25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin
edited by
Email this review


A story collection, edited by Yaszek (Science Fiction/Georgia Inst. of Technology), billing itself as a set of science-fiction classics written by women.

With a title like this, readers may assume they’ll get a sweeping look at all science fiction written by women from the early to mid-20th century. And that is the case—to a point. Upon closer examination, 24 of the stories are taken directly from pulp magazines, except for Ursula K. Le Guin’s contribution, which, in this version, appeared in her 1975 collection, The Wind's Twelve Quarters. The selection of pulp stories is somewhat questionable. For instance, the introduction recounts how the editor of Weird Tales “closed his office for the day in celebration” upon reading C.L. Moore’s story “Shambleau.” If that piques your interest, too bad: That story isn’t here. Moore’s “The Black God’s Kiss” is—but it’s sword-and-sorcery with a hint of eldritch horror, not science fiction. And why acknowledge that Marion Zimmer Bradley has been accused by her daughter of sexual abuse yet still include her in this anthology? These issues aside, make no mistake: The quality of the stories here is unassailable. “The Last Flight of Dr. Ain,” written by James Tiptree Jr. in 1969, still adeptly offers the chilling fear of a global pandemic. Alice Eleanor Jones’ post-apocalyptic “Created He Them” is surely just as disturbing as it was in 1955. Zenna Henderson’s “Ararat,” with its what if everyone on The Waltons were actually aliens? vibe, is also a delight. This could have been a thoughtful collection, specifically highlighting the women of pulp magazines, but this theme is unconvincingly broadened, apparently to accommodate a perplexing title. Also, the editor shoehorns in recently deceased Le Guin, whose selection never appeared in a pulp magazine, and her inclusion on the cover feels like cynical marketing. These stories—and the women who wrote them—deserve far better.

The Future is Female!: because Shameless Ploy to Cash in on a Feminist Slogan Plus One Random Story by Ursula K. Le Guin (RIP) wouldn’t fit on the cover.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-59853-580-8
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Library of America
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2018


Sci-FiPATTERNMASTER by Octavia E. Butler
by Octavia E. Butler
FictionTHE WIND'S TWELVE QUARTERS by Ursula K. Le Guin
by Ursula K. Le Guin
NonfictionJAMES TIPTREE, JR. by Julie Phillips
by Julie Phillips