Anyone familiar with Liz Bourke's work knows she isn't shy about sharing her opinion. In columns and reviews for science fiction and fantasy website Tor.com and elsewhere, she's taken a critical eye to fantasy and SF, from books to movies, television to videogames, old to new. This volume presents a selection of the best of her articles. Bourke's subjects range from the nature of epic fantasy -- is it a naturally conservative sort of literature? -- to the effect of Mass Effect's decision to allow players to play as a female hero, and from discussions of little-known writers to some of the most popular works in the field. A provocative, immensely readable collection of essays about the science fiction and fantasy field, from the perspective of a feminist and a historian, Sleeping With Monsters is an entertaining addition to any reader's shelves.
Liz Bourke is the author of Sleeping With Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Aqueduct Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the 2018 Hugo Award (category: Best Related Work).
Liz has been writing about science fiction and fantasy for several years, and reading it for far longer. Her reviews and commentary have appeared at Tor.com and Strange Horizons, and in Locus, Vector, Publishers Weekly, and The Cascadia Subduction Zone. She holds a Ph.D. in Classics from Trinity College, Dublin.
Most of the pieces collected here are book reviews, previously posted on Strange Horizons, Tor.com, etc; and all of the books reviewed are by women, which makes an important point. This is all good material and certainly points me to a few authors who I should try out.
Liz Bourke's opinions and takes on well-known and lesser-known science fiction and fantasy books.
I found that I really enjoyed the reviews of books that I had already read but seldom got drawn into that "I must have it!" mode from the reviews of books I have not read.
I did end up adding two books to my TBR list: "Archivist Wasp" by Nicole Kornher-Stace and "The Sleeping God" by Violette Malan. I was impressed that there were so many authors and books here that I wasn't previously familiar with - this definitely isn't just a march down the bestseller lists which I appreciate.
Is it too self-referential to review a book of reviews? The essays were always thoughtful and interesting, although the book's preference for clustering multiple reviews from the same author left me worried when the first couple sets didn't really hit my interest. But the majority of the topics hit more solidly and it's always great to see a deliberately feminist take on popular culture.
I lied. I haven't read every page of this book. I can't help myself - I'm in love with it, and so I'm doing this jitterbug dance all up and down its chapters, diving in here, reading carefully there, skimming the other place.
And now what I really want to do is take the author IN for a drink. Take her into my library that is, and slam down books saying, have you also read this? Well, what about that?
I think it's because she's a she, and a feminist. That matters when it comes to SF. Also, she's intelligent but doesn't get too academic or literary-dense in her critiques. Which I can't explain properly, but you know it when you see it. And she's read some books nobody else I know has ever read, such as RM Meluch's Queen's Squadron, and has useful opinions on them.
So now I'm going out of my mind. Both because there are apparently a lot of books I have to read or reread at this very moment. And there are more books I need Bourke's take on and I don't even know if she's read them yet.
Warning: this collection of reviews will cost you more money because you'll buy things. Which is delightful.
Did not think I would particularly like a bookful of feminist sci fi reviews of only women writers, but I was wrong. Engaging and fascinating, it left me with a list of at least a half dozen novels I'd like to read.
Aqueduct Press has released a collection of reviews and essays by Liz Bourke. This fascinating collection, Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy, is must reading for anyone interested how intersectional feminist analysis of media products should be done. Bourke’s readings of science fiction and fantasy novels, and her essays on such things as how literary canons are created, are both fun to read - Bourke has an engaging, easy style - and important to understanding where the genre, which I love dearly, has been and where it needs to go.
I have a certain fondness for reading collections of book reviews. Even reviews about books I haven’t read. There are two fundamentally wonderful things about reading good essays about books. The first is that, if one has read the book in question, it often gives you a deeper understanding of what you’ve read, which adds greatly to one’s enjoyment. The second is, that, if one has not read the book, it can lead you to a new friend, a new reading experience. Both pleasures were to be had in the essays of this volume, and considering the breadth of texts Bourke explores, I think most people will be able to say the same.
Bourke’s essays have reminded me of the brilliance of writers like Barbara Hambly and Kate Elliott, Nicola Griffith and Melissa Scott, reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read the books by authors like Jaqueline Koyanagi, Stina Licht, and Kameron Hurley that have been sitting in my TBR pile for far too long, and introduced me to authors whose work I’ve somehow missed entirely, like Violette Malan, Nicole Kornher-Stace and Susan Matthews. As I read, I found myself making notes to look online for a certain volume to acquire, or to move another one to a higher position on my TBR list, and if you decide to indulge yourself with this book, I think you will find yourself doing much the same.
Excellent collection of reviews, critiques and essays on science fiction and fantasy literature. Particularly good at making a case for - or bringing back to wider attention - interesting and provocative works by female authors that have perhaps fallen off of the fantasy-reading community’s radar. The idea of a plurality of canons that the author develops is a valuable one and runs through the whole collection.
Some of the reviews of sequels can be opaque if you are unfamiliar with earlier works but the passion shines through. The essays in the final section are the real gems. Subjects include the scarcity of narratives featuring older women, how queer womanhood is can be handled well or poorly (even when written by sympathetic authors), and the gendered nature of heroism in fantasy contra romance.
In particular a pair of essays digging into the claims that epic fantasy is “by and large, crushingly conservative” and that by comparison urban fantasy is “licentiously liberal” offer food for thought and benefit from being read after the reviews of some less well-known works. Your 'to-read' list will grow.
Hugo 2018 reading. I skimmed the first 90+ pages provided by in the Hugo voters packet. These are a collection of sharp and interesting reviews of mostly feminist speculative fiction. The selections are from the author's reviews on various web sites. The reviewed material reflects items that interested the author over time and do not represent a complete review of a particular subject matter. I liked the writing style and point of view and added at least one item to my reading list based on the reviews.
I was anticipating essays analysing aspects of SF&F from a feminist perspective, instead it's a series of reviews and rants from her columns in Tor.com and elsewhere. Not what I was expecting, but very entertaining and generally fun.