Review: Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue

July 9th, 2014 1:50 pm by Kelly Garbato

If the apocalypse comes, beep me.

five out of five stars

This special double issue of Lightspeed magazine is easily one of my all-time favorite science fiction collections – and not just because it was written, edited, and illustrated (etc.) entirely by women (109 women, to be precise, not counting the one thousand ladies+ who submitted stories!). The writing isn’t merely solid, but oftentimes downright spectacular – and at just $3.99, it’s practically a steal.

Many of the short stories are worth the purchase price by their very lonesomes. Off the top of my head, there’s “Like Daughter,” by Tananarive Due (a woman gives birth to a clone of herself in order to right the many wrongs done to her in childhood); Maria Romasco Moore’s “The Great Loneliness” (a post-apocalyptic world populated by painfully lonely human-animal-plant hybrids); and Alice Sheldon’s “Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death” (in which two spiders fall in love, the captor becoming the prey, the son the absent father). Eleanor Arnason’s “Knapsack Poems: A Goxhat Travel Journal” introduces a complicated and exciting vision of sexuality and gender in multiple bodied beings (the titular Goxhats).

While these are reprints, there’s quite a bit of original fiction to savor as well. Seanan McGuire’s “Each to Each” is a true gem (a mermaid Navy!) – it’s one I can see myself returning to time and again in the future – as are “The Case of the Passionless Bees” (a scifi reimagining of Sherlock Holmes by Rhonda Eikamp) and K.C. Norton’s “Canth” (a perpetual motion submarine powered by the heart of the Captain’s mother seemingly runs away from its owner/daughter). And Amal El-Mohtar’s “The Lonely Sea in the Sky” is heartbreakingly beautiful. Diamonds from the planet Triton “blink” towards one another – a talent humans rapidly learn to exploit for teleportation, spawning the rise of Meisner Syndrome and the Melee Liberation Front (“Friends of Lucy”).

Though I’m not as much as fan of flash fiction, a number of these stories managed to grab my imagination and pull on ye old heartstrings. “The Hymn of the Ordeal” (“How else do you see the stars, but to join the war?”); “The Sewell Home” (an old folk’s home for “timeslingers”); and “Ro-Sham-Bot” (about a faulty chore bot endowed with a “pesky” personality) are all worth a read or two or three.

Along with the reprints, original short stories, and flash fiction, there’s also an excerpt from Jane Lindskold’s recently published novel, Artemis Awakening (which I skipped seeing as the ARC is in my to-read pile), as well as author spotlights, nonfiction (including artist galleries and a roundtable talk with Ursula K. Le Guin, Pat Cadigan, Ellen Datlow, and Nancy Kress), and a plethora of personal essays, written for the project’s Kickstarter fundraiser. It wasn’t my plan to read the nonfiction – I’m just not into NF as of late – but much to my surprise, I plowed through it all. The personal essays are a little more hit or miss than the short stories, but overall I was engaged, excited, nodding my head in vociferous agreement.

I jumped at this collection the second I saw Maureen McHugh’s name in the blurb. I’m 99.9% sure that I’ve read everything she’s published – usually in multiple formats – but I can always wish for more, right? As it turns out, hers is a reprint of “The Cost to Be Wise” (which went on to become the opening chapters of Mission Child, a book I cannot recommend highly enough), leaving me bummed but not surprised. (I still read it anyway, for the cagillionth time!) I was however both shocked and delighted to find an interview of McHugh (by Jude Griffin) in the Author Spotlight section – and she hopes to start a new novel soon. (Yay!) So it wasn’t a total wash on the McHugh front.

5/5 stars. Most of the stories found here are amazing and stand on their own. There are very few “duds” to be found, and even these fall in the 3- to 4-star range. (It’s relative, yo.) 490 pages of grade-A, woman-made science fiction for just $3.99 – what are you waiting for? You need this magazine!

(No, I don’t work for Lightspeed. I’m just crazy excited about this project, okay! Destroy ALL the genres!)

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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2 Responses to “Review: Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue”

  1. Book Review: Out of Tune, Jonathan Maberry, ed. (2014) » vegan daemon Says:

    […] Mira Grant) and thought that her contribution (“Each to Each”) was the single best thing in Lightspeed’s special “Women Destroy SF” issue (a magazine filled with awesome things, mind you). I recognized some of the other names, but no one […]

  2. fuck yeah reading: 2014 books » vegan daemon Says:

    […] Magazine, June 2014 (Women Destroy Science Fiction special issue) (Volume 49); reviewed here […]

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