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Tiptree book club: With Delicate Mad Hands

Welcome to July’s Tiptree Book Club story-discussion-thing, which I have inherited from TJ on the closing down of Dreams and Speculation. This month we’re looking at “With Delicate Mad Hands,” which marks the halfway point in the anthology Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. (A note on the next few months – I’ve changed it around a little so that we’re reading kinda-sorta the same number of pages each month: August will be “A Momentary Taste of Being;” September “We Who Stole the Dream;” and “Her Smoke Rose up Forever;” October “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death” and “On the Last Afternoon;” November “She Waits for All Men Born” and “And So On, and So On;” December “Slow Music” (yes those last two are not in the order given in the anthology).)

This discussion is completely riddled with spoilers, so don’t read on if you’d like the joy of discovery all for yourself!


It’s worth saying up front that this story did not go in any of the directions I had expected, which shouldn’t have surprised me with Tiptree. That a story could go from a discussion of how awful a girl’s life was because she had a squashed nose to her being the first human on a extra-solar planet, beloved by an alien and bequeathing an enormous amount of new knowledge… yeh, that’s pretty awesome.

Of course, to get to the awesome you have to struggle through some quite awful stuff. CP’s life is horrid right from the start – and I hope I’m not the only one slightly frustrated by the tantalising looks into this ?post-apocalyptic world offered by Tiptree, where you can rarely see the sky and Managers are the be-all and end-all. CP’s drive to get into Basic Space Crew Training eventually gets her there, and while I was initially impressed with a society that eventually lets girls in, that was rapidly quashed: she has to pay for her own sterilisation, which was awful on numerous levels, and, along with her other duties, she has to allow the men onboard to use her as a sexual ‘waste can’. My horror knows no limits…

The events on the ship, with CP eventually getting rid of the men and taking off towards Galactic North, I found surprising and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because of the no-nonsense way it was all described; and perhaps because CP’s preparedness for just this eventuality is chilling. I did, though, really enjoy her enjoyment of solitude, and finally doing just what she wants; that she went around and pulled off all the blinds to be able to see out felt so familiar that I think at this point I was able to identify with CP, just a bit. And then to have her find a roving planet… as I said, it was unexpected, and utterly utterly intriguing. That life could grow somewhere like this! That radiation could have a positive impact on life… that telepathy etc would develop, and the different ways that can be found to do science… Tiptree had a seriously amazing imagination. (Also, did anyone else feel like she might have been a little influenced by Yoda, in characterising some of her little aliens?? This story came out in 1981, so it’s just feasible….) The poignancy of discovering that yes, there really had been a voice in her head all that time, and that she was and had been loved, was a wonderfully touching conclusion.

Some questions to get discussion going:

How did you feel about CP, and did this change over the story?

Did the story develop as you were expecting?

What did you think of Auln, the alien world?

Tiptree link of interest

This is from a while back, but Niall Harrison of Strange Horizons wrote about Her Smoke Rose up Forever and raised some interesting issues about some of the stories – including “Houston, Houston, Do you Read?” Some of the comments are very interesting too. Those of us who are reading the anthology for the Book Club started by Dreams and Speculation may find it stimulating – although I did skip over some of the discussion, because I haven’t read those stories yet!

June Tiptree book club discussion

Along with everyone else, I was sad to see that TJ had made the (sensible!) decision to let her blog, Dreams and Speculation, go. I came across her because of the Women in SF Book Club, and have so far really enjoyed the books and discussion. Rather than letting a good thing go, Shara at Calico Reaction and I have made the decision to jointly host and continue the Book Club; she’s doing the novels, and I get the joy of talking about James Tiptree Jr. So, welcome! And enjoy.

June’s story from Her Smoke Rose Up Forever is “Houston, Houston, Do you Read?” – a story I have previously read as novella double, paired with Joanna Russ’ “Souls” (there’s a headspin for you). What follows is some of my thoughts on the story – completely full of spoilers, so if you haven’t read it yet, back away! Following in TJ’s footsteps, I’ve added a couple of questions at the end of the post – feel free to consider them in the comments or completely ignore them, as you see fit.

This story sees three astronauts on a solar mission; they encounter a flare and when they come back around to the Earth side, things are… different. Houston doesn’t answer, but someone else does. They get picked up by a very different spaceship, one that seems almost entirely crewed by women – and it’s several hundred years into their future.

This story does what my favourite stories do: with an awesome sf story, its focus is on the people – their reactions, their attitudes, their problems. The astronauts are appropriately different from one another such that a range of reactions can be explored, but they don’t feel like ciphers; Tiptree deftly sets them up as individuals. I believe this story first came out when Tiptree’s true identity was unknown; all I can say is, Seriously? Did they just not see the feminism?

Anyway, the slow unravelling of the men’s good nature at being rescued by women is very cleverly done. I found the attitudes of the men towards the men really quite harrowing; their patronising tone, their easy assumption of supremacy, automatic belittling of the women’s competencies – it was presented as so horrendously normal and obvious. Bud, in particular, is horrendous in his attitude towards women as nothing but sex objects. That said, in some ways Lorimer is almost more horrifying; as the narrator and because of his scientific background I felt sympathy for him, but still his attitudes and perceptions of the women are almost entirely sexist.

The gradual reveal that not only is the entire ship crewed with women but the entirety of the human race is women, thanks to an epidemic three hundred years previously, is very cleverly handled. The idea of a single-sexed humanity has been explored in other science fiction, with varying results; I quite like this idea, with clones to allow reproduction. The most poignant reflection on the differences between a single-sex and two-sex world comes right at the end, when Lorimer tries to defend Bud and Dave’s aggressive actions. I could almost feel sorry for all of them at that point.


1. Did you pick that the future society was single-sexed before it was revealed?

2. Was the futuristic society believable for you?

3. What were your reactions to the men’s characters and attitudes?

4. This story was published in 1976. Do you think it is still a relevant story?


Doomsday Book: the sf and the medieval

This is the April book for the Women in SF Book Club. I’ve been trying to read each book a month ahead of time, here at the start of the year, because I just know I’ll fall behind at some point… and those who know me know that I am nothing if not a completionist and a perfectionist. It’s a failing. Eh.

I’ve never read a Connie Willis. I know, I know; another failing. Anyway, I picked this up from the library without knowing anything about it. The first thing I thought was OMG THIS IS HUGE (669 pages, to be exact). The second was HEY, this is actually a medieval book! I didn’t realise that… and it made me a bit wary, to be honest. I’ve just finished a masters in medieval history, and while that by no means makes me an expert in the time, it does make me wary when I don’t know how expert authors are, and whether I can trust them or not. I knew a few of my friends – especially Tansy – thought she was a wonderful author, so I wasn’t entirely dubious, but… you know…

So, I began. And to be honest, the first chapter did not work for me. I don’t mind being thrown into a world headfirst, but this was a bit nuts. And I’m not sure why, but none of the characters were immediately engaging, so I neither knew who they were nor (immediately) cared to find out. I was worried that this was going to be another book to struggle through so that I could an informed and scathing commentary when the Book Club came around (which is what will happen with Darkship Thieves tonight…ETA: now!).

But I kept reading.

At the end of the first chapter, Mr Dunworthy has seen his star pupil, Kivrin, sent off to the Middle Ages via a time machine (basically). In the second chapter, Dunworthy and his friends go off to the pub, concerned but trying to be positive about Kivrin’s chances; there’s some worry over how the whole event has been organised. And all of a sudden… I cared. I don’t know why. I can’t pinpoint a moment when the people began to matter, or when I began to be engaged with the individuals and their concerns. But I think it was in this second chapter, with the minutiae of life in Oxford; and then the third chapter, with Kivrin recalling how she got the gig to be sent back in time and then waking up in the Middle Ages. And the description of the environment, Kivrin’s reactions to it… it grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and forced me to keep reading. And keep reading. And I read the 669 pages in two days.

Some spoilers.

I really, really enjoyed the book. Obviously.

I initially expected that after the sending-back-in-time experience, there would be occasional flash-forwards to Dunworthy, but that mostly the book would be focussed on the medieval. I was wrong, of course. I’m not positive, but I think the book is almost evenly split between the near-future (from our perspective; it’s set in 2055, or so) and the past. I think I may actually have enjoyed the near-future section more than the medieval. It is riveting because there’s an illness – an influenza, perhaps the most obvious modern corollary of plague – rapidly taking hold of Oxford. When I first read the book I thought it was a much more recent publication than it actually is (1992) because of the way it  imagines a population dealing with disease; it feels exactly like a book written post-swine flu. At any rate, it’s fascinating because although the disease is taking over the city, Willis is most interested in a couple of individuals and how they go about trying to ignore the disease and carry on with life – and, particularly, trying to figure out what has happened to Kivrin 700 years in the past. I enjoyed Dunworthy, and sympathised with his attempts at dealing with bureaucracy, and his concern for his student – although quite why he was just so concerned was unclear, and in fact a couple of times it made me a leedle uncomfortable, because it almost skirted the bounds of propriety. (Maybe that’s just me….)

The other reason I liked the near-future sections was for their utterly normal feel. The futuristic elements were quite muted: “the net”, whereby Kivrin was sent back in time (and others, too – it’s regarded as nearly normal); some aspects of government, such as the quarantine measures; and a few medical things that hardly warrant much attention. But it would be easy enough to ignore those, and read it as set in our contemporary world. It’s very believable and enjoyable.

Of the medieval sections I was, as mentioned above, more suspicious. I was beyond annoyed, by the way, with my copy of the book, which says on the front “Kivrin wanted to study the Black Death, not live it…” because actually NO, she was not interested in the Black Death, and by the way SPOILER!! since she only realises that she’s in the 1340s – twenty-odd years off the time she was expecting – MORE THAN HALFWAY THROUGH. Gah.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with the medieval village Willis created. She didn’t try to do too much: staying in one village, with a fairly small number of people, and not really getting into the politics or anything was sensible on many levels, not least of which was allowing the reader to get to know and care about a smaller number of characters. I liked that Kivrin’s interpreting software didn’t work perfectly and that there were many surprises, large and small, about the realities of medieval life – things that historians do squabble about. Kivrin as a character didn’t really do much for me; she was likeable, and I sympathised when things went badly, but I didn’t ever entirely identify with her. Of the others, the only one for whom I felt much sympathy was the priest, Roche. The others were not developed enough for me to desperately want to understand. Perhaps the most telling part of my reading experience was that when the book flicked to the 21st century, I wasn’t that impatient to return to the 14th.

Tansy warned me that I would cry because of this book (actually, she told me to buy a box of tissues). I understand why she said this. However, I did not cry. There are probably a few reasons for this. The first might be that I was warned; the second may be that I am cold-hearted, as several people suggested! But third, and perhaps most to the point: I am a medieval historian. I know the reality of the Black Death. Nothing that happened to Kivrin, nothing that she experienced, was a revelation to me; there was no surprise in any of the events nor in people’s attitudes. I felt most sadness at some of the events in the near future. And fourth, I was also prevented from bawling because I read it too fast. I had to read it fast because I had to know what happened, but it meant that I didn’t form the emotional bond with the characters that I might have with a more leisurely read-through. Not that I’m regretting it; I thoroughly enjoyed the book and had enough of an emotional connection that I certainly regretted deaths and rejoiced at survivals. It’s also possible there’s a fifth reason that I didn’t cry: that Willis didn’t give me enough of the characters to make me want to cry. I think this is probably most true of the medieval characters; at least, they’re the ones I felt least attached to. I was closest to tears when I found that Dr Mary had died; that it happened while Dunworthy was unconscious, and that young nephew Colin has been so stoic through it all, was closest to being heart-breaking.

I think I understand why people rave about Willis. I have Blackout/All Clear on my to-read list, and it will definitely stay there… but it won’t get bumped up to must-read-or-will-cry level.

Darkship Thieves

This is the March book for the Women of SF Book Club, and I was really quite excited about reading it. Check out that cover! It’s a 2010 book, but it looks delightfully pulpy, doesn’t it? I was rather hoping that, being written by a woman and with a woman like that on the cover, this was going to be a good, maybe feminist, take on the old pulps: a good adventure with a strong, doughty female character as the lead. After the first two book club books – Dust and The Dispossessed – I was hoping that this book would be a bit more plot-heavy, a bit more adventure-y, a bit more… classic SF, I guess.

I was disappointed.

Some spoilers ahead.

I was disappointed from the outset, because the lead character – Athena Hera Sinistra – seems rather too preoccupied with her body, and especially her boobs. Now I have no problem with characters being concerned with body image; it’s an entirely appropriate subject matter to be dealt with. But this novel is written in the first person, and I found Sinistra’s discussion of her own body rather too much like what might come from a fairly juvenile male writer; it felt uncomfortably like she was objectifying herself, and not in an ironic way. Sinistra disappointed for most of the novel, frankly. She had the makings of a very interesting character: headstrong, with a difficult family life, some awesomely non-stereotypical skills, and a habit of kicking men in the balls. But… but. She suffered from a rather egregious problem, which was not really her fault: poor writing. She just was not believable. What could have been entertaining snark fell flat; what could have been an ironic take on the adventuring spacefarer that I was anticipating fell flat; what could have been a fascinating look at a strong woman in a man’s world just got boring. And the other characters suffered from the same problem; they were far too 2D for the book to be engaging.*

Despite the book being set some fuzzy many years in the future, the world is indeed still a man’s world – even more than it is today. That’s a little disappointing, and it’s not actually explained very well why that should be the case. And this was another aspect that was disappointing: the world-building. The small amount of history that is dished out over the course of the entire novel is really quite fascinating, and it was one of my favourite parts; I would probably read the book about her posited 21st/22nd century. But the world as it exists in this novel… doesn’t get fleshed out enough. The world of the darkship thieves – where Athena finds herself for a while – is an interesting contrast to Earth, both in the novel and today, but it too isn’t fleshed out very much. Coming after The Dispossessed I was perhaps always going to be let down by the lack of politics, but there’s little explanation at all for how the place manages to exist, and less about why it exists as it does.

I was disappointed by the plot, and that’s really what makes me sad. I could handle the characters being a bit flat, and I could handle skimpy world-building, if only the plot had zinged along at an exciting pace and had really great climaxes, reveals, and drama. But it didn’t. It’s not that the plot dragged; its problem was quite the opposite. Events happened at such a dizzying pace, in some sections, that you barely had time to draw breath – but they weren’t events that should have happened that quickly. I can understand a battle, or a series of decisions, happening at a breathtaking pace – if they’re well-written. Here, they were often events that would have been better off either being given very little space and therefore importance, or attended to with more leisurely writing and attention to detail. Rather than feeling absorbed by the plot and borne along by it, I felt thrown around and sometimes thrown out altogether. It left me disgruntled. And the twist at the end, about what Athena is? I saw it coming way too early. I don’t usually pick twists, and I like it that way: I enjoy being surprised by the author. So that the bid ta-da was not so big saddened me all over again.

Finally, I was disappointed by the romance. If the romance had had any sizzle, if there had been any genuine suggestion that there would not be romance and then it happened in a really awesome way, I would have been able to regard the story with some fondness. But it was obvious from the get-go that the characters were going to get it on… and then they finally did, but there were no fireworks, and no passion; it wasn’t even one of those delightful feelings-creeping-up-on-you scenarios. In a word: boring.

I was disappointed to be so disappointed. I really, really wanted to like this book. Of course, I’ve loved the first two books of the Book Club where many people have loathed both, so it will be fun to be the disgruntled one for a change…

This may be one of the snarkiest reviews I have ever written. I did indeed finish the book, because I was really hoping it would redeem itself. It didn’t. I actually skim-read the final hundred pages or so…

* Yes, that’s right people; I just totally dissed a book on account of the characters being too 2D. I know! Perhaps I am finally getting more sophisticated! … keep reading…

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia

I have loved Ursula le Guin for a long time; I think we read A Wizard of Earthsea for school, and when I discovered there were sequels – many years later – I was very happy indeed. But it wasn’t until many years after that that I discovered she had written a lot of serious, awesome, adult work too. It took me ages to get to The Left Hand of Darkness, which now rates as one of the best SF books ever for me, and I have slowly been getting to her others. Happily, The Dispossessed is the February book for the Women of SF Book Club – a perfect opportunity.

A spoiler-filled, and whimsical, discussion


The conceit of calling this post ‘spoilery’ makes me laugh, since the plot itself is so simple – and there’s really nothing to spoil. A man goes from one planet to another; learns some stuff; gets involved in some political stuff; goes home. Has flashbacks about meeting his partner and about his evil boss. That is, Shevek – a highly-regarded physicist – leaves his planet Anarres and goes to its sister-planet Urras to further his research. Anarres was colonised 170 years before by people fleeing Urras, determined to set a society with no property or ownership (a philosophy called Odonianism). In alternating chapters we get his experiences on Urras – learning what it is to be ‘propertarian’ and then getting involved in the beginnings of a revolution – and then his life to that point on Anarres, involving a stick-in-the-mud physicist, meeting his partner Takver, and Shevek coming to terms with his own attitude towards Odonianism. I was a bit sad that it ended with Shevek landing back on Anarres, though; I would have liked to see the reaction to his return. I guess leaving it ambiguous is part of the point.

I would not be surprised to find that a lot of people find this a very boring book, because the plot is indeed quite slow, and straightforward, and really almost nothing happens. But the point, of course, is that this is not a plot-driven book; while the plot itself is actually interesting and I enjoyed it, it’s there – I think – to enable the character-driven and politics-driven book.

I loved the past/future back and forth of the chapters. To see where Shevek ends up, while also seeing how he got there, is a fascinating narrative trick. It almost denies causality, in some way, which ties in very neatly with Shevek’s own thoughts and dealings with time and temporality: we know he got together with Takver before he meets her, we know he becomes an immensely important physicist before he becomes one. On p162 of my copy, he suggests that “The way to see how beautiful life is, is from the vantage point of death.” Although Shevek isn’t dead at the start of the book, I think we best appreciate his experiences on Uras by looking from the vantage point of Antarres… and vice versa.


Shevek is not entirely likeable, but almost always admirable – with one horrendous exception, where he possibly rapes Vea (I think it’s unclear whether he does or not). Interestingly, the fact that all we know of Vea’s behaviour is from Shevek’s point of view – coloured by his naivety – made me quite surprised when it appeared that Vea was not, actually, interested in ‘copulation’ there and then. Anyway, he has those outsider/loner characteristics that so often seem necessary for making an interesting character, even if ultimately he ends up appearing like the most ‘inside’ Odonian politics. Most of the other characters are mere sketches – even his partner Takver. This is not to say that they are caricatures or stereotypes; more, perhaps, that being entirely fleshed out is unnecessary for the story to take place.


Undoubtedly some readers will see this book as overly polemical. But tying it all in with the science, and some intense personal relationships, tempers the politics in my mind; and besides, when it’s as well-written as this, and as critical, passionate, and searing as this, polemical definitely has its place. I love that this was written in 1975 and it’s a critique – almost a damnation – of both capitalism (called propertarianism) and perhaps the ultimate expression of communism (Odonianism). USSR-type communism comes in for a brief condemnation, too, via a discussion Shevek has with the physicist from Thu, Chifoilisk. At times, both Anarres and Urras appear to be fine places to live: Urras is very familiar, while Anarres comes across as so worthy – or maybe that’s just me and my left-leaning sensibilities (it will be very interesting to see how the American readers in the book club respond…). Then on the other hand, Urras is so stifling, its attitudes towards women so 1950s-esque – and the government’s response to a mass, peaceful, demonstration is so extreme – that I shudder to think Australia could be like that. In turn, Anarres feels so poor, and has its own brand of stifling and unpleasant, that neither appears as a utopia; hence the subtitle given to the book, I guess. I think I would still opt for Anarres, given the opportunity to pick – despite le Guin warning that it too is imperfect, in its application of Odo’s philosophy.

Odonianism as a philosophy

I need to think more about what le Guin is suggesting here, I think. It has aspects of Marxism, especially of its Leninist interpretation; the ‘free love’ aspect (copulation brings no lasting attachment necessarily, has no moral component, sex is not dirty) was advocated to some extent by the Russian Alexandra Kollontai (a Bolshevik) and is also familiar from Brave New World…. Attempting to rid humans of all feelings of ownerships feels like a hopeless task to me, but it’s interesting to see how le Guin imagines it might be undertaken; her point that language itself would have to change is brilliant. On that note, the idea of making the word for work also the word for play is quite revolutionary and truly intriguing. It would have an enormous impact on people’s attitudes.

The science

I haven’t done physics in a very long time. I am sure that a physicist reading this could get frustrated by the vagueness of le Guin’s science if they wanted to, and no doubt pick holes in her ideas of simultaneity etc if they really wanted to. For me, it was techy enough that it gave Shevek and his friends the semblance of true science, without totally losing me. More interestingly, though, as a whole, is the fact that she ties the ideas of physics into ideas of morality and responsibility. How utterly awesome and mind-boggling. Too often ‘pure’ science is seen, and even sees itself, as devoid of political or moral connection. I don’t agree with that, and I’ve never seen it argued so well and passionately in fiction before.

What it made me think

Well, a lot of things, really. The sympathy I feel for Marxism is of course tempered by my knowledge of the USSR, China, etc. But Anarres shows a different way of how things could be. While things are not shown as perfect, by any means, and that the philosophy can be bent, there is still a feeling that it could work – with the will and intention of people who truly hold to Odonian philosophy, working in genuine solidarity. On a more personal level, the idea of working with time, rather than against it, was more provocative than almost anything else, given that I am already a sympathiser of the political ideas.


I got it from the library. I think I need to own it now. It ought to sit next to Naomi Klein’s No Logo.

Dust, by Elizabeth Bear

I read this book as the January book for the 2011 Women in SF Book Club, being organised by TJ at Dreams and Speculation. I’d not read any novels by Elizabeth Bear before, although I’ve enjoyed a number of her short stories and she’s also one of the contributors to Shadow Unit, which I adore. I didn’t know what to expect from this story, but it wasn’t what I got.

In short: I really enjoyed it, and am totally cut that it’s the first of a trilogy! (I thought I was doing so well with avoiding those.) I enjoyed the characters, and I thought it was a really interesting take on a not-original (which doesn’t mean it’s not interesting) SF trope.

At length, with spoilers:

I didn’t read the blurb before reading the book. The cover gives some indication of angelic types mixed in with technology, which I thought was a fascinating idea, and then the angel comes in right at the start – sans wings. Perceval, the angel and a woman despite the name, is a really fascinating character. She’s conflicted, she’s loyal, she never gives up despite an enormous amount of wearing down and opposition.

There are numerous other characters, but most of them are really only bit parts with one, maaaybe two exceptions: definitely Rien, maybe Jacob Dust. It’s Rien’s point of view that we get most often; starting as a lowly servant, discovering that she’s Perceval’s half-sister and actually of some consequence, and going and having some adventures – she is, I think, more approachable as a character than Perceval, who despite having some flaws and being somewhat tormented is more symbolic, more… a talisman. Rien is earthier, more grounded, and I think more approachable. Dust, on the other hand, is not very likeable or approachable at all; he’s quite a quirky take on the slightly crazed AI which I really enjoyed (I enjoyed the whole idea behind and consequences of the fractured AI, actually).

It took me a while to realise that the setting was a generation ship; right at the start I wasn’t even sure it was set in space, and I was wondering whether this was going to be some planet where the people had reverted to a faux-medieval existence with just a few people still taking advantage of old tech. Which is kinda true, but everyone is aware of the fact that they live on a spaceship, even if they don’t necessarily do anything directed connected with that reality at the moment. It’s a really clever setting: being on such an enormous ship means there’s not the claustrophobia of space travel in a tin can, and there are more options for moving around – and for having two antagonistic parties at each others’ throats but far enough apart that they have to actually work at reaching other. But it also means that vacuum is a genuine threat, which is a problem you never get dirtside… and it means you have the option of moving the whole damn ship, too (hence the trilogy).

I still haven’t quite figured out whether there were more Arthurian links than just Perceval’s name (and she does talk about being a knight errant… oh and there’s also a Tristen), and I somehow missed them. The third book is apparently going to be called Grail, so maybe there are – or maybe they will be more developed over the next two books.

Finally, let me say that I really didn’t expect the conclusion, which is a pretty awesome outcome when I read a book.

Starting the Book Club: Tiptree

Over at Dreams and Speculations, the first of the year’s book club discussions is up and running. TJ has done a very clever thing by having not only one novel a month, but introducing a mid-month discussion on a couple of James Tiptree’s short stories from Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. This month, it’s “The Last Flight of Dr Ain” and “The Screwfly Solution.” I managed to be the second commenter, hurrah! … because she’s in America and has, I presume, automated the initial post to go up at midnight. Which means I’ll be waaaay behind on the conversation, but at least I got to say something early on  😀 . Essentially, while I liked “Ain” and it was certainly an interesting story for 1969, “Screwfly” was brilliant with all sorts of crunchy things to say about gender relations and sexuality and religious fanaticism.

The post is chock-full of spoilers, of course, but if you’ve read them or are interested in Tiptree’s work, it would be worth reading it and the comments.

2011 Book Club

Thanks to a tip from Tansy, I have just signed myself up for an online book club for 2011: women in science fiction. I’ve read two – The Handmaid’s Tale and Lilith’s Brood (although I read that as three separate books) – and already own another – Mappa Mundi, which I will read before the designated month because Robson is one of the GoH at Swancon36/Natcon50. Of the others, I’ve been hanging out to read more than half of them, and know the names of most of the others, so this will be a great opportunity to get stuck into them and also discuss them to bits! I’m looking forward to it a lot.