NOVEL APPROACH: On ‘Dangerous Women’

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First Posted: 1/20/2014

There are plenty of authors who know what it means to write strong female characters: among them, a list of women and men from J.K. Rowling and Joss Whedon to Suzanne Collins and George R. R. Martin. In “Dangerous Women,” a gripping anthology co-edited by Martin and Gardner Dozois, readers are given original fiction from Martin, in addition to Jim Butcher, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Lev Grossman, to name a few, that all capture the strength and vivacity of women.

Martin is best known for his compelling and widely popular series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which has since been adapted into the television series “Games of Thrones.” Dozois, who has served as the founder and editor of “The Year’s Best Science Fiction,” is most notable for his science fiction series “Isaac Asimov,” as well as his induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011.

While there are many interesting aspects about the anthology, there are three in particular that stand out. First, readers are seeing each of these stories as original. Second, with regard to diversity, the work is as varied as they come; inside exists 21 stories with a wide array of authors from nearly every genre — mystery, history, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and, last but definitely not least, paranormal romance. Finally, the entire compilation focuses on women — good women, bad women, and women somewhere in between. We meet warriors and rebels, superheroes and jealous queens, powerful wizards and serial killers — all of them women and all powerfully written.

At nearly 800 pages, the collection is certainly not your typical weekend read. However, even considering the dense nature of the work, the stories are spellbinding. As Dozois notes, “[h]ere you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands.”

Top pieces include: Jim Butcher’s “Bombshells,” Lev Grossman’s “The Girl in the Mirror,” Diana Gabaldon’s “Virgins,” and Caroline Spector’s “Lies My Mother Told Me.” The work concludes with Martin’s short story “The Princess and the Queen.”

In an interview, television personality George Stroumboulopoulos said to Martin, “There’s one thing that’s interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well and really different. Where does that come from?” Martin simply replied, “You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.” In an instant, the topic changed, and with good reason — “Dangerous Women” demonstrates that while the physiology between females and males may differ, it has yet to designate our strength or spirit.