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TALES OF EVE by MHAIRI SIMPSON (ed)

PB, 139 pages, Fox Spirit

http://www.foxspirit.co.uk/

Tales of Eve cover

Cover art by Daniele Serra

This is a slim collection of short stories that features some weighty names. The theme, as the blurb explains, focuses on the idea that genre fiction is full of stories of men creating (or trying to create) the perfect woman, and it’s time the balance was redressed. Here women take the centre stage as they use their creativity, or their powers, to build the perfect companion, in whatever form that takes…

It’s rare to find an anthology, even a slender one such as this, with no weak stories, but every story here is strong, entertaining, occasionally funny and sometimes deeply moving, and the combination of SF and fantasy works seamlessly together. Personal highlights were Andrew Reid’s “Kate and the Buchanan”, where a woman whose inventions change the world is forced to conceal her identity from a society that cannot accept or believe in creative women; “In Memoriam” by Rob Haines, in which a woman become surrogate mother to an AI which will eventually fly colonists to another star, and “Unravel” by Ren Warom, a beautiful, chilling story of an artificial woman’s desire and desperation to bring her dead lover back to life, and the ingenuity and self-sacrifice that goes into the revival. It’s a story you’ll be thinking about long after the book has closed.

Mhairi Simpson has done an excellent job editing these stories and making them flow together – not the easiest task with such a disparate collection which also includes high fantasy from Adrian Tchaikovsky, a touching tale of magic by Francesca Terminiello, and Juliet McKenna making her science fiction debut with an entertainingly twisty story about a scientist studying the nature of competitiveness.

Recommended not just for those interested in gender politics, but for anyone who likes stories, and authors, that think outside the box.

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