Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women edited by Kay T. Holt

ww-coverWhat it’s about: This collection of four novellas certainly runs the gamut of genres that might be categorized as “speculative fiction.” The first, “To the Edges,” is set in an apocalyptic near future United States undergoing social collapse. Next is “Copper,” a futuristic tech noir detective story. “This Other World” is more straightforward social science fiction, set on an alien planet. The final offering, “The Second Wife,” is straight-up fantasy.

What ties these four novellas together is that the protagonist in each is an older woman going through a time of personal change as well as societal upheaval. In each story, the main character must set aside her previous life and discover a reservoir of inner strength and resolve to move forward into an unknown future. The strongly related themes and central narrative voices of each novella tie together these four very different offerings into an interesting, thought-provoking collection of feminist speculative fiction.

What I liked about it: While clearly these are new writers just finding their voices, all four of these novellas were absorbing reads with only some rough edges showing. My favorite was the second offering, “Copper,” about a tech-savvy insurance investigator trying to locate her own hijacked uterus; I would definitely read more novels by that author. The third offering, about a revolt on an alien planet, reminded me strongly of Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing and was probably the most polished of the four. The other two novellas didn’t stand out as much in my mind, but definitely showed promise.

You might like this if: you are interested in science fiction by women and about women.


6 thoughts on “Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women edited by Kay T. Holt

  1. Middle Age and older female main characters are rare! There’s a great book by D. G. Compton (yes, he’s male) called The Unsleeping Eye (1973) (variant title UK edition: The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe) with a middle age female main character…. He’s really the only male author I know of who has older female protagonists in his novels…. There might be a few others of course — the book’s brilliant as well, highly recommended.

  2. Thanks for the rec, I haven’t heard of that one. I’ll have to see if I can find it. I agree that they are rare and are increasingly of interest to me as I become one myself. 🙂

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