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Dangerous Women
Edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765332066
Date: 03 December 2013 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: G.R.R. Martin's Website / G. Dozois' Wikipedia Entry / Show Official Info /

The latest cross-genre collection by Dozois and Martin once again brings together 21 of the top names in writing. This time the titular theme revolves around the many types of dangerous women. Some are deadly and others hurt people in different ways. Several of the stories fit into previously established worlds. One thing that remains the same, high quality stories.

Gardner handles the introduction by discussing women through the ages. Not all women played the role that we, in the current age, believe they followed. Not all women were caretakers and family makers. Some chose paths that were decidedly different. They fought, they schemed, and they protected as they danced to their own beat. The women in these stories are not always the role model you want, but they are depictions of the many roles that women take.

"Some Desparado" by Joe Abercrombie is the tale of a woman being chased and cornered. The setting seems almost like a tale of the Old West. Be careful when you corner a wild animal or a woman.

"My Heart is Either Broken" by Megan Abbott tells of a family torn by a missing child. At first sympathetic, the people turn against a woman in her grief wondering if the child was abducted or murdered by the mother. Lorie is not the most sympathetic character and this feeds into the public perception.

"Nora's Song" by Cecilia Holland tells of the young daughter of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine trying to understand her family and role in the world. She comes to realize that dreams and promises can be broken through no fault of your own.

"The Hands That Are Not There" by Melinda Snodgrass tells a tale with a tale in a bar. Second Lieutenant Tracy Belmanor is down in the dumps because he comes from the wrong family. His birth is holding him back. But as he sits and drinks in the bar, he comes to find out that maybe his world isn't so bad after all.

"Bombshells" by Jim Butcher is set in the Harry Dresden universe after the death of Harry. Molly was Harry's protégé. Now she must make it on her own. She is asked to save Thomas who is being held by the Svartalf. No case is ever that simple since the Formor began their moves. Molly learns she has to do more than asked.

"Raisa Stepanova" by Carrie Vaughn tells the tale of a Soviet female fighter pilot during WWII. She wants nothing more than to become an Ace. But when her brother is declared MIA, she has to worry about surviving another deadly foe.

"Wrestling Jesus" by Joe R. Lansdale tells the story of a boy whose life is on a downward spiral until he is saved by an old man. The man is a former underground wrestler who is locked in a lifelong struggle to regain the woman he lost many years ago. The woman consumes his thoughts.

"Neighbors" by Megan Lindsholm discusses the end of life before and after the fall. A woman who is struggling to care for her home and self, sees the disappearance of an old neighbor and glimpses of the future. She does things that seem crazy, but are truly blessings.

"I Know How to Pick 'Em" by Lawrence Block starts in a roadside bar and ends in a murder. A woman finds a drifter in the bar and seduces him, hoping he will help her with her troubled marriage. Things are never how they seem.

"Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell" by Brandon Sanderson is the story of an inn protected from the ghosts that haunt the forest and the lengths to which its owner must go to maintain it.

"A Queen In Exile" by Sharon Kay Penman tells of a Sicilian princess married to a German King. Her life's course changes when her brother and his son die leaving her the legal Heir to the throne of another Kingdom. Her husband moves to claim the inheritance, but the Sicilians don't want a foreign king.

"The Girl in the Mirror" by Lev Grossman tells the story of the price of a prank. At Brakebills School of Wizardry, the League plans to get even with a boy who played a joke on them. The path to revenge puts them at risk.

"Second Arabesque, Very Slowly" by Nancy Kress tells of a post-apocalyptic world where clan survival is the most important thing. A plague that hit fertility leads to the downfall of civilization. After the fall roving clans try to survive and prosper. An artifact of the past poses a real problem for one old woman.

"City Lazarus" by Diana Rowland tells of New Orleans after the Mississippi river has gone away. A murder investigation and a beautiful woman drive the action to the brink.

"Virgins" by Diana Gabaldon tells of Ian Murray and Jamie Fraser in France. They are hired to escort a woman to her wedding. Bandits kidnap the woman, and the two go in pursuit. They learn that there are more plots involved.

"Hell Hath No Fury" by Sherilynn Kenyon tells of the curse that spans the decades. When the Creek were forced to move, one woman cursed the town that allowed it to happen. The promise of Gold will cause many a man and woman to lose sight of what is important. Blood is life, but it can also be the source of life and protection.

"Pronouncing Doom" by S.M. Stirling tells of the development of Clan Mackenzie laws in the Emberverse. Juniper is called upon to pass sentence on a rapist in the year after the fire died.

"Name the Beast" by Sam Sykes tells of how people perceive those they fight. There are a couple of perspectives each with no clear understanding of who they hate.

"Caretrakers" by Pat Cadigan tells of a family and how putting a loved one into long term care can be draining. When one sister volunteers to keep an eye on things, the truth comes to light. But maybe the truth should have stayed hidden.

"Lies My Mother Told Me" by Caroline Spector is set in the Wild Card world. The Amazing Bubbles and Hoodoo Mama are set up and attacked by a mysterious organization that wants their powers to support the group's agenda. The secret group learns what happens when you threaten family.

"The Princess and the Queen" by George R.R. Martin is a historical tale from Westeroes. It tells of the succession war fought between the Targaryens named the Dance of Dragons. When two factions develop upon the death of the King, a war is inevitable. Dragons raise the human toll. Although Viserys I wanted Rhaenyra, the daughter from his first marriage, to follow him, Alicent his second wife wanted her son Aegon to be king. There are several dangerous women in the tale that develops.

There is a large amount of short fiction published every year in magazines, anthologies, and on websites. Some of the publications are thematic, others are more ad hoc. Dangerous Women is a collection that follows the title theme. This provides readers with some indication of what to expect. The genius of this collection is that it is not specific to a single genre and allows writers from across the spectrum to contribute and to expose readers to some authors they might not normally encounter in their typical reading sources.

This collection is worth buying and reading. The stories are all well written and entertaining. The theme of dangerous women had a great range. There are many definitions of dangerous, and readers will see many of them here. Some are traditional others not so much.

Lawrence Block once again proves he is able to twist a theme to its limits. His story is good, don't doubt that. It is entertaining to see his take on a given theme, which will be not what you expect.

My favorite story was the Caroline Spector Wild Cards piece, mostly because I enjoy the main character Bubbles. It is another nod to the fans of Martin, who started the Wild Cards shared world.

Readers that have enjoyed the collections edited by Dozois and Martin will find another worthy entry into the series. Fans of individual series that have shorts set in the world will also find something worth reading. These ancillary tales are also a good introduction to the worlds and characters that allows readers to dip a toe into a world without committing to a novel.

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