Carrie Sessarego is the resident “geek reviewer” for Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, where she wrangles science fiction, fantasy romance, comics, movies, and non-fiction. Carrie’s first book, Pride, Prejudice, and Popcorn: TV and Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre, was released in 2014. Her work has been published in Interfictions Online, Pop Matters: After the Avengers, The WisCon Chronicles Vol. 9, Invisible 3, Clarkesworld Magazine, and two volumes of Speculative Fiction: The Year’s Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary. She spends her time wrangling her husband, daughter, dog, and three cats.

Carrie Sessarego has the following works available at Clarkesworld:

Validating Rage: Women in Horror

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 186 – March 2022

Spoilers for: Halloween, Alien, The Babadook, Gaslight, Ready or Not, Rosemary’s Baby, A Nightmare on Elm Street In today’s world, women are often expected to be polite, to be selfless and self-sacrificing, and to be nurturing. Women never face more vitriol than when they express anger, an emotion that taints them with labels like “shrill,” […]

The Mermaid Problem

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 181 – October 2021

Almost everybody knows what a mermaid is, right? Human above the waist, fish on the bottom, oftentimes beautiful and seductive, sometimes terrifying and murderous: these creatures have appeared in a standardized form in Western art for hundreds of years. However, a deeper look at mer-lore shows a bounty of ancient and modern ways of thinking […]

Retro Heroines: Bella, Buffy, and Katniss

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 179 – August 2021

The first decade of the 2000s was dominated by three groundbreaking heroines: Buffy Summers, of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bella Swan from the Twilight series, and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. These three heroines exercised power in ways consistent with their personalities and had different levels of success in reaching their […]

Fungi in Fiction

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 177 – June 2021

Depictions of alien life-forms in movies and television are constrained by budget, by practicalities, and by storytelling purposes. For the purposes of budget and storytelling possibilities, Hollywood tends to highlight aliens with whom we can communicate, combat, cooperate with, and (if the original Star Trek is any indication) have sex with. Because of this, most […]

Peter Pan Through the Years

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 173 – February 2021

“All children, except one, grow up.” These words open the novel Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie. The story was published in and takes place in Edwardian England (after the death of Queen Victoria and slightly before World War I). Its pages are full of adventure, playfulness, terror, and levity. The novel was one of […]

Ghosts of Christmas Past: The Victorian Christmas Ghost Story Tradition

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 171 – December 2020

“Marley was dead, to begin with,” says Charles Dickens in the most famous Christmas ghost story. While modern readers continue to enjoy A Christmas Carol, few are aware that it was one of hundreds of Christmas-themed ghost stories that flourished in written form during the Victorian era. These stories represented a perfect meeting of interest […]

Mary Shelley's Dystopian Prophesy: Reading The Last Man During COVID-19

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 170 – November 2020

Mary Shelley’s classic science fiction and horror novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, was an instant hit when it was published in 1818. It was and is such a prominent part of literary and popular culture that modern audiences might be forgiven for thinking it her only novel. However, in addition to articles and travelogues, […]

“The Moon's a Balloon”: Hot Air Balloons and Airships in Speculative Fiction

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 168 – September 2020

People have always dreamed of flight. With the invention of the hot air balloon (specifically, the Montgolfier balloon, which is essentially the same design one might see at hot air balloon festivals today) this dream became a possibility for a startling variety of people—aristocrats and scientists, entertainers and artists, men and women. The popularity of […]

Isolation in Fiction and Reality

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 165 – June 2020

Many of us are having experiences with isolation as we experience various degrees of shelter in place and quarantine measures. Some of us live alone, experiencing contact with others only from a distance. Others live like a group of astronauts in a spaceship, relying on each other for social contact but also infringing on one […]

A Machine for Telling Stories: Tarot and Speculative Fiction

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 163 – April 2020

In his book The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Italo Calvino refers to tarot as “a machine for telling stories.” Writers have been using tarot cards as a storytelling device since the Italian and European Renaissance. Tarot appears in fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and speculative fiction works, including The Castle of Crossed Destinies. “Tarot” refers to […]

Jules Verne and a Journey Through Genre

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 161 – February 2020

Before science fiction was called science fiction, a hybrid category existed called scientific romance. Combining elements of fantasy, realism, and futuristic or alternative technologies, this genre formed a bridge between the medieval and the modern. In this essay we’ll explore the role that French author Jules Verne played in scientific romance and in the development […]

Dracula and Modern Anxiety

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 158 – November 2019

The Victorian era, which lasted from 1837 to 1901, saw the rise of many iconic monsters in literature. One of the most enduring was Count Dracula, the villain of Dracula by Bram Stoker. The novel, published in 1882, was an immediate success in England and America. However, Stoker had no idea that the novel would […]

Tolkien and World War I

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 154 – July 2019

Critics and readers are always fascinated by the intersection of life and art. When analyzing author J. R. R. Tolkien, who is most famous for The Lord of the Rings, he is no exception. For instance, the recent film Tolkien sought to link the writer’s experiences in World War I with his work. During his […]

Love at Stake

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 153 – June 2019

It’s been twenty years since Buffy Summers won the “Class Protector” award at Senior Prom, but her legacy never even slows down. Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in 1997. Every week for the first two seasons the show opened with the words, “In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against […]

Supernatural Brontës

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 152 – May 2019

Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are classic novels that can be reasonably placed in many different areas of the library. They contain within their pages romance, mystery, coming of age stories, and morality tales. They could also belong in the speculative fiction section, due to their reliance on supernatural elements in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre […]

Eros, Phileo, Agape, Storge: Love and Romance in Science Fiction

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 148 – January 2019

The romance and science fiction genres have often been at odds, yet science fiction, on page and on screen, has given us some of the most iconic love stories of all time. Romance serves many purposes in fiction in general, and these functions certainly apply to science fiction. Additionally, romance in science fiction helps us […]

Mary and the Monster: The Life of Mary Godwin Shelley

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 143 – August 2018

This year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Often considered to be the first science fiction novel, this book tells the story of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein and the creature that he creates and then rejects, with disastrous consequences. Rejection, loss, and the destruction of families were ever-present in […]

The Monster at the Movies: Film Adaptations of Frankenstein

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 142 – July 2018

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is 200 years old this year. First published in 1818, the story tells of a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who becomes obsessed with reanimating the dead. Victor creates a monster who is never named. In the book, the Monster is also called “the creature,” “the devil,” and “the daemon.” In most movies, […]

Aliens Among Us: Cephalopods in Science Fiction and Fantasy

NON-FICTION by Carrie Sessarego in Issue 138 – March 2018

In 2015, the news briefly and erroneously lit up with the announcement that science had revealed that octopuses are actually aliens. The misunderstanding stemmed from a quote from Nature: “It’s the first sequenced genome from something like an alien,” jokes neurobiologist Clifton Ragsdale of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who co-led the genetic analysis […]