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Adventures in Bodily Autonomy

by Nisi Shawl

The fourteen tales in Adventures in Bodily Autonomy flow across alternate universes and through space and time to consider the issues of reproductive justice through a fresh perspectives. There is an adventure here for everyone.

An astronaut on her way to Mars discovers she’s pregnant—can she keep her baby? Bee-like entities try to force a human to be their queen. In1930s Philly, a vampire offers a novel form of birth control. From a ghost, lessons learned too late. Women who cannot find a comfortable fit in their mythic realities. Future worlds where reproductive choices are different, but individual choice and external battles for that choice are just as real.

Join the authors in supporting NARAL Pro-Choice America. One hundred percent of the royalties are being donated to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“So satisfying to read a volume of new speculative fiction stories centered on women’s experience, women’s lives, women’s choices! You’ll find a pleasurable variety here: hard sf, fantasy, ghosts, vampires, horror, sweet lyricism and steel-edged noir — stories from well-known names, and stories from writers you've never encountered before. I guarantee that at least one story in this volume will make you punch the air in triumph, and another will work its way into your dreams, and not let go.”
—Elizabeth Lynn, World Fantasy Award Winner

“I’m absolutely blown away. Featuring so many authors who I love, this is a stunning anthology with many different approaches to the subject of bodily autonomy. Readers are going to be captivated by its range and variety.

“This anthology will be a breath of fresh air ins the ongoing fight for the right of women to control and make decisions about their own bodies.”
—Chinelo Onwualu, author of “What The Dead Man Said”

“Adventures in Bodily Autonomy is a fresh and bold collection. In our current political climate, these stories and imaginings are desperately needed.”
—Myriam Gurba, author of Mean

Queen of Dirt by Nisi Shawl

Teenage Brit enjoys teaching little kids at a Seattle Experience Outreach camp, even though she senses that something evil haunts the abandoned bunkers up the hill.

Languages Available: English
Languages Available: English

About the Author

When I was little, I told my middle sister Julie convoluted tales of how I, a mermaid, had come to dwell in the small midwestern town of Kalamazoo, Michigan. This odyssey involved the Saint Lawrence Seaway, several of the Great Lakes, and mysterious underground passages my schoolteacher called aquifers. Her own origin was much simpler, of course; our parents, I explained, had found her in a garbage can.

At sixteen, in 1971, I moved from Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan's Residential College. I took several French courses, Oral History, Cosmology, and a poetry seminar that taught me ten weeks of nothing. Most classes took place in the dorm, and I got a job in the dorm's library. One day I was startled to notice an extremely short person walking towards me. They were less than two feet high. It took me several seconds to realize that this was a child.

Anyone under a certain age had become alien to my experience. It wasn't this isolation that led to my dropping out of school. I had an abortion. I became depressed. I quit going to classes two weeks from finals. I failed to finish my assignments, and left the University without a degree.

I moved into a house called Cosmic Plateau and lived with people who called themselves Bozoes. I paid $65 a month rent. I worked part-time as a janitor, an au pair, a dorm cook, an artists' model. I wrote. I performed my writings publicly, at parks and cafes and museums. I learned a lot.

I read Charnas, Russ, Delany, Colette, Wittig. I sent out a horrible story about fornicating centaurs and got a wonderfully sweet rejection letter. Then our landlady kicked all the Bozoes out of Cosmic Plateau, and I had to live by the sweat of my brow.

I worked at a natural foods warehouse. I sold structural steel and aluminum. I sold used books. I got married. I joined a band.

I kept writing. I got better.

My first science fiction appearance was in the nude. I modelled for one of Rick Lieber's illustrations for Bruce Sterling's Crystal Express (the Arkham House hardcover--I'm the Dark Girl of "Telliamed").

My first science fiction publication was in Semiotext(e) (see my bibliography for dates on this and the rest of my print oeuvre). I shared the table of contents with William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson and a bunch of less well-known but quite cool others. I owe my part in this literary conspiracty to Crowbar, publisher of the 'zine Popular Reality.

In 1992 I attended a cyberpunk "symposium" in Detroit. Sterling, in his inimitable manner, supposed that no one in the audience had heard of Semiotext(e), let alone read it, and I was able to retort from the third row that I was in it. So I got to hang out with him, and with Pat Cadigan and John Shirley, which last professional offered to read my stories! He was of the opinion that I could write. He recommended that I attend the Clarion West Writers' Workshop, where he and Cadigan were to teach that summer.

At Clarion West I learned in six weeks what six years at the University could never have taught me.

Because of Clarion West and another writers' program in the Puget Sound area (Cottages at Hedgebrook, a retreat on Whidbey Island), I put Seattle near the top of my list when considering a move from Michigan. I'd gotten divorced. We'd sold the house. When I asked my ancestors where I ought to live, they said this was the place.

My apartment is one block off of the #48 bus route. King County Metro takes me all the way to the beach. Grey and wild, or smooth as oil, the water is unfailingly beautiful. By ways as circuitous as those I described to my sister almost four decades ago, this mermaid has returned to the sea.