Books

Short works

Books : reviews

Esther M. Friesner.
Druid's Blood.
Headline. 1988

[alternate history, Victorian England]

Esther M. Friesner.
The Sherwood Game.
Baen. 1995

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 24 November 1998

Carl has invented and been playing a new VR game, with self-aware AIs. Unfortunately, Laurie discovers his secret, which he's been building on company time, and Manifest Inc just don't do games. And the Robin Hood AI is getting a bit too clever for its own good. Now Carl is in real trouble.

I thought this was going to be a fairly straightforward "characters get caught up in an RPG" sort of tale (especially given the real-world names of some of the characters -- the boss of Manifest Inc is called Regis Lyons, for ghu's sake). But I was pleasantly surprised: it manages lots of unexpected and fascinating plot twists, a breathtaking pace, and some questioning of responsibilities towards, and relationships with, ones own AI creations. Good fun, although I found some of the answers to the philosophical questions as embodied in the ending just a little bit unsatisfactory.

Esther M. Friesner.
Child of the Eagle.
1996

[alternate history, ancient Rome]

Esther M. Friesner.
Wishing Season.
Baen. 1996

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 11 July 1998

Khalid the genie is overconfident on his first mission; he forgets the however clause, which forbids the use of one of the Three Wishes for yet more wishes. So he ends up stuck with his master Haroun until Haroun can somehow be persuaded to grant his freedom.

If a genie should ever offer me three wishes, my second will be to know all human languages present and past. I'm trying to decide whether or not to ask for the languages of other time-branches, as well. Could be too confusing.

-- Anton Sherwood, rec.arts.sf.written
[SF readers have such different problems from mundanes!]

Lighthearted and amusing, with a Scheherazadian setting, this tale does have enough substance to stop it dissolving in pure froth, and makes an enjoyable read. I often complain about plots where the goal is accomplished too easily, with no setbacks, so here it is good to see a plot where, at each turn, just when it looks as if things will get sorted out, some larger and more difficult complication arises yet again.

This is an expanded edition of a much shorter 'young adult' novel. I suspect that is why it reads as two almost separate stories: that of Khalid and Haroun, and that of their next generation. But in both cases we get a good tongue-in-cheek tale of genies, afrits and demons, attempting to deceive and being deceived by humans.

Esther M. Friesner, ed.
Chicks in Chainmail.
Baen. 1995

rating : 3.5 : worth reading

Contents

Roger Zelazny. Lady of Steel. 1995
Elizabeth Moon. And Ladies of the Club. 1995
Susan M. Shwartz. Exchange Program. 1995
Harry Turtledove. Goddess for a Day. 1995
Holly Lisle. Armor-Ella. 1995
Margaret Ball. Career Day. 1995
David Vierling. Armor/Amore. 1995
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. The Stone of War and the Nightingale's Egg. 1995
Jody Lynn Nye. The Growling. 1995
eluki bes shahar. The New Britomart. 1995
Mark Bourne. On the Road of Silver. 1995
Janni Lee Simner. Bra Melting. 1995
Laura Frankos. The Old Grind. 1995
The Way to a Man's Heart. 1995
Nancy Springer. Whoops!. 1995
Lawrence Watt-Evans. The Guardswoman. 1995
Josepha Sherman. Teacher's Pet. 1995
Jan Stirling. Were-Wench. 1995
Elisabeth Waters. Blood Calls to Blood. 1995
George Alec Effinger. Maureen Birnbaum in the MUD. 1995

Esther M. Friesner, ed.
Did You Say Chicks?!.
Baen. 1998

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 8 June 1998

Another amusing collection of stories about the funnier side of being a woman warrior. Some of the characters from the first anthology turn up again, and we also meet some new ones. A few stand as stories in their own right -- for example, "No Pain, No Gain" for the revenge scene, "Like No Business I Know" for a wicked take on TV-Fantasy, "A Night with the Girls" for another Starhawk story, and "Tales from the Slushpile" for its portrayal of an SF Con panel. Some of the rest are slighter, but still provide some good laughs, or wry smiles.

Contents

Elizabeth Moon. No Pain, No Gain. 1998
Gilfort the Great's training programme seems to be a marvelous way of getting the ladies of the Court fit, but some shepherdesses and dancers would disagree. The Ladies Aid and Armor Society exacts an appropriate revenge.
Laura Frankos. Slue-Foot Sue and the Witch in the Woods. 1998
A Texan bride meets Baba Yaga.
Sarah Zettel. A Young Swordswoman's Garden Primer. 1998
To reclaim her stolen heritage, Allys seeks out some armour inhabited by the ghost of an ancestor, only to discover that ancestor had been a gardener!
Jody Lynn Nye. The Old Fire. 1998
Twenty years on, Mev re-encounters the dragon Litfusia.
Mark Bourne. Like No Business I Know. 1998
The inhabitants of the land of Faerie are great fans of the show Xora: Avenger Priestess, and invite the star, Laura Lundy, to make a special episode for them
Marina Frants, Keith R. A. DeCandido. A Bone to Pick. 1998
Vassilisa asks Baba Yaga to defend her village from the Tatars.
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. The Attack of the Avenging Virgins. 1998
An invading army lays waste a city, and then moves off into the jungle to sack the temple of virgins and capture the Sacred Assets.
Christina Briley, Walter Vance Awsten. Oh, Sweet Goodnight!. 1998
Fern is depressed because all the men she finds seem to want a dominatrix.
Doranna Durgin. A Bitch in Time. 1998
Shiba the hound can smell magic. All she has to do is convince her new Line Mate of this.
Laura Anne Gilman. Don't You Want to Be Beautiful?. 1998
The cosmetics take it personally...
Barbara Hambly. A Night with the Girls. 1998
Starhawk must defeat a wight before it destroys both her friends in the besieging army, and the besieged town that raised the wight in the first place.
Steven Piziks. A Quiet Knight's Reading. 1998
Not all dragons hoard golden treasure...
Jan Stirling, S. M. Stirling. Armor Propre. 1998
Feric enchants Terion's armour, to protect her in battle. But the spell goes too far.
A Big Hand for the Little Lady. 1998
A different explanation of the Beowulf versus Grendel legend.
K. D. Wentworth. Blade Runner. 1998
The Queen is desperate to kill the King's passion for appalling cookery.
Lawrence Watt-Evans. Keeping Up Appearances. 1998
Mariabelle's partner has been turned into a hamster, so she has to brave the Wizard's den to get him restored.
Harry Turtledove. La Difference. 1998
Io and the Earth's moon have a vital difference.
Margaret Ball. Tales from the Slushpile. 1998
Riva Konneva is having a difficult time selling the account of her warrior life to an editor who thinks women could not do that sort of thing. A meeting at an SF con changes things.
Adam-Troy Castro. Yes, We Did Say Chicks!. 1998
hmmm

Esther M. Friesner, ed.
Chicks 'n Chained Males.
Baen. 1999

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 14 June 1999

Another amusing collection of stories about the funnier side of being a woman warrior, this time with the theme of the warriors suitably rescuing their men. Not quite as good as the previous collections: there were no stories that really stood on their own merits. Just some fun mind candy to while away a slow afternoon.

Contents

Harry Turtledove. Myth Manners' Guide to Greek Missology #1. 1999
A rather different version of the Andromeda and Perseus legend.
Steven Piziks. Chain, Link, Fence. 1999
Kordel has stolen a god's statue, but it doesn't seem to be worth as much as she had hoped.
Elizabeth Moon. Fool's Gold. 1999
Mirabel Stonefist is persuaded to rescue Cavernous Dire from a dragon, not realising that Cavernous Dire is the dragon
Lawrence Watt-Evans. In for a Pound. 1999
Running for mayor might be a bit tricky, if you are a werewolf.
Marina Frants. Death Becomes Him. 1999
Baba Yaga's new assistant gets to help Aleksei take off his armour.
Susan M. Shwartz. Straight Arrow. 1999
Lt Kyria Mavricos' F-15 is shot down -- by Amazons?
Rosemary Edghill. Bad Heir Day. 1999
Who really pulled the sword out of the stone to become King
Susan Caspar. Why Do You Think They Call it Middle Earth?. 1999
A tough corporate trader, nicknamed Dragonslayer by her rivals, falls through a gap in the ground, into a world where her nickname is misunderstood.
Laura Frankos. Leg Irons, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe. 1999
Cammek has to make Princess Louizza a star in his new play, or else her father the king will have his head. Advice comes from a very strange direction.
Josepha Sherman. Shiftless. 1999
Shifter Jazi's husband Kerrik went to investigate a wizard, but the wizard knew he was coming, and he hasn't returned. Now Jazi has to go to find him, but the wizard knows she's coming.
Brian D. Akers. May/December at the Mall. 1999
Time travellers meet in the Mall, and do some serious shopping.
Jan Stirling. Yo, Baby!. 1999
The old woman and the baby are on the run, and need help.
Jody Lynn Nye. Don't Break the Chain!. 1999
Chain letters could be a problem, when breaking them really might release a curse.
Cross CHILDREN Walk. 1999
Zoli the river crossing guard is bored, until the mayor starts ignoring a nasty problem with the river.
Kate Daniel. ... But Comedy is Hard. 1999
Hippolyte thinks Nicomacus is a comic genius, but not everyone agrees with her.
Kevin Andrew Murphy. Baubles, Bangles and Beads. 1999
A storyteller and a warrior have to stop the curse of the blue beads.
K. D. Wentworth. Hallah Iron-Thighs and the Five Unseemly Sorrows. 1999
Three of Princess Merrydot's suitors have been captured by the dragon, and Hallah and Gerta must rescue them before they will be paid their fee.
Sarah Zettel. Miss Underwood and the Mermaid. 1999
The strangely upright Miss Underwood wants her fiance back from the Mermaid, so hires Captain Latimer to help her get him back.

Esther M. Friesner, ed.
The Chick is in the Mail.
Baen. 2000

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 19 November 2000

The fourth collection of stories about the funnier side of being a woman warrior. Again, I felt that no stories really stood on their own merits. However, ones that follow on from previous collections get added depth from that. So, yet more amusing mind candy.

Contents

Kent Patterson. To His Iron-Clad Mistress. 2000
A short poem about the discomforts of chain mail
Elizabeth Moon. Sweet Charity. 2000
When Krystal invites a group of admirers to The Ladies Aid and Armor Society has its annual charity ball, so that they can vote her Queen of the Ball, she doesn't realise they are pirates. But they don't realise all those soft-looking women are the City Guard...
Harry Turtledove. The Catcher in the Rhine. 2000
A whiny teenager gets tricked into meeting Brunhilde. (Never having read Catcher in the Rye, I must have missed several jokes. Having read this, presumably a pastiche, I feel fortunate for my lack.)
Charles Sheffield. With the Knight Male. 2000
Burmeister and Carver, Attorneys, act for Helga Svensen, better known as the Warrior Queen, in a jousting competition on Vesta. Their ability to read the fine print comes in handy.
Steven Piziks. Patterns in the Chain. 2000
Jeweline comes to Mother Berchte for a mail shirt to help her rescue her sisters, and learns a valuable lesson.
Nancy Kress. Arms and the Woman. 2000
Loremaster Gwillam seizes the scholastic opportunity of a lifetime when hopeless Tyro Knight Marigold is haunted by her famous aunt.
Margaret Ball. Fun with Hieroglyphics. 2000
Retired swordswoman Riva Koneva has writer's block, and is offered a job as a tech writer. Then her daughter finds an exciting way to enliven her school project about ancient Egypt.
Troll by Jury. 2000
Zoli goes to Ethelberthina's Maiden Morn ceremony down by the river, which her mother is trying to subvert to her own ends.
William Sanders. Looking for Rhonda Honda. 2000
Johnny Noir is asked to find Rhonda Honda, and discovers she's joined the motorbiking Roadgrrls. But why are the secret agents so desperate to get her back?
Robin Wayne Bailey. The Case of Prince Charming. 2000
Snow White is hired to rescue Prince Charming from the Wicked Witch. But everything is not as it seems. (Lots of wonderful sly references to other fairy tales, too.)
Karen Everson. Incognito, Ergo Sum. 2000
Irene and Andromeda care for the animals in the royal menagerie, but can do little for the fighting animals controlled by the cruel Tulius. Then he declares his new captive, a unique beautiful creature, is to be killed in mortal combat.
Leslie What, Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Chain of Command. 2000
Teenage daughters are just impossible, even if you are Wolf Woman.
Eric Flint. The Thief and the Roller Derby Queen. 2000
Trying to steal brimstone from Hell isn't that easy.
Doranna Durgin. The Right Bitch. 2000
Magic-hounds Sabre and Shiba have to prevent a dangerous new incursion of magic.
Pierce Askegren. Foxy Boxer Gal Fights Giant Monster King!. 2000
A depressed Jenna Ferguson has just lost her Lady Prizefighter Amazon Class World Championship title in Tokyo. Then Reptilla reappears.
K. D. Wentworth. Hallah Iron-Thighs and the Change of Life. 2000
Hallah and Gerta are guarding a hymnal-seller. But why is Hallah's armour getting so tight?

Esther M. Friesner, ed.
Turn the Other Chick.
Baen. 2004

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 31 May 2006

Further stories about women warriors, some amusing, some that think they are amusing. Mostly good mind candy. "Rituals for a New God" is possibly the best -- it's an intruiging idea that I'd like to see more of.

Contents

John G. Henry. Mightier than the Sword. 2004
The perils of following your Muse.
Laura Frankos. A Late Symmer Night's Battle. 2004
Mustardseed and her fellow fairies must battle an incursion of kobolds, and of reremice.
Michael D. Turner. Psyched Up. 2004
A web-warrior is mistaken for a real Champion, and must use her knowledge to out-psyche her opponent.
Jan Stirling. Branded. 2004
When Captain Avia flees the battle in terror, her Lieutenant needs to discover what really happened, before she is branded a coward.
Cassandra Claire. The Girl's Guide to Defeating the Dark Lord. 2004
A Princess is kidnapped by Dark Lord Vexor, and discovers that things are not what they seemed, especially after she escapes.
Yvonne Coats. She Stuffs to Conquer. 2004
Gloria discovers the cost of wearing her mothers armour.
Catherine H. Shaffer. The Gypsy Queen. 2004
Transgendered swordswoman Lorayne and her sidekick Coedric must rescue Lorayne's sister from a coerced marriage.
Jim C. Hines. Over the Hill. 2004
Just because they are old, doesn't mean they can't teach the younger warriors a thing or two about fighting bandits.
D. S. Moen. A Sword Called Rhonda. 2004
After the Change brings magic to the earth, artist Karma needs to free val-girl Rhonda from the sword she's trapped in.
Giants in the Earth. 2004
King David's concubine battles a second Goliath.
Wen Spencer. Rituals for a New God. 2004
Madeline answers her first prayer since becoming a god, to cure a man's sick wife.
Selina Rosen. I Look Good. 2004
Chain mail bikinis don't age gracefully.
Lee Martindale. Combat Shopping. 2004
Trying to buy a new set of armour proves ... trying
J. Ardian Lee. Battle Ready. 2004
How does the new issue battle bra protect her?
Lesley McBain. A Woman's Armour. 2004
Three sisters have to rescue their captured brother, using their diverse skills.
K. D. Wentworth. Hallah Iron-Thighs and the Hall of the Puppet King. 2004
Hallah Iron-Thighs gets strange a escort duty.
Robin Wayne Bailey. Princess Injera versus the Spanakopita of Doom. 2004
A pirate princess meets up with a wicked chef.
Laura J. Underwood. Brunhilde's Bra. 2004
Gerda buys Brunhilde's Bra, and finds herself in a tight place.
Steven Piziks. Smoke and Mirrors. 2004
Dagmar needs to trick an evil sorcerer into freeing her brother's trapped familiar.
Eric Flint. The Truth about the Gotterdammerung. 2004
How the Twilight of the Gods really played out, and why we now know a rather different version.
Jody Lynn Nye. Defender of the Small. 2004
Dawna is on her way home from the wars when a local cat seems to hire her protection from the townsfolk.
Harry Turtledove. Of Mice and Chicks. 2004
Warriors riding giant rabbits

Esther M. Friesner.
Here Be Demons.
Orbit. 1988

Esther M. Friesner.
New York by Knight.
Headline. 1986

Esther M. Friesner.
Elf Defence.
Headline. 1988