Dangerous Women by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds.


Science FictionFantasyMysteryDangerous Women Dangerous Women
George R. R. Martin; HarperVoyager 2014

There are many sayings about how strong or devious or grand or treacherous women can be. They can be called Black Widow. They can be called Wonder Woman. Females may be the weaker sex physically – in general – but that doesn’t mean they are mentally.

Dangerous Women is a collection of 21 stories featuring women. The authors collected are mystery writers, fantasy writers, science fiction writers, and general fiction writers. There’s even a western. There are men and women writers featured in Dangerous Women. Some of the women are the heroines of their story, some are the victims, some are the bad “guy”.  All of them are force to be reckoned with.

I was tickled to read Jim Butcher‘s story, “Bombshells” featuring Molly, Harry Dresden‘s apprentice. It is set after Dresden is shot. Molly is the only wizard between Chicago and the bad stuff. But she is strong and she has friends. She also keeps thinking that Harry was so much better or so much stronger or so much wiser. Perhaps – but that’s only because he was older and more experienced. Molly does an excellent job on her own.

Lawrence Block writes mysteries – cozy, humorous ones, detective ones, and noir ones. “I Know How To Pick ‘Em” is excellent noir featuring the preying woman. Diana Gabaldon‘s “Virgins” has Jaime Fraser when he was much younger than when the reader first meets him in Outlander. The book ends with a novella by George R.R. Martin, a prequel to his Game of Thrones series, “The Princess and the Queen”. Who should be the rightful heir to the throne, the woman the king named years before he died, daughter of his first wife, or his oldest son, a man, born of his second wife? It takes a bloody war to answer that question.

Many of these stories are by authors I haven’t read before. They are a good way to get a feel for those authors’ writing – to get a taste to decide whether to read more of their work. One that especially stands out for me is “Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan. An woman’s 15-year-younger, flighty sister moves in with her. The younger sister visits their mother in the nursing home almost every day. Both women learn to respect their sister, grow closer to their mother, and learn that the female species can be quite deadly.

Some stories don’t do much for me, some are outstanding. Some have historical settings, such as “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn, set in World War II Russia. Some are urban fantasy, such as “Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector. Some are set in a dismal future, such as “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress.

Other authors included in this collection are Megan Abbott, Joe Abercrombie, Lev Grossman, Cecelia Holland, Sherilynn Kenyon, Joe R. Lansdale, Megan Lindholm, Sharon Kay Penman, Diana Rowland, Brandon Sanderson, Melinda Snodgrass, S.M. Stirling, and Sam Sykes. Sometimes the women are the good guy, sometimes the bad guy. Others are just drug along by Fortune. With Martin and Gardner Dozois as editors, you can be certain the book has a book mix of stories. Don’t be put off by the size of the book. It may be over 700 pages, but that averages out to about 35 pages per story. (Average only – Martin’s story is a novella, so other stories are certainly shorter.)

The women in these tales may be strong or devious or heroic or victim. They shine in Dangerous Women.

Notice: Non-graphic violence, Strong language, Suggestive dialogue or situations

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