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Vintage Treasures: Pamela Sargent’s Women of Wonder

Saturday, October 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Women of Wonder The Classic Years-small Women of Wonder The Contemporary Years-small

In 1973, author Pamela Sargent began to assemble stories for a groundbreaking anthology: Women of Wonder, collecting science fiction stories by women, about woman. It was the first anthology of its kind, and as you can probably imagine, Sergeant ran into some obstacles when she tried to sell it. Here’s Ms. Sargent:

For over two years, I tried to find a publisher for Women of Wonder, and the reactions of editors were instructive. A few editors thought the idea was wonderful but decided not to do the book anyway. Some editors found the book absurd, a couple doubted whether I could find enough good stories to fill the book, and one editor didn’t think there was a large enough audience for such an anthology.

But the audience was there, and so were the authors.

That’s taken from the introduction to the fourth volume in the series, Women of Wonder: The Classic Years, published by Harcourt Brace in 1995.

[Click on any of the images in this article for bigger versions.]

Pamela Sargent found more than enough excellent stories to fill her first book, and it sold so well it was followed in short order by two more (which she also had no trouble filling):

Women of Wonder (285 pages, $1.95, January 1975, cover by Charles Shields)
More Women of Wonder (309 pages, $1.95, August 1976, cover by Charles Shields)
The New Women of Wonder (363 pages, $1.95, January 1978, cover by Charles Shields)

All three were paperback originals from Vintage Books.

Women of Wonder-small More Women of Wonder-small The New Women of Wonder-small

In 1995, Sargent consolidated the first three books into one massive trade paperback, Women of Wonder: The Classic Years, cutting 30 stories down to 21, and adding a second anthology containing more recent fiction, to cover the intervening twenty years:

Women of Wonder: The Classic Years (440 pages, $15, August 1995, cover by Michael Koelsch)
Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years (420 pages, $15, July 1995, Cliff Nielsen)

The 1995 versions have become the definite editions, and remained in print for many years. Here’s the back covers:

Women of Wonder The Classic Years-back-small Women of Wonder The Contemporary Years-Back-small
Startling Stories July 1951, containing "The Woman From Altair"

Startling Stories July 1951, containing “The Woman From Altair” by Leigh Brackett

Here’s the complete Table of Contents for Women of Wonder: the Classic Years:

Introduction by Pamela Sargent
“No Woman Born” by C. L. Moore (Astounding Science Fiction, December 1944)
“That Only a Mother” by Judith Merril (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1948)
“Contagion” by Katherine MacLean (Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1950)
“The Woman from Altair” by Leigh Brackett (Startling Stories, July 1951)
“Short in the Chest” by Margaret St. Clair (Fantastic Universe, July 1954)
“The Anything Box” by Zenna Henderson (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1956)
“Death Between the Stars” by Marion Zimmer Bradley (Fantastic Universe, March 1956)
“The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffrey (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1961)
“When I Was Miss Dow” by Sonya Dorman (Galaxy Magazine, June 1966)
“The Food Farm” by Kit Reed (Orbit 2, June 1967)
“The Heat Death of the Universe” by Pamela Zoline (New Worlds Speculative Fiction, July 1967)
“The Power of Time” by Josephine Saxton (New Dimensions 1, 1971)
“False Dawn” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Strange Bedfellows, November 1972)
“Nobody’s Home” by Joanna Russ (New Dimensions II, December 1972)
“The Funeral” by Kate Wilhelm (Again, Dangerous Visions, March 1972)
“Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand” by Vonda N. McIntyre (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1973)
“The Women Men Don’t See” by James Tiptree, Jr. (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1973)
“The Warlord of Saturn’s Moons” by Eleanor Arnason (New Worlds 7, December 1974)
“The Day Before the Revolution” by Ursula K. Le Guin (Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1974)
“The Family Monkey” by Lisa Tuttle (New Voices in Science Fiction, February 1977)
“View from a Height” by Joan D. Vinge (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1978)
About the Authors
About the Editor
Recommended Reading: Science Fiction by Women, 1818-1978 by Pamela Sargent

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine July 1991, containing "And Wild For to Hold" by Nancy Kress

Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine July 1991, containing “And Wild For to Hold” by Nancy Kress

And for Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years

Introduction by Pamela Sargent
“Cassandra” by C. J. Cherryh (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1978)
“The Thaw” by Tanith Lee (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1979)
“Scorched Supper on New Niger” by Suzy McKee Charnas (New Voices III: The Campbell Award Nominees, April 1980)
“Abominable” by Carol Emshwiller (Orbit 21, November 1980)
“Bluewater Dreams” Sydney J. Van Scyoc (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March 1981)
“The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe” by Angela Carter (Interzone, #1 Spring 1982)
“The Harvest of Wolves” by Mary Gentle (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, December 1983)
Bloodchild” Octavia E. Butler (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1984)
“Fears” by Pamela Sargent (Light Years and Dark: Science Fiction and Fantasy Of and For Our Time, November 1984)
“Webrider” by Jayge Carr (The Third Omni Book of Science Fiction, April 1985)
“Alexia and Graham Bell” by Rosaleen Love (Aphelion Science Fiction Magazine, Summer 1986/1987)
“Reichs-Peace” by Sheila Finch (Hitler Victorious: Eleven Stories of the German Victory in World War II, October 1986)
“Angel” by Pat Cadigan (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1987)
“Rachel in Love” by Pat Murphy (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1987)
“Game Night at the Fox and Goose” by Karen Joy Fowler (What Might Have Been? Volume 1: Alternate Empires, August 1989)
“Tiny Tango” by Judith Moffett (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1989)
“At the Rialto” by Connie Willis (Omni, October 1989)
“Midnight News” by Lisa Goldstein (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March 1990)
“And Wild for to Hold” by Nancy Kress (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1991)
“Immaculate” by Storm Constantine (New Worlds, 1991)
“Farming in Virginia” by Rebecca Ore (Alien Bootlegger and Other Stories, August 1993)
About the Authors
About the Editor
Recommended Reading: Science Fiction by Women, 1979 – 1993

All five volumes in the series are currently out of print, and there are no digital editions.

Our most recent coverage of Pamela Sargent includes:

Future Treasures: Seasons of the Cats by Pamela Sargent
Vintage Treasures: The Alien Upstairs by Pamela Sargent

See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.

5 Comments »

  1. I remember reading the first book in the series and it’s sequel, ‘More Women of Wonder’, which was my introduction to ‘Jirel of Joiry’. The fact that these books came out in the mid-Seventies gives you some idea how long this particular debate has been going on. It’s interesting looking over your list. I particularly remember ‘That Only a Mother’. A quick google reveals this story was written in the mid Forties. It certainly didn’t show its age! Also, ‘Contagion’, ‘The Ship who Sang’ and ‘When I was Miss Dhow.’

    Comment by Aonghus Fallon - October 13, 2015 7:04 am

  2. > I remember reading the first book in the series and it’s sequel, ‘More Women of Wonder’, which was my introduction to ‘Jirel of Joiry’

    Aonghus,

    C.L. Moore’s “Jirel of Joiry” wasn’t included in the 1995 consolidated paperback, which I think was a shame. I was debating including the contents of each of the three original anthologies (or at least scanning the back covers, which listed the contents), as it makes an interesting debate, whether or not she chose the right titles to drop. But the article was already getting long as it was.

    > I particularly remember ‘That Only a Mother’. A quick google reveals this story was written in the mid Forties.

    I give the dates of original publication for each of the stories in the lists above, if you’re curious. Sargent arranged the stories chronologically, which I think was the right way to do it.

    Comment by John ONeill - October 13, 2015 5:48 pm

  3. So you did, John (re the dates) – my bad. I actually saw the date, was surprised, then went and checked if you were right. By the time I posted, I’d forgotten why I’d googled the date in the first place.

    Comment by Aonghus Fallon - October 14, 2015 4:05 am

  4. I had the penguin editions. The first cover was a bit dull. The second was by Adrian Chesterman, who basically did all the covers for the penguin sf series. Not one of his better efforts, I reckon – that girl has a very strange expression on her face, and at first glance, I thought she was driving a Harley.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_XhAzekAG0tg/TDhLvj0bOJI/AAAAAAAADzA/ahyusMWVJMY/s640/Women+Of+Wonder.jpg

    http://www.penguinsciencefiction.org/images/4980_PAMELA_SARGENT_%28Ed%29_More_Women_of_Wonder_1979.jpg

    Comment by Aonghus Fallon - October 14, 2015 4:15 am

  5. I’m guessing it was Jirel?

    Comment by Aonghus Fallon - October 14, 2015 4:15 am


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