Anne Rice. I read Interview with a Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and about three chapter of Queen of the Damned before getting bored, all, as I recall, while crashing at the house of someone who owned them and not much else other than The Godfather and a lot of early gay literature of the "angsty young man angsts" variety. (The book of The Godfather is not much like the movie. It opens with a scene in which a woman angsts over her hugely cavernous vagina, which is so immense that she can't even feel a normal-sized penis inside it. Luckily Sonny has an equally monstrous penis.) Honestly, the first two vampire books were entertaining popcorn reading. The vampire angst made a nice break from the sexual orientation angst and the Grand Canyon Vagina angst. (The Vampire Chronicles Collection, Volume 1)

Jessica Amanda Salmonson. I don’t seem to own them and haven’t read them in ages, but I recall enjoying her fantasy riff on the story of female samurai Tomoe Gozen, with added ghosts and demons, Tomoe Gozen and The Golden Naginata (Tomoe Gozen #2).

Sydney J. Van Scyoc. Author of a bunch of quirky, small-scale science fiction novels, of which by far the best of the ones I read was Darkchild. On a lost colony (so lost that the people living there think they’re native to it), people have evolved all sorts of adaptations to their harsh environment, from ritualized hibernation to complex new types of relationships. The ruling women have complicated and weird psychic powers, which enable them to protect their villages from the harsh environment. But these powers can only be activated by a ritual in which a teenage girl goes out alone and armed with nothing but a wooden spear, to kill the most ferocious beast she can find. If she had psychic potential to begin with, the adrenaline rush will trigger a mental and physical change in her, and she will take her mother’s place on the throne. Or maybe the beast will kill her before anything has a chance to happen. Or maybe she had no potential, and, shocked by her lack of change, will seek beast after beast until one finally takes her down. “Palace daughters” have an extremely high mortality rate.

You’d think that’s plenty of plot for one slim novel, but no! It’s really about a palace daughter who befriends a mysterious amnesiac boy whose secrets involve tons more complicated worldbuilding and plot. Intricate, fun, and strange. There are sequels which don’t live up to the lavish inventiveness of the first book, which stands on its own.

ETA: Van Scyoc was actually first published in the 60s. Thanks for the correction, [personal profile] tool_of_satan!

Nancy Springer. I read a whole bunch of her urban fantasy in the 80s and remember enjoying it, but it doesn’t seem to have stuck in my mind. There were a lot of fairy-tale references, and I am pretty sure there was one about an angsty fallen angel who becomes a rock star, which I ate up with a spoon when I was sixteen. Larque on the Wing, which I am pretty sure I would remember, sounds interesting.

Lisa Tuttle. Click on her tag for rec; I only ever read one of her solo books, but I liked it.

Connie Willis. If you’re only familiar with her novels and her more recent, fluffy short stories, I highly recommend her earlier collections of short stories, Impossible Things and Fire Watch. The title story of the latter is one of my very favorite short stories of all time. Writing at a short length eliminates most of what I sometimes find annoying about her work (bloat, padding, plots driven by endless miscommunication.) There are a few clunkers in each volume, but the overall quality is extremely high. Most of my favorites of her short stories are serious, but “In the Late Cretaceous,” in which professors and students are driven to madness by bureaucracy, lack of parking spaces, and academic in-fighting, made me laugh and laugh.

Authors I’ve never read, R-W: Marta Randall, Susan Shwartz, Pamela Sargent, Joan Vinge, Élisabeth Vonarburg, Cherry Wilder. If you’ve ever read anything by either of them, please discuss in comments.
I snagged Infinity's Web from a used bookshop, to read something by one of the woman writers from the 70s whom I’d missed. Despite a concept that I generally like a lot, it was not too impressive. I could feel myself forgetting it even as it read it.

Anastasia Valerie Stein exists in multiple realities: Ann, an unhappy housewife and mom in (more or less) our world; Val, a lesbian teacher in a polluted dystopia; Stacey, a hippie in a threesome; and Tasha, a sorceress in a world in which Hitker conquered England and then crowned his nephew emperor. I kept wondering what happened to the Jews and other hated people in the last version, especially since as Ann is Jewish, Tasha probably is too, but if it’s ever mentioned, I blinked and missed it. Some of the women start becoming aware of each other, and then a magical Indian, Chandra Krishna Lal, suddenly appears and ushers Ann into a higher level of consciousness. The end!

The pleasure of this sort of story, at least for me, is in comparing the ways the various realities and women are the same and different, and seeing how they got to be that way. It’s a story which needs strong characterization, and preferably good worldbuilding, but both are sketchy. Lisa Tuttle’s novel Lost Futures is a much better version of an extremely similar story. If you click on the link, ignore the awful cover – despite appearances, it isn’t a horror story.


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