The Future is Female!: because Shameless Ploy to Cash in on a Feminist Slogan Plus One Random Story by Ursula K. Le Guin...

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THE FUTURE IS FEMALE!

25 CLASSIC SCIENCE FICTION STORIES BY WOMEN, FROM PULP PIONEERS TO URSULA K. LE GUIN

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. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59853-580-8

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Library of America

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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