From Publishers Weekly
Fantasy, as novelist Russ contends in her introduction to this impressive collection, gives women "the method to handle the specifically female elements of their experience in a way that our literary tradition of realism was not designed to do." Editors Williams and Jones take a very broad view of what constitutes fantasy: the collection, comprised of 38 stories written between 1941 and 1994, opens conventionally enough, with Elizabeth Bowen's classic horror story "The Demon Lover" but also includes more masculine-seeming SF by the pseudonymous James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon), whose disturbing "The Milk of Paradise" reminds us that love, especially of the alien other, can be the strongest force of all. There are several specifically feminist entries, such as Lisa Tuttle's moving "Wives," about creatures on a strange planet who are forced to bind and emotionally starve themselves to conform to a male ideal of femininity, and the cheerfully amoral, appallingly satisfying "Boobs," by Suzy McKee Charnas. There is room here for the darkly fantastic (Tanith Lee's "Red As Blood"); for the delicately sentimental (Zenna Henderson's "The Anything Box"); and even for one of the most deliciously droll of flying saucer stories (Muriel Spark's "Miss Pinkerton's Apocalypse"). If, as Russ says, "fantasy is reality," then this is the reality of some higher, more eloquently truthful, plane.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A new Penguin anthology offers 38 works of short fantasy fiction written since 1941 by as many hands. The contributors include such stellar science fiction names as Ursula K. LeGuin, Leigh Brackett, Kate Wilhelm, Shirley Jackson, James Tiptree, and Joanna Russ (who also wrote the foreword to the collection), all of them represented by superior pieces; some comparatively new or less well known authors (e.g., Lynda Raian, Lucy Sussex); and several writers not readily associated with the fantasy genre (e.g., Janet Frame, P. D. James, Muriel Spark). Although the volume does not really support the notion of a distinctively feminine vision in the brand of literary fantasy it showcases (action-adventure fantasy would be another kettle of broadswords entirely), it adds greatly to any collection's resources of highly readable fantasy stories. Roland Green