Monday 10 May 2021

Cranky Book Reviewer Reads Rediscovery

I mean, Cranky's gonna crank, but.

Image credit: Screenshot from Amazon

I've been reading a wider array of fiction lately, choosing genres that I don't normally gravitate towards. This is possibly because my own book was so unaligned with my preferred genres, its very genre defiance has made me question my own prejudices against specific genres. 

The Cranky Book Reviewer used genre way too many times in that paragraph, and is not one bit sorry.

However. The Cranky Book Reviewer also doesn't enjoy short stories, which she didn't notice until she wrote several short stories, submitted them to publications, received rejections for each of them, and then started to think about what kind of short story she likes to read, realized that the answer is, "none of them," because of high school English and university English, so decided to write a book instead.

Right. Back to the review.

Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963) contains science fiction stories written by women (der). Each is prefaced by a short essay by a science fiction writer of today, which provides insight into the author's life and work, as well as what struck the essayist about the piece that follows. These, in themselves, make for interesting reading, though they do contain a few spoilers (the Cranky Book Review does not like spoilers).

Each story is beautifully formed, interesting and unsettling. I had to take a break after reading each one to think on it, to ponder what I had just read; each story deserved time to wrap my mind around the concepts these women created, and the clarity with which they identified challenges, sixty or more years ago. 

Without revealing any spoilers, these pieces contain themes of inequality and/or miscommunication, often both. Written from both male and female perspectives, with no common planet, species or time between them, the authors sketched palpable differences between males and females; this is true of probably all works of fiction, but it was bittersweet and saddening to see it so clearly here. These women, who made up only 9% of all the sci-fi authors of that time, and who are all but unknown today, so subtly, aptly depicted struggles between genders, between masculine and feminine energy, between humans and alien species. They wrote about colonies led by women, but never fully safe from men. About the dangers of assuming you know anything about another human or humanoid. 

It was an absolute honour to read what they had imagined so long ago, and it's wonderful to think that their work and their lives are being rediscovered by new generations (see what I did there?).

I enjoyed this anthology immensely, and would recommend it to sci-fi fans and anthropologists alike

So, why is the Cranky Book Reviewer Cranky? Well, I liked the book and loved the stories. I'm cranky because such inequality still exists, that the powerful still press their advantage over the less-powerful, that the issues presented with such clarity in 1963 are still present today. But, overall, I'm very pleased that the editor, Gideon Marcus, revived these stories and shared their authors with the world. 

Spoilers spoil. Don't be a spoiler. (image credit: author's own)

Portions of this review were posted on Goodreads as well.

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