Chicks and Balances - Esther Friesner


This book is dedicated to Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE

Though Y’r Humble Editrix is always pleased to think of him as Terry,

Master of the Monstrous Regiment,

He who always Remembers the Ladies,

And who is proof positive that the Good Guy also wears the Black Hat.

Post Script

I am deeply sorry to say that Sir Terry Pratchett

left us on March 12, 2015.

He did know that this book was going to be dedicated to him,

for which I am glad.

His wisdom, insight, and humor live on.

“The enemy isn’t men, or women, it’s bloody stupid people and no one has the right to be stupid.”

—Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment


by Esther Friesner

Congratulations, you’ve just picked the sixth slick Chicks shtick.

Now try saying that perfectly, ten times, quick! If you fail (epically, as is the custom nowadays) you owe me a drink.

Yes, you do. It’s a proven fact that whenever I include a request, suggestion, pipe-dream or Imperial Command in the Introduction to one of the Chicks in Chainmail books, someone somewhere out there in GentleReaderLand always seems willing to take care of fulfilling that li’l ol’ wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if . . . ? for me.

Case in point: Ages ago, the Introduction to an earlier Chicks anthology contained my simply dreadful doggerel poem in praise of Lucy Lawless, then starring in Xena, Warrior Princess. (No, I don’t remember which volume contained said poem and my home library is in a permanent state somewhere between Category and Chaos, so I am unable to ferret out the hard data. Deal with it.) I also voiced the hope of someday acquiring an autographed picture of Ms. Lawless inscribed “To Binky.” (I am unable to explain why I wanted that particular personalization. I just did. What can I say? My Muse is the divine Adlibia, patroness of Whimsy.)

Fast Forward to an e-mail received from a fan in New Zealand. He reported that they’d just opened a Barnes & Noble in Wellington, told me he’d bought the aforementioned installment of Chicks, and asked if I’d been serious when I said I wanted that personalized photo from Ms. Lawless.

Because, you see, he was a stuntman on Xena, and he could get it for me.

Yes, please, thank you, and WOOT!

And behold, I was shortly thereafter in possession of that which I had so lightly requested, which just goes to show you that:

A. I loooooove the Internet

B. I should’ve asked for jewelry


C. You really do owe me a drink.

Unless, of course, you managed to say, “I picked the sixth slick Chicks shtick,” per the above guidelines, in which case, I owe you a book.

Hey, whaddayaknow? Here it is!

This is the point in the Introduction where you may thank me for not saying it’s been a long, strange trip, even though it has. What began for me as a flash of inspiration in the middle of a science fiction convention art show has been with us for nigh unto twenty years. The first eponymous Chicks in Chainmail anthology was published back in 1995, as thousands cheered. This means the project is more than old enough to vote, to drive, to register with Selective Service, to marry without editorial consent, and is nearly of an age to drink legally.

(Hmmm, again with the drinks? I am beginning to detect a pattern here. On the other hand, since I have been wearing the triple crown of creator, editor, and contributor within the Chicks in Chainmail universe for a couple of decades, I’d say that I am entitled to the occasional cup that cheers.)

It delights me no end to reflect upon the longevity and success of the Chicks in Chainmail series. I don’t know if anyone expected these funny tales of women and armor—in whatever guise—to do so well for so long. Back when it all began, I invoked that tidy little put-down in joke’s clothing:

“How many Feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

“That’s not funny!”

In other words, Feminists can’t cope with a joke.

Goodness knows that the Internet and the assorted airwaves have shown us many examples of jokes who couldn’t cope with Feminists, but the reverse? Untrue.

You want proof? You’re holding it. Twenty years and six anthologies making light of the Grim and Gritty Woman Warrior, with nary a “How dare you?” reaching my shell-like (conch) ears.

Maybe things are looking up, civilization-wise. Maybe it’s okay to laugh. Maybe laughter is being recognized as one of the best measures of empowerment and security. Maybe most of us are willing to toss aside our Agenda Sticks rather than brandishing them mightily as