Hello everybody! Ana here: I am back from holidays reenergised and ready to catch up with reading and reviewing!
The five winners of 172 Hours on the Moon are:
The winner of a copy of Broken is:
Congratulations! You know the drill – send an email to contact AT thebooksmugglers DOT com with your snail mail address and we will send your winnings out to you as soon as possible!
Kristen of Fantasy Cafe has kicked off her Women in SF & F Month. We talked about it before but it is worth mentioning it again as the posts are really, really good. Some of the posts:
– Martha Wells on gender roles in her Raksura books
– Moira J Moore on writing a world without gender imbalance
– Lisa from Starmetal Oak Reviews and four of her favorite SFF books written by women
– Jessica from Read React Review talking about women in fiction with particular focus on the question of how a woman is defined.
And many more HERE.
Meanwhile, Justin over at Staffer’s Musings started a series of investigative posts about agency:
Several of last year’s more controversial reviews included charges that female characters lacked agency. Not surprisingly the comment sections on those reviews reflected a great deal of confusion about what it means for a character to lack agency, and furthermore some disagreement about whether it was a legitimate criticism. While those examples brought the issue to my attention, I’ve noticed more and more authors lamenting the treatment of women in fantasy novels. Despite widespread agreement that there should be a more concerted effort to depict strong women, I wasn’t necessarily coming away with the impression that agency is something a character has to have.
Given the wonderful Women in SF&F series currently being conducted by Kristen at Fantasy Book Cafe, I thought now might be an appropriate time to ‘survey’ a wide swathe of fantasy authors about their thoughts on the subject. Some of the questions I asked the authors to consider were:
What is agency?
Why is it important?
Why do we find more male characters with agency in fantasy novels than females?
Is it OK if a character doesn’t have it?
Can a character still be interesting if it lacks it?
Can a book be good if none of the characters have it?
The answers I received were wide and varied. Over the next few days I’m going to share those answers. Some are long, some are not as long. I asked women, I asked men, and I even asked an author whose gender is a mystery. I asked authors who’ve been published for thirty years and some who haven’t even made it a full year yet. When this series is all said and I done I hope to have an informed opinion on the subject. For now, I’m going to listen.
We’ve been following the posts with curiosity. Elizabeth Bear’s post was very thoughtful but Michael J. Sullivan’s was a bit disheartening. I don’t think that even within a medieval inspired setting you have to be constrained in the name of “authenticity” especially when considering that said “authenticity” applies ONLY to female characters. Plus, I don’t believe female characters necessarily have to break molds or conventions to be strong, to have a voice and agency. Foz Meadows‘ reply to the post is as usual, made of win.
THIS WEEK ON THE BOOK SMUGGLERS:
On Monday, Ana reviews Blue Thread by Ruth Tenzer Feldman: Time travel + Suffragettes, how could I NOT want to read this?
On Tuesday, Ana reviews Steampunk/Fantasy/YA The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry and poses the usual question: but is it REALLY Steampunk? (No.)
On Wednesday, Ana is back once more with her review of Angry Robot’s upcoming UF title, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (one of the best covers so far this year?)
On Thursday, it is Thea’s turn, with a review of Enchanted by Alethea Kontis followed by a guest post from the author
On Friday, Thea is back again with a review of The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova
But that is not all! On Saturday Thea closes the week with her review of The Fury the new exciting title by Alexander Gordon Smith
And now that’s it from us today! As usual we remain…
~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers