Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on January 17, 2018.
A Viking adventure with all the gore and blood that you could ask for. If only I could have been made to care for the characters…
Soldiers learning to maneuver robots in the war have to do as part of a hive mind. Pretty soon, real life cannot compare with the virtual one that they lead with the other members of the hive.
A retelling of the myth of Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman Consul. In the story, he is tortured by Carthaginians before his death. Everything in the story is actually setting up the reader for the way he dies.
An abused child grows up into a sociopath. You can guess what happens next!
It isn’t that bioengineered soldiers haven’t been done before. Here though the author makes it all about religion.
A black man joins the army in the eradication of Native Americans. The story remains localized and makes no claims about the big picture.
A coma patient becomes an avenging spirit with a special soft place in her heart for kids.
I have been wondering if I would like Gabaldon’s writing and I wonder no more. This story is based on a skirmish between the French and English soldiers on Canadian soil.
Nature and “people” come together in this story to save the land. I liked this one because plants featured in it.
POVs change as we see Carthage fall and a Roman general plays mind games with the Carthaginians he will be selling off to slavery.
Canine gladiators and sibling love made this story one of my faves!
An alien race tries to take over the planet and humans band together to stop that from happening. They also have help from the unlikeliest of sources.
Women have faced discrimination whenever they have dared to step into a profession. Flying planes during a war isn’t any different.
A mercenary is hired to rescue a princess who didn’t really need to be rescued. The princess was a pleasant surprise.
A utopian dream to unite the world while a war goes on outside. Didn’t take too long for it to unravel.
AIs rule the world. Humans don’t stand a chance against them yet they won’t give up fighting back or remembering how life used to be.
Sometimes, the enemy on the other side of the border is your friend. In this story, soldiers who trained together are forced to fight against each other when France daren’t go against Germany.
Soldiers have been manning an entry point into their empire for years now. No reinforcements have arrived for some time. The absence of enemies starts to make them think. Does the empire they have been defending even exist anymore?
A bully of an emperor keeps an architect alive just to torture him. The ending was a letdown.
A tale of Egg, the squire who isn’t a squire, and the knight he serves.
I’d say, you won’t be missing much if you didn’t read this anthology. But that’s just me…
Of all the books I remember reading when I was growing up, there are few that I remember as fondly as The Year's Best Science Fiction series edited by Gardner Dozios. For several summers, getting the annual volume (which is usually published in July) became an event, one that I especially appreciated if it was released before my family went on a vacation that involved many hours with me cramped in to the back seat of our car. Though I stopped buying the books around the time I left for college (little money) and sold the volumes I had (even less bookshelf space), my affection for the story-packed volumes never faded.
So when I saw a couple of the volumes on a shelf of my local library last weekend, I decided to check one of them out. Of the two I chose the twenty-sixth volume because it had in it a story ( Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "G-Men") about which I have seen references but had not been able to find until now. Reading the book has been an unadulteratedly positive experience, mixing the nostalgia I have for the series with the pleasure of discovering great stories for the first time. I've only read a third of the stories so far, but I've already enjoyed a few (particularly James Alan Gardner's "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story and James L. Cambias's "Balancing Accounts") which will long remain with me. Once I'm done with this one I plan on getting the other volumes that my library has, as they're perfect for the short bursts of reading time that I sometimes have when engaging with anything longer can be frustrating.
The first subdivision of the Dangerous Women anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois is a mix bag of both story quality and the interpretation of the phrase ‘dangerous women’. In seven stories across genres around the central theme of women who are dangerous, a reader is treated to see women in various ways only but is also forced to figure out if the women presented or alluded to are actually dangerous.
Of the seven stories featured in Dangerous Women 1 the three best at presenting both a very good story and dangerous women were Carrie Vaugh’s “Raisa Stepanova”, Megan Abbott’s “My Heart Is Either Broken”, and George R.R. Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen”. Just outside these three was Cecelia Holland’s “Nora’s Song” which had a very good story but was seen from the perspective of a little girl finding out how dangerous her mother is. These four stories were at the very beginning and the last three stories of the collection giving the anthology a strong start and finish.
However, the three stories in the middle suffered from a failure of either not being very good or not having a dangerous woman. Both Megan Lindholm’s “Neighbors” and Joe R. Lansdale’s “Wrestling Jesus” were very good stories, but the danger posed by the women either featured or more mentioned then seen was hard to detect. But the weakest story of the entire collection was Lawrence Block’s “I Know How to Pick’em” which went from having potential to falling flat by the end.
Overall Dangerous Women 1 is a mixed bag of very good stories with strong female characters, just very good stories with no danger attached to any female character, and just plain bad all around. The best that could be said is in the end the reader is the ultimate judge.
Individual Story Ratings
Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughn (4/5)
I Know How to Pick’em by Lawrence Block (1/5)
Neighbors by Megan Lindholm (2.5/5)
Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale (2/5)
My Heart Is Either Broken by Megan Abbott (4/5)
Nora’s Song by Cecelia Holland (3.5/5)
The Princess and the Queen by George R.R. Martin (4/5)
The Princess and the Queen by George R..R. Martin
The Targaryen civil war known as ‘The Dance of the Dragons’ was mythologized in Westeros by bards for almost two hundred years before the events of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. “The Princess and the Queen” offers the history of first great Targaryen civil war through the death of one of the titular characters, but unlike other Targaryen civil wars or rebellions that threatened the dynasty this one features dragons on both sides.
The titular characters were Rhaenyra Targaryen, eldest child of King Viserys I, and Viserys’ second wife Queen Alicent Hightower, mother of Viserys’ eldest son Aegon. These two dangerous women were rivals for one thing, the succession to the Iron Throne. Through oaths and proclamations Viserys had designated Rhaenyra as his heir but Alicent championed the right of her son Aegon to succeed as was Westerosi custom of sons over daughters. For years this feud was building up as Viserys grew older and everyone awaited his death with unease as it felt like a battle for the Iron Throne was sure to follow, a battle that would pit Targaryen dragons against one another.
Written as a history by an archmaester of the Citadel, Martin gives an account of ‘the Dance’ noting first the political intrigue by Queen Alicent and her father to crown her son as Aegon II, then the war of letters and ravens to gather support by the two claimants from all the great lords of the realm before inevitably blood was shed then gushed from almost every corner of the realm. Yet, while some of the narrative reads like a dry history some others describe the action of battles in such a way as to make your imagination view two or more dragons battling one another over sea and land, fighting to the death.
Although the military actions in “The Princess and the Queen” are dominated for the most part by men, it’s the decisions by Rhaenyra and to a lesser extent by Alicent throughout the conflict that make this civil war unlike any other in Westerosi history. Yet, the biggest result of this civil war wasn’t which line of succession won out but that at the end the Targaryen’s greatest claim to the Iron Throne was lost, the dragons. This factor alone has repercussions down to the time of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire in which dragons return to the world.
“The Princess and the Queen” is not like other ASOIAF related short stories, like Dunk & Egg, this is a vivid retelling of history of events that surprisingly do connect with George R.R. Martin’s main series as well as the novellas of Dunk & Egg. As a fan not only of ASOIAF material, but also an avid reader of history I really enjoyed this piece by Martin, even though it is actually much less than he originally wrote of the events of this time. But because of the heavy lean towards male characters in a collection focused on dangerous women, there is some downside.