Monday, January 5, 2015

Athena's Daughters Blog Swap: Antha Adkins

Hey Everyone!  As part of the Kickstarter for Athena's Daughters II, I'm happy to introduce Antha Adkins, who'll be taking over my blog today to discuss why she reads what she does and how her reading influenced her ADII story "Hot Flashes."  

I am excited to be joining Emily in the Athena's Daughters 2 Table of Contents. 

Athena's Daughters 2 is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories by women about women, and I am thrilled to have a story included in it because it contains the sort of stories that I want to read.

Have you ever thought about why you read what you do?

These days, my favorite things to read are: historical biographies, mysteries, and -- of course -- science fiction and fantasy.  For me, these genres share two important characteristics: they are stories about people and they challenge my brain.

Historical biographies allow me to experience life as a person in a different era and culture. I can get a sense of what it would be like to be a King who doesn't understand why his subjects would want to leave his empire (George III), a concubine maneuvering her way into power (the Dragon Empress), a mathematician using computing machines to break the German enigma code (Alan Turing), or a scientist figuring out her experiment split atoms (Lise Meitner).  These stories show me why each person lived the life they did and how they ended up making their particular contribution to our world.  Because they are the story of a particular person, I have a viewpoint to see that era and culture through.  So these stories also show me how the world has been different.  These stories challenge me to think about how and why people do great things, why certain people are more celebrated than others, and how the world could be a different and better place.  But if I only read stories about monarchs, or scientists, or Westerners, or men, or women, I wouldn't get to experience the range of experiences that people have, and I think my understanding of people and our world would be poorer for it.    

Mysteries allow me to race a detective to try to solve a puzzle.  Some detectives observe every detail and logically deduce what happened (Sherlock Holmes).  Some detectives try to determine who had the biggest motive to commit the crime (Hercule Poirot).  Some detectives try to determine how a crime was committed, and the how leads them to the who (Lord Peter Wimsey). Some detectives figure out who had the opportunity to commit the crime and spend their time breaking alibis.  Most, of course, to a greater or lesser extent, combine these questions to ultimately determine whodunit.  But while these stories certainly provide a great deal of mental exercise, they also are stories about people, both the people who solve the crimes and the people who commit them.  If the two groups were always the same - the detective always a white man who always uses the same tools to solve the crime and the criminal always the butler, then these stories would get easy to solve and boring very quickly.  I think it is much more interesting to have detectives and criminals with a variety of backgrounds, life experiences, and methods. 

Like historical biography, science fiction and fantasy allow me to experience life in a different era and culture.  But instead of the past, science fiction allows me to experience life in a potential future or an alternate world.  I can get a sense of what it would be like to be stranded on Mars (The Martian), to be an AI (Ancillary Justice), to need to use a threep to experience the world because I am locked into my own mind (Locked In), or to control fire (Mystic and Rider).  Here science fiction and fantasy can propose answers to some big questions: What does it mean to be human?  Who do we include as part of 'us'?  What would it be like if ---?  Like historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy also challenge me to think about how our world could be different and better.  Like a mystery, they often present their world through a series of clues that I need to pick up on to build an image of the world in my head.  Figuring out what the science fiction or fantasy world is like is a fun puzzle.  And while solving the puzzle, we get to address more big questions: What does communication mean?  What is our place in the universe?  Are we alone in it? Just like the other genres, if there is only one future world, one type of character, one set of proposed answers, then the genre gets boring.  It needs a variety of worlds and characters. 

I think Athena's Daughters 2 provides some of this variety: stories about a variety of women by a variety of women.  My own story in the anthology, "Hot Flash," is about a middle-aged menopausal woman who discovers that her hot flashes are a superpower.  Since most superheroes are generally male and young, this turns the typical narrative on its head and gives it a new twist.  And it is fun!

I look forward to sharing this story with you in the Athena's Daughters 2 anthology!

If you're interested in following Antha, you can find her at: