Welcome to the sci-fi worlds of brainy teen heroines who hack not just computers, but whatever puzzles come their way. A scrappy mechanic on an oppressed planet builds a device she hopes will be her ticket to a better future. A fledgling chemist uses her skills to catch a murderer. A teen inventor creates a weapon to battle the mysterious beasts attacking her city. A superhero-in-training puts her skills to the test when attackers strike her compound. A self-styled detective hacks an augmented reality game to solve a dastardly crime. Girls who code, explore, fix robots, pilot starships, invent gadgets, build high-tech treehouses, and more. With tales ranging from space adventures to steampunk to cyberpunk and more this 23-story collection will delight, thrill, and enthrall.
Proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. Let’s show today’s girls that they, too, can be tomorrow’s inventors, programmers, scientists, and more.
Lyssa Chiavari, Jennifer Chow, Russ and Abby Colchamiro, MLD Curelas, Paige Daniels, Kay Dominguez, Mary Fan, Halli Gomez, Valerie Hunter, AA Jankiewicz, Nicholas Jennings, Jamie Krakover, Tash McAdam, MJ Moores, Jelani Akin Parham, Selenia Paz, Josh Pritchett, Jeremy Rodden, Aaron Rosenberg, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, Jennifer Lee Rossman, JR Rustrian, and Joanna Schnurman.
Featuring illustrations by Jacob Atom, Brandon Bell, Jo Belle, Lyssa Chiavari, Sharon Emmitt, Ben Falco, Fauzy Zulvikar Firmansyah, Christopher Godsoe, Liana Kangas, John Kovalic, MunkyWrench, Josh Pritchett, Emily Smith, Jennifer Stolzer, and Ronald Suh.
Paige Daniels is the pen name of Tina Closser. By day she works as an Electrical Engineer and Mom mushing her kids from gymnastics and violin practice. After the kids go to bed, she rocks out with her headphones turned to eleven and cranks out books. She is an uber science geek. If she wasn't married to the most terrific guy in the world, she would be a groupie for Adam Baldwin.
I have a story in this huge anthology (seriously -- it's the thickest book on my shelf, well worth the price in weight alone), but I'm going to review each story as unbiasedly as I can.
THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER by Selenia Paz Well, you all know I love Ada Lovelace, and putting her in an alchemy murder mystery? Perfection!
THE ALTERED AVATAR by Mary Fan I love a murder mystery, and this one set in an augmented reality game was so fun!
ATTACK ON AEGIS by Paige Daniels Fun superhero story set in the 90s. The story didn't really grab me, but I enjoyed all the references to my childhood. I miss Palm Pilots...
BECOMING A WORLD BUILDER by Valerie Hunter I didn't love the ableism coming from the bad guys, but the story itself is very accepting. I really identified with the way the main character pretended to be the "stronger" women in her life but struggled with finding the strength in herself.
DATA RECOVERY by Nicholas Jennings Remember that episode of Magic Schoolbus where they go into the computer? It's that, but with more gummy worms!
DISCORD ON HARMONIA by M.L.D. Curelas I wish this one was longer because I want to know more about this world.
THE EXPERIMENT CALLED LIFE by Halli Gomez LOVE LOVE LOVE this one! I don't have Tourette's, but I identify so strongly with Gemma not fitting in.
FALSE MESSIAHS: A ROBOT REPAIR GIRL ADVENTURE by Josh Pritchett Very interesting premise but I wasn't super into the story, maybe because I haven't read all the stories in the series.
IMPOSSIBLE ODDS by A.A. Jankiewicz Military sci-fi isn't really my thing, but I like this. It's like if Ender's Game was actually enjoyable.
IN CYBERIA, AVATAR CONTROLS YOU by Jeremy Rodden I found the treatment of the "vegetables" kind of offensive. I don't think that's an appropriate term for people in vegetative states, nor do I think they were beyond saving. I would have LOVED the story if Carrot was the hero. That being said, very Matrix-esque and a surprising twist.
IN THE SHADOW OF ZYRCON by Joanna Schurman Has a kind of Firefly feel, but with gay girls and disability rep! I want more adventures from this crew.
INMATE C87 by Kay Dominguez This one could have been stretched out to fill an entire book. I love the premise, even though the white collar corruption hits a little close to home. My one criticism is that the main character almost felt more like an adult than a teenager.
LIFE HACK by Aaron Rosenberg I was all ready to say this is an exciting and wacky tale about outlandishly wonderful gene alterations... but the ending was very much a letdown.
LOGIN by Jennifer Lee Rossman I'm not going to review my own story, but I'll mention that it's a Rumplestiltskin retelling that has own voices wheelchair-user rep, a helpful robot, and features artwork by my friend Sharon.
MOON GIRL by Jennifer Chow I love the enemies-to-friends trope, and this story used it very well. Not to mention non-European mythology!
MY OTHER TREE HOUSE IS A ROCKET SHIP by Russ Colchamiro I love the tone of this one. One of the co-authors is seven years old, and I don't know how much she wrote and how much her dad wrote, but it's much better than anything I could have written at that age. She's got a future in this business.
THE POWER OF FIVE by Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg I found the writing of this story to be very simplistic and childish, almost distractingly so at times, but the alien is so dang cute.
PYRAMID SCHEME by Jamie Krakover Indiana Jones with aliens and banter? Yes please.
SEA-STARS AND SAND DOLLARS by Lyssa Chiavari GAY GIRLS STEALING SUBMARINES! That's everything I've ever really wanted in a story. Also, the robot Trite and my robot Baby need to be BFFs and go on adventures together.
SECOND SUN by J.R. Rustrian Has a slight "A Closed and Common Orbit" feel -- tech-smart girl and an AI trying to fix a spaceship. And can we talk about that gorgeous illustration? It looks like a book cover!
SHOCKWIRED by Tash McAdam Trans! Girl! In! Spaaaaaaace!
SWORD & SHIELD by Jelani Akin Parham The fact that the mysterious enemies were only mentioned toward the end was a little disappointing; I didn't feel like I understood what was going on until later on, and I want a sequel that explains their origins. But gay girls versus scary murder-things? That's a recipe for a good time in my book.
TWISTED BRICK by M.J. Moores Didn't grab my attention, but I liked how the two POVs showed how John and Cassy saw each other.
This is the third book in the Brave New Girls series, and I've bought, read and enjoyed them all. To be honest, I'd rather write my reviews without ratings, but Goodreads wants a rating first. With any collection of short stories, you can expect to like some stories more than others, which is why I've given each of the books four stars.
The boundaries of what counts as hacking are loosely set, so there's a nice variety. In this collection, we've got girls with superpowers, on submarines, on Io, and in alternate pasts, in virtual reality, and in the cities, prisons and junkheaps of the future. They take on evil corporations, corrupt politicians, dystopian systems, and more.
BNG has always tried for diversity, and this time around, there's an exceptionally strong effort to include girls of every kind. Not everyone is white, able or straight.
I recommend BNG: ToHWH for feminists of all ages and genders, and hope that it succeeds in encouraging girls to seek education and career choices in STEM.
Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who Hack is the third instalment of the fantastic Brave New Girls anthology series about women in STEM. Each book represents different women in STEM with Heroines Who Hack primarily depicting a diverse array of young women in engineering and tech. An orphan stranded on a planet dominated by a tyrannical corporation must use her engineering skills to sell enough new tech so that she and her girlfriend can escape one day. A young girl with tourettes builds a piece of assistive technology that will help her be able to concentrate at school and finds self-love and acceptance along the way. A black girl finds herself on a spaceship which is rapidly leaking air and has to find a way back down to her planet with nothing more than her skills as an inventor and a sassy AI. There are 23 wonderful tales for all ages waiting to be discovered in this anthology with proceeds from sales donated to the Society of Women’s Engineers scholarship fund to enable more girls to pursue their dreams of becoming programmers, scientists, and engineers.
There is lots to appreciate in this anthology especially its commitment to diversity, recognizing the importance of representation, and celebration of girls in STEM. Whilst Heroines Who Hack has many instances of great representation (LGBTQ, women of colour, and disabled women) there were 3 stories including in the anthology which featured problematic racial representation which needs to be looked at further to see if these types of representation fit in with Brave New Girls messages about diversity and inclusion.
On the whole, Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who Hack provides us with some sorely needed stories of young women in STEM and which supports a great cause.