Reviews: Women of Wonder

Sequel to return to SF about women, by women

Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years — Pamela Sargent
Women of Wonder, book 5

1995’s Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years is the latest and perhaps final installment in the Women of Wonder series. This collection of stories, novelettes, and novellas presents works written by women and published after Sargent’s 1978 New Women of Wonder. It covers seventeen years, from 1978’s “Cassandra” to 1993’s “Farming in Virginia.” Even though it covers only half as many years as Women of Wonder: The Classic Years (thirty-four years), it is just as big a book. This would suggest that there was an influx of talented women into the field in the modern era—which there was.

Despite the fact that there were—and are—those who work tirelessly to keep those pesky wimmin out of SF.

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Return to SF about women, by women

Women of Wonder: The Classic Years — Pamela Sargent
Women of Wonder, book 4

The first three Women of Wonder anthologies came out over a span of three years in the 1970s. Seventeen years would pass before the next (and to date, final) pair: Women of Wonder: The Classic Years and Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years. The two books were published in July and August of 1995. Two of my three sources say The Classic Years was published first.

The first issue that I have to deal with in this review concerns

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A Short Interview With Pamela Sargent

Pamela Sargent

To provide context for my reviews of the Women of Wonder Series, which will resume next week, a short interview with the series’ editor, Pamela Sargent.

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Yet more SF about women, by women

New Women of Wonder — Pamela Sargent
Women of Wonder, book 3

1978’s The New Women of Wonder was the third volume in the series. Until 1995, when the fourth volume Women of Wonder: the Classic Years was released, this was the concluding anthology in the Women of Wonder series. Unlike the first two volumes, New Women of Wonder focused entirely on contemporary (from the perspective of the late 1970s) works of science fiction by women.

A majority of the stories are also linked by an air of despair and hopelessness. They suggest that coexistence with men means at best subjugation, and at worst, much worse. How far we’ve comeeh?

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More SF about women, by women

More Women of Wonder — Pamela Sargent
Women of Wonder, book 2

1976’s More Women of Wonder followed Women of Wonder by nineteen months [1] and offered a second sampling of speculative fiction written by women. As did the first collection, this draws from work published over the previous four decades although this volume has a higher fraction of recent works than the first volume. The stories included are with a single exception novelettes, a form which, like the novella, is in many ways an ideal length for SF [2].

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By Women, About Women

Women of Wonder
Women of Wonder, book 1

Ah, the 1970s. Some later authors would have you believe that it was a vast wasteland until it was redeemed by the passage of time and the appearance of their first books. In fact, it was a vibrant period for science fiction, and one of the most significant developments was an influx of talented women into the field. As Damon Knight remarked in the early part of that decade, all the interesting new authors were women, with the exception of James Tiptree, Jr. It’s remarkable how often this sort of faux pas happened. If you were a person of the male gender commenting on SF in the 1970s, making some comment about James Tiptree, Jr. that would later appear to be hilariously misinformed would seem to have been de rigueur.

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