I reviewed Phantasm Japan, a 2014 anthology edited by Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington, on Skiffy and Fanty today, and this post title is the resultant completely unintentional bad pun that brings me shame, but I am constitutionally unable to keep it to myself. My review is basically a giant fangirlgasm; this anthology has a greater proportion of stories that I’d classify as mind-blowing than any I’ve read since The Other Half of the Sky. As a whole it won’t be for everyone — some of the stories are very cerebral (there were a couple that were over my head in fact), which isn’t everybody’s thing. I loved it. Lots of genre-bending, mythic fiction, and post-apocalyptic stories.
And within it is one of the most viscerally satisfying feminist SF/F stories I’ve ever read — “Those Who Hunt Monster Hunters,” by Tim Pratt. It’s a revenge tale concerning supernatural sisters as they navigate the world of Internet dating, and one falls on the radar of the wrong kind of dude.
There are many reasons to love this story. The pacing, for one. The tone, for another — it manages to be angry, funny, and sad at the same time. The sisters’ dialogue seems so naturally like the way women talk to each other when men aren’t around — for several reasons, I can’t believe a dude wrote this. But mainly… the villain:
The monster hunter owns several Samurai swords and often wears a fedora…
And he fetishizes Asian women, trawls Internet dating sites, won’t take no for an answer, and is generally the douchiest douche to have ever douched.
He’s almost a caricature, though the narrator sister mentions the “points in his favor”: he’s not “the type to send unsolicited pictures of his dick to girls on dating sites… but he is the type to send five messages in three days, with the last one calling you a stuck-up bitch who’s honestly too ugly to be so picky, if you don’t reply.” I think it works because he’s basically a cipher on which you can project any douchebag you’ve ever met. The racist douchebag. The entitled douchebag. The pick-up artist douchebag. The cyberstalking douchebag. Really, he’s all-encompassing in his douchiness.
Read this story, and re-read it every time some douchebag creeps into your Garden of Apathy and pisses all over its dormant seeds, expecting fucks to blossom.