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James Nicoll on Amazons! edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Saturday, September 12th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Amazons! (DAW, 1979). Cover by Michael Whelan

Every once in a while I get asked to recommend other sites out there for readers who enjoy Black Gate. There are some top-notch book blogs, of course — like Rich Horton’s excellent Strange at Ecbatan, and Mark R. Kelly’s overlooked Views from Crestmont Drive — and the usual publisher sites, like Tor.com and Locus Online. But recently I’ve been spending a lot of time at James Nicoll Reviews, partly because of the wide range of content. In just the last week he’s reviewed Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, a collection by Han Song, a superhero RPG from Green Ronin, and (a man after my own heart!) the July 1979 issues of Charles C. Ryan’s Galileo magazine — which of course lured Rich Horton out of his secluded library to comment enthusiastically.

But the real reason I hang out so much at James’ blog is that he regularly covers classic SF and fantasy — insightfully and thoroughly. Here’s his thoughts on Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s World Fantasy Award winning anthology Amazons!, from 1979.

Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s 1979 Amazons! is an anthology of fantasy stories. Special ones. Each story features a woman protagonist who is not support staff or arm candy for the hero. Almost but not all of the stories are by women….

For the most part these are sword and sorcery stories. Their scope is limited. individual fates may depend on the outcome; sometimes the fates of small kingdoms do; but none of these stories are of the ​“we must win or the world will be destroyed” variety. There are some fairly slight stories — every reader will see the twist in Lee’s story coming for miles, and there is not much to ​“The Rape Patrol.” These are more than balanced by stories like ​“Agbewe’s Sword,” ​“The Sorrows of Witches,” and [CJ] Cherryh’s ​“The Dreamstone” (which reminds me that I’ve never read the novel length expansion, or the sequel, although I think I own both). ​“Sorrows of Witches” is a little odd because that it seems to accept the premise that witches are by definition bad people who deserve what they get. Or in this case, do not get.

Of particular interest to me is the reading list at the end, which has suggestions unfamiliar to me. Because of course I needed a longer TBR list….

Amazons! is long out of print (as I will also remind you at the end of the review). Anyone who happened to own a publishing firm could do a lot worse than reprinting this anthology. Not to mention the sequel.

Yes, there was a sequel, released three years later in 1982.

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Amazons II (DAW, 1982). Cover by Michael Whelan

See the complete review at James Nicoll Reviews.

Our previous coverage of Amazons! includes:

The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Amazons!, edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, reviewed by Steven H Silver
The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “The Woman Who Loved the Moon,” by Elizabeth A. Lynn, reviewed by Steven H Silver

See all our recent coverage of classic SF and Fantasy here.

5 Comments »

  1. always on the lookout for new website for sure! man do i miss the epic website that was sfsignal, i am glad he still does book stuff, but that website was fantastic, i am really surprised no one took it over, or started up a similar website, but maybe it really was much more work then someone with a day job can continue.

    the more links the better!

    Comment by silentdante - September 12, 2020 4:50 am

  2. I enjoyed both books – even submitted a story for Amazons II, but Jessica rejected it. She was totally cool and professional about it: liked my writing, just didn’t care for my story. Many years later I used to talk with her on our Facebook page, The Swords and Sorcery League. She told me she hoped to put together a collection of the late David Madison’s “Marcus and Diana” tales, many of which first appeared in andy offutt’s excellent, Swords Against Darkness series. Haven’t seen Jessica on Facebook in many years now. I don’t think the David Madison project ever saw the light of day.

    Comment by Joe Bonadonna - September 12, 2020 7:25 am

  3. > man do i miss the epic website that was sfsignal, i am glad he still does book stuff

    Dante,

    I miss SF Signal too. John DeNardo traded it for a paying gig at Kirkus, where he still writes regularly, and you sure can’t argue with that. Running an SF site is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t pay the bills — trust me on that. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - September 12, 2020 12:49 pm

  4. > I enjoyed both books – even submitted a story for Amazons II, but Jessica rejected it.

    Joe,

    That’s a cool tale. How are you always so well connected, Joe? Seems you know everyone in the S&S scene.

    Comment by John ONeill - September 12, 2020 12:51 pm

  5. Subtle shout-out in Mr. Nicoll’s review to another now-deceased sword-and-sorceror. “Almost but not all of the stories are by women” plus the mention of “Agbewe’s Sword” point us toward Charles Saunders, who lately left us to go Beyond the Fields We Know.

    Comment by Eugene R. - September 14, 2020 9:43 pm


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