Friday, November 21, 2003

Flying Cups and Saucers: Gender Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Debbie Notkin and the Secret Feminist Cabal

This publication is an offshoot of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award "for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender." Now, I love the Tiptrees, and I love WisCon and everyone involved in it. But because of the nature of the reprint anthology and some weird timing with my other reading, I was disappointed to find that I'd read many of the stories too recently for them to be very fresh for me.

Things start out promising enough. There is, first of all, Kelley Eskridge's wonderful story "And Salome Danced," which showed up in the Datlow Little Deaths anthology which I reviewed below. So that's good, but I didn't feel like reading it again so soon. Then there's Eleanor Arnason's story "The Lovers," and you won't find me saying a bad word about Eleanor Arnason or her writing. She is the proverbial bomb. James Patrick Kelly's story "Chemistry" is decent but has the feel of going through the motions, and Ursula K. Le Guin's "Forgiveness Day" is good but not her best. Ian McDonald contributes "Some Strange Desire," which I read in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror Seventh Collection and found disturbing then, no less so now. "Venus Rising" was also in Carol Emshwiller's Report to the Men's Club, which I just read. Next comes "Eat Reecebread" by Graham Joyce and Peter F. Hamilton, which I enjoyed despite finding it a bit predictable. Lisa Tuttle's "Food Man" appeared in Crank! back in the day, and it was nice to read it again here, like an old acquaintance you always wanted to get to know better. Delia Sherman's stories are always a good read, but I read "Young Woman in a Garden" not long ago in another of the Datlow/Windling Year's Best's, so I skipped it here. This collection rounds out with another Ursula K. Le Guin story, "The Matter of Seggri," which also appeared in Crank! once upon a time. So, of more than a dozen stories, seven I had read in recent memory, which is not a bad thing exactly. It may mean that I have something of a narrow reading area when it comes to genre fiction. Anyway, if you haven't read any of these stories, I suggest you buy a copy of this anthology and support the Tiptree award. And come to WisCon, too.


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