Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: Canth by K.C. Norton (Narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir)

December 2, 2016 2016 Review Challenge, 3.5 Stars, Anthology, Audiobook, Book Review, classic sci-fi, damsel in distress, prickly pear heroine, Science Fiction, series 0 ★★★½

Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: Canth by K.C. Norton (Narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir) three-half-stars
Canth by K.C. Norton
Series: Women Destroy Science Fiction! (Lightspeed #49)
Published by Skyboat Media on November 18, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Length: 15 hours, 11 minutes
Narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir
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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

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)

Canth is another odd one. Canth is both the title of this story and the name of the MC’s submarine-like vessel.

The MC of Canth is chasing her ship. Somehow it started without her but since it is a perpetual motion machine, it never stopped. The majority of the story details the MC and her hired crew chasing the Canth.

Throughout the majority of Canth, the MC is rather dejected: she is a captain without a ship and her ship means so much to her. Especially since her mother’s heart is somehow powering the Canth…and the MC believes that as long as she has the Canth and the Canth is moving – her mother’s heart is still beating and still loves her. The MC personifies the Canth by continuously saying “She left me” and “She’s running away from something and I can’t help but to think it’s me.” The Canth is a single woman vessel thus the MC spends the majority of her time alone underwater. Being above water – with people – and not on her ship has greatly upset the MC.

The reader is never told how the mother’s heart powers the Canth. The reader is never given a full description of the Canth.

As time passes, the crew catches up with the Canth – and I won’t discuss much of that because spoilers – but the story says that the Canth is searching for something and somehow knows how to find it without guidance or input. This bothered me a great deal because the personification of the Canth by the MC earlier in the story had to have some kind of truth to it…but that is also never explained. In fact, 80% of the story from the time the Canth stops feels like it was edited down from some larger document. There’s a lot of things mentioned that obviously have some import…but are not fully discussed or explained.

Yet again, Gabrielle de Cuir rocked this narration. Rocked.

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