Thursday 28 January 2016

Reviews - The Discoverability Challenge

At the beginning of the year Joanne Hall invited me to take part in her discoverability challenge as I'd commented on how few women I'd read in 2015. There's all sorts of data that shows that publishing is skewed towards men so it is important to make a conscious effort to read more women. The essence of the challenge is to read a female writer new to me at least once per month.

So it was with delight that I saw that NewCon Press, as part of their decade in publishing celebrations, were publishing two new anthologies with all women contributors.

Obsidian: A Decade of Horror Stories by…

Obsidian: A decade of horror


Digital Dreams: A Decade of Science Fiction…

Digital Dreams: A decade of SF

I immediately requested copies...

Included in both anthologies were names that I'd been meaning to get around to reading, and what better way to see if they were for me than to sample a short story by them. But the names that I didn't know I needed to read were just as valuable a find.,

Digital Dreams has stories from Pat Cadigan, Kim Lakin-Smith, Heather Bradshaw, Sarah Singleton, Jaine Fenn, Una McCormick, Lauren Beukes, Tricia Sullivan, Nina Allen, Ruth Booth (an award winning story no less), Justina Robson, Rachel Armstrong, EJ Swift and Rebecca J Payne.

From space opera, to futuristic war, to new technology to a fear of flying. There's something to interest any SF fan. My personal favourite in this collection was The Crepuscular Hunter by EJ Swift  - a very well-crafted dark tale of involuntary disconnection. I'd also highlight The Honey Trap by Ruth Booth and Collateral Damage by Jaine Fenn although, to be clear there weren't many that didn't hit the spot in this collection.

Of even more interest to me was Obsidian, since I've been getting back into horror recently. This has stories in by Sarah Pinborough, Liz Williams, Marie O'Regan, Kari Sperring, Tanith Lee, Kelly Armstrong, Alison Littlewood, Molly Brown, Donna Scott, Susan Sinclair, Lisa Tuttle, Emma Coleman, Maura McHugh and Laura Munro.

Donna Scott's tale of Grimoire's in The Grimoire was very clever and a must-read for any book lover, the Underfog by Tanith Lee and On the Grey Road by Alison Littlewood were both very good, the first being about wreckers and the second about Scottish folklore. Sarah Pinborough's Did you see? ticked all the right boxes for me. Maura McHugh's tale Valerie will stay with me for a while, and I won't look at rubber fetish gear the same way ever again! and Lisa Tuttle's Paul's Mother was really quite disturbing.

overall - it's obvious that NewCon have great taste and these collections showcase a lot of talent. I now have a longer list of names to look out for at the bookshop... and I read many female writers who were new to me.

If you can only afford to buy one of these books - borrow some money so you can get both!


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