Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: The Case of the Passionless Bees by Rhonda Eikamp (Narrated by Jonathan L. Howard)

October 27, 2016 2016 Review Challenge, 4.5 Stars, Audiobook, Book Review, classic sci-fi 0 ★★★★½

Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: The Case of the Passionless Bees by Rhonda Eikamp (Narrated by Jonathan L. Howard) four-half-stars
The Case of the Passionless Bees by Rhonda Eikamp
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 Jonathan L. Howard
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)

Well color me surprised! I was NOT expecting an SF Sherlock Holmes mystery (make that Gearlock Holmes) so when the narrator started speaking and I heard a British male voice, I was a bit surprised. It does work quite well, however. Jonathan L. Howard really nailed the mechanical/human-ish voice for Gearlock Holmes. Even the illustration screamed Sherlock Holmes to me – before I read even a single word of the story – so I was excited to find out it IS a Holmes story.

The Case of the Passionless Bees © 2014 Christine Mitzuk

The Case of the Passionless Bees © 2014 Christine Mitzuk

Honestly, The Case of the Passionless Bees is pretty wonderful. All of the different pieces of the story worked so very well together and I adored it, for the most part. The main reason I give this 4.5 and not 5 stars is that…I had an inkling as to the ending of the story (and thus solving the crime). Normally I don’t have that ability with Sherlock Holmes stories, so…

Regardless of my ability to start to figure out the mystery, the true beauty of The Case of the Passionless Bees was the re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes as a Steampunk-ish sentient AI. In Ms Eikamp’s England, AI servants are a part of daily life. Called “the amalgamated,” most of these robots are not sentient – but Gearlock Holmes is different.

There was much I cherished about Gearlock Holmes: that rigor that kept him like a bloodhound on the trail of criminals, the astonishing array of facts that had been programmed into him and which he himself broadened with unceasing study (employing the night hours while we the fleshly slept), the cooling tick-tick that arose from him when he overheated. Even his violin playing I had missed, passionless as it was, yet the sight of those articulated fingers moving with such precision through a pizzicato had never failed to awe me.

With The Case of the Passionless Bees being a murder mystery, I can’t really discuss it without dropping clues. I’d hate to spoil this little gem for anyone so I’ll stop now. I can say that I really enjoyed The Case of the Passionless Bees but I also have to admit to being a Sherlock Holmes fan.

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