A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall
Series: Women Destroy Science Fiction! (Lightspeed #49)
Published by Skyboat Media on November 18, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 15 hours, 11 minutes
Narrated by Judy Young
Buy It Here! •
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
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)
A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady is a bit of an oddity in this selection of stories for the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special Issue. It…feels more Steampunk than anything else and I’ve almost always attributed Steampunk more to Fantasy than Science Fiction. Also, A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady doesn’t truly feel complete.
A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady is the story of a young Noble debutante. The dialogue, dress and mannerisms are very Regency Age and they remind me of all the Historical Romances I’ve read where the heroine is part of the English le bon ton and is preparing for her first Season.
The Season was the name given to the months between late January and early July. It officially began when Parliament re-opened in London and was an endless parade of social entertainments – balls, theatre parties, dances, masquerades, military reviews, and many other social pleasures to be enjoyed by the ton. Families with marriageable children used the Season to present their children to the ton in hopes of arranging profitable marriages. For this reason, the Season has also been referred to as the “Marriage Mart” by notables such as Lord Byron. For marriageable girls, the Season was an intense period of social networking in which any misstep or breach of social etiquette could spread through gossip circles at Almack’s like wildfire and have potentially ruinous effects on her marriage and social prospects within the ton.
I found A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady to be a rather fun story…but rather uninteresting as well. The majority of the dialogue was about marriage and flirtation. The fun parts of A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady was the descriptions of the debutantes’ “presentation” outfits: The debut outfits (hand sewed by the debutante herself, of course) are arrayed with a large variety of dampening devices (noise, sight, etc) since the debutantes debut by breaking into the home of a peer and stealing a valuable item while leaving behind a huge clue as to the thief. The (male) peer then calls on the debutante to retrieve his goods as well as to hopefully begin courtship of the debutante.
Very little detail beyond the original descriptions was giving to the SF parts of the story: The setting was a colony(?), the debutantes’ burglary training, the various security measures of the residences, the workings of the dampening devices and the way they are placed in the clothing. And MOST important: how the HELL did this civilization end up aping the Regency era???!?
The ending of A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady was rather abrupt – and I was a little dismayed that fully all of the dialogue was about marriage and men (and obeying one’s mama).
All in all, I found A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady to be fun but shallow.