Not every story in this collection, the third in the Chicks in Chainmail series, is spot-on, but there’s only one real dead, umh, horse that I will mercifully abstain to flog.
Several stories are just plain brilliant, and the majority is exceptionally funny. Self-directed irony abounds, and orgiastic playfulness with postmodern meta-levels and meta-twists.
What’s more, these stories are really feminist. It’s not your occasional outstanding female super hero, super specialist, super assassin, super daredevil pilot, or anything like that, but mostly nuts-and-bolts female heroes from the rank-and-file. They’re grunts, for goddess’s sake, and they brawl, they fart, and they drink like a fish. One of my favorite lines, from Kate Daniels’s “… But Comedy is Hard” (set in ancient Greece), comes when the first person narrator remembers her sergeant after having gone AWOL for various reasons: “To this day I wonder when Glycera realized I was gone. Sometimes I miss the old battle-ax.” (246)
I’m not too much into fantasy; it was science fiction that started to rule my world when I was a kid. But if more fantasy stories had been like this, I’m sure I’d opted for a more balanced reading diet.