in Science Fiction.
I have finally finished reading this, by Justine Larbalestier… pity it wasn’t in time for the podcast on Larbalestier’s work, but oh well.
It’s given me an enormous amount to think about, not least of which the fact that, despite the reality that women are still not yet equal with men in so many facets of life (the recent interweb spat over the very issue of women in SF as a case in point), still things have improved out of sight in less than 50 years. I would guess that no man these days would be given the print-space to vocalise the idea that women are unwanted in SF (unless it was to set him up for target practice); but this is exactly what happened only a few decades ago, in complete seriousness.
It’s also given me a huuuuge list of books to find, starting with the Tiptree Awards winners. I think it might be time for me to start stttrreeetching myself in my SF-reading, get out of the comfort zone every now and then, and that seems like a good way to start. Good thing the lists are online; pity some of them are short stories that might be very hard to find.
Because Larbalestier includes a big section on the contribution of women to fandom, I’ve also got quite a sense of history and community from reading BoTS. Despite having been a reader of SF&F for a significant period of time, I’ve really only been part of the ‘fan community’ as it’s usually known for a very short period of time, and I still often feel uncomfortable there: both because I’m not sure that I belong, and also because sometimes I’m not sure I want to belong (although why, I’m also not sure). Reading about women writing letters to pulps from the moment of their inception, though, is just so damned cool that it makes me excited to be following in that mode – and I feel that the reviewing etc I get into does follow that. So that’s a really great outcome from reading this wonderful book.
(The book came out of Larbalestier’s PhD, so there are some sections that are a bit tech-heavy for those not very comfortable with literary theory. Much of it, though, is very accessible to the intelligent ‘lay’ reader.)