Haunting and fresh

Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited Ann and Jeff Vandermeer is a collection of short stories from award winning, famous, and diverse female authors. Ann and Jeff aim for this anthology to contribute to the on-going conversation in feminist speculative fiction. The editors chose to focus on works from the 60s and 70s, corresponding to the New Wave literary movement, since they believe this era set the foundation for sci-fi today. 

Some background

The New Wave science fiction literary movement refers to the explosion of sci-fi works in the 1960s and 1970s; following after the Golden Age. The movement was characterized by experimentation and change. The New Wave rejected the “hard” sci-fi of the Golden Age and eschewed from popular themes such as space travel and technology. Instead authors incorporated the social themes of the time and took on a dystopian tone–a stark contrast from the cheerful optimism of the Golden Age.

What do I think?

The first thing that stood out right away was the diversity of stories. Some of the stories read like fairy tales; some are epistolary. The authors are primarily from the United States but there are several authors from other parts of the world as well. They explore a wide and far-reaching array of themes from gender roles, aging, and mental illness, to relationships, corporate jobs, and biological warfare. This adds a richness to the collection as a whole since every story is so unique.

The quality of stories are also excellent. Of course some stood out more than others but overall they captured the imagination and made interesting points. I’ve often found myself reading one of the stories and having to take a break before tackling the next one in order to collect my thoughts. The stories are dark, haunting, and highly compelling. The ideas explored regarding the role of women and gender in society are incredibly relevant. Some of my favorites were “Gestella” by Susan Palwick, The “Screwfly Solution” by James Tiptree, and “The Glass Bottle Trick” by Nalo Hopkinson.

The final verdict

5 out of 5 — The collection does a great job covering a wide variety of authors, themes, and styles. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this anthology. I will review some of my favorite stories from this collection in future posts.

I purchased this book from Third House Books–a fun independent bookstore in Gainesville, FL. Highly recommend stopping by if you ever get the chance!

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