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Women of wonder: science fiction stories by…
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Women of wonder: science fiction stories by women about women (original 1975; edition 1975)

by Pamela Sargent (Editor)

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207357,211 (3.74)10
Member:bluesalamanders
Title:Women of wonder: science fiction stories by women about women
Authors:Pamela Sargent (Editor)
Info:New York, Vintage Books [1975, c1974]
Collections:Your library, Unreviewed
Rating:***1/2
Tags:genre: science fiction, genre: fantasy, anthology, mom, strong women, type: mass market paperback

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Women of Wonder by Pamela Sargent (Editor) (1975)

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Crap. Even with the list of prestigious writers collected here, do not waste your time with this collection.

Most of the stories contained in this collection were new to me, and apparently to be respected as a feminist writer in the seventies was to spend your time writing really stupid stories of despair and futility and dwelling on women's natural nobility being crushed.

Do not bother reading:
The Child Dreams (1974) by Sonya Dorman | A poem. Gaah. There are three anthologies of Women of Wonder stories, and Sargent has placed a single poem — not one of her own, thank favor, but bad enough — a the start of each of these anthologies. Honestly, why would you do this? Poetry can be an incredibly evocative medium, and I am passionately in love with many poems and select poets. This poem is not even readable.

That Only a Mother (1948) by Judith Merril | Woman gives birth to child lacking arms and legs and doesn't notice, much to her husband's horror when he returns from war and get a chance to express this in the last four paragraphs. This story was apparently written to allow the author to explore setting half-hints and innuendos throughout a story. I cannot imagine that this technique was innovative in the 70s, but maybe it was in the 40s? It doesn't even rate as high as trite in reading it now.

Contagion (1950) by Katherine MacLean | Group of settlers all set up to colonize a planet land and find a forgotten colony already there, and they're carrying a virus that turns the settlers into clones. Setting aside the fact that that premise is ridiculously illogical, I am frustrated with the focus of appearance in the story. Appearance and personal association with appearance is the deliberate focus of this story, which I know because Sargent has told me so point-blank in the preface blurb. While reading the story set-up, about all the female settlers finding the single (that they've encountered) surviving colonist (male) unbelievably attractive and fascinating and to the extent that they all want to leave their established long-term relationships in favor of him, I really wanted the story to unveil that the colonist had some sort of pheromones that caused the women to respond this way, thus framing the story as a contemplation of love and desire. I found the actual story was so much less interesting.

The Wind People (1959) Marion Zimmer Bradley | Space-faring woman unwisely becomes pregnant (oops!) and, as infants are unable to survive in space, opts to declare herself dead and maroon herself and her child on a random, empty planet. Who would possibly think this was a good idea? Later, as the child grows to adulthood, incestuous desires develop. I really, really don't like Zimmer Bradley, and this story makes me dislike her even more. Aside from the nicely unintentional advocacy for responsible birth control and possibly for contingency plans, this story is pointless.

When I Was Miss Dow (1966) by Sonya Dorman | Alien shapeshifts into woman for a time; doesn't want to switch back. This was actually passably interesting, in an extremely introspective sort of way, but not a story I'd ever recommend.

The Food Farm (1967) by Kit Reed | Eating disorder somehow intertwined with pop-star infatuation; leads to psychopathic plan to force-feed people. Wut.

Sex and/or Mr. Morrison (1967) by Carol Emshwiller | What the fuck? I have just read this story thrice over and I can not even distinguish a plot, to say nothing of a point. Emshwiller's afterward to this story is quoted, "It would be nice to live in a society where the genitals were really considered Beauty. It seems to me any other way of seeing them is obscene." Emshwiller is a psycho.

False Dawn (1971) by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro | Stuck in some sort of post-atomic dystopic future, a mutated woman gets raped, rescued, and limps off with her rescuer. That's about it.

Nobody's Home (1972) by Joanna Russ | Convoluted tale of teleportation theorizing on how instantaneous transport would effect interpersonal relationships, but not boring.

These are kind of worth your time:
The Ship Who Sang (1961) by Anne McCaffrey | Okay. I am a great fan of McCaffrey's, and the novel of this same name is one of my favorites. It's nice that the opening chapter is recognized here, but it's far better to experience this story as part of a novel than as a stand-alone tale.

Baby, You Were Great (1967) by Kate Wilhelm | Creepy creepy creepy story about voyeurism, rape, control, and ratings. Extremely well-crafted and powerful; not enjoyable at all to read.

Vaster than Empires and More Slow (1971) by Ursula K. Le Guin | Le Guin is great and this story no less so, but it's keeping poor company here. Read it in a collection of her works instead.

Of Mist, Sand, and Grass (1973) by Vonda N. McIntyre | A novella about a post-apocalyptic world featuring a fascinating blend of modern technological advancements and traditional behaviors, but rather rough and unfinished. McIntyre eventually developed this novella into the first third of an award-winning novel. Read the novel instead.

To give credit where credit is due, Sargent's essay to introduce this anthology — Women in Science Fiction or Women of Science Fiction, depending on whether you go by the title listed in the contents or the title at the head of the essay — is quite, quite good; probably the best of the three essays Sargent wrote for these anthologies. But you may have to grit your teeth through footnotes sprawling multiple pages (Footnote 10 took up five). ( )
1 vote noneofthis | Jul 7, 2010 |
The title may give you a rather large clue that this is a book about females. The editor writes a lengthy analysis of women and roles in science fiction at the beginning, looking at various thinigs - the use of women by Asimov and Heinlein for example, and what they had said about them in person.

Obviously she has chosen stories of a particular type to illustrate what she is on about, given the absence of early writers Catherine Moore and Leigh Brackett and including MacLean, the former being obviously superior talents to the Bradleys, Dormans and Dows etc. as far as short stories go. She does mention them though, but dismisses Brackett as too macho for her, basically, and pointing out more interest in 70s era writers and ongoing as far as her topic is concerned.

This is from the 70s, of course, so people reading this now may see it as belaboring the point rather obviously.

That aside, overall a good anthology, with a few lightweight stories alongside the top class Russ and McIntyre pieces, or Wilhelm.

Women Of Wonder : That Only a Mother - Judith Merril
Women Of Wonder : Contagion - Katherine MacLean
Women Of Wonder : The Wind People - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Women Of Wonder : The Ship Who Sang [short story] - Anne McCaffrey
Women Of Wonder : When I Was Miss Dow - Sonya Dorman
Women Of Wonder : The Food Farm - Kit Reed
Women Of Wonder : Baby You Were Great - Kate Wilhelm
Women Of Wonder : Sex and/or Mr. Morrison - Carol Emshwiller
Women Of Wonder : Vaster Than Empires and More Slow - Ursula K. Le Guin
Women Of Wonder : False Dawn - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Women Of Wonder : Nobody's Home - Joanna Russ
Women Of Wonder : Of Mist and Grass and Sand - Vonda N. McIntyre

Don't know baby.

2.5 out of 5

Melting sickness bloodless men multiple.

4 out of 5

Alien last stop.

3 out of 5

Rogue rejection replacement return.

3.5 out of 5

Protean patterns.

4 out of 5

Eating restriction.

3.5 out of 5

Reality show acting job way too long.

4 out of 5

Where'd he get the big undies?

2.5 out of 5

Empathetic comeback.

3 out of 5

You lousy Mute!

3 out of 5

Only smart girls at parties, please.

4.5 out of 5

Double serpent treatment.

4.5 out of 5

http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2008/04/women-of-wonder-pamela-sargent.html

( )
  bluetyson | Apr 2, 2008 |
Hmm, I@ve never been that keen on sf written by women. I've no idea why really. I like the occasional margaret atwood, but even then, I find it easier to identify with female heroines as written by men. I think I'll ignore the implications of that one!

Anyway, a collections of short sf, written by women. It passes the time ( )
  RoC | Sep 11, 2006 |
Showing 3 of 3
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sargent, PamelaEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradley, Marion ZimmerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dorman, SonyaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emshwiller, CarolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
LeGuin, Ursula K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacLean, KatherineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCaffrey, AnneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McIntyre, Vonda N.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Merril, JudithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reed, KitContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Russ, JoannaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilhelm, KateContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yarbro, Chelsea QuinnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Introduction: The story of women in science fiction clearly suggests the continuing emergence of a body of work characterized by the new-found outlook of its practitioners.
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This anthology contains:

Women in Science Fiction • (1974) • essay by Pamela Sargent

The Child Dreams • (1974) • poem by Sonya Dorman

That Only a Mother • (1948) • shortstory by Judith Merril

Contagion • (1950) • novelette by Katherine MacLean

The Wind People • (1959) • shortstory by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Ship Who Sang • (1961) • novelette by Anne McCaffrey

When I Was Miss Dow • (1966) • shortstory by Sonya Dorman

The Food Farm • (1967) • shortstory by Kit Reed

Baby, You Were Great • (1967) • shortstory by Kate Wilhelm (aka Baby, You Were Great!) [as by Kate Wilhelm ]

Sex and/or Mr. Morrison • (1967) • shortstory by Carol Emshwiller

Vaster Than Empires and More Slow • (1971) • novelette by Ursula K. Le Guin

False Dawn • (1972) • shortstory by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Nobody's Home • (1972) • shortstory by Joanna Russ

Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand • (1973) • novelette by Vonda N. McIntyre
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