Athena’s Daughters, vol. 1: Women in Science Fiction & Fantasy (Volume 1)
Written by: Gail Z. Martin
and Jennifer Brozek, Mary Robinette Kowal, Diana Peterfreund, Sherwood Smith, Janine K. Spendlove, Cynthia Ward, Jean Marie Ward and 14 others
Published by: Silence in the Library
Athena’s Daughters is an anthology of women authors writing stories featuring women characters. All in all it is a very worthy collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror short stories with other shades in the speculative fiction rainbow included.
Athena’s Daughters passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors. Never heard of the Bechdel Test? It was first used in reference to films. Here are the Rules that determine if it passes the test. (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. Seems pretty straightforward but once you start to look through that prism you will find that there aren’t many that measure up.
Each story in this anthology not only meets those requirements, they don’t make being female in and of itself the reason for the story. Yes, there are some very strong women characters and we see how a female might handle a situation differently than her male counterpart. Not necessarily better or worse, just a different perspective on handling things at times.
There are quite a few stories that I would love to have young females and males, especially those on the brink of adulthood to read. I would want them to enjoy the diversity as much as the strengths. These stories span through time as well as space. From hard science fiction to the limits of the fantastic; 22 little gems. Some of course are not so little but the length of a story has little to do with enjoyment, unless you want to spend more time with some of the characters. Fortunately some of the stories are part of a writer’s universe already and we can visit them in novels and some are set to spin into a novel or a series on novels. Then there are the stand alone pieces. When they are done correctly the author can tie up all the loose strings and you can enjoy the finality of the piece.
Having 22 stories in one volume I am reluctant to single out just a few. What is on offer ranges from tales of the very young to those who are at the end of life’s journey and most of the ages in between. Time travel, fairies, ghosts, space voyagers, ancient Goddesses interacting with women of the 20th and 21st centuries, the dangers and blessing of technology, supernatural dangers and temptations. While so many different styles and viewpoints are represented and some shine more brightly than others, in my opinion there is not a dud lurking in the lot. Happy reading.
Written by June K Williams
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