Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: Each to Each by Seanan McGuire (Narrated by Cassandra Campbell)

September 27, 2016 Anthology, Audiobook, Body Mods, Book Review, series 0 ★★★★★

Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: Each to Each by Seanan McGuire (Narrated by Cassandra Campbell) five-stars
Each to Each by Seanan McGuire
Series: Women Destroy Science Fiction! (Lightspeed #49)
Published by Skyboat Media on November 18, 2015
Pages: 488
Format: Audiobook
Length: 15 hours, 11 minutes
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
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The summer of 2013 was a rough one for women in science fiction. Every few weeks there was a new reminder that to a certain subset of the field, women are not welcome. There were multiple articles returning to the tired accusation that women aren’t writing “real” SF; disputes about the way the field is represented by vintage cheesecake art on the cover of a professional trade publication; the glib admonition that if women are to succeed, they should be more like Barbie, in her “quiet dignity.” For many readers, it was a very nasty surprise to discover this undercurrent running through the ocean of imaginative fiction we love.

And it just. Kept. Coming.

We got tired. We got angry. And then we came out the other side of exhaustion and anger deeply motivated to do something.

Thus the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue of LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE was conceived. We did a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014 to help make the issue into a double issue; we crushed our fundraising goal in about 7 hours and ended up funding at more than 1000% of our original funding goal, with more than 2800 backers.

Because of that tremendous success, we unlocked two major stretch goals which resulted in the publication of companion volumes Women Destroy Fantasy! and Women Destroy Horror!, which are being published as issues of LIGHTSPEED’s sister publications, FANTASY and NIGHTMARE.

FROM THE EDITORS — Christie Yant, Rachel Swirsky, Wendy N. Wagner, Robyn Lupo, and Gabrielle de Cuir
Editorial, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction!

ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES — edited by Christie Yant

Each to Each by Seanan McGuire – narrated by Cassandra Campbell
A Word Shaped Like Bones by Kris Millering – narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir
Cuts Both Ways by Heather Clitheroe – narrated by Grover Gardner
Walking Awake by N.K. Jemisin – narrated by Bahni Turpin
The Case of the Passionless Bees by Rhonda Eikamp – narrated by Jonathan L. Howard
In the Image of Man by Gabriella Stalker– narrated by John Allen Nelson
The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick by Charlie Jane Anders – narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Dim Sun by Maria Dahvana Headley – narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
The Lonely Sea in the Sky by Amal El-Mohtar – narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir with Cassandra Campbell, Cassandra de Cuir, John Allen Nelson, Stefan Rudnicki, and Molly Underwood
A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall – narrated by Judy Young
Canth by K.C. Norton – narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir

REPRINTS — selected by Rachel Swirsky

Like Daughter by Tananarive Due – narrated by Jamye Méri Grant
The Great Loneliness by Maria Romasco Moore – narrated by Judy Young
Love is the Plan the Plan is Death by James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) – narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Knapsack Poems: A Goxhat Travel Journal by Eleanor Arnason – narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
The Cost to Be Wise by Maureen F. McHugh (novella) – narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir

ORIGINAL FLASH FICTION — edited by Robyn Lupo

Salvage by Carrie Vaughn – read by Susan Hanfield
A Guide to Grief by Emily Fox – read by Cassandra de Cuir
See DANGEROUS EARTH-POSSIBLES! by Tina Connolly – read by Harlan Ellison®
A Debt Repaid by Marina J. Lostetter – narrated by Jamye Méri Grant
The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced by Sarah Pinsker – narrated by Cassandra Campbell
#TrainFightTuesday by Vanessa Torline – narrated by Jamye Méri Grant with Cassandra de Cuir, Gabrielle de Cuir, John Allen Nelson, Molly Underwood, and Judy Young
The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23 by Rhiannon Rasmussen – narrated by John Allen Nelson
Emoticon by Anaid Perez – narrated by Molly Underwood
The Mouths by Ellen Denham – narrated by Cassandra de Cuir
M1A by Kim Winternheimer – narrated by Judy Young
Standard Deviant by Holly Schofield – narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Getting on in Years by Cathy Humble – narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Ro-Sham-Bot by Effie Seiberg – narrated by John Allen Nelson
Everything That Has Already Been Said by Samantha Murray – narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir
The Lies We Tell Our Children by Katherine Crighton – narrated by Cassandra Campbell

NOVEL EXCERPT
Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold

NONFICTION — edited by Wendy N. Wagner

Artists Showcase by Galen Dara
Illusion, Expectation, and World Domination Through Bake Sales by Pat Murphy
Women Remember: A Roundtable Interview by Mary Robinette Kowal
Interview: Kelly Sue DeConnick by Jennifer Willis
How to Engineer a Self-Rescuing Princess by Stina Leicht
The Status Quo Cannot Hold by Tracie Welser
Screaming Together: Making Women’s Voices Heard by Nisi Shawl

PERSONAL ESSAYS — edited by Wendy N. Wagner

We are the Fifty Percent by Rachel Swirsky
Science Fiction: You’re Doin’ It Wrong by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Join Us in the Future by Marissa Lingen
Are We There Yet? by Sheila Finch
Not a Spaceship, Robot, or Zombie in Sight by Anne Charnock
Writing Among the Beginning of Women by Amy Sterling Casil
Toward a Better Future by Nancy Jane Moore
We Are the Army of Women Destroying SF by Sandra Wickham
Read SF and You’ve Got a Posse by Gail Marsella
Stomp All Over That by O. J. Cade
For the Trailblazers by Kristi Charish
Women are the Future of Science Fiction by Juliette Wade
We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle, and Slaves Narrative by Kameron Hurley (Reprint, archived at A Dribble of Ink)
Writing Stories, Wrinkling Time by Kat Howard
Where Are My SF Books? by DeAnna Knippling
Reading the Library Alphabetically by Liz Argall
Stepping Through a Portal by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
The Wendybird by Stina Leicht
I Wanted to be the First Woman on the Moon by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Never Think of Yourself as Less by Helena Bell
An ABC of Kickass, or a Partial Exorcism of my TBR/TRBA* Pile by Jude Griffin
Stocking Stuffers by Anaea Lay
Breaching the Gap by Brooke Bolander
Women Who Are More Than Strong by Georgina Kamsika
A Science-Fictional Woman by Cheryl Morgan
Your Future is Out of Date by Pat Murphy
Stray Outside the Lines by E. Catherine Tobler
My Love Can Destroy by Seanan McGuire

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHTS — edited by Jude Griffin With contributors Laurel Amberdine, Lee Hallison, and Sandra Odell

Seanan McGuire
Kris Millering
Heather Clitheroe
N.K. Jemisin
Rhonda Eikamp
Tananarive Due
Gabriella Stalker
Charlie Jane Anders
Maria Dahvana Headley
Amal El-Mohtar
Elizabeth Porter Birdsall
K.C. Norton
Eleanor Arnason
Maria Romasco Moore
Maureen McHugh

ILLUSTRATORS — art direction by Galen Dara

Li Grabbenstetter (“A Word Shaped Like Bones,” “Each to Each,” and “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death”)
Elizabeth Leggett (“Cuts Both Ways,” “Salvage,” and “Like Daughter”)
Hillary Pearlman (“Walking Awake”)
Christine Mitzuk (“The Case of the Passionless Bees”)
Galen Dara (cover artist)

Note: The majority of the reviews for Women Destroy Science Fiction! is of the audio book. I did buy a copy of the print edition because the audio doesn’t include the Author Spotlights, the novel excerpt, the non-fiction, the personal essays and the illustrations. All reviews of those items come from the print edition. I could not get my hands on one of the limited editions so I did not read They Tell Me There Will Be No Pain by Rachael Acks.

Each to Each was such a wonderful experience. I have to say that I’m an audiobook novice but I’m starting to really understand how the narrator can make or break a story.

Illustration © 2014 Li Grabenstetter

Illustration © 2014 Li Grabenstetter


And Cassandra Campbell really helped make this story. Each to Each is the story of the “military mermaids:” female soldiers put through a mixture of surgery and genetic manipulation in order to adapt their bodies to underwater exploration. These women are – as far as public relations are concerned – beautiful mermaids in the employ of the US Government. Men dream of having sex with these graceful, sensual, fanciful mermaids – not realizing how truly different and alien the women have become. Ignoring the fact that the women they are fantasizing about are soldiers trained to fight and kill.

They’d flense themselves bloody on the shark-skins of the blues, they’d sting themselves into oblivion on the spines of the lionfish and the trailing jellied arms of the moonies and the men-o’-war, but still they talk, and still they see us as fantasies given flesh, and not as the military women that we are. Perhaps that, too, is a part of the Navy’s design. How easy is it to fear something that you’ve been seeing in cartoons and coloring books since you were born?
Each to Each by Seanan McGuire

Environments change people. They change them in both small, often unnoticed ways and they change them in large obvious ways. Which makes me think: how did the government expect to underrated and control something they have no experience with – something that lives in a way they could never understand without first living it, too? And the reality is that the government has no real clue as to what they are doing – except that they want to make sure the women always look like women. That the Military Mermaids are beautiful and sexily feminine to the [male] eye.

The American mods focus too much on form and not enough on functionality. Our lionfish, eels, even our jellies still look like women before they look like marine creatures. Some sailors say—although there’s been no proof yet, and that’s the mantra of the news outlets, who don’t want to criticize the program more than they have to, don’t want to risk losing access to the stream of beautifully staged official photos and the weekly reports on the amazing scientific advancements coming out of what we do here—some sailors say that they chose streamlined mods, beautiful, sleek creatures that would cut through the water like knives, minimal drag, minimal reminders of their mammalian origins, and yet somehow came out of the treatment tanks with breasts that ached like it was puberty all over again. Ached and then grew bigger, ascending a cup size or even two, making a more marketable silhouette.
Each to Each by Seanan McGuire

When I first started reading Each to Each, I felt the narration was…dry. Disinterested. Disengaged. But as the story continued, I felt that Cassandra Campbell’s dry way of speaking/narrating matched the irony of the story and the sarcasm of the unnamed narrator’s thoughts.

Goodness. There was just so much goodness to this tale. The social commentary felt oh, so real. So probable. I could see this happening…and to me that is what makes the best SciFi: when the reader thinks to themselves “OMG. I can see this happening!” It’s the reason why The Handmaid’s Tale is still being read even though the content is so dire that “it makes the soul scream.”

I was so entranced by Each to Each that when the next story abruptly started I felt…uncomfortable. Unhappy with this new thing trying to keep me from pondering the story I’d just finished. I wanted to sit and bask awhile in the glory of the work…and then think awhile on how I felt about it. I can admit I had book hangover for at least 24 hours. Then I moved on, lol.

Each to Each was a fantastic opening to Women Destroy Science Fiction! and makes me so excited about the rest of the anthology.

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