LitStack Recs: A Writer’s Notebook & Dangerous Women

Dangerous Women
Edited by Gardner Dozois
and George R.R. Martin

A nice, fat volume of short stories and novellas about dangerous women? Yes, please!women

You know what the best thing is about a nice, fat volume of short stories and novellas about dangerous women (other than the fact that the stories are about dangerous women!)? You’re not obligated to read them all if you don’t want to – it’s perfectly fine if you do and it’s perfectly fine if you don’t.   Ah, the freedom!

And this nice, fat volume has so very many substantial and varied short stories and novellas about dangerous women – 21 of them! Although its contents come from some of the biggest names in the science fiction and fantasy genres (such as Jim Butcher, Diana Gabaldon, Megan Lindholm even a “Game of Thrones” prequel novella by George R.R. Martin), it truly is a “cross-genre anthology”, including the future, the past, fantasy, romance, westerns, history, magic and yes, even a touch of the paranormal.

Reading through this book, I had a few favorites I’d like to share with you. Right out of the starting gate, “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie told the story of Shy, a female outlaw on the run from both the law and her former gang, and it was fantastic: gritty, sharp, clever and desperate. History is wonderfully represented by “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn, about a female pilot in the Russian air force during World War II, and Sharon Kay Penman’s story about Constance de Hauteville, a real 12th century Sicilian queen in “A Queen in Exile”. A bit of suspense and levity is bantered about in Lev Grossman’s return to Brakebills (the American academy for wizards which is the setting for his “Magicians” trilogy), when a young wizard’s prank gets caught up in consequences a thousand years in the making in “The Girl in the Mirror”.

But my absolute favorite was Nancy Kress’s “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly”, a simply astounding short story set in the dystopian future where a group of no nonsense survivors in a ruined New York experience a whisper of unexpected, forgotten beauty. It’s haunting and achingly lovely.

With all these wonderful stories to choose from, you just can’t go wrong – with any or all of them!

—Sharon Browning