A WOMAN'S LIBERATION: A Choice of Futures by and About Women
This anthology, which reprints 10 award-winning stories by and about women, brings little new to the table, but it does assemble excellent work by sci-fi luminaries, originally published in Analog and Asimov's (for which Williams is executive editor). Its failure to provide historical context, however, renders the stories somewhat flat. The pieces range widely: Vonda N. McIntyre's "Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand" and Katherine MacLean's postapocalyptic "The Kidnapping of Baroness 5" present worlds where scientific study uses animals for healing humans or for gathering genetic material. The human condition is deftly described in both Connie Willis's "Even the Queen," a hilarious story about menstruation, and Ursula K. Le Guin's poignant "A Woman's Liberation," a first-person journey through the eyes of a former slave who discovers that freedom comes at a price. Many stories explore the world via metaphors of illness or plague: Nancy Kress's "Inertia" describes a quarantined plague community given hope that the plague might be cured; Anne McCaffrey's dated "The Ship Who Mourned" chronicles a sentient ship's trip to a plague world; and in Octavia Butler's harrowing but hopeful "Speech Sounds," a plague has caused people to forget how to speak or read, leading to chaos. Many SF fans will have read at least some of these stories already. Maybe the familiarity of the stories in this anthology signals women's entrenchment in the genre. (Oct. 1)
FYI:Willis was the subject of a recent PW Interview (May 21).