Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: Dim Sun by Maria Dahvana Headley (Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki)

November 14, 2016 2016 Review Challenge, 3.5 Stars, Anthology, Audiobook, Book Review, Science Fiction, short story/Vignette 0 ★★★½

Women Destroy Science Fiction! Anthology Review: Dim Sun by Maria Dahvana Headley (Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki) three-half-stars
Dim Sun by Maria Dahvana Headley
Series: Women Destroy Science Fiction! (Lightspeed #49)
on November 18, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Length: 15 hours, 11 minutes
Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
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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)

I…have no clue what to say about this one. It’s…different.

And I liked it! But there’s so much…unexplained.

Dim Sun is a great short story that is structured around food – even the title is a play on Dim Sum:

Dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum dishes are famous for the unique way they are served traditionally whereby fully cooked, ready-to-serve dishes are pushed on carts around the restaurant for diners to select without leaving their seats.

So. The narrator of Dim Sun really did it for me but not at first. Though I have to admit that I really like Stefan Rudnicki’s voice. It’s pretty sexy! 😉 Rudnicki’s narration was very matter of fact with no real emotion tinging it. But it really worked for voicing the narrator of our story, Raymond.

Raymond is the perpetually hungry friend of Burt Gold, a food critic. Burt Gold is a terrible person with a penchant for younger women and is the ex-husband to the President of the Universe, Harriet Gold. BTW, the breakup was not amicable. (understatement)

In Dim Sun, the Sci-Fi is the food. The narrator (Raymond) is invited by Burt to a Dim Sum-style meal since the young chick Burt was trying to bang stood him up (Burt is always trying to bang a young chick, thus his divorce). While they were waiting to order Harriet shows up. Harriet is clearly the star of this story…and the entire room. The room quiets as the (very popular) President of the Universe waltzes in, dressed in a beautiful piece of blue sky. The restaurant they all meet at is somewhere in the universe but certainly not on Earth. And that’s because Burt and Raymond were kicked off Earth due to Burt being a terrible husband and a terrible person. Apparently, Harriet (being the smarter of the two) got everything in the divorce (including Earth) and Burt got Raymond. Raymond laments that he doesn’t know why Burt got him and not Harriet. But there it is. So Raymond isn’t the happiest with his pseudo-friend.

Being kicked off of Earth has had some long ranging consequences for the always hungry Raymond: the lack of the childhood foods he used to enjoy back home. Raymond waxes poetic over how much he misses “the fried” terrible goodness of bad for you food on Earth.

The food served to them is the Dim Sun Ultimate. They are eating the cosmos. Sprinkles of space dust, parts of actual dimming sun – they are not eating anything that actually sounds like food. But the way the “food” is described!!! With the crispiness and crunch, the heat of spice and the cold of ice. Sounded divine.

Dim Sun is quite like The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick in which the Sci-Fi is used as a vehicle to discuss inter-personal relationships. Raymond eats as Burt and Harriet snark at each other. Well, Harriet needles Burt while Burt…pretends she didn’t get the best of him. What Dim Sun does NOT do – just like The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick – is explain or even discuss the science of what is going on. HOW are Burt, Raymond and Harriet eating comets? Space Dust?? Screw how they are eating it…how on Earth are they cooking it???

I’m going to skip discussing the ending because spoilers but suffice to say that I liked it. Dim Sun was a cute, quirky and fun read that I rather enjoyed.

There are things to eat out there.
-Raymond

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