Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Well, Read Women

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I do. It's an old favourite of mine. Want a loan?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    A word here for Hilary Mantel and her inspired re-imaginings of the reign of Henry VIII (Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies). Oh how I wish the third book in the trilogy would appear. The BBC adaptation with Mark Rylance seems fantastic, what little I've seen of it.
    She's also a handy social commentator - this interview with Der Spiegel is well worth a read.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Rich Lock,

    I read and re-read ’Saga of the Exiles’ half-a-dozen times as a young teen.

    Julian May is great. I found SotE a bit melodramatic though, and only came back and re-read it after the related and SFfy Galactic Mileu series. That knocked my socks off.

    Also, if you haven't read them yet, the Rampant Worlds series is bloody awesome. Cap'n Helly is a DUDE.

    Also, I can't believe I haven't discussed Joan Vinge. Fantastic SFF writing. The Snow Queen and Cat serieses are fantastic. Great examinations of colonialism, corporatism and so on, with elements of cyberpunk, hard SF and fantasy, and some romance. And nice big meaty books that don't nerd out like Stephenson, are immensely readable, amazing world-building, and don't beat to death the political themes (at least not enough to bug me).

    Finally, while we're on the Joans, loved Joan Aiken. She, Rosemary Sutcliffe, DWJ and (ahem) Alan Garner and John Christopher were my adolescent go-tos.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Oh and Elizabeth Moon. Loved the Paksenarrion series – intelligent swords and sorcery that actually constructs an awesome post-medieval society that is NOT regurgitating the sexist tropes of GRRM et al. Fantasy writers that insist on their “historical accuracy” to excuse it get right up my nose. (Look, there's probably a place for fantasy that echoes all kinds of societal stupidity, but really, who needs more when there's plenty in fiction and in real life already.)

    Not to say that Moon hasn’t done fantastic research – the soldiering is incredibly true-to-life.

    Also, her SF series – military space opera featuring two great female lead characters. Eat your heart out, Janeway.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    A word here for Hilary Mantel and her inspired re-imaginings of the reign of Henry VIII...
    She's also a handy social commentator - this interview with Der Spiegel is well worth a read.

    I've only recently read Every Day is Mother's Day, which I believe is her first. On the strength of that I'm looking forward to the later stuff, though the subject matter seems worlds away. After a few pages of wondering if I'd embarked on a dreary piece of kitchen sink sloggery, Every Day is Mother's Day totally won me over. Mantel is sharp, funny, and as playfully merciless to her characters as George Orwell and Muriel Spark ever were.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    A few from closer to home.
    Ruth Park - The Harp in the South, Poor Man's Orange, Swords and Crowns and Rings, plus the two volumes of autobiography.
    Dymphna Cusack and Florence James - Come In Spinner.
    Barbara Baynton - Bush Studies. The bush gothic short story Squeaker's Mate is a favourite.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    A few from closer to home.

    Also close to home: just finished Jane Higgins ‘Havoc’ – sequel to ‘The Bridge’. Lots to like about both books. It was oddly fitting to find Higgins warmly thanked in the acknowledgements of ‘Roger, Ruth and Me’, which popped up on the reading list in between.
    (Thanks for the recommendations of Elena Ferrante – embarking on the first pages of ‘My Brilliant Friend’ and it’s wonderful :)).

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    ’ve only recently read Every Day is Mother’s Day, which I believe is her first. On the strength of that I’m looking forward to the later stuff, though the subject matter seems worlds away.

    The irony is that she had another historical novel -- A Place of Greater Safety, which I'd strongly recommend -- wasn't published until 1992 (after she had five other novels under her belt) because nobody was willing to take a punt on a very long novel about the French Revolution from an unknown.

    Totally agree with you Mantel just doesn't do kitchen sink sentimentality. If you'd like some insight into why, her memoir Giving Up The Ghost is well worth tracking down.

    Neither does Ferrante -- which may go a very long way to explaining why she's blown up despite the pretty dismal amounts of contemporary fiction that gets translated into English these days.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    otally agree with you Mantel just doesn't do kitchen sink sentimentality. If you'd like some insight into why, her memoir Giving Up The Ghost is well worth tracking down.

    Thanks for that Craig, my curiosity is now firmly focused.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Son of Dad, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Sadly 'The House that Beebo Built', 'Beebo and the Fizzimen' (my personal favourite), and 'Beebo and the Funny Machine' are long out of print and sell for hundreds of dollars. Even on TradeMe - where you usually find a guileless amateur seller if you wait long enough - the prices are consistently in line with those asked by professional booksellers.

    I've long thought the Beebo books were overdue for re-discovery and re-issue with their gentle lefty cleverness, whimsy, and healthy suspicion of consumerism and the free market.

    Since Aug 2014 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Harry Musgrave, in reply to TracyMac,

    woman writers doing hardish sci/fi similar to Alaistair Reynolds or Neal Asher

    There's Karen Traviss - whose wess'har series contrasts a powerful, matriachal alein species that take justice very seriously with a typical human corporate/military space expedition that includes a female British police superintendent who also takes justice very seriously....

    Kristine Smith - maybe you could call it future syber punk.


    In a fantasy vein I would also suggest Patricia McKillop, Robin McKinley and Rachel MacAvoy. Then there is Carrie Vaughn and C E Murphy for your more contemporary urban fantasy.

    Since Jul 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Harry Musgrave, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I’ve always kind of loved Catharine Asaro. They’re basically a combination of romance novel and the kind of hard scifi that spends five pages explaining how Klein bottles work.

    Eyah - she's great. She came to the NZ SF nat con a few years ago. She's an almost professional level dancer who became a physics professor, but want she really wanted to do was write... And thought - who says SF can't have romance?

    Since Jul 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Anyone read any Lydia Davis? Specialises in short stories which are often just a sentence or two. Quite delightful.

    Picked up 'Can't and Won't' earlier in the year on the recommendation of a woman writer friend (who, scanning my modern fiction bookshelves full of Barnes, Hornby, Gee, Amis, Lodge, teased me for having a homosexual library).

    Another recent find is Julia Schumacker, whose 'Dear Committee Members' - written from the perspective of grizzled male academic - is marvellously funny as well as one of those books where the laughter slowly dies and something more deep and telling takes a-hold.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • krothville, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    It was the 100th anniversary of the Moomin books last year. Japan went crazy too :)

    Since Sep 2014 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Tove Jannson and Astrid Lindgren were two reasons why Scandinavia was at the top of my OE destination list.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3199 posts Report Reply

  • martinb, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Margaret Mahy, Sheryl Jordan, Joan de Hamel, Elsie Locke, Gaelyn Gordon...

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson, in reply to TracyMac,

    +1 for Julian May and Elisabeth Moon (just got my hands on her short story collection in Pak's world)
    Also C S Friedman for the Coldfire Trilogy, and Caitlín R. Kiernan - the Drowning Girl really gets under your skin.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    As a teen reader, I had no idea that Andre Norton and Julian May were female. But I'd have to say I selected my reading material by judging books by their covers (and titles and blurbs), not their author's names. And as for Rob's "homosexual library" above, I generally pay little attention to the author apart from what ends up between the covers (of the book). With the exception of a few writers who include reasonably hefty author's notes at the end of their books, I don't tend to find out much about their personal lives. Mostly I like it that way...

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Have you read Tove Jansson's The Summer Book, Hilary? One of my favourites ever.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Tove Jansson's The Summer Book

    Notes from an Island revisits the same territory. Those who found The Summer Book too short won't be disappointed.

    Sun City from 1974 was a real surprise. Set in Miami, where Jansson had holidayed, her local characters are so intricate and believable you could be forghiven for thinking it was her home town.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Speaking of stories short - I don't think anyone's mentioned KM. Or Alice Munro, or Lorrie Moore. Closer to home I've really enjoyed Charlotte Grimshaw's short story collections even if she observes her characters with a baleful eye.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I’ve really enjoyed Charlotte Grimshaw’s short story collections

    Ditto - at best, she's sharply observant, mordantly amusing, AND humane.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Or Alice Munro

    True -- but it's kind of depressing anyone would have to. As far as I'm aware, she's the only person to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature who worked entirely in the short story form. And started building her formidable reputation when the conventional wisdom was that you could count on a clenched fist the number of people interested in reading Canadian "literary realism" -- let alone short fiction written by women.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I was well aware of Alice Munro when I lived in Victoria, British Columbia, for a couple of years, as there was a magnificent local bookstore (Munro's books) which was founded by Munro and her then-husband in 1963. Apparently she took up writing as she decided she could do a better job than many of the books that were available back then.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to TracyMac,

    Cheers Tracy, I'll check those out.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

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