudonyms. Following from there, the book offers 25 short stories published between 1928 and 1969 and arranged chronologically, and I had only previously read one of them. (The l I usually struggle about with anthologies but this was great! Admittedly it combines a few of my loves: sci-fi, women writers and history. The book starts with an introduction that in and of itself corrected a few of my assumptions, including that it was a mostly male field and that the women who were writing used male pseudonyms. Following from there, the book offers 25 short stories published between 1928 and 1969 and arranged chronologically, and I had only previously read one of them. (The last one in the collection, “Nine Lives” by Ursula K. Le Guin. Which is PHENOMENAL by the way, but we *are* talking Le Guin.) It was interesting to see how the stories reflected the style and zeitgeist of the time, and how those styles changed. Some stories had something to offer about women and their place in the world (real or imagined world) - like “Created He Them,” “Birth of a Gardener” or “Baby, You Were Great” - some of then dared to make women the protagonists- like “The Black God’s Kiss,” “Space Episode,” “All Cats Are Grey” or “The Barbarian” - and some of them simply showcased one woman’s take on the issues of the era - like “Mr. Sakrison’s Halt,” “All the Colors of the Rainbow” or “The Last Flight of Dr. Ain.” At the back of the book the reader is given bios on each of the writers and I highly recommend flipping to the back and reading the bio of the author immediately after reading her story; it really deepens the reading experience. I was able to move through this book pretty steadily. Not only do I feel smarter as a result of taking this all in, there were a fair number of stories that still pack an emotional punch, even outside their native era. (If you’re interested in a story by story reaction, I have them in my reading updates, but they might be a little spoiler-y on some.) In conclusion - great stories, great book, and now my appetite is whetted for even more “vintage sci-fi” by women!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kaileigh

    Biggest flaw of this book is that it is ordered by publication date, and the early/older stories were less engaging than the later ones. The first three stories (spanning 1928-1934) were a bit stilted and too long for the concept they contained. It was interesting to see how the year and the theme related to each other (for example, a rush of stories about the effects of mutation/radiation comes exactly when you would expect). I feel like the choice to order by date gives the book an academic fe Biggest flaw of this book is that it is ordered by publication date, and the early/older stories were less engaging than the later ones. The first three stories (spanning 1928-1934) were a bit stilted and too long for the concept they contained. It was interesting to see how the year and the theme related to each other (for example, a rush of stories about the effects of mutation/radiation comes exactly when you would expect). I feel like the choice to order by date gives the book an academic feel, I think it would have been more fun to have modern authors write intros/outros for some of the stories, or to order them around themes. I do feel like this book has strong value as a reference, in that you could open it up and pull out a brilliant story. Most of the stories were interesting and a few really 'wow'ed me. My favorites were "Baby, You Were Great"(1967), "Another Rib"(1963), "The New You"(1962), "The Tunnel Ahead"(1961), "Car Pool"(1959) and "That Only a Mother" (1948). I found everything pre-40s a bit of a slog, and I felt like the stories picked up and were more exciting once the anthology hit the 60s. The book also ends with a great LeGuin story that I had read before in a different short story collection, "Nine Lives" (1969). My longest pause in this book was while stuck in "The Black God's Kiss"(1934), which I did not enjoy too much and kept putting down after a couple pages. If you also find yourself stuck, maybe push through or just jump ahead and come back. The biographical notes section at the end is really interesting, though definitely academic.

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