When I teach science fiction, I spend a long time trying to fit a couple works by women into my syllabus. I’ve used Ursula LeGuin and Mary Shelley, and I know there are a few notable others I could add, depending on thematic relevance. But for the most part, my course packs are crammed full of Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, etc. — you know, the classics. During discussions of stereotypically lame (or absent) female characters, I’ve been known to say that sci-fi is by and large a genre by and about white dudes. So when I hear about something like an anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories written by and about women, I get seriously psyched.
The Athena’s Daughters (I’ll admit I’m not thrilled with the name, as it’s a little heavy-handed, but hey, it makes the mission clear) Kickstarter, launched by Silence in the Library Publishing, is designed to “provide a platform by which our female authors, artists, graphic designers, and editors could showcase their incredible talents.” All of the authors in the collection are women — the same goes for the artists, graphic designers, and the editor, bestselling fantasy author Jean Rabe. Even the introduction is written by astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander Pam Melroy. The list of authors includes Mary Robinette Kowal, Gail Z. Martin, Cleolinda Jones, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Rabe, Sherwood Smith, Janine K. Spendlove, Vicki Johnson-Steger, Cynthia Ward, and Jean Marie Ward. All of the stories feature female protagonists who exhibit strength (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.), and they include the usual range of heroes and villains.
The mission of this project is clearly resonant — with 23 days yet to go, 850 backers have pledged over $18,000, which is over twice the stated goal. Pledges of $5 will net you an eBook copy of the anthology, which is projected to be delivered by May 2014. Pledges $25 or over include a hard copy, expected to be delivered by Jun 2014. Given how chockfull this anthology is with stories and original artwork, it’s not hard to understand why.
I look forward to getting a copy and to finding some stories I can use in class. I look forward to being able to say that, while most of us think science fiction is a male-dominated genre, that’s no longer the case — just read these!
It might take a while longer to get the stamps, but I’m willing to wait.