Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists!
Berman’s (Wilde Stories 2014
) collection of 18 stories—mostly originals with a few reprints—is as offbeat and expectation-defying as the title suggests. The contents range from whimsical to serious, from romantic to tragic, and from historical to futuristic. The book might as well have been subtitled Women Who Misbehave
, given how many of the protagonists flout custom, challenge authority, and make a mockery of the laws of both society and nature—by robbing banks, raising the dead, or building mechanical wonders. Standouts include Gemma Files’s “Imaginary Beauties: A Lurid Melodrama,” in which college geniuses become innovative drug dealers, and Traci Castleberry’s “Poor Girl,” wherein an ambitious alchemist uses her concoctions to heal grievous wounds. Among the most unusual selections, Tracy Canfield’s “Meddling Kids” is an oddball riff on Scooby-Doo
, and Sean Eads’s “Riveter” is a truly unexpected take on Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun, here envisioned as ruthless but sympathetic. Lesbian protagonists can be found in every story, but their sexual orientation sometimes feels a little tacked on, as in Tim Lieder’s unsatisfying “The Moorehead Maze Experiment.” Even when specific stories fall short, this intersection of mad science and lesbian leanings is entertaining and wonderfully weird. (Aug.)