TITLE: Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who Hack
AUTHOR: edited by Paige Daniels and Mary Fan
SERIES: Brave New Girls
RELEASED: June 2018; Brave New Girls
GENRE: MG/YA Science Fiction
KEY INFO: all female protags, girls who can, anthology, supportive relationships
REPRESENTATION: f/f romances, trans girl, black women, asian women, tourettes, wheelchair user, girls who use assistive tech
CONTENT NOTICES: bullying, imprisonment, kidnapping, some stories have problematic racial rep
Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who Hack is the third instalment of the fantastic Brave New Girls anthology series about women in STEM. Each book represents different women in STEM with Heroines Who Hack primarily depicting a diverse array of young women in engineering and tech. An orphan stranded on a planet dominated by a tyrannical corporation must use her engineering skills to sell enough new tech so that she and her girlfriend can escape one day. A young girl with tourettes builds a piece of assistive technology that will help her be able to concentrate at school and finds self-love and acceptance along the way. A black girl finds herself on a spaceship which is rapidly leaking air and has to find a way back down to her planet with nothing more than her skills as an inventor and a sassy AI. There are 23 wonderful tales for all ages waiting to be discovered in this anthology with proceeds from sales donated to the Society of Women’s Engineers scholarship fund to enable more girls to pursue their dreams of becoming programmers, scientists, and engineers.
There were two things that I especially loved about Heroines Who Hack. Each chapter has an illustrated title page and ends with a special message from each author about their thoughts on ‘Brave New Girls’. It was really nice to find out why the authors wanted to contribute to the series and why they feel that supporting women in STEM is so important. One of the main messages was the importance of representation. There were countless stories from female authors who shared their experiences of growing up as young girls who were dissuaded from STEM subjects and who want to encourage young girls of today to go after their dreams.
“Every kid has the right and the potential to be whomever and whatever they want to be, and the best way to show them that is to give them positive role models of every variety, in life and in fiction”
The importance of diversity and representation carries over into many of the stories. It made me so happy to see how many stories featured queer women, women of colour and a few with disabled women as well. One of my favourites in the anthology, Sea-Stars and Sand Dollars by Lyssa Chiavari features an adorable f/f holiday romance which made me super happy. It also warmed my heart to see so many instances of women working together to succeed and save the day. Another of my favourites, Moon Girl, sees two passengers on a shuttle to the moon become unlikely allies in order to fix their shuttle and return to Earth on time, whilst The Power of Five has 5 MG protagonists uses teamwork and their scientific skills to escape a cave. Most of the stories are well-written, enjoyable, inspiring and full of kickass girls.
Whilst Heroines Who Hack has many, many instances of fantastic rep, there were three that had very problematic racial representation which really threw me off kilter. In one instance, I felt that the rep was so bad that I almost didn’t continue with the rest of the anthology which would have been a shame because there are lots of wonderful stories in this. However, I think it’s important to recognize that there are issues in some of the rep in Heroines Who Hack which needs to be looked at, particularly as these few stories represented people of colour as ‘backwards/uncivilized’ and one which used problematic ways to describe skin colour whilst entrenching character descriptions on racial stereotypes. On the whole Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who Hack does tend to get representation right but I think there needs to be discussions around the inclusion of such problematic material in future books and whether it truly reflects the diverse message of Brave New Girls.
On the whole, Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who Hack provides us with some sorely needed stories of young women in STEM and which supports a great cause. As someone who was raised as female, I was always in search of stories of girls who were engineers and hackers. I wish that anthologies like this had existed for me and I want there to be even more stories of women in STEM for girls of today and tomorrow.
Thank you to Jeremy Rodden, a contributor of this anthology, for providing me with an ARC of Heroines Who Hack in exchange for an honest review.