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  • cassieebrown

When you can only speculate.

My life has been made of speculative fiction for quite a while. This year has been a pile of good books and bad health. I have enjoyed Nnedi Okorafor, Alix E. Harrow, Holly Black, Nghi Vo, Catherynne M. Valente, and... well, some male authors, too, I'm sure. Okay. Neil Gaiman. I have definitely fallen asleep listening to the audio book of Norse Mythology a million times. It's lovely and soothing. And, soon on pre-order, I am excited to get my hands on These Prisoning Hills by Christopher Rowe! (So there's one dude.) And of course Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne. (Not a dude.)

So, two whole gentlemen. I hope Christopher and Neil are excited to be stuck together in such exclusive company.

These (largely) women have helped me feel loved. There is something about reading so much speculative fiction (fabulism, science fiction, africanfuturism, fantasy, cli-fi) written by other folks who use she/her pronouns that makes me feel hopeful.

My first science fiction authors that I cut my teeth on were Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert A. Heinlein. These were hard-nosed, un-cuddly, sexist men of their times. Their science fiction was all hard edged and emotionally vacant. Science fiction that cut off its worlds at the neck. It detested feminine softness, stupidity, and sentimentality.

It was great fun to read, but I was not in these stories. I was a sexless brain, wandering around shiny Caves of Steel. I was a stranger in these lands. I could see the attraction the (always) male gaze had for the more decorative sex the protagonists admired and judged simultaneously, so allowed myself to ride along in their minds. It was a man's world. But maybe there was room for a queer girl to peek over their pulpy shoulders.

But since finding these rich, imaginative women writers and reading so deeply from them, I find myself engaged and hopeful. I am not sneaking underneath the barbed wire and ignoring the "no girls allowed" signs posted on crumbling, ivoried paper covers designed to hold me out. I'm not cheating anymore.

This is my place, too.

And as I read these gorgeous stories-- talented writers, brilliant imaginations, prose that keeps me salivating for days-- I am so damned grateful that these stories are being told. They are simply lovely. Amazing quality. They are made of the kinds of knife-keen observations that come from being misunderstood.

I am in love with these authors. Their stories are incredible.

If you haven't been reading women's speculative fiction, simply put, start. If you have read some good new stuff, please let me know what.

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