Tag Archives: Short Stories

A Review of The Future Is Female! Volume Two, the 1970s

Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are interested in participating\ use the hashtag #VintageSciFiMonth or tag @VintageSciFi_ or @redhead5318 on Twitter if you’d like your posts to be included in the official retweets and roundups.  


Drawing of white woman wearing a spacesuit and walking on the surface of a red alien planet. Title
: The Future Is Female! Volume Two, the 1970s – More Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women

Author: Lisa Yaszek (editor)

Publisher: Library of America

Publication Date: 1971 – 1979 for the original publication dates. October 11, 2022 for this specific compilation.

Genres: Science Fiction, LGBTQ, Historical

Length: 548 pages (including author biographies, etc).

Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

n the 1970s, feminist authors created a new mode of science fiction in defiance of the “baboon patriarchy”—Ursula Le Guin’s words—that had long dominated the genre, imagining futures that are still visionary. In this sequel to her groundbreaking 2018 anthology The Future is Female!: 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin, SF-expert Lisa Yaszek offers a time machine back to the decade when far-sighted rebels changed science fiction forever with stories that made female community, agency, and sexuality central to the American future. 

Here are twenty-three wild, witty, and wonderful classics that dramatize the liberating energies of the 1970s:

  • Sonya Dorman, “Bitching It” (1971) 
  • Kate Wilhelm, “The Funeral” (1972)
  • Joanna Russ, “When It Changed” (1972) NEBULA AWARD 
  • Miriam Allen deFord, “A Way Out”(1973)
  • Vonda N. McIntyre,  “Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand” (1973) NEBULA 
  • James Tiptree, Jr., “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (1973) HUGO AWARD 
  • Kathleen Sky, “Lament of the Keeku Bird” (1973)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Day Before the Revolution” (1974) NEBULA & LOCUS AWARD 
  • Eleanor Arnason, “The Warlord of Saturn’s Moons” (1974)
  • Kathleen M. Sidney, “The Anthropologist” (1975)
  • Marta Randall, “A Scarab in the City of Time” (1975) 
  • Elinor Busby, “A Time to Kill” (1977)
  • Raccoona Sheldon, “The Screwfly Solution” (1977) NEBULA AWARD 
  • Pamela Sargent, “If Ever I Should Leave You” (1974)
  • Joan D. Vinge, “View from a Height” (1978)
  • M. Lucie Chin, “The Best Is Yet to Be” (1978)
  • Lisa Tuttle, “Wives” (1979) 
  • Connie Willis, “Daisy, In the Sun” (1979)

Review:

Content warning: Starvation, dehydration, cancer, attempted murder, murder, zombies, and snakes. I will not discus these topics in my review.

There’s nothing like being introduced to so many fantastic science fiction authors at once.

I’ve never been interested in hunting frogs, but I did like the conversational style of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s “Frog Pond.” Althea was such a sweet and innocent person that I wondered why she kept disobeying her parents orders to avoid the creek and the mysterious pink and green patches that sometimes appeared in the water there. Surely there had to be something more than frogs to pique her curiosity. There were several wonderful layers to this story that I don’t want to spoil for everyone. What I can say is that the world building was fantastic and Althea was full of surprises for me. I’d love to visit her and her unusual little town again someday.

Vintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background.  The sudden appearance of old age and impending death in “If Ever I Should Leave You” by Pamela Sargent piqued my curiosity. These things obviously worked different in this world than they do in our own, and it was interesting to slowly figure out what the rules were there. I also appreciated what this tale had to say about aging and grief. There were layers of meaning to it that I slowly unwrapped as I kept reading, although I should leave the details of that for other readers to discover for themselves.

As soon as I realized that the main character of “Hey, Lilith” by Gayle N. Netzer was a middle-aged woman who befriends someone much older than herself, I couldn’t stop reading. So many science fiction books are about teenagers and people in their early 20s that it’s a thrill to see other age groups represented. I appreciated the protagonist’s wry approach to suddenly finding herself in a post-apocalyptic storyline. Honestly, I’d react the same way, and her previous knowledge of how dangerous these settings can be made her refreshingly cautious about her predicament.

This is the second anthology in a series that does not need to be read in order.

The Future Is Female! Volume Two, the 1970s – More Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women was even better than the first volume of The Future Is Female. I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who loves vintage science fiction.

Memories of Evil: a Review of The Empty House

The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a farmhouse after dark. Only one room in the house has any light coming from it, and it's a room on the second story. The telling or reading of ghost stories during the Christmas season was once a tradition in Victorian England. This series of books seeks to revive this tradition. As I did in 2020 and 2021, I will continue reviewing several of them each December until I’ve reached the end of this series. 

Title: The Empty House – A Ghost Story for Christmas (Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Author: Algernon Blackwood

Publisher: Biblioasis

Publication Date: 1906 and October 31, 2017

Genres: Paranormal, Historical

Length: 58 pages

Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Aunt Julia, an elderly spinster with a mania for psychical research, has the keys to the haunted house on the square. She invites her nephew to accompany her on a midnight investigation into what really happened a hundred years ago when a servant girl fell to her death. But the house may not be as empty as it seems . . .

Review:

Content warning: murder. I will be discussing this in in my review.

As one of the earliest paragraphs in this story says, “certain houses, like certain people, manage somehow to proclaim at once their character for evil.”

Jim and his Aunt Julia were the kinds of characters that make me shake my head. Their courage often crossed the line into foolhardiness, especially when it came to their reactions to a few frightening encounters with what was lurking in this haunted house so late at night. Sensible people would have run away shrieking the first time they encountered something that couldn’t be explained, and yet I did come to admire their stubborn insistence on finding out the truth about why no one could bear to live at this residence longterm. This investigation wouldn’t have discovered anything at all if they’d been quicker to run at the first sign of trouble.

The ending was disappointing to me because of how many unanswered questions it left with the readers. Without going into spoilers here, there was foreshadowing in the beginning and middle of this tale that was ignored in the last scene to the detriment of the plot. It was just starting to get really good when it suddenly ended! I wish the author had wrapped up those subplots the way he so strongly hinted at earlier. If he’d done this, I would have gone with a much higher rating.

With that being said, I did enjoy gleaning the few facts that were shared about the sudden death of a servant girl a century beforehand. This was a part of the storyline that didn’t need to be embellished upon much at all. Violent deaths like these often take on a life of their own – no pun intended – as future generations reimagine what must have happened, so it made sense to me to leave room here for the audience to participate in the retelling of the events of that terrible night.

The Empty House was one of those ghost stories that deserves to be read and discussed in detail with a small group of likeminded fans of these genres. If that’s the sort of analysis you love doing, this might be right up your alley.

Restless History: A Review of How Fear Departed the Long Gallery

How Fear Departed the Long Gallery by E.F. Benson book cover. Image on cover is of a drawing of a frightened woman.The telling or reading of ghost stories during the Christmas season was once a tradition in Victorian England. This series of books seeks to revive this tradition. As I did in 2020 and 2021, I will continue reviewing several of them each December until I’ve reached the end of this series. 

Title: How Fear Departed the Long Gallery – A Ghost Story for Christmas (Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Author: E.F. Benson

Publisher: Biblioaisis

Publication Dates: 1911 and 2017

Genres: Paranormal, Historical

Length: 32 pages

Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

Biblioasis is thrilled to continue this series of beautifully illustrated, collectible, classic Christmas ghost stories designed and illustrated by world-famous cartoonist Seth.

In How Fear Departed the Long Gallery, for the Peverils, the appearance of a ghost is no more upsetting than the appearance of the mailman at an ordinary house. Except for the twin toddlers in the Long Gallery. No one would dare be caught in the Long Gallery after dark. But on this quiet and cloudy afternoon, Madge Peveril is feeling rather drowsy . . .

Review:

Content warning: death of children. I will not be discussing this in my review.

The past and present can be connected in more ways than you’d think.

One of the things I liked the most about this story had to do with how the Peveril family reacted to the many ghosts who haunted their family estate. Since they were related to all of the spirits, seeing the vast majority of them was more akin to unexpectedly spending time with an eccentric or slightly irritating relative instead of anything spooky. These relaxed relationships were a wonderful contrast to how everyone reacted to the dangerous toddler spirits who occasionally appeared in the Long Gallery.

It would have been nice to have fewer clues about what was going to happen next. As much as I enjoyed this tale, it was a little disappointing to see how quickly and accurately I predicted what was going on with the ghostly children and why they were the only spirits this family feared. I’m the sort of reader who enjoys being challenged, and I would have given this a higher rating if it had expected more of its audience.

With that being said, the ending was an immensely satisfying and uplifting. Some of the other stories in this series could be fairly dark at times. It was nice to see a haunting that turned out to be surprisingly positive despite its grimmer moments earlier on in the plot. I also appreciated the main character’s ability to think quickly in an emergency. Knowing that she was so smart and capable definitely gave this a lighter tone than it would have otherwise had.

How Fear Departed the Long Gallery is something I’d especially recommend reading aloud tonight or sometime soon. It’s perfectly suited for anyone who likes ghost stories during the holiday season.

Better Days to Come: A Review of The Merry Christmas Ghost

The Merry Christmas Ghost - a Happy Holidays Horror Story by Dennis Warren book cover. Image on cover shows a closeup of a Christmas tree covered in tinsel and various Christmas ornaments. Title: The Merry Christmas Ghost

Author: Dennis Warren

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 22, 2019

Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Holiday

Length: 10 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

A haunted apartment. A very lonely woman. A violent criminal. All three have one thing in common: The Merry Christmas Ghost! Get into the Christmas spirit with this haunting tale of holiday cheer!

Review:

Content Warning: robbery, assault, battery, and loneliness.

Even horror can be wholesome during the Christmas season.

The holidays can be difficult for all sorts of different reasons, so I wasn’t surprised to see things begin on such a dour note. The protagonist had recently found permanent housing after being homeless, but it wasn’t a particularly safe or welcoming place for a single, vulnerable woman to live in. She had no money, friends, family, or hope for a cheerful Christmas. These details alone were enough for me to wish that her luck would turn around very soon, especially once she began showing the audience glimpses of her kind and gentle personality. I think it’s important to take note of why some people struggle even more than usual during the holiday season, and Mr. Warren certainly accomplished that with this character.

This story would have benefited from including more details in it. For example, I would have loved to know the main character’s name and more details about why she’d been homeless before she moved into her shabby apartment. Sharing information like this would have also made it easier on me when the narrators were switched as all of the pronouns that weren’t attached to specific names were confusing at times. With another round of editing and more clarification, I would have happily added at least another star to my final rating.

I loved the messages this tale had to share about the importance of families of all shapes and sizes and of remaining hopeful no matter what one’s circumstances may be. This family was no doubt a little unusual, but the love that shone through it made me smile. These aren’t themes one typically finds in the horror genre, so it was refreshing to be surprised by them here. It’s always nice to see an author take risks with what they write about, especially when they seem to understand why they’re doing so and how it will affect their characters. Good job to the author for doing just that. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

The Merry Christmas Ghost was a creative take on holiday horror.

 

Changing His Destiny: A Review of Well of Fate


Well of Fate - A When Ravens Fall Short Story by Savannah Jezowski book cover. Image on cover shows a drawing of a squirrel crawling through a dark corridor with a tiny bit of light streaming through the tree branches above. Title
: Well of Fate – A When Ravens Fall Short Story

Author: Savannah Jezowski

Publisher: Dragonpen Press (Self-Published)

Publication Date: July 31, 2018

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Historical

Length: 39 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

Discontent with his life as a tale-spinner, Ratatosk the squirrel goes searching for the Well of Fate hoping he can change his destiny. But what he finds at Yggdrasil will test the very core of his resolve. When he faces the unexpected dangers beneath the great tree, Tosk will have to choose between saving himself or risking all to do the right thing. Changing his destiny proves harder than he ever imagined.For fans of “When Ravens Fall” and Norse mythology, reunite with old friends and meet new ones in this compelling short story about destiny and hard choices.

Review:

Courage comes in many forms…including small, fuzzy ones!

Ratatosk was a brave and assertive squirrel who refused to take no for an answer. I haven’t read many books that have squirrels as protagonists and so had no preconceptions of what he would be like. It was delightful to get to know him, especially once I realized why he was so eager to find the Well of Fate and what he hoped to accomplish there.  I’ll leave it up to other readers to discover for themselves what he was looking for and if he found it, but his adventurous spirit was perfect for this setting. He might be a little miffed at this comparison since they’re not the same species, but fellow fans of C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader might also be quickly reminded of a character in that book that acts a lot like Ratatosk and would happily go on adventures with him if they lived in the same universe.

It would have been nice to see more attention paid to the conclusion. While I know this was meant to be a teaser for a full-length series, the writing in that scene felt a bit abrupt to me, especially for those of us who were being introduced to the characters and setting for the first time in this short story.  I wanted to give this a full five-star rating and would have done so if this tale had been given a chance to wrap everything up more satisfactorily. Everything else about it was well done!

The world building was handled nicely. Obviously, there wasn’t a lot of space here to explain how everything worked or what was going on with certain backstories, but I received enough information to understand why Ratatosk’s quest was so important to him and what dangers he may face along the way. An air of mystery about the rest of it is a good thing in my opinion. It kept this reader feeling intrigued and asked questions that I can only assume will be fully answered later on.

You do not need to have an in-depth understanding of Norse mythology in order to appreciate this short story, but knowing a few basic facts like the names of their most important gods would be helpful.

Well of Fate – A When Ravens Fall Short Story was a wild ride. 

A Review of Vespasian Moon’s Fabulous Autumn Carnival

Title: Vespasian Moon’s Fabulous Autumn Carnival – A Long Short Story Author: Berthold Gambrel Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: October 18, 2019 Genres: Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Holiday, Humour Length: 54 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: Federal Agent Jane Raczyck is tired of her job. So is Sheriff… Read More

Dreaming of Happily Ever After: A Review of Somewhere in Time

Title: Somewhere in Time Author: Fizza Younis Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: October 31, 2020 Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical Length: 34 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3 Stars Blurb: It’s a fairy tale retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty, set between the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries, the story… Read More

A Review of Horror Anthology – Wicked Pond Collection

Title: Horror Anthology – Wicked Pond Collection Author: Jeffrey Legendre Publisher: Vivid Dreams Books (Self-Published) Publication Date: March 5, 2021 Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary Length: 37 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3 Stars Blurb: Review: It is well known that the crust of the earth protects us… Read More

Hidden in Plain Sight: A Review of A Terrifying Fact About Ants

Title: A Terrifying Fact About Ants – Science Fiction Short Story Author: Adam Leon Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: March 11, 2022 Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Horror, Contemporary Length: 24 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3 Stars Blurb: Review: “I discovered a strange relation between ants and another fascinating… Read More

In the Deep Depths of the Ocean: A Review of Aegan and the Sunken City

Title: Aegan and the Sunken City Author: D.G. Redd Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: January 26, 2021 Genres: Science Fiction, Futuristic Length: 17 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 4 Stars Blurb: The Cartographers have announced that the Triton will drift over an old city. Aegan finds himself lucky enough to be… Read More