The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers

By Mike Ashley

Rating: 3 stars

This is an interesting collection of science fiction short stories, all written by women around the dawn of the genre: the tail end of the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries. I must confess to being completely unfamiliar with any of the authors, except Edith Nesbit, of Five Children and It fame, but it was interesting to see that women were writing in what is usually regarded as a very male-dominated genre and era right from the start. Some of these stories were published in the big magazines of the era (Amazing Stories, Astounding etc), others were published in mainstream publications and still others were published in author anthologies: the same routes to publication as we see today (plus ├ža change and all that). As the editor says in his introduction, these women were pioneers in the field, tackling themes that are still common in the genre today: time travel, alternative universes, cybernetics, robots and more.

The stories are as varied as you’d expect, ranging from grim stories of genocide (Via the Hewitt Ray) through whimsical stories about strange islands (Friend Island) to humorous stories of unhelpful household aids (Ely’s Automatic Housemaid). Nothing particularly jumped out at me as a wonderful story that I must keep forever, but there were no real clunkers either, although you do have to remember that these are period stories and have to be read as such. Very interesting for the historical context but also enjoyable in itself.

Book details

ISBN: 9780486790237
Publisher: Dover Publications
Year of publication: 2015

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