Melanie R. Anderson

Books: Biography | Books | Distaff

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction (2019) Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

Monster, She WroteIt’s (somewhat) common knowledge that Mary Shelly wrote the first SFF book: Frankenstein.

But there were so many other women at the start of the horror, science fiction, and speculative fiction genres, and this book tells you a little about each of them.

Since I can’t find it anywhere, here is the Table of Contents:

First off, I loved learning about these women who have in some cases been all-but forgotten.

And I loved all the random details.

Cavendish scandalized polite society more than once; on one occasion, she showed up to a theater event wearing a dress that exposed her breasts, including her nipples, which she had thoughtfully painted red.

the Spiritualist Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president, with the abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass as her running mate.

The pulps, along with dime-store paperbacks also made from cheap paper, got fiction into the hands of a wider audience because they were so affordable. But the transitory nature of that low-cost material meant that unknown numbers of those stories were lost forever as the paper they were printed on decomposed to nothing.
All of which helps explain the accepted wisdom that few women wrote speculative fiction in the early 1900s and that, instead, the lineage starts in the 1960s and 1970s with writers like Ursula Le Guin and Joanna Russ.

Although horror is not my thing, I very much appreciated learning about these women who were writing SFF and horror–and possibly found a couple stories that were less on the horror side that might interest me (assuming one can find them).

I was also pleased to discover that I knew the majority of the “modern” writers–even if I hadn’t necessarily read their books.

I can think of some friends for whom this might be a perfect book–because they love SFF and horror. And others because of the biographical and horror bits.

Publisher: Quirk Books

Rating: 8/10