Recommended Reading – Daughters of Earth

We don’t really do book reviews here at THL – our focus is more on film and television (with occasional side trips into video games and various kinds of print media, but I didn’t say it was a hard focus!), and our style is more criticsm than review.

But I read a book recently that was so very on-topic for the sorts of things we discuss here that I just had to review it.

Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, edited by Justine Larbalestier, is a perfect marriage of fantastic stories and excellent critical analysis. The anthology contains eleven significant science fiction short stories by women, arranged chronologically, each of which is followed by an essay exploring the story from a feminist perspective.

Some of the stories are more impressive than others – “The Fate of the Poseidonia,” written by Claire Winger Harris in 1927, was dated enough to put me off a little, while Pat Murphy’s “Rachel in Love” was so effective that I actually cried in public while reading it – but the chronological arrangement helps tie them together into a kind of continuous narrative of emerging feminist science fiction that is as compelling as any of the individual works.

Equally compelling are the essays, which are written in a way that should make them accessible to readers with no academic training in literature or feminist theory, and are end-noted vigorously enough to satisfy even those readers who have had, perhaps, too much of such training.

In short, it’s a really good anthology, and I earnestly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in feminist readings of science fiction, an interest in the history of women in science fiction, or simply an interest in good writing.


  1. says

    I’ve heard really good things, though I’ve not read any of Larbalestier’s novels myself yet. She’s on my list of authors to check out.

  2. Maartje says

    Sounds great! Thanks for the rec, I’m going to request the local library buy it, ’cause it’s sadly lacking in both feminist and sci-fi books. Plus I kinda already bought my book qouta for this month 😛

  3. says

    Good plan, Maartje. And I know what you mean about monthly book quotas – I’ve got a gigantic list of books I want to read, but I can only ever afford to pick up a few at a time. Alas!

  4. says

    Yeah, we should. I’d feel ever-so-slightly weird about having someone buy me a book because they read my blog posts and want to give me something… But not weird enough not to enjoy the book. 😉


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