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Extra (Ordinary) People

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  148 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Five elegant stories from Hugo & Nebula award-winning author Joanna Russ, in the form of a history lesson to a child of the future. A medieval abbess defends her community against Viking invasion; a young girl sails on a 19th-century clipper bound for America with a guardian who is not what 'he' seems; a time traveller disguises herself as a male god on an errand of me ...more
Unknown Binding, 160 pages
Published February 1st 1984 by St. Martins Press (NYC) (first published 1984)
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Oh Joanna.

Five narratives, loosely connected by brief snatches of conversation between a schoolkid and their tutor on history. Each story different - thematically, stylistically - each story offering different perceptions on humanity and difference and survival.

I'd read "Souls" before - I have it as an Ace double with Tiptree's "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" The Abbess Radegunde is a remarkable woman - highly educated, linguistically talented, devoted to God and her flock of nuns - and then o
Jan 23, 2012 Iain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very solid book by an author I'm increasingly appreciating, this is a collection of five short pieces (of varying length) linked by the sparsest of interstitials presenting them as part of a history lesson being given to a child of the future.

That sparseness is a feature of Russ' work, and it's something readers are likely to love or hate. Russ' writing is the very antithesis of the infodump: she has a tendency to simply drop the reader right in, engaging them with the thoughts and feelings o
I'd put this at three and a half stars, but the rating system doesn't allow for finer rating ...

This is a strange, at times intriguing, and at times amusing series of stories. Not easy to 'get into' I did however find it satisfying to persist and make myself think ... these are not for a quick light read.

The last story 'Everyday Depressions' was for me perhaps the lightest and easiest to access of the stories, delivered as a series of letters on the possible development of a gothic styled histo
John Kieffer
May 29, 2017 John Kieffer rated it liked it
A book of stories. The first one (a Hugo winning novella) is very good. The rest are not up to Ms Russ' usual standard.
Jun 04, 2017 Stephen rated it really liked it
Russ can be a tough read but by the end her stories are always worth the effort. Particularly liked 'What Did You Do During the Revolution, Grandma?"
Erik Graff
Sep 16, 2009 Erik Graff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Russ fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Joanna Russ, along with women like Pamela Sargeant, Ursula LeGuin and others, came into science fiction as I came into high school. Together, they profoundly influenced the genre, introducing sciences such as anthropology, sociology and psychology into a field which had been dominated by chemistry, physics and engineering. They also tended, as a whole, to better at characterization than their male counterparts, perhaps because it was necessary for them to be better than average to get published. ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Kit rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recentlyread
Joanna Russ is criminally under-read. I hope this collection comes back into print soon - seemingly OOP since 1985. Most of the stories are not quite mindblowing like The Female Man but "Souls" in particular is truly great, also "Everyday Depressions." A stone classic, super enjoyable and reminiscent of early Gene Wolfe.
Abi Inman
Jun 18, 2014 Abi Inman rated it it was ok
I liked the first story, "Souls," but it all went downhill from there. Kept feeling as though I was missing something. She doesn't take the time to make sure the reader knows what's actually HAPPENING in each story, and I always finished with only a vague idea of what had passed.
May 23, 2012 M. rated it liked it
Shelves: feminist, queer, scifi
"souls", the leading story, is brilliant and while i liked the Idea of the other pieces, we Just didn't connect. but i think there may be a lot of meta stuff going on that i didn't pick up on as only an occasional reader of scifi/fantasy.
Arthur Vincie
May 06, 2013 Arthur Vincie rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Joanna Russ is a favorite sci-fi author. Here she's pushing the boundaries of what sci-fi can do. She plays with gender, time, identity, morality... but without being loud or flashy, and keeping each of these related stories very personal, very tightly focused.
Nick Jackson
Feb 13, 2009 Nick Jackson rated it it was amazing
This is a superb collection of stories, beautifully written. It's funny and sharp. A real discovery.
Nov 09, 2012 scarlettraces rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loaners, fiction
i'd forgotten how extraordinary Russ is, and how exquisite her control of register. the final story, "Everyday Depressions", made me as happy as anything has in a while.
The first story in this collection, Souls, was by far the best. Read the full review here => http://speculativebookreview.blogspot...
Aaron Kent
May 09, 2014 Aaron Kent rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
There are a couple of pages in this book that are exquisite and reminded me why I love science fiction so much. Well worth the read.
Feb 19, 2016 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Stylistically beautiful and always interesting, these stories each featured a gender-bending theme and an unclear plot. Great fun, especially if you enjoy speculation.
Feb 02, 2014 Mira rated it liked it
Thanks Helen! Enjoyed this enormously.
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Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011) was an American writer, academic and feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism such as How to Suppress Women's Writing, as well as a contemporary novel, On Strike Against God, and one children's book, Kittatinny. She is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction ...more
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“I have had my share of trouble and sickness but always somewhere in me there is a little spot of warmth and joy to make it all easier, like a traveler's fire burning out in the wilderness on a cold night.” 1 likes
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