The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick by Charlie Jane Anders
on November 18, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 15 hours, 11 minutes
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
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)
I didn’t enjoy The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick much.
I felt that the story took a little too long to get into the plot. The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick is really a “slice of life” story if I’ve ever read one but it also reminds me a bit of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The MC of The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick is dealing with the break up of a six year relationship. The reader is dragged through all conversation about that – then the conversation about a “new” procedure that can pull specific memories out of your head – along with the associated emotions. The MC’s best friend – Stacia – urges her to get her former lover’s early memories “He owes you!” she said again and again.
So the MC – Mary – gets the memories…and her BFF then steals them and uploads them into her own brain.
And that’s pretty much the story. There’s no real reason WHY Stacia did this – she says she wanted to know what if felt like to have such strong emotions – but that wasn’t really good enough for me.
Over the course of the rest of the story, Mary (and the reader) learn that Stacia isn’t doing well due to the implanted memories. She first starts to emulate Mary’s ex but then goes on to go a little crazy due to the conflicting feelings, thoughts, and memories. These memories are from not only a different person but a different gender and both of them identify as heterosexual. Plus the ex disliked Stacia quite a bit. It all combined to make Stacia into a person who could no longer hold it together.
The ending of the story is Mary trying to get Stacia back from wherever her mind is currently. The reader doesn’t learn if Stacia has any long term effects nor if the treatment Mary tries actually works.
Meh. But what a terrible “best friend.”