Female Science Faction Reloaded (ed. by Karin Ballauf, Helga Gartner, Roswitha Hofmann, Doris Nußbaumer)

Female Science Faction Reloaded is a collection of short stories that won the Lise Meitner prize, all dealing with female scientists in one way or another. It was edited by Karin Ballauf, Helga Gartner, Roswitha Hofmann and Doris Nußbaumer.
Finished on: 29.12.2018

The stories collected here are all very different, so it’s easy to find some you like and som you won’t like. Overall, it’s a nice collection, but not mind-blowingly good.

The book cover in purple with two silhouettes of women.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

Wie buchstabiert man Zukunft? (Monika Vasik) [translates to: How do you spell future?]

She is about to finish school with no clear idea what she will do afterwards. Her aunt Lotti has opinions, though.

If you’ve ever thought about how differently we treat boys and girls when it comes to the sciences, this story probably doesn’t tell you anything new. But it’s written vividly and makes the bias there were visible. Nice.

Die Wartung des Kessels darf nur zuverlässigen, gut ausgebildeten männlichen Personen über 18 Jahren übertragen werden (Lisa Mandelartz) [translates to: The maintenance of the boiler may only be delegated to responsible, well educated male persons over the age of 18 years]

She works in the Port Museum and among her responsibilities is to maintain the boiler – a fact that is not left uncommented by visitors to the museum.

This story very effectively shows how grueling even well-meant comments can be, if you hear them constantly. It also emphasizes the importance of role models. It was one of my favorites of the collection.

Nummer 483 (Anita Augustin-Huber) [translates to: Number 483]

Content Note: domestic violence

She is a cleaner in a world where something is going wrong with the electrical appliances.

At the beginning of the story, I very much liked the protagonist. I liked that she’s a cleaner with two kids, a perspective we usually don’t get to hear. But as the story went on, she became more and more bitter and was harder and harder for me to take (not that she doesn’t have excellent reasons to be bitter). The twist in the end didn’t work for me anymore – not so much because of the twist itself but because of the protagonist.

Und Marietta (Marlen Schachinger) [translates to: And Marietta]

Marietta was born in 1894 and soon turned to science as a profession and a calling.

This is a biografical story of Marietta Blau that tries a little too hard to be great literature. In that attempt, it lost side of Marietta. I certainly didn’t get an impression of her as a person.

Terabyte (Angelika Unterholzner)

Teresa, Marco and Slaby are in school together and united as friends because they share a passion for IT.

I generally liked the characters and Unterholzner’s writing style but the story is set among gamers and hackers and that part felt so completely inauthentic to me, I kept wondering if Unterholzner knew anything about that scene, or if she just watched a film once. It ruined the story for me, unfortunately.

Laika, Tschaika und andere EVAs (Uta Rotenburg) [translates to: Laika, Tschaika and other EVAs]

The Russian history of space travel is filled with female astronauts – starting with Laika the dog.

This story about female astronauts – canine and otherwise – in Russia felt well-researched and was interesting, but emotionally it left me cold, I’m afraid.

Zerfallen (Petra Öllinger) [translates to: Disintegrated]

She deals with body parts, organically grown, and her friend Ilona tries to convince her to take some of hers.

This is a fun idea and it’s short enough that it doesn’t become too obvious that she doesn’t do much with it, apart from regurgitating some stereotypes.

Zahlenliebe (Carina Nekolny) [translates to: Love of Numbers]

She has always loved numbers, even as a little girl. And she’s always had a special relationship to female mathematicians.

This story felt like it should have had a special acknowledgement of A Beautiful Mind – it seemed heavily inspired by it. I liked the idea in any case, even when it got a little confusing (there were just a lot of people here) and I thought it was a little disappointing that all those women start fighting with each other pretty much immediately.

Kollege Mainz und seine Liebe zum Strom (Doris Mitterbacher) [translates to: Colleague Mainz and His Love for Electricity]

She is a saleswoman for electricity, and she is about to make another sale.

I liked the narrator’s voice and perspective in this story, even though I didn’t necessarily like her as a person. The ending was a little so-so, but more on the funny and good side than on the bad one.

Radiojodtherapie (Ilse Krüger-Sklenicka) [translates to: Radio iod therapy]

For medical reasons, she has to take a capsule that will make her radioactive.

This story dealing with radioactivity remained too cold, distanced and short to really work for me. I didn’t know what to do with it.

Energie! (Elisabeth R. Hager) [translates to: Energy!]

In Upper Austria, there is a mysterious group who are working on alternative energy.

I wasn’t really able to suspend my disbelief for this one, especially regarding the set-up with the psychiatric institution and the letters and reports-as-letter. But I did like the idea behind the science here, althought it is pretty cissexist in the way they handled it.

Quantenwelten (Christina Diehl) [translates to: Quantum Worlds]

Ms Müller has to make a last check of the presentation Material for QubiTec’s next big thing.

This story may have been a little on the nose, ut I did like it. I liked the focus on the mother-daughter-bonding – we get that way too rarely in stories anyway. It is a bit of a pity that the quantum technology takes a step behind that, but not too much so.

Geschnitzte Marie (Mechthild Curtius) [translates to: Carved Marie]

Content Note: transmisia, queermisia

She has always fallen off the gender binary – a difficult issue in a small town.

This story has a trans, inter, asexual and aromantic protagonist, which is generally pretty nice. But it’s also chokefull of aggressions towards her – aggressions that are shown in a negative light, but that are probably still hard to take, especially if you’re also queer like the protagonist. Curtius does pretty well with the ace stuff at least, but ultimately, the story isn’t great.

Marias Töpfe (Anja Beisiegel) [tranlsates to: Maria’s Pots]

Maria Judaica lived in the first century and invented a lot of laboratory material.

This story was pretty interesting for me because I had never heard of Maria Judaica. Reading about her inventiveness and how important her inventions still are was really nice.

Schrödingers Katze (Christine Brauner) [translates to: Schrödinger’s Cat]

The diary of an experiment building on the original experiment with the cat in the box.

The story has many interesting ideas, though I didn’t need it to be longer than it was. I was a little weirded out by the robo cat for playing and sex, but I did like the playing with inside and outside, which is just befitting for a story about Schrödinger’s thought experiment. It was very well handled.

Summarizing: there are some winners here, but I did expect a little more.

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