I don’t often go to the library, privileged as I am to be able to afford books, as a rule – and I like owning books. But sometimes I think I might like to read a book and probably not own it.
This book is one that I picked up at the library because I was there getting something else; the yellow of the SF Masterworks stood out to me, along with Griffith’s name – I didn’t know she had a piece in that set. So, serendipity at play.
This is a fascinating novel and one that I can’t really do justice to in a review – I’d give too much away and I hate doing that.
At the centre is Lore, who either doesn’t know much about herself or doesn’t want to know much about herself when she wakes up naked on the street. She’s taken in by Spanner, who might have acted like a saviour but really isn’t one, not in how she acts and not in how she thinks, and she doesn’t want to be one either. The relationship between Spanner and Lore is… difficult, and sometimes unpleasant; necessary, too, at least for a while. Griffith does a good job at revealing details quietly, and slowly, and almost without you noticing, so that a complex picture gradually comes to light.
This is also the case with Lore’s own family and personal history. A glimpse here and an idea there, gradual filling in of gaps, and suddenly things make so much more sense.
The world Griffith created as futuristic in 1995 is really quite recognisable today. There are some things that are still futuristic – the bioremediation of waterways is probably still a long way off – but her descriptions of the city and the way things work is full of familiar detail. And that’s where Griffith’s genius is, I think; it’s in the detail. This isn’t a Neuromancer adventure; it’s not a Mellissa Scott adventure. This is a story about life and the difficulties – and joys – of relationships, set in a web of competing economics and politics. Above all it’s about identity, and whether identity is mutable or not; whether revelations can change who we are, and whether we want them to; whether other people can change who we are, and whether we want them to.
In which other women are magnificent on the Internet, Fangirls are happy, and something mysterious is happening in Night Vale. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.
What’s New on the Internet
Nicola Griffith crunches some data about book bias between winners & shortlists
Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Women and SF blog, and the Vonda McIntyre Starfarers post in particular
Kate Elliott on Diversity Panels: Where Next?
What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alisa: Fangirl Happy Hour Podcast
Alex: Night Vale; Seanan McGuire, Every Heart A Doorway; Catherynne Valente, The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making
Tansy: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott, Letters to Tiptree
You can buy Tansy’s murder mystery Drowned Vanilla in ebook now!
Please send feedback to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!
It is Tiptree month, because yesterday Alice Sheldon would have turned 100. I am completely ensnared in All Things Sheldon/Tiptree at the moment because of Letters to Tiptree, which was launched yesterday for Sheldon’s birthday and which has been consuming much of my time over the last few months. I’m immensely proud of this book and still incredibly honoured that Alisa asked me to co-edit it with her.
A few people have written articles about Sheldon and Tiptree, so here – have some links:
Leah Schnelbach on What James Tiptree can teach us about the power of the SF Community
Brit Mandelo on Where To Start with the Works of James Tiptree, Jr
Tansy Rayner Roberts on Raccoona Sheldon’s “The Screwfly Solution”
Galactic Suburbia on the amazing biography written by Julie Phillips a few years ago
Alisa talked about Tiptree and other things over on the Three Hoarsemen podcast
Not sure you’re interested in reading a whole bunch of letters to Sheldon/Tiptree? Here are some examples:
Gwyneth Jones (includes one of the greatest lines ever)