“If one more rando tells me that women have to be raped in fantasy because that’s how it was back then, I am going to cut someone. With a spoon.”
And so was born this eclectic collection of essays about science fiction and fantasy publishing, social media rants about sexism, and a generous sprinkle of stories, favourite things, and writing advice, all from Canadian SFF author, and general rabble rouser, Krista D. Ball.
These essays represent copious bottles of Chablis, a shocking amount of poutine, and many supportive furry animal hugs.
First of all, I want to say I am not completely unbiased when it comes to this book. For one, Krista and I have been friends for about four years now, which does NOT ever influence my ratings/reviews for her books however…this book is kind of special because anyone that has hung around r/fantasy for a long time has probably lived through a lot of these essay posts and experienced them in real time. I’m sure if you search for the original essays on reddit you will find my comments on many of them. In that way this book is rather unique for me, but I will do my best to review it without my nostalgia fogged glasses. 😀
So this book is pretty straight-forward with its intent right there in the title. About half of the book consists of essays originally posted on r/fantasy about various topics including gender issues, sub-genre bashing, and feminism in fantasy. They are very much addressed to the members of r/fantasy, but Krista puts a sort of glossary of terms and explanations in the beginning for those unfamiliar with reddit so that shouldn’t be an issue at all. The essays are great, just as they were back when I originally read them.
I’m particularly fond of ‘There’s room for all of us at Fantasy Inn’ which was a response to some members of the subreddit bashing paranormal romance and its readers. But, perhaps one of the best and most important essays is ‘She Wrote it But… – Revisiting Joanna Russ’ “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” 35 Years Later’. It’s not only a fascinating read, but it has a ton of actual data and is pretty infuriating at points to see how not so far things have come in some respects.
In addition to the essays there’s a great section on writing advise. Some of it is geared more toward self-published authors such as the chapter ‘Self Publishing is not a Meritocracy’, while others are more general. I thought the chapter ‘Writing in Pain’ was both very poignant and completely frank for authors that are dealing with ongoing health issues.
If I have any criticisms at all, I think that I would have liked the essays themselves to be reworked just a tad to make them more accessible for everyone rather than ‘addressing the members of r/fantasy’. That being said, I reviewed an eARC of this so I’m sure some things may change and/or be updated by the time of publication, and that very well could be one of them. Also, I kind of wish there was more pet stories because I love pets and also because of the title I had expected maybe just a little more corgi content. 🙂
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and while much of it felt like visiting old friends I’m sure there is plenty here that will appeal to new readers of these essays as well. 4/5 stars.
Thanks again to Krista for the early review copy.
11 thoughts on “Book Review: Appropriately Aggressive: Essays About Books, Corgis, and Feminism by Krista D. Ball”
Lovely review, and this sounds like a thoughtful set of essays, Lisa. I was hoping for more corgi stories too! 🐶
Corgis for the win!
This sounds so interesting! I’ve never really gotten into the whole r/fantasy thing, I guess I’m intimidated by it, but one of these days I’ll have to try again😁
At first I really didn’t know how the heck to use reddit but then after a while i got used to it and there’s a real sense of community in r/Fantasy with the regular posters. 🙂
Great review 💞
I love Krista D. Ball (and all she does on r/fantasy, she’s incredible!) so I’m really looking forward to reading this. I’m sure I’ve probably read some of the essays already, but I still definitely think I’ll be picking this one up. Glad it turned out well! Great review. 🙂
Thanks, agree on all counts! Hope you enjoy!
I’m going to echo Tammy’s thoughts on Reddit – I want to use it more but it kind of scares me and on top of that i can imagine it becoming a total time suck if I did manage to get involved – a bit like Twitter but maybe even worse! I’d never read any books at all. I would like to use it more though.
Lovely review – probably not one for me but it does sound interesting and I’m glad it worked well for you.
Oh, it definitely can become a time suck. 🙂