More fluffy than Buffy
Last year, Mad Norwegian Press released Chicks Dig Time Lords , a book of essays on Doctor Who , written by women. This time, the focus is on another fan obsession: “A celebration of the worlds of Joss Whedon by the women who love them.”
While it's true that Whedon is a more logical choice for a female perspective – he's pretty unique in the sheer number of strong, well-written women he's created – many of the problems with the first collection are still evident here. The majority of the essays are personal tales by writers you've never heard of, talking about how inspiring they found one of Whedon's creations and what he's meant to their lives. While it's nice to share such tales with fellow fans, reading tale after tale by strangers gets underwhelming fast.
Nancy Holder, Jane Espenson and Juliet Landau all contribute to this collection, and though Espenson's piece is the most interesting of the three, it's still not much more than a one-page magazine interview. The book comes into its own where more specific perspectives are given. Meredith McGrath writes a fascinating essay on how many of the shows' different characters and situations have helped with her calling to Christian ministry. Laurel Brown, a female engineer, gives her views on Kaylee, and Emma Bull, a Western re-enacter, talks about how Firefly plays with the Western archetype of the lone hero, and how that character would actually have survived in a frontier setting.
Unfortunately, such moments are too few and far between. This book was never meant to be any kind of academic discussion on Whedon's work, but a few more studies and a few less pieces on how women have found strong female characters inspiring would have made it a much more readable collection.