A Few Good Women: A Call for Reviewers
Posted by Abigail Nussbaum
31 March 2011
Ten days ago Niall Harrison posted The SF Count, a look at how genre review venues break down according to gender--how many female authors are reviewed, and how many of the reviewers are women. The numbers, though unsurprising to those of us who have been paying attention to this issue, nevertheless paint a stark picture: few venues had a better than 1:2 ratio of female to male authors reviewed, and only one had a majority of female reviewers (Fantasy & Science Fiction, which has only five regular reviewers). Strange Horizons places at the head of the pack in the former measurement, and near the middle in the other.
These are, of course, only two very simple metrics. There are other ways of examining the diversity and inclusiveness of a review venue. By some, Strange Horizons does very well. In others, not so much. I think that the department I inherited from Niall displays one of the broadest, most eclectic ranges of material, and of opinions, in the field (and, not coincidentally, is one of the best review organs in the field). But there's always room for improvement, as the numbers Niall collated show. While increasing the number of female authors that Strange Horizons reviews is a task that can be shouldered, for the most part, by the department's editor, it takes a lot more people to increase the number of the department's female reviewers. Specifically, it takes you.
If you are a woman who reviews or blogs about genre fiction, I'd like to invite you to review for Strange Horizons. You can get a sense of the kind of books we review in the department's archives, and a sense of the kind of reviews we're looking for in its submission guidelines (I've also started a series of discussions--currently stalled but hopefully soon to resume--about the kind of reviews the department should run; the first two entries are here).
If you think you'd like to review for Strange Horizons, send an email with the subject REVIEWER QUERY: and your name to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email, tell us a little bit about yourself, include some samples of your writing (or links to samples), and give a sense of the kind of books you'd like to review (science fiction, fantasy, horror, YA, literary fiction, short fiction, nonfiction, etc.). I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
(It should go without saying that queries from men will not be tossed aside unread. This effort is geared at encouraging the participation of women in the department, but we're always ready to hear from new potential reviewers of all stripes. In addition, though this discussion has been about gender, there are other forms of diversity. We welcome queries from POC, queer, and international reviewers.)