Hello everybody! Ana here: I am back from holidays reenergised and ready to catch up with reading and reviewing!

GIVEAWAY WINNERS:

The five winners of 172 Hours on the Moon are:

LB

Jessica T

Gilly

Christina Kit

Justine

The winner of a copy of Broken is:

Jesse A

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!

SFF Conversations:

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 Meadowsreply 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…

Art by James Hance

~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers

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8 Responses to Smugglers’ Stash and News

  1. Elaine says:

    I’m very very excited over Enchanted. The cover is lovely and the synopsis reminds me a little of Dianna Wynne Jones. I’m glad you’ll be reviewing it!

  2. Looks like a busy week ahead. In other words business as usual.

    I’m particularly looking forward to Thea’s review of The Vicious Deep.

  3. AnimeJune says:

    You’re reviewing ENCHANTED? YES! That’s on my Wishlist. Can’t wait to see what you think of it.

  4. kara-karina says:

    All in all I was very disappointed with The Peculiars. Looking forward to your reviews as always! ;)

  5. Linda W says:

    Congrats to the winners.
    Blue Thread looks great! Looking forward to your review. :D

  6. C.D. says:

    RE: Staffer’s Musings posts on agency.
    Thank you! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who found Michael J. Sullivan’s post disappointing. Authenticity is not enough of a reason for why women don’t get agency in books, particularly when said authenticity is not equally spread around (it’s perfectly fine to have unicorns and fairies, but female agency? Now THAT’S inauthentic). And I agree, Foz Meadows’ reply was quite brilliant.

  7. Christina Kit. says:

    Thanks so much!

    172 Hours on the Moon sounds incredible!

    I sent you guys an email yesterday from ccfioriole at gmail dot com (the name appears as Christina Rita Condomaros)

  8. Deirdre says:

    One of the things that alienates me from much of the online fantasy lit community is the insistance of (mostly male) commentators that since much of fantasy takes place in low-tech medieval type environment, women’s roles of course have to limited. I call BS. It boggles my mind that so many male fantasy readers can accept dragons and magic and demons and what have you in their fantasy novels but women who have agency and power is somehow beyond their ability to accept. Grr..that’s bothered me for a long time, and I’m so glad to see Booksmugglers bringing up this issue.

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