Saturday, May 9, 2015

"Even the Queen" by Connie Willis



Deal Me In Short Story #9

My short story this week was "Even the Queen" by Connie Willis, an American author of science fiction novels and short stories.  Three of the stories I picked for the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge were from Impossible Things, which collects 11 stories by Willis. This is the first piece of fiction I have read by this author. I plan to read some of her Oxford time travel series, but have not tried them yet. They are all very long, 500 - 600 pages each.

It turned out that this did not feel like a sci fi story at all. It takes place in a near future setting, and some there are some scientific advancements discussed but that is about it. Still a new experience for me, because I don't read much non-genre fiction. This is really just a story of three generations of women who gather because they are worried about a young woman in the family.

I wasn't sure how to review this, it touches on a taboo subject. But then I realized I did not really have to delve that deep into the story because part of the fun of reading the story is discovering what the characters are talking about.

The premise is that Traci, a lawyer, gets several phone calls from members of her family because her daughter has joined a radical group. There is talk of cults and deprogramming. Traci meets with her mother and other female relatives at a restaurant to talk the problem over. The results are humorous and illustrate that family dynamics will be the same no matter how society changes. It is a feminist story which Willis wrote because she had "gotten a bunch of flack recently for not writing about Women's Issues."

A quote from the story:
In the first fine flush of freedom after the Liberation, I had entertained hopes that it would change everything - that it would somehow do away with inequality and matriarchal dominance and those humorless women determined to eliminate the word "manhole" and third-person singular pronouns from the language.
Of course it didn't. Men still make more money, "herstory" is still a blight on the semantic landscape, and my mother can still say, "Oh, Traci!" in a tone that reduces me to pre-adolescence.
"Even the Queen" won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Short Story in 1992. It has been included in many anthologies.

Every other week I draw a random card to determine what short story I will read for the Deal Me In Short Story challenge. My list of short stories is here. The challenge is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


14 comments:

  1. I love Connie Willis, her Blackout/All Clear is great and her To Say Nothing of the Dog is very funny.

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    1. Mac n Janet, my husband has Blackout and All Clear but I also want to read To Say Nothing of the Dog and Doomsday Book. I wonder if it makes a difference which order I read them in?

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    2. Blackout/All Clear have to been read in order or they would be very confusing, the others in any order.

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    3. Thanks for the feedback. I do remember now that Blackout/All Clear were really written as one novel but got too long to be published that way.

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  2. A new author to me, but not someone I think I'll be reading. Cheers, Tracy.

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    1. I don't know much about this author, Col, but I think it is safe to say that she is not your cup of tea.

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  3. Interesting choice of story, Tracy, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I like to be reminded sometimes that I ought to read outside my usual 'haunts.' ;-)

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    1. I do think you would enjoy this story, Margot.

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  4. Tracy, a new author for me as well. A splendid cover and the collection of stories makes this a tempting read.

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    1. I know, Prashant, that is a fantastic cover. I don't know yet which story it illustrates (if it does), but I will read all of them eventually and see.

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  5. New author to me, and I don't do much sci-fi/futuristic, but this does sound tempting.

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    1. Moira, I have only read this one story, but it is not really too sci-fi and the futuristic isn't overwhelming either.

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  6. I really enjoy hybrid genre stories that really work - sounds good to me, thanks Tracy.

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    1. I will be trying more to see how I like her work overall, Sergio. This one was encouraging.

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