Over the past few years, there has been a series of ‘XXXXX Destroy Science Fiction’ anthologies, but this is the first one I have read. While the title may smack of too much ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar’, the anthology was quite balanced with characters of all genders, action and contemplation, mystery and exploration, happy endings and not-so happy endings. Most of the stories had some real meat on them, including several of the flash fiction tales, giving me something to chat about over tea. Some were humorous and some required some thoughtful contemplation afterwards. Over all, it’s an excellent science fiction anthology.
Contained in this audiobook are 11 original short stories, 4 short story reprints, 1 novella, and 15 flash fiction tales. If you pick up the text version, you also get 7 non-fiction pieces, 28 personal essays, and 15 author spotlights. Authors for stories in this audiobook include Charlie Jane Anders, Eleanor Arnason, Elizabeth Porter Birdsall, Heather Clitheroe, Tina Connolly, Katherine Crighton, Ellen Denham. Tananarive Due, Rhonda Eikamp, Amal El-Mohtar, Emily Fox, Maria Dahvana Headley, Cathy Humble, N. K. Jemisin, Marina J. Lostetter, Seanan McGuire Maureen F. McHugh, Kris Millering, Maria Romasco Moore, Samantha Murray, K. C. Norton, Anaid Perez, Sarah Pinsker, Rhiannon Rasmussen, Holly Schofield, Effie Seiberg, Gabriella Stalker, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Vanessa Torline, Carrie Vaughn, and Kim Winternheimer.
Below are the 11 original stories.
Each to Each by Seanan McGuire
The Navy has modified whole submarine corps of women into ‘mermaids’ to explore and claim the ocean floor for bubble cities and resources. The main character finds something in the deep that she didn’t expect. The narrator did a great job with the elongated vowels and such (sounding like in between ocean animal and human) and keeping each female character distinct. This was my favorite story of the whole book and a great way to start the anthology off. 6/5
A Word Shaped Like Bones by Kris Millering
Maurine is an angry artist in space. Her only ‘companion’ is a dead man in the corner. Rather eerie but interesting. Good narration – kept the eerie quality to it. 4/5
Cuts Both Ways by Heather Clitheroe
Spencer is a memory recall specialist. He floats through his memories, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. Held in high regard for the work he does but it messes with his personal life. Was OK. Didn’t hold my attention like the first 2. Narration good. 3/5
Walking Awake by N.K. Jemisin
Sadie is a caretaker, helping raise the kids until they are old enough for the Masters to inhabit. Henri, one of her young charges, has been chosen. Abrupt ending. Don’t know if Sadie was successful or just nuts. Narration good tho Sadie sounded a lot younger than 40 years old. 4/5
The Case of the Passionless Bees by Rhonda Eikamp
A Gearlock Holmes & Watson story. There is murder at Gearlock’s mansion and the robotic amalgam Mrs. Hudson is in custody for the murder. Fun piece. Steampunky. Good stiff upper lip narration. 5/5
In the Image of Man by Gabriella Stalker
Set in Houston, TX, Wendell & his parents live in a mall. Big Box stores, and their advertising, dominate Wendell’s life, including church and living quarters. Teen loans are the norm. Very interesting piece on materialism and debt. Narration very good with a light Western twang. 5/5
The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick by Charlie Jane Anders
Roger and Mary broke up. Mary’s friend Stacia convinces her to ask for Roger’s memories of the beginning of their relationship when things were on a high note. Interesting piece. Good narration. 4/5
Dim Sun by Maria Dahvana Headley
Set in a far future where the Moon is colonized, Bert, a restaurant critic, has told the secret of the dim sun restaurant. Now it’s crowded. Rodney and Bert are having a lunch there when Harriet, Bert’s ex-wife and a powerful politician, joins them. It was a very fun piece – creative dishes. Great narration. 5/5
The Lonely Sea in the Sky by Amal El-Mohtar
Laila is encouraged to talk to the psychologist. She’s an interplanetary geoscientist. She has an ism – addicted to diamonds or the idea of diamonds. This tale explores various stories about diamonds as part of Laila’s fascination. Interesting piece but kind of broken up, not clear in places. Narrated by several people. At least 1 line repeated. The volumes varies, but mostly much quieter than the rest of the book. Main narrator does great with emotions. 3/5
A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall
Genevieve’s a thief. She makes her debut burglary and runs into another thief, Catherine. They bond over the difficulties of breaking into the Marquis’s place. Some cool tech. Love the proper British accent and social niceties. 4/5
Canth by K.C. Norton
The Canth is an underwater vessel, part animal, powered by a perpetual motion machine. Capt. Pierce has lost the Canth but pursues her in a ship, the Jeronimo, captained by Rios. Portugues flavor to the story. Cod in every meal. Very interesting story. Narration was good, especially with the Portuguese words. 5/5
Below are the reprinted stories, including the 1 novella.
Like Daughter by Tananarive Due
Paige looks after Denise (Neecy) as much a s she can. She often reflects on their childhood and how things were different between them. Now Denise needs her to take her 6 year old daughter. Heavy story. Well done. Good narration. 5/5.
The Great Loneliness by Maria Romasco Moore
A slow apocalypse happened. Now clones of one flavor or another live out their lives in the few pockets of habitable space on Earth. Various groups have sent probes and manned space missions over the years into space searching for another habitable planet. I really like the imagery that was every where in this story- the underwater museum, the main character’s plant-like daughter Verdant, the human’s Eyes, Brain, etc. walking around independently. The narration was great, even a little song. 5/5
Love is the Plan the Plan is Death by James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon)
Mogadit has discovered a little one, Lililu, and his teen hormones all at once. Strange, enthralling. Sometimes felt like I was watching animals mating. Stefan Rudnicki narrates and he does it excellently. 4/5
Knapsack Poems by Eleanor Arnason
Strange story. Main character seems to have more than 1 entity and this is the norm. The main character has a scout and a poet and such. It finds a child of some sorts and carries it along falling in love with it. The entities can be more than one gender, but not necessarily so. I don’t get all of it. Rudnicki narrates, doing a good job. 3/5
The Cost to Be Wise by Maureen F. McHugh (novella)
Scarline is a colony on a little populated world. Not much tech. Dogs as sheep – for food. An outworlder, Veranique, comes to visit along with her Professor Ian. Janna, who is an unwed teen of the colony, is fascinated with plastic. Scaffalos is a great clan that visits Scarline for trade, though sometimes they just take what they want. Travesty befalls the colony. Interesting story. A thoughtful, perhaps harsh, ending. Well narrated. 5/5
Below are the 15 original flash fiction stories.
Salvage by Carrie Vaughn
A spooky ghost ship story with a happy ending.
A Guide to Grief by Emily Fox
See DANGEROUS EARTH-POSSIBLES! by Tina Connolly
Narrator sounds drunk, which isn’t necessarily bad for this story.
A Debt Repaid by Marina J. Lostetter
The 2-headed monster has dual addiction – gambling & drink.
The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced by Sarah Pinsker
Those that suffer from accidental time travel can hang out in an asylum. There’s jello.
#TrainFightTuesday by Vanessa Torline
Fun tail told through tweets. Super heroes/villains. Cute noises to denote switching between tweeters.
The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23 by Rhiannon Rasmussen
A beautiful story of interstellar kamikazes come home. This was my favorite on the Flash Fiction.
Emoticon by Anaid Perez
The Mouths by Ellen Denham
Cracker obsessed aliens with only 1 orifice.
M1A by Kim Winternheimer
M1A is her clone there to give her parts as she needs. They grow up as sisters, but she is always sick while her clone is healthy. Poignant story.
Standard Deviant by Holly Schofield
A punkass homeless lass is given the opportunity to become an intergalactic ambassador. Fun story.
Getting on in Years by Cathy Humble
Immortal 800 year old man tired of hiding it. Interesting. Ending up to interpretation.
Ro-Sham-Bot by Effie Seiberg
Robot wants to play Rock-Paper-Scissors.
Everything That Has Already Been Said by Samantha Murray
An odd duck of a story.
The Lies We Tell Our Children by Katherine Crighton
She tells her daughters about space and what that means. They become sad. Very nice sadly sweet story.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the publisher (viaAudiobook Jukebox) in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Nearly all of the narration was well done for this anthology. There was one story with more than 1 narrator and it definitely sounded like the narrators were in different studios, not recorded at the same time. However, the majority of the narration was excellent. I especially like seeing Stefan Rudnicki’s abilities tested in the James Tiptree story.