I have been known to complain on this blog about the ways in which fiction by women gets overlooked (see here and here). So it’s lovely to be able to report that the recent anthology Eclipse 3, edited by Jonathan Strahan, includes ten-and-a-half stories by women in its fifteen stories (one’s a collaboration between Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple).
This is a great anthology — there are no bad stories in it and some of the work is downright stunning. But then, what else would you expect from an anthology that includes stories by such authors as Karen Joy Fowler, Nicola Griffith, Molly Gloss, Ellen Klages, and Jeffrey Ford?
One of my favorites — Maureen McHugh’s “Useless Things” — was the first topic of discussion on the Tiptree Book Club. “Useless Things” is science fiction about the day after tomorrow. Or, given the reality it sets up, maybe I should say it takes place sometime later on this afternoon. Drought in the Southwest US, increased economic inequality and the decline of the middle class, a series of changes that people really don’t want to face: McHugh nails it all.
A second story in the book — Caitlin R. Keirnan’s “Galapagos” — is slated for the next discussion on the Tiptree Book Club, which is doing online discussions of books and stories drawn from the Tiptree short list and winners. “Galapagos” is also near future SF, but it involves astronauts and space travel and trauma. I want to avoid spoilers, so I’ll just say it’s a complex story worth your time.
Karen Joy Fowler’s “Pelican Bar” isn’t even near future — the abusive treatment camps for troublesome teenagers it describes exists right now. But there’s a definite fantastical element employed to tell devastating truth.
In “It Takes Two,” Nicola Griffith does a brilliant job of exploring whether love is merely chemical. The science here is maybe that of the middle of next month, but the love story is timeless. Elizabeth Bear’s “Swell” is also about love — or maybe desire — but at the crux it’s about what is really important in life.
This book includes fantasy as well. Nnedi Okorafor’s “On the Road” incorporates Nigerian mythology into the life of a modern woman — or a woman who thinks she’s modern. In “The Visited Man,” Molly Gloss takes us back into the 19th Century of Henri Rousseau’s art. And there’s even a dragon — Yolen and Stemple’s “Mesopotamian Fire.”
Paul Di Filippo’s “Yes We Have No Bananas” defies genre classification, being that sort of fantasy/SF blend that’s more common in the UK than in the US. The tone is slightly satirical, but I was very caught up in this world.
Strahan has done two previous Eclipse anthologies, and Eclipse 4 is due in May. I’ll be checking all those out, along with his “year’s best” anthologies, also published by Night Shade. After all, the best guide to an anthology is the editor’s taste, and with Eclipse 3, Strahan has proved his is worth exploring.
My novella Changeling is now available as an ebook through Book View Cafe. It’s a coming of age story. And it’s not about faeries.
My story “New Lives” is in the lastest Book View Cafe ebook anthology, The Shadow Conspiracy II.