angela slatter

Yet again.

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It seems like every week (or more) another person lists the “history” or “best of” science fiction and fantasy while failing to mention women, people of color, or LGBTQIA+ contributors to the genre. Surprise.

I’m not going to mention the particular posts prompting this. Suffice it to say that the past two weeks have been surprisingly full of them ranging from well-established bloggers to bookstore lists.

While I find it difficult to imagine a full picture of science fiction and fantasy that doesn’t (at the least) include the works of Mary Shelley, Margaret Atwood, or Ursula K. Le Guin, the argument continues to be made that the “highlights” of SFF are largely male.

Rather than raging against the machine, though that certainly has its place and I’m prone to do it, I’m going to highlight some authors you should try out to broaden your SFF horizons. Huzzah!

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American woman with a sense of the spectacular. Her most recent novella, Binti, is a fantastic examination of humanity at its most complicated. It takes the examination of race, gender, and their intersections to space and succeeds in every possible way. Plus, once Binti makes you fall in love with Nnedi, her backlist will make your soul scream (in a good way).

Genevieve Valentine is an American author and comics writer. She has a wide range of stories, including The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, a retelling of the twelve dancing girls set in the 1920s and Persona, a futuristic political thriller. She’s a highly acclaimed author well worth the check out.

Rachel Pollack is a transsexual woman who has had a large influence on feminist science fiction and fantasy, the women’s spirituality movement, and a wide variety of authors like Neil Gaiman. On top of her novels, she also wrote for DC comics. Her work is pretty surreal, mixing spiritualism with futuristic and fantasy elements. Her Temporary Agency is definitely the place to start for a temperate taste of Pollack’s works.

Angela Slatter is an Australian author. While most of her works are short fiction, included in a number of short story collections and anthologies, you can also snag her stand-alone novella Of Sorrow and Such. She’s fantastic at creating heart-wrenching stories with complicated characters all in a short period of time. She’s got all the awards to prove it, and a contract for a full novel release this year.

 N.K. Jemisin is just fantastic. I’m just going to gush about her for a minute. N.K. Jemisin is an African American author with some amazing talent. Her newest book, The Fifth Season, is easily one of my favorite books of 2015. She blends non-western settings and characters with fantastic magic and world building. Her characters are ridiculously well developed. I can’t get over her. Go read The Fifth Season. You’ll see.

Angelica Gorodischer is an Argentinean author whose works have been translated into English through Small Beer Press. She came into the scene in 2003 by way of Ursula K Le Guin, so you know it’s got to be good. Her stories focus on more than just the typical character and plot driven stories. They are fairytale like, with settings that act on the story as well as on people and a sort of wide-view of fantasy that’s hard to describe. Her Kalpa Imperial and Trafalgar collections are fantastic. I’ve yet to read her newest, but it’s on my list.

Now, I know what you’re saying, “But, Bree, this list is only seven authors and all are women.”

So true. This is far from a comprehensive list. This is only really the authors who came to mind in the 30 seconds following me reading one of the aforementioned articles about SFF being a male domain. More comprehensive lists are definitely out there. In fact, here are links to some fantastic lists of authors:

 

From Fran Wilde: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2015/08/not-so-invisible-ninjas.html

From women in science fiction (blog): http://www.womeninsciencefiction.com/?page_id=54

SF Mistressworks: https://sfmistressworks.wordpress.com/womens-press-sf/

Lightspeed Magazines POC Science Fiction project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lightspeedmagazine/people-of-colour-destroy-science-fiction

Kevin Hearne: https://t.co/mQZCjoNYr6

Kev McViegh: https://performativeutterance.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/225-rising/

Or, hey, maybe you know those guys. Here is a list of people on twitter (mostly bloggers and authors who promote, read, write, etc. diverse books. The list is short, but I plan on adding to and maintaining it.

https://twitter.com/reev2550/lists/authors-and-bloggers

Please comment below with your suggestions for people to read, blogs to follow, and the like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review | Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter

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It’s the perfect season to pick up Of Sorrow and Such. Slatter’s newest novella, released by Tor.com Publishing taps into the classic witch story.

Of Sorrow and Such airs more on the side of The Crucible than The Craft. The story follows Ms. Patience Gideon, an herbalist and healer in a small village. For the past decade her life has been quiet. The town tolerates her and her adoptive daughter, Gilly, is well-loved. While the townspeople suspect her of more dangerous goings-on than a healer might otherwise have, there’s no doctor in the town and Patience is needed.

But, Patience has dark secrets, and her small family is about to be thrust into danger.

The story’s best feature is its tone. It draws on classic witch stories for its atmosphere, and blends it with an updated sense of humor and subject. The story is clear: there’s a sinister aspect to the villagers Patience lives with, but that is due almost as much to their own hypocrisy and affect as it is to anything inherently evil or suspicious about Patience. Patience may be helping women with unwanted pregnancies and abusive husbands, but she’s far from the only person meddling in the affairs of the village and certainly not the most vindictive.

The story sits at 104 pages, including cover, title, copyright, and author bio pages. It’s very short. The story itself only takes place over a few days, and the plot is paced fine. The problem I had is the background. Patience’s interactions with the villagers and the increased danger to her and Gilly lead to the reveal of some of Patience’s darkest secrets. The background of her secrets is a bit lacking and the reveals don’t really shed much light onto who Patience is or how she came to do some of the things she’s done. The bulk of the story creates a solid picture of who Patience is. She’s likeable, but tough and a bit jaded. The reveals could have added more, but the way they were executed left me wondering why so many were needed.

The side characters, however, are perfectly timed and developed for the story. Their lives and personalities are well developed, understandable, and to the point. The twists in their behavior were lightly hinted at, but still impactful.

The story examines complicated relationships between family members and neighbors. It asks who you can trust and then pushes its characters to their breaking points. The relationships Slatter examines are one of the true high-points of the novella. In particular, I enjoyed the relationship between Patience and Gilly, who, though they love each other, have very different ideas of what makes for a good life and what they want for their futures.

Slatter’s story has witches, were-people, and necromancy. It pits neighbor against neighbor in desperate attempts to protect oneself. Overall, if you’re looking to get into a witchy mood for Halloween, Of Sorrows and Such is primed to help you out.

From Angela Slatter’s Website:

Angela Slatter is the author of The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and Black-Winged Angels, as well as Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory (both with Lisa L. Hannett). She has won five Aurealis Awards, one British Fantasy Award, been a finalist for the Norma K. Hemming Award, and a finalist the World Fantasy Award twice (for Sourdough and Bitterwood).
Her novellas, Of Sorrow and Such (from Tor.com), and Ripper (in the Stephen Jones anthology Horrorology, from Jo Fletcher Books) will be released in October 2015.
Angela’s urban fantasy novel, Vigil (based on the short story “Brisneyland by Night”), will be released by Jo Fletcher Books in 2016, and the sequel, Corpselight, in 2017. She is represented by Ian Drury of the literary agency Sheil Land.

I received a copy of Of Sorrows and Such for free in exchange for an honest review.