cover image Chicks in Tank Tops

Chicks in Tank Tops

Edited by Jason Cordova. Baen, $18 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-982192-35-8

Cordova (Kin Wars) effortlessly picks up the tradition of Esther Friesner, who edited the seven previous Chicks in Chainmail anthologies. These 14 stories feature formidable female protagonists in a diverse range of settings, and all showcase gifted authors given free rein to let their imaginations run wild. Cordova’s own “Belle’s Fantastical Mechanical Beast,” cowritten with Ashley Prior, brilliantly riffs on Disney’s musical take on Beauty and the Beast: Belle is the only resident of her small French village who does not break out into song at random (“Where in the nine levels of Hell did they find an orchestral string quartet to accompany their singing?”). Instead, she labors to build a “beast” using a combination of the mechanical and the alchemical as a way of avoiding marrying the tax man. Jody Lynn Nye’s “A Girl and Her K’t’ank” also stands out. The heroine is a police detective tracking smugglers while hosting an intelligent alien in her abdomen because it “approximates the salinity and temperature of the seas on his homeworld.” Fans of lighter-hearted fantasy and sci-fi will be pleased. (Jan.)