salvage-by-carrie-vaughn

I don’t read enough sci­ence fiction.

Not nearly. Espe­cially sci­ence fic­tion writ­ten by women.

Until the other day, though, when I read the June issue of “Light­speed Mag­a­zine”, this wasn’t a topic that con­cerned me.

That’s because I didn’t real­ize what I was miss­ing. Now I do. “Women Destroy Sci­ence Fic­tion!”, the June issue of “Light­speed”, is a project that was funded by more than two thou­sand back­ers on Kick­starter and put together by 109 women, includ­ing authors, essay­ists, illus­tra­tors, copy­ed­i­tors, blog­gers, and many others.

The idea of an issue devoted entirely to women in sci­ence fic­tion was con­ceived in part by “Light­speed” assis­tant edi­tor Christie Yant as a way to address the per­cep­tion that sci­ence fic­tion writ­ten by women is less “real” than that writ­ten by men. Author Pat Mur­phy pointed it out over 20 years ago in a speech in which she famously iden­ti­fied the atti­tude per­me­at­ing sci­ence fic­tion that essen­tially says, “Women don’t write sci­ence fic­tion.” Or, put in less p.c. terms, “Those damn women are ruin­ing sci­ence fiction.”

If ever such anti­quated ideas were finally shelved, it should be now, with this mas­ter­ful edi­tion of “Light­speed”. Sto­ries that stood out for me (and really all of them did!) include, “A Word Shaped Like Bones” by Kris Mil­ler­ing, in which a space trav­el­ing artist shares her tiny auto­mated space­ship with a dead man, a sit­u­a­tion made more ghastly when the arti­fi­cial grav­ity fails.

Cuts Both Ways” by Heather Clitheroe fea­tures an exhausted cyborg mak­ing a Christ­mas trip home whose inabil­ity to for­get the hor­rors he’s wit­nessed leaves him near collapse.

And in “Canth” by K.C. Nor­ton, the cap­tain of a run­away ship fol­lows her ves­sel, with the aid of some pirates, into the lair of the mys­te­ri­ous Sea Monk.

There’s also some won­der­ful flash fic­tion, includ­ing “The Mouths” by Ellen Den­ham, where glob­u­lous crea­tures receive sen­sory input through the crack­ers they con­stantly consume.

Along with the sto­ries, the issue includes arti­cles and inter­views rein­forc­ing the idea that wom­ens’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in sci­ence fic­tion con­tin­ues to expand in ways ben­e­fit­ting us all.

As Pat Mur­phy writes, “The sto­ries we read and the sto­ries we tell shape who we are.”

And with fifty per­cent of the world being female, now would be a good time to listen.

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