Cuts Both Ways by Heather Clitheroe
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 Grover Gardner
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 CampbellREPRINTS — selected by Rachel Swirsky
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
Like Daughter by Tananarive Due – narrated by Jamye Méri GrantORIGINAL FLASH FICTION — edited by Robyn Lupo
The Great Loneliness by Maria Romasco Moore – narrated by Judy Young
Love is the Plan the Plan is Death by James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) – narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Knapsack Poems: A Goxhat Travel Journal by Eleanor Arnason – narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
The Cost to Be Wise by Maureen F. McHugh (novella) – narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir
Salvage by Carrie Vaughn – read by Susan HanfieldNOVEL EXCERPT
A Guide to Grief by Emily Fox – read by Cassandra de Cuir
See DANGEROUS EARTH-POSSIBLES! by Tina Connolly – read by Harlan Ellison®
A Debt Repaid by Marina J. Lostetter – narrated by Jamye Méri Grant
The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced by Sarah Pinsker – narrated by Cassandra Campbell
#TrainFightTuesday by Vanessa Torline – narrated by Jamye Méri Grant with Cassandra de Cuir, Gabrielle de Cuir, John Allen Nelson, Molly Underwood, and Judy Young
The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23 by Rhiannon Rasmussen – narrated by John Allen Nelson
Emoticon by Anaid Perez – narrated by Molly Underwood
The Mouths by Ellen Denham – narrated by Cassandra de Cuir
M1A by Kim Winternheimer – narrated by Judy Young
Standard Deviant by Holly Schofield – narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Getting on in Years by Cathy Humble – narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Ro-Sham-Bot by Effie Seiberg – narrated by John Allen Nelson
Everything That Has Already Been Said by Samantha Murray – narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir
The Lies We Tell Our Children by Katherine Crighton – narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold
NONFICTION — edited by Wendy N. Wagner
Artists Showcase by Galen DaraPERSONAL ESSAYS — edited by Wendy N. Wagner
Illusion, Expectation, and World Domination Through Bake Sales by Pat Murphy
Women Remember: A Roundtable Interview by Mary Robinette Kowal
Interview: Kelly Sue DeConnick by Jennifer Willis
How to Engineer a Self-Rescuing Princess by Stina Leicht
The Status Quo Cannot Hold by Tracie Welser
Screaming Together: Making Women’s Voices Heard by Nisi Shawl
We are the Fifty Percent by Rachel SwirskyAUTHOR SPOTLIGHTS — edited by Jude Griffin With contributors Laurel Amberdine, Lee Hallison, and Sandra Odell
Science Fiction: You’re Doin’ It Wrong by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Join Us in the Future by Marissa Lingen
Are We There Yet? by Sheila Finch
Not a Spaceship, Robot, or Zombie in Sight by Anne Charnock
Writing Among the Beginning of Women by Amy Sterling Casil
Toward a Better Future by Nancy Jane Moore
We Are the Army of Women Destroying SF by Sandra Wickham
Read SF and You’ve Got a Posse by Gail Marsella
Stomp All Over That by O. J. Cade
For the Trailblazers by Kristi Charish
Women are the Future of Science Fiction by Juliette Wade
We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle, and Slaves Narrative by Kameron Hurley (Reprint, archived at A Dribble of Ink)
Writing Stories, Wrinkling Time by Kat Howard
Where Are My SF Books? by DeAnna Knippling
Reading the Library Alphabetically by Liz Argall
Stepping Through a Portal by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
The Wendybird by Stina Leicht
I Wanted to be the First Woman on the Moon by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Never Think of Yourself as Less by Helena Bell
An ABC of Kickass, or a Partial Exorcism of my TBR/TRBA* Pile by Jude Griffin
Stocking Stuffers by Anaea Lay
Breaching the Gap by Brooke Bolander
Women Who Are More Than Strong by Georgina Kamsika
A Science-Fictional Woman by Cheryl Morgan
Your Future is Out of Date by Pat Murphy
Stray Outside the Lines by E. Catherine Tobler
My Love Can Destroy by Seanan McGuire
Seanan McGuireILLUSTRATORS — art direction by Galen Dara
Charlie Jane Anders
Maria Dahvana Headley
Elizabeth Porter Birdsall
Maria Romasco Moore
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’m only three stories deep into Women Destroy Science Fiction! and I’ve found a “not my favorite” already. I do want to start by saying that – like the previous two stories I’ve read, Cuts Both Ways is excellently written and plotted. The “not my favorite” part comes in related to the…atmosphere of the story. I could feel something terrible was going to happen. The entire story felt ominous.
Razor sharp memories cut both ways—going in and when they come out in recall.
As I was listening to Cuts Both Ways I was somewhat reminded of Each to Each: both of the MCs in each story are the subjects of body modifications that cause extreme changes in the person modified. The types of mods are different but the effects are quite the same: the subjects are no longer quite “human” and these changes make them something to be ogled. The major difference (to me) in the body mods is that the MC in Each to Each was promised the changes could be reversed while Spencer in Cuts Both Ways knows his changes cannot be reversed.
I definitely enjoyed Grover Gardner’s narration but he wasn’t as dynamic as Gabrielle de Cuir – he was a lot flatter. While Grover Gardner’s narration was a little flat for me, I still felt what was happening – Spencer’s nervousness; his resignation to being treated like a zoo animal; the uncomfortable/unhappy feeling he has when his family realizes something is wrong. The sadness and regret and hope that hedged his emotions regarding Meghan.
The flight attendants begin the safety briefing. It’s a déjà vu moment that reminds him of a hundred flights he’s taken. He immediately shifts his thoughts before they start to come back to him. It shouldn’t be this hard, he thinks uneasily. This is part of the problem. Casted memories are indelible. They are sharp and clear, and if he begins to drift towards them, they can come flooding back without hesitation. No delays when the memory lives in circuitry embedded in the brain. The smallest thing can be a trigger, and it’s hardest to avoid it when he’s tired. It’s best to try to ignore everything, to adopt an air of vacancy in moments of boredom, because everything casted lives just below the surface, ready to come bursting forth in recall. Better to concentrate on something else, something from before, subjective remembrance the way it’s supposed to be: wavering and half-clouded with untruths. Those are safest, the best protection. Recall is an annoyance for market research casters, but hazardous for the counter-intelligence team. Some things shouldn’t be relived. Razor sharp memories cut both ways—going in and when they come out in recall.
As I got closer and closer to the end of Cuts Both Ways I realized I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped listening to the narration pretty close to the end. I knew something was going to happen and I KNEW I was not going to like it. So I switched over to the written version so I could skim. And skim I did! I skimmed until I got pass that point but then I was at the end.
And the ending kinda broke my heart a little. 🙁
Cuts Both Ways ended in a way that…made me hope for the best but feel like the worse happened. And it did not give me any emotional satisfaction.