Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Science Fiction and Women

Two months gone on my pledge to read science fiction by women for a year, I'm already struggling. Part of this is my challenge at internet searching. Part is the inclusion of fantasy with SF. Science fiction has subsets. Speculative, utopian, dystopian, and other -ian(s). SF written by women does not always have women protagonists, and some men have written good SF featuring women. I picked up a couple of books by new SF women writers, and if the thing starts out with a rape or a beating, I'm done. Aren't there other ways to launch a woman on an adventure?  I read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, and she raised the bar to the stratosphere. I'm going to have to forget Breq in order to appreciate another SF story fully. Today I'm trying to find a critical anthology like Marleen Barr's Future Females, written and collected in this century. What I learned so far: utopian SF is the way women have to imagine a future that is not what we think we will live to see. There are no adventure stories featuring women because a women stepping out her door ala Bilbo Baggins will not regret she forgot her handkerchief. She will regret stepping out. No road trips, starship launches, stranger in a strange land for women. Nope. No unescorted trips to a border town on a mission of mysterious, possibly nefarious, assignment. Nope. An excellent example of this is James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon) "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled with Light!" Sheldon channels the exquisite joy of freedom, and then flips the illusion on its bloody head. Powerful storytelling. Utopian dystopian. We need a new genre. Freed from the criteria and criticism of male-dominated labeling. Oh hell, we need a new culture. Where's the hope in this one?

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