Editor: Amber Dawn
Published by: Arsenal Pulp Press
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Where I got the book: Public Library
This book was my selection for the Queer Lit Bingo 2016 challenge: B1 Short Stories.
Fist of Spider Woman is an anthology centred around the theme of horror, fear and queer desire. This is honestly a very difficult book to critique due to the disjointed and weird, out there nature of the stories. Stories ranged from slug porn, BDSM, vampires, kidnapping and forced imprisonment to having sex with ghosts, all centring around erotic relationships of power. Overall I thought the premise of the collection was quite good. However, the execution wasn’t as strong due to the disjointed connections between the stories and the constraint of telling a narrative in such a short length. This made the collection overall feel incomplete and in need of longer stories or more connection between them rather than just being a random collection of horror erotica.
Only one story in Fist of the Spider Woman really stood out to me. “Shark” by Kestrel Barnes focuses less on erotica than other stories in the collection, and tells the story of death and remarriage in the lives of one queer family. Barnes’ writing remind me of Ivan E. Coyote’s short stories mixed with Eden Robinson’s speculative fiction found in her novel Monkey Beach and her short story “Terminal Avenue” which I first read in the anthology So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science-Fiction and Fantasy. I was saddened to learn that “Shark” appears to be Barnes’ only published piece of writing.
Overall, I thought Fist of the Spider Woman wasn’t the strongest anthology. It’s always worth checking out the writers’ other work though if there’s a story that really speaks to you.