Before I set up my online journal, The Short Review, in November 2007, I was a narrow-minded short story reader. I thought I didn’t like science fiction, fantasy, anything that wasn’t found on the “literary” shelves of bookshops. I was very wrong, and delighted to be proved so. The Short Review published ten reviews of short story collections old and new every month, and as editor I decided I would review a book for each issue – and I would go beyond my comfort zone, asking for review copies of books I would never have chosen for myself. One of these was The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller: Emshwiller, who is now 96, was described as a writer of “feminist science fiction”. But this didn’t prepare me for the astonishing, imaginative, entertaining, dark and moving stories. Who could resist a story that begins: “Grandma used to be a woman of action. She wore tights. She had big boobs, but a teeny-weeny bra. Her waist used to be twenty-four inches.” This is a grandma you need to find out more about! This story is just under 3000 words – I am no length snob either, if a story grips me I will read it, whatever length. If, like me, you tend to be a bit of a genre snob, let Carol Emshwiller open your eyes to the stories you’ve been missing.
First published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (March 2002), included in The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller (NonStop Press, 2011), and available to read online here