Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hags, Sirens, and other Bad Girls of Fantasy edited by Denise Little

Twenty stories about bad girls. Unfortunately, I couldn't get into a lot of the stories. Most seemed to be based on myths, many Greek, which my Greek mythology sucks and I find rather confusing. Though I doubt I'm the only one who finds Greek and Roman mythology confusing, just watch Hercules and Xena and see how the whole Greek and Roman names are mixed up. Because it was an anthology, I kept hoping the next story would be better or different, alas, many disappointed me. Some of the authors tried to make the bad girls really good or good girls stuck in a bad situation, both failed. I think "Soul Taker" was my favorite followed by "The Last Ride" and maybe "Black Annie." Perhaps because some of these stories were written by men trying to write from the woman's perspective came across as flat, kind of like the famous quote by Carrie Snow saying "A male gynecologist is like an auto mechanic who never owned a car." Some of the authors were male, which wouldn't have bothered me, but it seems like they got female information from Google rather than talking to several females. Or maybe I'm imagining things, though I don't think so. When I write, I think I can do so from a male or female perspective, some times I try to keep the gender neutral or I give away the gender early so there's no confusion, however, I try to keep true to that gender. There seems to be a lot of bitterness in this anthology and I'm not sure where it stems from, but as my coworker once told me, "Build a bridge and get over it."

"Shall We Dance?" by C. S. Friedman. A story about a succubus, though why the narrator believes the reader or hearer of the tale should be drunk is beyond me as I think the "Alpha" Male in this story got exactly what he deserved.
"Bitter Fruit: A Tale of Crownland" by Rosemary Edghill. A lawyer defeats a serpent she's faced before and finds its weakness for destruction.
"The Light of Ra" by Phaedra M. Weldon. In Egypt, Isis is given the power of Ra and uses it.
"Time and Memory" by Leslie Claire Walker. A Faery takes men named Thomas away for seven years in hopes of passing down remembrance.
"Band of Sisters" by Allan Rousselle. A story of four sirens and how they came to be.
"Mother of Monsters" by Greg Beatty. Hell gets a slice of Heaven for a short time due to the Mother of Monsters and ??
"Sisters of the Blade" by Loren L. Coleman. In the story of King Arthur, Morgana was deemed evil, this story puts a slightly different twist on the story and Morgana might not be as bad as once thought.
"To Ride the Serpent Once More" by Terry Hayman. A lot of Greek names gets me easily confused, what was this story again?
"Lilith" by Peter Orullian. The first lady makes a sacrifice.
"Homeless" by Annie Reed. Hera comes to terms with how she abandoned her son, Hephaestus.
"Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth" by Christina F. York. Yet another version of the Cinderella tale, this time from the stepmother's side, she's not really bitter, honest.
"Tsonoqua" by Nathaniel Poole. A Native American legend created to keep children good rises again.
"Banished" by Jane Toombs. When you know you're the best, there is always someone better around the next planet or plane.
"Soul Taker" by Lisa Silverthorne. A harpy's transformed into an angel.
"Heart of Stone" by Scott William Carter. Medusa finds love and ends her curse.
"Black Annie" by Jean Rabe. A Fae goes on a killing spree after the villagers try to entice her out with a dead cat dipped in aniseed.
"The Amphora" by Steven Mohan Jr. Pandora fights an internal battle which is symbolic with the amphora.
"Dust" by Michael Hiebert. A little girl figures out the name of the Tooth Fairy and bad things happen.
"The Last Ride" by Douglas Smith. A Valkyrie makes sacrifices in the name of love.
"Greek to Me" by Laura Resnick. A modern day Harpy helps Ellie exact revenge on those who wronged her.


hamilcar barca said...

do you list the stories in the order that they appear in the anthology? if so, it looks like you had to read quite a few "meh" tales before getting to the best three.

Christina said...

Yes, it's the same order. If I did it in the order I liked the stories, I'd drive myself crazy ;-) Of course, I guess I could've done it by author/story, but this method helps me keep track of the stories. I can honestly say some of the last stories were very awful, especially the very last one. I don't know what Little was thinking while putting this anthology together.

hamilcar barca said...

btw, i agree with your comments about the gender of writers. show me two paragraphs from any fiction book, and i'll tell you whether the author was male or female.

Amanda said...

I'm not sure I agree with the gender commentary. Perhaps in genre-like books that'd be true, but in literary fiction, I don't think so as much.

Christina said...

I do believe gender-bending can be successful (at least, I hope I am). Many years ago I did partake in a contest of gender-bending contest and won. However, some writers seem to take it to the extreme and that's perhaps what ticks me off. When I read these stories, I didn't look at the names, solely concentrating on the stories to drive me in. When I find discrepancies, I looked at the author's name and small bio (at the beginning of each story) to deduce the gender. Of course, the editor is only printing information given, but I'm sure a quick search can dis spell any misconceptions. Yet, some of the authors I know are male, but while reading the story, I felt the "I don't really know women, so I did a search on Google to find what I need or I took a general information from the limited time I've spent with the female" vibe. Being a female, I know certain things women feel and think, which perhaps turned me off. My analytical mind allows me to see things from a man's perspective (I hope). I have seen some episodes of Sex in the City and it's quite easy to see many of it's written from a male perspective than a female or should I say reality vs. non-reality? Then again, it's my opinion...

hamilcar barca said...

it would be a neat experiment though. publish an anthology, where all authors are listed with only initials for their first and middle names. "J.A. Konrath", for instance. then have the readers guess the gender of the authors.

this would work best if the writers didn't know beforehand of the planned test, so they wouldn't deliberately try to disguise their gender. i'd predict anyone from 5-Squared could score 80% right or better.

it would also be interesting to see how (or even if) the results would skew if the writers were then allowed to 'gender-disguise' their writing in a second anthology of tales.