cover image Heiresses of Russ 2013

Heiresses of Russ 2013

Edited by Tenea D. Johnson and Steve Berman. Lethe (, $18 trade paper (322p) ISBN 978-1-59021-170-0

Johnson and Berman conduct a somewhat discordant symphony of authors in the latest installment of their annual lesbian speculative fiction franchise. The mostly unifying theme is the simple power born of the love between two women, and the nature of that power to incite change. The most striking example of this comes in Jamie Killen’s “Elm,” as young Alice discovers the transformative properties of feminine emotion throughout her life. The strength of “Elm” is complimented beautifully by the stark ferocity of Alex Dally MacFarlane’s “Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints,” a moving, intricate love story devoted to the empowerment-tinged vengeance of a sisterhood against a world that moved on without them. Unfortunately, these two stories are overbalanced by others whose message is lost in a miasma of details (Richard Bowes’s “Reality Girl”) and rushed endings (Carrie Vaughn’s “Astrophilia”). The anthology is more substantial than popcorn, but not by much. (Aug.)