Praise for Carol Emshwiller’s previous books:
Carol Emshwiller’s stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Century, Scifiction, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, The Voice Literary Supplement, Omni, Crank!, Confrontation, and many other anthologies and magazines.
Mercury House, 1995
Ms. Emshwiller is so gifted. . . . She describes the ragged, sunswept Western countryside with a vividness and clarity that let us see it as her characters do — and understand why they love it as they do. There are moments of [Ledoyt] that are remarkably moving; there are scenes of great power.
—The New York Times Book Review
[Ledoyt is] as haunting as the song of a canyon wren at twilight.
It’s always cheering when an unclassifiable writer suddenly grows a little more unclassifiable. That’s the case with Carol Emshwiller, the feminist-fantasist author of three short-story collections and one earlier novel…. With Ledoyt, Emshwiller offers a historical novel of sometimes gothic intensity, but one remaining well within the realm of physical possibility…of all things — a Western…a story of unlikely love and destructive jealousy.
—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
A fierce and tender portrait of a girl growing up fierce and tender; a sorrowful, loving portrait of a man whose talent is for love and sorrow; a western, an unsentimental love story, an unidealized picture of the American past, a tough, sweet, painful, truthful novel.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, author of Tales of Earthsea
— read the full review
Ledoyt is sweet and true and heartbreaking, echoing with the actualities of our old horseback life in the American West. Carol Emshwiller has got it dead right.
–William Kittredge, editor of The Portable Western Reader
Leaping Man Hill
Mercury House, 1999Leaping Man Hill is a satisfying novel, with complexities not susceptible to easy summary, as well as those quirky characters and some playful language. Finally, though, it is dominated by Emshwiller’s sure development of Mary Catherine. Readers who grow with that young woman may remember this book a long time.
—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
[Leaping Man Hill is] another strong, satisfying western . . . a headstrong young heroine succeeds in finding her niche in the ranch country of post-WWI California. . . . An exuberant yet exquisite portrait of a woman coming into her own.
Emshwiller is particularly good at showing the ways we aspire to self-sufficiency to insulate ourselves from a world beyond our control…. Leaping Man Hill is, if anything, a love story…. Love, strange and complicated, has been a theme of Emshwiller’s from her earliest, fantasy-tinged short stories, in which characters float, shrink, grow wings, and cohabitate with aliens under its influence. As Emshwiller knows, implausibility and affection seldom rule each other out, and in some cases the combination effects amazing transformations. In Emshwiller’s carefully drawn, realistic western context these changes are less pronounced, but no less revealing or remarkable.
— San Francisco Bay Guardian
— read the full review
Mercury House, 1990** Small Beer Press reprinted Carmen Dog in June 2004 through their new Peapod Press imprint. More.
Emshwiller has produced a first novel that combines the cruel humor of Candidewith the allegorical panache of Animal Farm. In the hyper-Kafkaesque world ofCarmen Dog, women have begun devolving into animals and animals ascending the evolutionary ladder to become women. . . . there has not been such a singy combination of imaginative energy, feminist outrage, and sheer literary muscle since Joanna Russ’ classic The Female Man.
This trenchant feminist fantasy-satire mixes elements of Animal Farm, Rhinoceros and The Handmaid’s Tale…. Imagination and absurdist humor mark [Carmen Dog] throughout, and Emshwiller is engaging even when most savage about male-female relationships.
An inspired feminist fable…. A wise and funny book.
—The New York Times
–review from Vector: The Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association
— review from Strange Horizons
The Start of the End of It All
Mercury House, 1990
— Winner of the 1991 World Fantasy AwardEighteen short fantastic fictions comprise Emshwiller’s third superb collection. . . . again, her improvisations include inventive fabulisms and feminist satires, many with a science-fictional spin to them…. Emshwiller’s fabulisms court a sense of the sacred but cleverly undercut that sense with tongue-in-cheek playfulness. The ensuing deft balance between mystery and skepticism is touching — and often aesthetically triumphant.
Emshwiller’s characters embrace the unexpected and extraordinary; their lives leap from the mundane to the wondrous in a surreal instant, and the reader feels transported too.
Verging on the Pertinent
Coffee House, 1989“I have loved her work for years. Her imagination is fierce and funny, never mean.”
“[She] must be read, watched for, nurtured as an original and exciting new talent.”
— Doris Grumbach
Venus Rising, a chapbookEdgewood Press,1992A stunning story of an alien exiled to an exotic world, the peaceful inhabitants he finds there and his attempts to “civilize” them.
“I have always thought that Carol had the most inventive mind in science fiction. It is not possible to summarize her work as a whole nor describe it satisfactorily piece by piece, but it does all have a particularly tough kind of feminity that appeals to me very much. Her heroines generally rise to the occasion and they do this with only their courage and their imagination and they do this in ways no one else would. And yet, as a reader, you always liked her heroines just fine before they were heroic, so there is a bit of sadness there, that the world is the sort of world that forces nice, ordinary people into heroism. Other writers can be funny one moment and heart-breaking the next, but Carol is routinely both at once and she makes it look effortless or accidental.”
— Karen Joy Fowler
“Here is a female living out among the breakers. Here is a man from the land-dwelling culture. When they meet, the encounter touches on culture-clash, gender politics, evolution in its manifold forms, relative civilization, even murder and kidnapping. No one else has a voice like Carol Emshwiller’s. She should be heard.”
Venus Rising is wonderfully Emshwillerian: lyrical in its language, delightfully idiosyncratic in its thinking, filled with laughter and strange pain.”
— Pat Murphy
Another review. (Warning: this is a slow-loading PDF file.)
Emshwiller knows well the marvelous inexplicability of love, jealousy, and heroism.
First and foremost, Emshwiller is a poet — with a poet’s sensibility, precision, and magic. She revels in the sheer taste and sound of words, she infuses them with an extraordinary vitality and sense of life.