Friday, May 21, 2010

The Ladies of Science Fiction

Though the speculative fiction, or science fiction, genre has been generally thought of as male-dominated, women participated in the creation of new worlds and the exploration of distant futures or different realities from the beginning. Written in 1666, The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, was one of the first examples of the genre. As a female writer, she was not well regarded in her day and considered all the more strange for the fanciful form that her writing took. Though female writers, and even female science fiction writers, became more commonplace, women in the 20th century still struggled to gain acceptance in the genre.

Many female science fiction and fantasy authors, like C.L. Moore, have used initials to make their genders ambigious. Others adopted male pseudonyms. Andre Norton, born Alice Mary Norton, also wrote under the names Allen Weston and Andrew North. Under her nom de plume, she was the first woman to win the Gandalf Award from the World Science Fiction Society (1977) and to be named Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (1983). Since the Grand Master Award's inception in 1975 to the present day, the only other women to hold this title are Ursula K. LeGuin and Anne McCaffrey.

James Tiptree, Jr., the pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon, wrote science fiction stories that were often feminist in tone, such as The Women Men Don't See. Despite this, from 1967, when she first published under this name, to 1977, her readers didn't know she was a woman. On the contrary, her writing was described as definitely "male." Her works challenged the conception of gendered writing.

To celebrate the contributions that female authors have made to science fiction, fantasy, and feminism, the Curious Book Shop currently has a display for Women Writers of Fantasy and Science Fiction. An entire bookcase now features Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, and Lois McMaster Bujold, with short biographies on each author. We even have CD audio books (a rarity in our shop!) of McCaffrey and Lackey.

Come in and see the display, up front, next to the womens studies section.

No comments:

Post a Comment