A collection of short stories about women, selected by two men, George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I had my doubts going in.
Most of the stories in this book are fantasy or fantasy-adjacent. About half are good, with a few standouts. I thought Sharon Kay Penman’s “A Queen in Exile” and Lev Grossman’s “The Girl in the Mirror” were excellent. Brandon Sanderson’s “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell,” Nancy Kress’s “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly,” and George R. R. Martin’s novella, “The Princess and the Queen,” were very good.
The other half save one were forgettable. That one, “I Know How to Pick ‘Em,” by Lawrence Block, was memorably awful. I will spare you the details but it is a gratuitously disturbing pornographic story I wish I hadn’t read. If you find yourself reading this collection I would advise you to skip it.
Block’s odious story was almost enough to get me to quit reading entirely, but I didn’t and good thing, because most of the good stories came right after that one.