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Literature / Chicks in Chainmail

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Chicks in Chainmail is a fantasy anthology series created and edited by Esther Friesner, and published by Baen Books, that centers around women warriors, usually with humorous tales and with a Chainmail Bikini-clad woman on the cover that gets skimpier with each volume. So far, the following books have been published in the series:

  • Chicks in Chainmail (CiC)
  • Mathemagics - an expanded tale of Riva Konneva, who also has a short story in each anthology
  • Did You Say Chicks? (DYSC)
  • Chicks 'n Chained Males (CnCM)
  • The Chick Is in the Mail (Mail)
  • Turn the Other Chick (TTOC)
  • Chicks and Balances (CaB)
  • Chicks Ahoy (Ahoy; omnibus volume of the three first volumes)

Regular contributors with a page here on TV Tropes have been Esther Friesner, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Eric Flint, Jim C. Hines, Elizabeth Moon, Wen Spencer, Harry Turtledove, and K. D. Wentworth.

The series was created as a humorous counterpart to the long-running Sword and Sorceress anthology series edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Chick the chick tropes

  • Action Girl: The objective of the whole series is to showcase just about every subtype of the Action Girl that can be applied to fantasy, and quite often lampshade it, subvert it, or otherwise play it for laughs.
  • Amazon Brigade: In a book series revolving around female protagonists, it's a given than some stories would have one of these as heroes or villains. Some examples are Moon's ''Ladies' Aid & Armor Society" and Ball's "Bronze Bra Guild".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In "The Thief and the Roller Derby Queen: An essay on the importance of formal education" in Mail by Eric Flint, the story comments on the probable cover of the anthology and the reading habits of its buyers.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Most of the cover art of the series has women wearing this, and many of the stories spread throughout will have the protagonists wearing this or some other type of Fanservice outfit. The Chainmail Bikini on the cover gets skimpier with each volume.
  • Comic Fantasy: All of the stories throughout the series are supposed to be funny in one way or another, from having a Greek Chorus or Lemony Narrator to the fact that all stories in one book have dudes in distress, to one of the main characters in one of them essentially being Tyra Banks if she was Red Sonja, to one story being set in a universe where being a math geek makes you a powerful sorcerer, and so on.
  • Deconstruction: A number of the stories deconstruct the genre comically. Example: CnCM has all of the Distressed Dude characters forced to be in the same situations as your typical fantasy Damsel in Distress, and most find it highly embarrassing.
  • Distressed Dude: The Running Gag on Chicks 'n Chained Males is that every male main character that appears on the story will inevitably be in this situation.
  • Fanservice Cover: Discussed in the forward to the first book of the Chicks In Chainmail anthology, describing women on the covers of certain fantasy books looking 'As if they had been hit from the back by a brace of torpedoes.'. The Series itself has an ever-skimpier chainmail bikini on the covers.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Deliberately so, even with the Chainmail Bikini trappings. The series is playing with the often-too-serious feminist heroines in silly ways because, as Freisner basically says in her foreword to the first volume, being able to laugh at genre conventions is important.
  • Formulaic Magic: In "Career Day" in CiC, the protagonist comes from a world where magic is done with mathematical formulas. She brings her daughter's class there on a field trip to observe her in her career as a barbarian swordswoman. When her opponent in a duel cheats by hiring a wizard to help him, the other chaperon on the trip, her daughter's math teacher counteracts the magic with his knowledge of calculus. It Makes Sense in Context. The stories got a full novel as a sequel, called Mathemagics, with this entire premise for the magical system.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The book series' titles alone are loaded with "chick" gags, and the stories inside are even crazier.
  • James Bondage: A Once an Episode Running Gag throughout CnCM's stories is every male main character being in this situation at some point.
  • Pun-Based Title: Chicks 'n Chained Males, The Chick Is in the Mail, Turn the Other Chick, Chicks and Balances.
  • World of Action Girls: Both the theme of the series (every hero is an Action Girl) and in many stories, where the societies are dominated by women warriors.

Alternative Title(s): Mathemagics