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13 July 2015

If you never read these when they were published by DAW in 1979 and 1982, try to lay hands on copies now. They were seminal women’s anthologies then, now they are still unbeatable. Sadly, a number of the authors within have passed on, but here were some of the best stories they ever did. Janrae Frank (late and lamented) had Wolves of Nakesht in the anthology. I wrote to her at the time and we remained writing, then emailing casually from then on. I wrote the foreword to her own story collection, feeling then and even now, that her work never received the credit it should have. There were Andre’s Falcon’s Blood, C.J. Cherryh’s The Dreamstone, Janet Fox had Morrien’s Bitch, and there was the clever, savage “The Rape Patrol,’ by Michele Belling. (Who seems never to have written another story that I can find – although if that was it, that single story is a heck of a legacy.) Elizabeth Lynn, Megan Lindholm, Charles Saunders, Joanna Russ and T.J. Morgan, (an elderly academic who wrote in Welsh, and who died some 7 years after this story’s publication.) all writers who produced great stories.
Three years later the editor, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, did the second, Amazons II, and it was at least as good. Again she enticed superb authors to write her a story, and again the stories too were superb. F.M. Busby’s For A Daughter, (the gone and lamented writer) Jo Clayton’s Nightwork, George R.R. Martin’s In The Lost Lands, Gael Baudino’s Lady of the Forest End, and stories by Gilliam Fitzgerald, Phyllis Ann Karr, Elanear Arneson, Tanith Lee and Ardath Mayhar. My deep regret was that DAW never asked Jessica Amanda Salmonson to do more of these anthologies, they had the highest incidence of terrific stories I ever encountered in anthologies, selected by an editor who knew what she was doing, and knew too that you don’t just toss a bunch of stories together and hope they blend. (JAS did other excellent work beside editing, if you like solid s & s, look at her Tomoe Gozen books.) Those of us who still have our Amazon’s copies regularly re-read them, in fact it was doing just that (for about the twentieth time) this month that produced this review. And note that after almost forty years I can STILL re-read them and enjoy that each time… So if you’ve never run into these anthologies, see if you can lay hands on copies, because believe me, they were – and always will be I believe – worth more than the time and money you’ll spend. (I understand that Amazons – the company – have PDF’s for download. Run, do not walk…)

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