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The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women

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Fantasy long has been a vehicle that women have used to express their creative diversity and free themselves from a male-dominated literary establishment. This collection contains 38 short stories written by women from 1941 to the present. Acclaimed fantasists, such as Anne McCaffrey, Ursula Le Guin, and Lisa Tuttle, are joined by new voices from four continents as well as Fantasy long has been a vehicle that women have used to express their creative diversity and free themselves from a male-dominated literary establishment. This collection contains 38 short stories written by women from 1941 to the present. Acclaimed fantasists, such as Anne McCaffrey, Ursula Le Guin, and Lisa Tuttle, are joined by new voices from four continents as well as writers better known for other fictions, such as Joyce Carol Oates, Fay Weldon, and P.D. James. They explore every aspect of the weird and the macabre, of emotion and eroticism, allowing readers to discover the range and complexity of well-written fantasy. Contents: Sources and Acknowledgements • uncredited essay Introduction • essay by Joanna Russ Editors' Note • essay by Richard Glyn Jones and A. Susan Williams The Demon Lover • (1941) • short story by Elizabeth Bowen The Tooth • (1949) • short story by Shirley Jackson The Lake of the Gone Forever • (1949) • novelette by Leigh Brackett The Old Man • (1952) • short story by Daphne du Maurier My Flannel Knickers • (1988) • short story by Leonora Carrington The Anything Box • (1956) • short story by Zenna Henderson Miss Pinkerton's Apocalypse • (1958) • short story by Muriel Spark A Bright Green Field • (1958) • short story by Anna Kavan The Ship Who Sang (The Ship Who ... series) • (1961) • novelette by Anne McCaffrey Marmalade Wine • (1958) • short story by Joan Aiken The Fall of Frenchy Steiner • (1964) • novelette by Hilary Bailey Cynosure • (1964) • short story by Kit Reed The Wall • (1965) • short story by Josephine Saxton The Foot • (1967) • short story by Christine Brooke-Rose Baby, You Were Great • (1967) • short story by Kate Wilhelm (variant of Baby, You Were Great!) The Second Inquisition (Alyx) • (1970) • novelette by Joanna Russ Murder, 1986 • (1970) • novelette by P. D. James The Milk of Paradise • (1972) • short story by James Tiptree, Jr. When It Happens • non-genre • (1975) • short story by Margaret Atwood Angel, All Innocence • (1977) • short story by Fay Weldon Night-Side • (1977) • novelette by Joyce Carol Oates Fireflood • (1979) • novelette by Vonda N. McIntyre Wives • (1979) • short story by Lisa Tuttle Red as Blood • (1979) • short story by Tanith Lee Sur • (1982) • short story by Ursula K. Le Guin Peter and the Wolf • (1982) • short story by Angela Carter The Pits Beneath the World • (1983) • short story by Mary Gentle Two Sheep • (1983) • short story by Janet Frame Relics • (1985) • short story by Zoe Fairbairns The Evening and the Morning and the Night • (1987) • novelette by Octavia E. Butler (Learning About) Machine Sex • (1988) • short story by Candas Jane Dorsey Prodigal Pudding • (1988) • short fiction by Suniti Namjoshi Boobs • (1989) • short story by Suzy McKee Charnas If the Word Was to the Wise • (1990) • short story by Carol Emshwiller Trial by Teaspoon • (1992) • short story by Lynda Rajan In the Green Shade of a Bee-Loud Glade • (1993) • short story by L. A. Hall Death in the Egg • (1994) • short story by Ann Oakley Kay and Phil • (1994) • novelette by Lucy Sussex (variant of Kay & Phil)


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Fantasy long has been a vehicle that women have used to express their creative diversity and free themselves from a male-dominated literary establishment. This collection contains 38 short stories written by women from 1941 to the present. Acclaimed fantasists, such as Anne McCaffrey, Ursula Le Guin, and Lisa Tuttle, are joined by new voices from four continents as well as Fantasy long has been a vehicle that women have used to express their creative diversity and free themselves from a male-dominated literary establishment. This collection contains 38 short stories written by women from 1941 to the present. Acclaimed fantasists, such as Anne McCaffrey, Ursula Le Guin, and Lisa Tuttle, are joined by new voices from four continents as well as writers better known for other fictions, such as Joyce Carol Oates, Fay Weldon, and P.D. James. They explore every aspect of the weird and the macabre, of emotion and eroticism, allowing readers to discover the range and complexity of well-written fantasy. Contents: Sources and Acknowledgements • uncredited essay Introduction • essay by Joanna Russ Editors' Note • essay by Richard Glyn Jones and A. Susan Williams The Demon Lover • (1941) • short story by Elizabeth Bowen The Tooth • (1949) • short story by Shirley Jackson The Lake of the Gone Forever • (1949) • novelette by Leigh Brackett The Old Man • (1952) • short story by Daphne du Maurier My Flannel Knickers • (1988) • short story by Leonora Carrington The Anything Box • (1956) • short story by Zenna Henderson Miss Pinkerton's Apocalypse • (1958) • short story by Muriel Spark A Bright Green Field • (1958) • short story by Anna Kavan The Ship Who Sang (The Ship Who ... series) • (1961) • novelette by Anne McCaffrey Marmalade Wine • (1958) • short story by Joan Aiken The Fall of Frenchy Steiner • (1964) • novelette by Hilary Bailey Cynosure • (1964) • short story by Kit Reed The Wall • (1965) • short story by Josephine Saxton The Foot • (1967) • short story by Christine Brooke-Rose Baby, You Were Great • (1967) • short story by Kate Wilhelm (variant of Baby, You Were Great!) The Second Inquisition (Alyx) • (1970) • novelette by Joanna Russ Murder, 1986 • (1970) • novelette by P. D. James The Milk of Paradise • (1972) • short story by James Tiptree, Jr. When It Happens • non-genre • (1975) • short story by Margaret Atwood Angel, All Innocence • (1977) • short story by Fay Weldon Night-Side • (1977) • novelette by Joyce Carol Oates Fireflood • (1979) • novelette by Vonda N. McIntyre Wives • (1979) • short story by Lisa Tuttle Red as Blood • (1979) • short story by Tanith Lee Sur • (1982) • short story by Ursula K. Le Guin Peter and the Wolf • (1982) • short story by Angela Carter The Pits Beneath the World • (1983) • short story by Mary Gentle Two Sheep • (1983) • short story by Janet Frame Relics • (1985) • short story by Zoe Fairbairns The Evening and the Morning and the Night • (1987) • novelette by Octavia E. Butler (Learning About) Machine Sex • (1988) • short story by Candas Jane Dorsey Prodigal Pudding • (1988) • short fiction by Suniti Namjoshi Boobs • (1989) • short story by Suzy McKee Charnas If the Word Was to the Wise • (1990) • short story by Carol Emshwiller Trial by Teaspoon • (1992) • short story by Lynda Rajan In the Green Shade of a Bee-Loud Glade • (1993) • short story by L. A. Hall Death in the Egg • (1994) • short story by Ann Oakley Kay and Phil • (1994) • novelette by Lucy Sussex (variant of Kay & Phil)

30 review for The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    Outstanding collection. Not only were almost all the stories good, there were only a couple I had read before. Here are some of the ones I liked most: Anna Kavan, "A Bright Green Field" (Kavan has been on my to-read list for years but I've never gotten around to her. I will change that.) Hilary Bailey, "The Fall of Frenchy Steiner" (Oddly, everything else Bailey wrote appears to be rip-off crap sequels to famous novels. You know, like after Darcy and Elizabeth or Jane and Rochester are married and Outstanding collection. Not only were almost all the stories good, there were only a couple I had read before. Here are some of the ones I liked most: Anna Kavan, "A Bright Green Field" (Kavan has been on my to-read list for years but I've never gotten around to her. I will change that.) Hilary Bailey, "The Fall of Frenchy Steiner" (Oddly, everything else Bailey wrote appears to be rip-off crap sequels to famous novels. You know, like after Darcy and Elizabeth or Jane and Rochester are married and that sort of thing.) Joanna Russ, "The Second Inquisition" (I've only read a few things by Russ but they've all been awesome; I need to read more of her soon.) Joyce Carol Oates, "Night-Side" (A story about Victorian spiritualism. Was there really a argument made then that it was not actual spirits but telepathic suppressed alternate personalities?) Tanith Lee, "Red as Blood" (This 1979 story does something very similar to Gaiman's recent Snow, Glass, Apples -- and is better plotted.) Mary Gentle, "The Pits Beneath the World" (Like a few other stories included, this is actually straight sci-fi, not fantasy. Miscommunications with aliens.) Suzy McKee Charnas, "Boobs" (Bullied pubescent girl revenge wish-fulfillment. I was once a middle-schooler and I approve this cannibalism message.) Available free here: https://talesofmytery.blogspot.com/20... Lisa Tuttle, "Wives" (Spoiler: they're not actually wives)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Pamster

    A rich, totally rewarding collection of mostly UK & US fantasy stories by women, from 1940 through mid-nineties. Fantasy is loosely defined, the writers chosen are awesome. A lot of my favorites like Angela Carter, Tiptree, Butler, Joanna Russ, Shirley Jackson, and a lot of writers I've been curious about, like Kate Wilhelm and Tanith Lee. I wish it was twice as long, which I guess it arguably is since there's a companion volume of Classic Fantasy by Women, but I read a review that said almost a A rich, totally rewarding collection of mostly UK & US fantasy stories by women, from 1940 through mid-nineties. Fantasy is loosely defined, the writers chosen are awesome. A lot of my favorites like Angela Carter, Tiptree, Butler, Joanna Russ, Shirley Jackson, and a lot of writers I've been curious about, like Kate Wilhelm and Tanith Lee. I wish it was twice as long, which I guess it arguably is since there's a companion volume of Classic Fantasy by Women, but I read a review that said almost all the women at that point were using male protagonists in their stories which is okay sometimes but a whole book of dude protags? Barf. Okay, I have to share a line from Leonora Carrington's author bio in the back: "During the War she suffered a breakdown and was rescued from a Madrid asylum by her former nanny, who arrived in a submarine."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Frederica

    This is probably one of my favorite short story collections, period. It's a great example of what type of short stories exist outside of the Best American series, and also stands on its own as a collection of works by women. It sounds kind of sci-fi, and it is, but it's also much more than that. Most of the stories in this are "Fantasy" only in that they have some sort of non-traditional or fantastic element to them. Many are mysteries or "unlikely premise" type stories. I first read this when I This is probably one of my favorite short story collections, period. It's a great example of what type of short stories exist outside of the Best American series, and also stands on its own as a collection of works by women. It sounds kind of sci-fi, and it is, but it's also much more than that. Most of the stories in this are "Fantasy" only in that they have some sort of non-traditional or fantastic element to them. Many are mysteries or "unlikely premise" type stories. I first read this when I was in high school, but over the years I find this to be the anthology I refer to the most, whether that's for entertainment or for help with my own writing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    There is some good stuff in here, although it's very Anglo-centric. The Le Guin is fabulous. Fay Weldon, as always, failed to live up to the warmth and heart in Letters to Alice; Tiptree is Tiptree-awesome. Also, the biography of Leonora Carrington makes the entire book worth it: "During the War she suffered a breakdown and was rescued from a Madrid asylum by her former nanny, who arrived in a submarine." There is some good stuff in here, although it's very Anglo-centric. The Le Guin is fabulous. Fay Weldon, as always, failed to live up to the warmth and heart in Letters to Alice; Tiptree is Tiptree-awesome. Also, the biography of Leonora Carrington makes the entire book worth it: "During the War she suffered a breakdown and was rescued from a Madrid asylum by her former nanny, who arrived in a submarine."

  5. 4 out of 5

    l.

    Uneven collection tbh. Favourites: Anna Kavan, A Bright Green Field James Tiptree, Jr, The Milk of Paradise Margaret Atwood, When it Happens Tanith Lee, Red as Blood Ursula K. Le Guin, Sur [also included in 'Sister of the Revolution'] Uneven collection tbh. Favourites: Anna Kavan, A Bright Green Field James Tiptree, Jr, The Milk of Paradise Margaret Atwood, When it Happens Tanith Lee, Red as Blood Ursula K. Le Guin, Sur [also included in 'Sister of the Revolution']

  6. 4 out of 5

    Root_rambler

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What an uneven collection! Would only recommend if you're interested in studying the history of female fantasy/sci-fi writers... a collection reminds you that sci-fi is more a reflection of the current time than of "the future". Fantasy is pretty loosely defined here- there's magical realism, and sci-fi, and fantasy. A distressing number of stories contain abusive relationships. The sexy women all have "honey-gold hair" and they are all skinny and, well, white. The collection started in 1941 and What an uneven collection! Would only recommend if you're interested in studying the history of female fantasy/sci-fi writers... a collection reminds you that sci-fi is more a reflection of the current time than of "the future". Fantasy is pretty loosely defined here- there's magical realism, and sci-fi, and fantasy. A distressing number of stories contain abusive relationships. The sexy women all have "honey-gold hair" and they are all skinny and, well, white. The collection started in 1941 and went through 1996, and it was amazing/disconcerting HOW MANY of the early stories were about... male space explorers and sexy women. I found "The Lake of the Gone Forever" by Leigh Brackett (1949) to be super confusing. This male spaceship crew is looking for something they think will make them rich on a planet that has been forgotten, and the captain's daughter is only allowed on the ship because she is married to one of the crew members and is subsequently required to stay with the ship when they get to the planet. The planet is full of somewhat-hostile people, but apparently previous explorers of their kind had given the foreign women ideas about independence? And one of the foreign women is like, "take me back with you, you treat your women so well!" I was unsure if this was supposed to be ironic or sincere, given that there's only one other female character, and she isn't allowed to do anything? There is some blatant racism from Joanna Russ in 1970 (describing a Morlock), "At close view her face looked as if every race in the world had been mixed and only the worst of each kept; an American Indian might look like that, or Ikhnaton from the encyclopedia, or a Swedish African" ... The Anne McCaffrey in 1961, "A Ship Who Sang", was an okay read, but I always liked her stories about dragons better. "Murder, 1986" by P.D. James (1970) has a nice plot twist at the end. There's another story about an abusive relationship by Fay Weldon in 1977, "Angel, All Innocence" which I guess has a few ghosts but I wouldn't consider it fantasy. AND FINALLY, IN 1979, we get an a story that is an outright commentary on the situation of women that I can understand and that is not about random dude spaceship men (so smart! so logical!) and sexy honey-golden women. "Wives" by Lisa Tuttle in 1979 was a fantastic read, and a wicked social commentary. I found Tanith Lee's 1979 "Red as Blood" to be confusing- what exactly happened here?!?! By far the outstanding story in the collection is Ursula Le Guin's 1982 "Sur". What *if* women had been the first to the South Pole and hadn't left a trace? You believe every minute of it, and then it hits you that it's "fantasy" because it didn't happen, but it could have happened. It's a quietly subversive story, graceful, well-written, and, astonishing after the pages of schlock that precede it. Here, finally, in the late 70's and early 80's are women who are not just parroting male authors. They are allowing themselves, finally, to tell the stories of women through their own voices. "The Evening and the Morning and The Night" by Octavia Butler in 1987 was also outstanding- one of the best of the "half of the population has gotten some awful disease" genre I have ever read. And back to cheesy, in 1993 we have the early environmental movement and Greenpeace and L.A. Hall's "In the Green Shade of a Bee-Loud Glade," which contains this actual line, "What had happened here, today, was petty by comparison with the eco-crimes that had defaced and deformed our world, I knew. Yet how? – who ...? Could the Sanctuary ever be the same? Would – this – happen again?" and "Only in these scattered Sanctuaries could biodiversity, complex eco-systems, be lovingly nurtured." Looks like someone had just learned some new vocabulary words... Of course there are many more stories that I did not review. Overall, I wonder if this was really the best the editorial committee could come up with, and I am astonished at how far female writers have come since as recently as the late 1970's.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tania Poole

    This is a big read when you have such a variety of writers and not all are to your taste. I often flip back through the book to see what I remember about the tale - and find it completely unmemorable - the tale was not anything that struck me as fascinating - only two stories really impressed me - Anne McCaffrey's 'The Ship who Sang' which puts me in mind of Jay Kristoff and Ami Kauman's sci fi work - a very similar theme and writing style. The other was Hilary Bailey's 'The Fall of Frenchie Stei This is a big read when you have such a variety of writers and not all are to your taste. I often flip back through the book to see what I remember about the tale - and find it completely unmemorable - the tale was not anything that struck me as fascinating - only two stories really impressed me - Anne McCaffrey's 'The Ship who Sang' which puts me in mind of Jay Kristoff and Ami Kauman's sci fi work - a very similar theme and writing style. The other was Hilary Bailey's 'The Fall of Frenchie Steiner' which I thought was a brilliant short tale. Angela Carter's story was much like the twisted fairytales in her 'The Bloody Chamber' so I enjoyed it still. Zenna Henderson's 'The Anything Box' was interesting. Someone might love all the stories, but they'd have to be some kind of strange thing to love everything.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    I've been reading this collection story by story for a long time now. I must admit that I do not remember every single one clearly, what I can tell you is that on top of being a gorgeous book, it is filled with great picks from some well known and some lesser known female authors and that it has been a pleasure for me to discover each of them. It allowed me to get a snippet of work from author's I thought I'd love to give a try to for a while and I look forward to reading more of so many now, be I've been reading this collection story by story for a long time now. I must admit that I do not remember every single one clearly, what I can tell you is that on top of being a gorgeous book, it is filled with great picks from some well known and some lesser known female authors and that it has been a pleasure for me to discover each of them. It allowed me to get a snippet of work from author's I thought I'd love to give a try to for a while and I look forward to reading more of so many now, being their fantasy writing or in other genres. PS:I've been battling with myself to know whether I'd give this a 3 or 4 stars rating. I think I'll settle on three so know it's a solid three !

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.S. Bailey

    Some of these stories were entertaining, others not so much. My favorites were "The Ship Who Sang" by Anne McCaffrey and "Sur" by Ursula K. LeGuin. Some of these stories were entertaining, others not so much. My favorites were "The Ship Who Sang" by Anne McCaffrey and "Sur" by Ursula K. LeGuin.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Wow. This was a fascinating and incredibly varied collection. There were more Surrealist stories than I anticipated, which was not my favorite thing, but overall, great collection.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Goldfishing

    very diverse & engaging

  12. 4 out of 5

    Frances

  13. 5 out of 5

    scherzo♫

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carla Martínez

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tegan McKnight

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jura Spitfire

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Johnson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Monica Clark

  22. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Moonshower

  25. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mollie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mariah

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lois

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ruth

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