Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When Anthologies Go Bad?

Jim Hines pointed to this SF Signal post about an SF anthology that's causing some ruckus among the SF/F community.

The beef with the book comes from the lack of women authors. Of the 21 listed stories, not a one is written by a female.

I stuck my nose into this one by commenting:
The emphasis of this anthology is on "stories that took unusual scientific concepts and developed them in even more unusual ways." (See the first comment to:http://silk-noir.livejournal.com/308817.html?thread=2622289)

My knowledge of current short fiction is severely lacking (I blame it on catching up with the Dresden Files, but I digress). Can those more learned out there provide a list of 20 or so stories by female authors and non-white-guy-authors which deal with unusual scientific concepts and develop them in even more unusual ways?
Maybe if we pass over a goodly list to Mr. Ashley, he might create a sequel to this Mammoth Book? Call it "Another Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF" or "Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF II" or something.

And if Mr. Ashley is unable to create said sequel, maybe we can pool resources and publish a book in response to this. Call it "Beyond Mindblowing SF" or "Better Than Mammoth Mindblowing SF" or "Mindblowing? You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet."

Or even "The Other Mammoth Book..."
No reply yet to my list.

Based on the comments thus far in the SF Signal post and in the post I linked to in my comment, an anthology needs a representative sample of female writers in order to be acceptable to the SF/F populace.

Let's take a look at Seeds of Change (ed. John Joseph Adams), The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction (ed. George Mann), and the upcoming With Great Power (ed. Lou Anders). Seeds has nine stories, two by women. Great Power will feature 15 stories, two by women (three, if you count a co-author). The Solaris Book, 16 stories, 1 by a woman.

Clearly, these three brief samples must be better than Ashley's anthology because they include women.

But the percentage of women is rather low. A combined 40 stories in all three books and 5 are by women!?!?

This comment will likely draw ire but I'll say it anyway: do we now gauge the worth of an anthology by the number of women authors it features? What should the acceptable percentage be? 50%? 60%? 70%?

1 comment:

Morgan Dempsey said...

First, I'm not sure if you've gone back since posting this, but Colleen Anderson has replied to you directly.

Also

This comment will likely draw ire but I'll say it anyway: do we now gauge the worth of an anthology by the number of women authors it features? What should the acceptable percentage be? 50%? 60%? 70%?

No, simply because it is not, nor has it ever been, about percentages and "quotas."

I'll not go on too much here, as I did write a blog post about it, but it's a matter of this being just another in a series. One on its own isn't problematic, but one in a constant stream is disconcerting.