Reviews of The Other Half of the Sky:
Challenging the predominance of male protagonists in sf, each of the 16 stories in this collection features strong, independent female characters and attempts a reconstruction of the genre itself. Freed from many of the male-oriented clichés, the selections present vividly depicted male and female, human and alien characters as fully fleshed individuals coping with a wide variety of issues. Contributors include Alexander Jablokov, Joan Slonczewski, Vandana Singh, Martha Wells, and Jack McDevitt. VERDICT: Fearless writing and a broad selection of topics makes this a good choice for fans of woman-centered sf and excellent storytelling.
“Far too often, it seems that there’s an attitude that women can’t or simply don’t write the sort of hard SF and space opera that’s traditionally been published. This book utterly crushes that assumption with its incredible range of stories and superior level of writing that’s consistent throughout the entire anthology. The Other Half of the Sky is an anthology that’s long overdue, and I hope that it’ll serve as a good example for future authors and readers in the genre.”
…we have a batch of stories here that don’t just feature women as protagonists, often characters of color and those with LGBT identities, but in which the societies within create wholly new ways of living: sociologically, technologically, ecologically. The social structures and worlds that these authors wrote are so unique and inventive that I kept forgetting that I was reading a book with a mission, that I was promised female protagonists, and thinking: Ah, yes. This is what science fiction should be.
Welcome to the future.
This book nicely fills the void left by the demise of Roby James’s late, lamented Warrior, Wisewoman anthologies. If anything, it’s better.
Look at this lineup of authors: Alexandr Jablokov, Ken Liu, Jack McDevitt, Cat Rambo, Melissa Scott, Joan Slonczewski, Martha Wells . . . and nine other names perhaps less familiar. In all there are 460 pages packed with a great selection of cutting-edge SF stories, most of which wouldn’t be out of place in the pages of Analog.
It’s hard to select standout stories; they’re all of such good quality.
“A very thought-provoking anthology that forces the reader to realise that female protagonists can be just as incredible and compelling as their male counterparts in the wider SFF fields, particularly space opera.”
The Other Half of the Sky is an anthology that gathers great female characters of all varieties, from all kinds of writers (and male authors as well as women). The table of contents reveals a fantastic line up of authors, and the stories really don’t disappoint. This is the strongest collection of short stories that I’ve read yet, and not just as feminist tales or science fiction focussing on women, but as stories full-stop. The range of ideas and different tones and styles is astonishing, some of it familiar but told engagingly, much that is new and original, some with the exciting feel of an adventure story, some powerful and moving, some enchanting, and some that I found very challenging. There really is something here for everyone.
The collection certainly offers the great traditional pleasure of science fiction – radically imaginative worlds differing from our own in spectacular ways, from the altmatter physics in ‘Sailing the Antarsa’ to the gradated sign language of ‘The Shape of Thought’ to the mind-bending web tying together geography, economics, familial groupings, human-alien relations and identity in ‘This Alakie and the Death of Dima’. All manner of strikingly original creatures, technologies and universes are rendered with thoughtful detail
But where you really see Andreadis’ mettle isn’t in the fierce introduction but in the even fiercer choice of collecting (or cajoling) short stories in open rebellion with the image-making machinery of Sci Fi. Some of these stories succeed better than others, but all of them have at their heart the radical notion that we’ll define our own roles and map our own trajectories among the stars.
-Sabrina Vourvoulias, Following the Lede
A very strong anthology with a excellent mission, and some really striking stories with top-notch authors… The Other Half of the Sky is, in the end, an entertaining and strongly written set of stories by authors both new and familiar, writing in universes new and old, with characters that resonate with all readers. It’s hard to ask for more in an anthology.
-Paul Weimer, SF Signal
The Other Half of the Sky, a new collection of women’s sf edited by Athena Andreadis, stands as a 443-page refutation of all Heffalump Hunters who have ever marched in self-referential circles while loudly lamenting the inexplicable failure of women to write “real” sf. However, I intend it to do double duty in this column…because I can’t think of another anthology out this year that so utterly refutes Paul Kincaid’s assertion that our genre has succumbed to intellectual inertia.
-Chris Moriarty, Fantasy & Science Fiction
Despite the efforts of numerous authors, publishers, and readers over the past several decades, SF remains a male-focused genre, with female authors too often overlooked by reviews and awards and female characters relegated to the status of support staff and victims. Rather than choosing between cursing the darkness and lighting a candle, Andreadis and Holt opt to do both, framing a collection of 16 woman-centric space opera stories with Andreadis’s understandably irritable introduction. The editors promise far more than they can deliver, with duds such as Jack McDevitt’s “Cathedral,” a clichéd paean to space exploration advocacy through fraud, but these are more than balanced by stories of genuine interest: Alexander Jablokov’s “Bad Day on Boscobel,” a tale of asteroidal intrigue; C.W. Johnson’s “Exit, Interrupted,” an account of cosmologically convoluted class warfare; and Martha Wells’s “Mimesis,” a first-contact story set against a voracious ecological backdrop. Space opera aficionados of all persuasions will enjoy these and the other stronger inclusions.