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The Adventures of Alyx

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Alyx, assassin and thief — meet her in palaces and back alleys, on the frozen wastes of a distant planet

Since the time of the ancient Phoenicians, Alyx has courted danger like a lover, sweeping through centuries of intrigue, passion and plunder.

Venture with her to the wicked city of Ourdh, to rescue an innocent heiress whose fortune flames a murderous lust. Escape to adven
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 1983 by Timescape / Pocket (first published 1968)
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3.64  · 
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 ·  236 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Mar 15, 2016 marked it as i-want-money
171 Ratings · 18 Reviews
Still suppressed?
Samuel R. Delany dug it.
Nate D
Is this Joanna Russ' earliest work? Certainly the first stories of a women adventurer in classical times are among her most conventional adventure yarns, but they still have a nuance of character and gender identity that look ahead the the futuristic novel included here (and reviewed by me elsewhere in a stand-alone edition -- Picnic on Paradise) and at last to the closing meta-story set in the 20s and looking further ahead to her magnum opus, The Female Man. Quick but deft and well-conceived. A ...more
Cécile C.
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Not bad, but the essential credit I give this book is for the influence it had on Delany's Neveryon series, a true masterpiece we are lucky to have.

A couple of good points, otherwise: the ideas are not bad, it's always good to have some feminism around, since I sincerely don't believe we've had too much of that (just read Harry Potter or watch The X-Files to see what I mean...). I like the structure of the book as well: starting in a past clearly inspired by Fritz Leiber, and moving to the far
A peculiar book. Its influence on Delany's Tales of Neveryon (how I ended up reading it) is clear in the first couple of stories, in the ancient setting unconcerned with worldbuilding and interested only in vague outlines, coupled with a female protagonist with a feminist mythology and stone-cold badass fighting skills coupled with some precociously and acontextually clever ideas. But Alyx was sunk by two things for me.

The first I could have gotten over. It's that the stories are poorly written
Isabel (kittiwake)
She was a soft-spoken, dark-haired, small-boned woman, not even coming up to their shoulders, like a kind of dwarf or miniature—but that was normal enough for a Mediterranean Greek of nearly four millennia ago, before super-diets and hybridization from seventy colonized planets had turned all humanity (so she had been told) into Scandinavian giants. The young lieutenant, who was two meters and a third tall, or three heads more than herself, very handsome and ebony-skinned, said ‘I'm sorry, ma'am ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
This is a slightly odd book. It's composed of four loosely linked short stories and a novella (Picnic on Paradise) mostly with the same protagonist (the titular Alyx, although the last story, The Second Inquisition does away even with this). The first two stories are entirely set in the past with no SFnal element to them, and reminded me of some of the Conan stories that I've read. The third introduces a 'sorcerer' while the novella relocates Alyx to the far future as she's accidentally lifted f ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
These are early stories by Joanna Russ following her departure from writing traditional patriarchal fiction. They all feature the character of Alyx, a renaissance woman often toeing the line of the law, alternating between roles of thief, mercenary, adventurer-for-hire, etc. The first few lean toward the swashbuckling space pirate type of tale, with various Russ flourishes. She is beginning to challenge gender roles here, but has not gone totally radical yet (though at the time these were publis ...more
Nov 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Alyx, her personal history, and her adventures all stubbornly refuse to be pigeonholed. She is not the stereotype of a sword-and-sorcery hero and not that stereotype's inversion, and her history before and during the stories doesn't seem to make conventional sense.

Each story challenges the reader to figure out its rules, which may not apply to the next story in the series. Each one presents a subtly altered Alyx which may not mesh with the one before.
shrug city
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I get what it was doing, but it felt woefully second-wave. Disappointingly heterosexual, with very few non-white characters (aside from, well! in the future we are all brown, I guess!) and no space for female characters other than bratty, useless young girls for Alyx to be maternal to.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
No, I did not misspell my own name (although someone at work did yesterday...) - Joanna Russ called her character Alyx, and I have finally read the collection of four short stories + one novella about said adventurer.

The thing you have to know about Alyx is that although the name stays the same, and some aspects of the character remain the same, trying to establish an internal chronology for these stories is likely to bust your brain. It doesn't work, and it doesn't have to work. Maybe it's the
Richard Clay
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'First British Publication' claims the back cover of this Women's Press edition but that's not quite the case. The greater part of the volume is taken up by 'Picnic on Paradise', a short novel that had been put out minus the accompanying short stories by Wyndham's 'Star' imprint, some time in the 70s. I can see why WP might have wanted to airbrush the 'Star' edition out of history; its cover bore an image - Chris Achilleos, possibly - of the familiar teenette dressed in that kind of armour - pec ...more
Iany Kelly
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Is a book easy to read
Jason Vanhee
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange and wonderful collection. The first three stories could fit into fantasy pulp easily (and in fact there's a mention that the main character Alyx hooked up with Fafhrd at some point in the past.) But then there's a bizarre turn, as Alyx ends up stolen into the future and serving as an escort for idle tourists in a warzone that is sweet and powerful and bitter at the same time; and finally, a gentle coda showing what came of that, told by a girl in 1925. Overall, it was delightful.
Anna Anthropy
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
i encountered this book by way of faffhhd and the grey mouser, which is one of those sword and sorcery barbarian stories. this begins as one of those sword and sorcery barbarian stories. but while most of that genre is super sexist, women existing as nameless objects and prizes, alyx's adventures are an inversion of that: halfway through one story, the text casually mentions "her man," her husband, waiting for her at home. the next paragraph she leaves to go confront a wizard dude; when she retu ...more
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2010 bookcrossing review:

Well, hurah, I have finally gotten around to reading this book. I've just finished it, and to be honest, my initial thought is, what on earth was that all about? This is actually the second book by Joanna Russ I've read now, and I probably preferred The Female Man, which was just as strange and disjointed, but it felt as though it worked better. Here it just got a bit random and disconnected and I'm really not sure what the point of it all was.

It's a kind of sci-fi fanta
Jon Ciliberto
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am a huge huge fan of Fritz Leiber. His stylish, literate writing style, combined with a strong storyteller's charm, really appeal. I'd heard on several occasions over the years a character (Alyx, a woman thief and adventurer) who appeared by name in a couple of Leiber's "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" stories was actually another writer's. This imprimatur by Leiber motivated me to seeking out "The Adventures of Alyx". This is a fantastic piece of writing, an example of what genre writing can ach ...more
Edward Rathke
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty solid collection. While each story is fine by itself, what makes it great is the interplay between the stories.

The first few are essentially sword and sorcery stories, with Picnic on Paradise pulling the character into the distant future, and the final story taking place in the 1920s, where Alyx is a character only referenced by those in the story.

What's nice about Russ is that her prose is great and she writes dialogue maybe better than anyone. The way she has characters say so
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The cover of my paperback copy of The Adventures of Alyx features a woman, an odd, child-faced, red-headed magician, and a spaceship; the back has a short synopsis of a trashy space opera plot. Both covers lie. This is a collection of loosely-connected short stories in the grand tradition of mid-century sci fi, which leave you wondering "WTF was that all about?" The crucial difference, of course, is that Joanna Russ was a pioneering feminist writer, and her Alyx is a unique character in that gen ...more
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fab-14
This was a fun collection of stories, some fantasy, some science-fiction. Theoretically they share a protagonist, but the back-story isn't consistent. The last one was particularly intriguing in its ability to be read several different ways.
Sloth Slaughter
As eager as I was to read this book, outspoken feminist author with a female protagonist, I couldn't get over the weird 70s overly vague and twisted writing style. I'll try something else by her. Why all the girls gotta write so strangely? Ursula K. LeGuin does it too. Sigh.
Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20thcentury, fiction
4 short stories and a novella make up this uneven collection by an unjustly ignored feminist sci-fi author.
Scott Golden
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strong and varied collection of stories about the first feminist science fiction action heroine. Recommended.
Antje Schrupp
Naja, fand es nicht so dolle, schöne Idee, aber konfus erzählt. Ich hatte auch den Eindruck, dass die Übersetzung nicht so besonders gut ist.
May 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Eh. None of her other books have been as good as The Female Man and Extraordinary People. This was no exception. It took me months to read because I kept putting it down out of boredom.
Mar 01, 2011 marked it as to-read
Got it in the mail from amazon. I guess 'like new' means a dented cover and yellowed paper, but what do you want for five bucks.
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Karen and I named our domain,, after this book. Enough said.
Justin Howe
Aug 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable fantasy/science fiction featuring a female character in the Fritz Leiber tradition. Recommended.
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Peter Tillman
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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