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Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois [Nov. 25th, 2013|10:48 pm]
Marissa Lingen

Review copy provided by Tor.

There’s more than one way to put together an anthology. This one seems to be run on the “something for everyone” principle, with big names from various genres and sub-genres all contributing their own sorts of story. (Notably absent: writers whose primary focus is short stories. This happens in a lot of short story anthologies. I raise an eyebrow every time. Only a few stories in this volume were of the format “outtakes from novel series characters we presume you like,” though, which is one of my large complaints about novelist-only short story anthologies.) This makes it hard to imagine that there is any reader who couldn’t find at least one or two stories to like; on the other hand, it’s also hard for me to imagine such an amiable reader that all the stories would please them. But with over 700 pages of original fiction, I don’t think anybody could feel cheated if they didn’t like everything in this volume.

Nor, in fact, did my own preferences follow the lines of “authors I have liked before,” or at least not strictly so. I tried reading Joe Abercrombie when my grandfather was in the hospital dying. Ahahaha not recommended. But his story in this anthology, while filled with as many happy bunnies and teddy bear picnics as one might imagine in the rest of his body of work, was engaging and charming, a portrait of an outlaw getting herself into and out of trouble.

I also enjoyed several of the stories outside the speculative genres. Megan Abbott’s “My Heart Is Either Broken” with its portrait of near-lethal strain on a relationship after a kidnapping kept me guessing about what it would reveal about its protagonists to the very end. Carrie Vaughn’s “Raisa Stepanova” was solid historical fiction from an era we don’t see much of in the US (WWII Russia–I can’t speak to whether there’s a huge body of work that’s not getting translated on this topic, but if so, somebody speak to the translators, there was a lot of interesting stuff then). Pat Cadigan’s “Caretakers” also addressed topics not seen enough in fiction, with middle-aged sibling relationships intersecting with eldercare and thriller plots/themes, and Sharon Kay Penman drew me in for a slice of her usual period in a somewhat different location for “A Queen in Exile.”

So…it’s looking like the stand-out stories skewed more female and less speculative than the anthology as a whole, for me. Interesting, given the topic.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: harvey_rrit
2013-11-26 05:43 am (UTC)
Pity they didn't think of asking me; Peace Corben is possibly the most dangerous woman ever.

(Of course, there's the one Larry Niven's time-traveling hunter Hanville Svetz stole that owl from....)
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From: swan_tower
2013-11-26 06:58 am (UTC)
Given that his bad handling of women was one of the things that bounced me out of The Blade Itself, it interests me that Abercrombie's story worked so well for you. I might get this as an ebook -- it sounds like the kind of thing that would make for good "I go through you in bits and pieces while traveling" reading.
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[User Picture]From: between4walls
2013-11-26 04:36 pm (UTC)
"WWII Russia–I can’t speak to whether there’s a huge body of work that’s not getting translated on this topic, but if so, somebody speak to the translators, there was a lot of interesting stuff then"

Based on my (not-so-great) Russian, yes, there is a huge amount of stuff out there. The only translator I know who's done some is Robert Chandler, who did "Life and Fate," book 2 of a duology about the Battle of Stalingrad and physicist making a nuclear breakthrough, and is now working on book 1, "In a Just Cause."
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[User Picture]From: between4walls
2013-11-26 04:54 pm (UTC)
Just a couple of things from a quick search, some stuff that's been translated is:
Signs of Misfortune, His Battalion, Live Until Dawn, Pack of Wolves and a bunch of others by Belarusian author Vasil Bykaw/Bykov
Life and Fate, with the prequel coming out as mentioned. Grossman also wrote a short story about a woman in the Russo-Polish War that was made into the movie "Commissar."
And Boris Vasilyev's "The Dawns Here Are Quiet," about five women soldiers and the male narrator during WWII, has been made into a movie, but not translated.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-11-26 06:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-11-26 06:13 pm (UTC)
What an eccentric order for him to do them in. Sounds like just my sort of thing, but even I know that book 1 is earlier than book 2.
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[User Picture]From: between4walls
2013-11-26 06:22 pm (UTC)
It's quite obvious the author fudged the physics, but he trained a chemist so there's a lot of internal laboratory politics [edit- which intersects with and comments on Stalinism]. (He also fudges the timeline a bit, moving the "Doctors' Plot" or at least something barely distinguishable up ten years, but it all works out somehow). It's really too long, at least without the prequel since I don't know the backstory of half the characters, but it's worth reading and I think you'll like the science-politics.

The gender roles are interesting/slightly annoying in that all the women have interesting jobs (industrial chemist, designer/artist, radio operator) but their plotlines revolve around marriage or romance.

The order is quite frustrating but not as bizarre as it sounds- book 2 was banned in the USSR after book 1 was already out, so it was published abroad, and translated very early. Only recently did the novel become famous here with the NYRB edition, so now there's a market for the prequel.

Edited at 2013-11-26 06:23 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-11-26 06:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, that makes sense.
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[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2013-11-30 03:21 pm (UTC)
"Raisa Stepanova" is now up on Tor.com for free, FYI.
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