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October, 2005 : Feature:

Tough Times for Beset Manhood

Or, Where Has Good Old Golden Age SF Gone?

The title of this essay borrows from a by-now classic article in feminist literary criticism, Nina Baym's "Melodramas of Beset Manhood." Baym asserts that literary criticism developed a theory of "American" literature in such a way that it was nearly impossible for women writers to be included in the canon. While this may not immediately seem to have much bearing on the state of "golden age" science fiction, it is at times striking how those who repeatedly bemoan what has become of contemporary SF seem to echo the praise of the American Myth by such literary critics as Richard Chase and Leslie Fiedler: the lonely (male) hero who sets out to conquer new lands where the principle of individuality is ultimately triumphant. A very manly myth. Interestingly enough, those who complain most loudly about the state of the genre often also tend to complain about its emasculation, or at least state the problem in similar terms, emphasizing that, gosh darn, it just isn't male enough anymore!

The last 'Best-Of' anthology that I read (I think it was for 1999) didn't have a single white adult male as protagonist in ANY of its stories (at least up to the point until the shame at being confronted with the blood guilt of my vile race caused me to stop reading)...
—Joe Schembrie, on the Asimov's discussion board.

There are a number of theories about the roots of science fiction, but one highly regarded hypothesis—proposed by none other than the Grand Master Brian Aldiss—traces the genre back to a novel by a woman: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (On the other hand, the protagonist of this proto-science fiction novel was a white male scientist.)

As Cheryl Morgan points out in her essay "Myths of Origin," histories of science fiction often have an agenda—which determines when the genre first came into being according to the individual historian. But no matter where one sets the beginning of science fiction, it is undeniable that the predecessors are many and varied, from utopian fiction to fantastic voyages to parallel worlds to scientific romance (1) to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. (2) Even those who would like to make Hugo Gernsback the father of science fiction (and thus, perhaps, elevate his positivist view to dogma) would do well to note that in his 1926 definition of "scientifiction," he too harks back to Wells and Verne as well as Edgar Allan Poe to give his readers an idea of the kind of fiction he will be publishing in his groundbreaking magazine Amazing Stories. But the forebears he cites do not quite jibe with the definition he gives:

...a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision....Not only do these amazing tales make tremendously interesting reading, they are always instructive....Posterity will point to them as having blazed a new trail, not only in literature and fiction, but progress as well. (3)

It is an interesting juxtaposition: few nowadays would label Poe a model for being instructive and progressive, not to mention for including scientific fact and prophetic vision in his fiction.

Campbell insisted on realistic, mostly human positive stories, wherein the possible effects of advancing science and technology WERE the story, and cultivated writers who would give him same. He wanted clear, direct prose, and he thought that mankind was, for the most part, noble and capable....
In short, Campbell looked at the future and shouted, "Go for it!" Dozois looks at it and cries, "Be afraid of it!"
—Jon Bromfield, on the Asimov's discussion board.

The era conventionally referred to as the "Golden Age" of SF largely coincides with the first ten to twenty years after John W. Campbell became editor of Astounding Stories in 1937. This, however, is not always the era meant by those who decry recent trends in SF and long to return to a time of "stories for men," (4) even if that is not precisely how they phrase it. As has been pointed out more than once, the Golden Age of science fiction is twelve (or fourteen, as the case may be); Tobias Buckell adds in his blog, "If a Locus interview includes the interviewee's opinion of when SF was at its best, I check the birthdate—and so far, it's always been when that writer was a teenager" (n.p.).

Be that as it may, let us briefly consider the general era known as the "Golden Age." In the anthology The Science Fiction Hall of Fame I: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of all Time, voted such by the members of SFWA in 1968, the most recent story is from 1963. The volume contains only one story obviously written by a woman, "That Only a Mother," by Judith Merril; the second female presence in the anthology is through the inclusion of "Lewis Padgett," the pseudonym for the writer team of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner. This makes all of two women writers represented out of a total of twenty-six stories.

Several of the stories in this anthology themselves also reflect the male bias of the genre during this period. In Lester del Rey's story "Helen O'Loy," a knockout female robot displays "typically" feminine traits such as watching romance serials on the stereo-visor and going gaga on a shopping trip, "as any normal girl might" (Silverberg, 71). With her looks and her cooing and her excellent cooking and housewife skills, it's hardly surprising that one of the male leads falls in love with her. Stanley G. Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey" is often regarded by historians of the genre as the first treatment of aliens who are more than green men from Mars or humans in funny costumes. Nonetheless, it has a strong resemblance to the ultimate male romance, the Western, complete with a shootout at the end of the story with the creatures referred to as barrels:

"So I went 'bang' with my gun and Tweel went 'puff' with his, and the barrels were throwing darts and getting ready to rush us, and booming about being friends. I had given up hope. Then suddenly an angel dropped right down from Heaven in the shape of Putz, with his underjets blasting the barrels into very small pieces! (Silverberg, 39)

It is the darts of the barrels against the guns of the masculine hero as the desert frontier is won again on a habitable Mars.

[Critics] cast doubt on the very notion that a "melodrama of beset womanhood" could be either true or important. At the same time, ironically, they are proposing for our serious consideration, as a candidate for intellectually engaging literature, a highly melodramatic novel with an improbable plot, inconsistent characterizations, and excesses of style that have posed tremendous problems for all students of Charles Brockden Brown. —Nina Baym, "Melodramas of Beset Manhood" (70)

Obviously, during the Golden Age, SF was not as infiltrated by women as it is now. Given the preponderance of male authors, it is perhaps not surprising that no woman writer won a Hugo for fiction until 1968, when Anne McCaffrey received the award for her novella "Weyr Search," a tie with Philip José Farmer. In fact, from 1953—when the Hugos were first awarded—until 1980, women writers won the award for novel, novella, novelette or short story a total of twelve times, while male writers during the same period received sixty-eight fiction Hugos. (5)

In the last twenty-five years, the situation has improved somewhat for women writers of SF, who have taken twenty-eight of the awards for fiction while male writers received seventy-three. But slightly over a fourth hardly qualifies as a takeover.

Sometimes I have this unnerving and spine-chilling thought that too much short SF today is naught but metrosexualized SF.
—Dave Truesdale, "Politically Incorrect Ramblings or The Metrosexualization of Short SF" (n.p.)

Contrary to the pink-hued vision of Golden-Agists, SF from the beginning has been replete with forgettable, average, and even bad stories (just as all other genres are, including "literary" and "mainstream"). The "science" in science fiction has never been always rigorous; the vision of the future never always positive; the social criticism never always hard-edged and well-explored. These criticisms are dancing around the real complaint, betrayed in such word choices as "metrosexualized SF."

What seems to be going on is that science fiction has expanded and become more inclusive, and certain readers resent that. But since its inception, science fiction has also been replete with fiction which didn't easily fit into the hard SF or space opera categories, fiction which pushed the envelope of genre conventions. There has always been room for a number of different kinds of fiction, as long as they provided at least some readers with what might be the ultimate requirement of speculative fiction: sensawunda. Perhaps instead of trying to prescribe, we should see it as encouraging that those stories considered average or even bad by a Ruth Nestvold or a Jay Lake will be the same stories that Joe Schmoe or Otto Normalverbraucher loved—just as Joe Schmoe might consider the stories bad that Gardner Dozois loves.

The wonderful thing about our ghetto is that it is large; it contains multitudes.

Footnotes

  1. "Scientific romance" was the most common term in the nineteenth century for works such as those of H.G. Wells, and was still used well into the twentieth century until it was replaced by "science fiction." [back]
  2. For a concise and extremely informative survey of the genre, see John Clute and Peter Nichols, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (entry: "History of SF"): 567-572. [back]
  3. Cited in Clute and Nichols: 311. [back]
  4. But one assumes that John Kessel's story of that name, winner of the Tiptree Award for 2002, would also fall into the category of "the very tired theme" of gender (Truesdale, n.p.) for most of the "what has become of science fiction!" crowd. [back]
  5. These numbers do not include the retro Hugos. [back]

Works Referenced

Asimov's Message Board. "How Gardner Dozois Destroyed Science Fiction: The Evidence." June 14-July 02, 2005. http://www.asimovs.com/discus/ (no longer available: transcript made July 11, 2005).

Aldiss, Brian. Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973.

Baym, Nina. "Melodramas of Beset Manhood: How Theories of American Fiction Exclude Women." In Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory, ed. Elaine Showalter. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.

Buckell, Tobias. Weblog, "Dave Jumps the Shark." March 28, 2005.

Chase, Richard. The American Novel and its Tradition. New York: Doubleday, 1957.

Clute, John and Peter Nichols, eds. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995.

Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel, Revised Edition. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.

Kessel, John. "Stories for Men." Asimov's, October/November 2002. Available online.

Morgan, Cheryl. "Myths of Origin." Strange Horizons. February 9, 2004.

Silverberg, Robert, ed. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame I: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of all Time. New York: Avon, 1970.

Truesdale, Dave. "Politically Incorrect Ramblings or The Metrosexualization of Short SF." Tangent Short Fiction Review. March 24, 2005.


Copyright © 2005, Ruth Nestvold and Joseph E. Lake, Jr.. All Rights Reserved.

About Ruth Nestvold

Ruth Nestvold has published in Asimov's and Realms of Fantasy, and was a recent finalist for both the Tiptree and Sturgeon awards. She holds a PhD in literature with specializations in genre issues, gender issues and hyperfiction. After getting out of academia, she switched to translation and software localization to feed the writing bug. She maintains a web site at www.ruthnestvold.com.

About Jay Lake

Jay Lake lives in Portland, Oregon, where he works on numerous writing and editing projects. His 2008 novels are Escapement from Tor Books and Madness of Flowers from Night Shade Books, while his short fiction appears regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. Jay can be reached through his blog at jaylake.livejournal.com or his Web site at www.jlake.com.

COMMENTS!

Oct 10, 20:38 by IROSF
Thread for the discussion of "Tough Times for Beset Manhood," and gender issues in science fiction.

The article is here.
Oct 11, 12:07 by David Bratman
It's a well-known phenomenon that dominant groups becry their total disappearance whenever they stop being totally dominant. Studies of racial shift in American neighborhoods have, I believe, revealed that whites start complaining that the blacks are taking over when the black population exceeds about 10%.

However, the original complaint cited in the article (Joe Schembrie) isn't about all current SF, but about somebody's (Dozois's?) best of the year anthology.

Similarly, I can't tell if the critique of The SF Hall of Fame for having only 1 1/2 women in it is a critique of the book itself, or a critique of the pre-1965 field which the book fairly accurately reflects. (One note: the article says "voted such by the members of SFWA in 1968, the most recent story is from 1963," but any implied criticism for not having more recent stories should be negated by the book's eligibility period, which ended in 1964, the idea being to honor stories pre-dating the Nebulas, whose eligibility began with 1965.)
Oct 11, 17:14 by Mike Brotherton
I blogged about issues involving women, science, and science fiction last spring here --

http://www.mikebrotherton.com/archives/002382.html

While sf is diverse these days, certain areas, like hard sf, are not written by women in significant numbers. There isn't an editorial bias against them, they just don't write it much for whatever reasons. There are similarities in science itself. Some fields, like astronomy, are coming along and approaching 50/50, but some fields, like physics, are still struggling for 10%.

My first novel Star Dragon, which was well reviewed in general, got some interesting takes. The Publisher's Weekly review had a feminist slant, and blew some relatively small parts of the novel into big issues (and ignored the fact that the female lead can outbox the male lead by a good margin). The scifi.com review praised the book for being optimistic, and an heir to the old-fashioned golden age fiction with a generation X feel.

Star Dragon was also nominated for the John W. Campbell award for best novel, and I googled a blog entry (http://brutalwomen.blogspot.com/2004/07/14-rule.html) where a female writer took great issue with the percentage of female writers among the finalists that year (6/15)...well, she decided to add in the previous year since 6/15 didn't look so small.

Anyway, I don't know what all this means today. Things evolve, and change, and no one understands everything going on. But everyone's got an opinion. Women can write great science fiction, including hard science fiction, and we probably haven't achieved the potential of the field until the award ratios are closer to 50/50.
Oct 11, 17:40 by Bluejack
I would be careful about blanked statements like this:

While sf is diverse these days, certain areas, like hard sf, are not written by women in significant numbers. There isn't an editorial bias against them, they just don't write it much for whatever reasons.


It may true, but it slides a little too easy off the keyboard, if you know what I mean. In the first place, these numbers are hard to come by without access to editorial slush piles. Some studies have been attempted that demonstrate that across the genre as a whole, although absolute publication numbers have improved for women as a group, there is still a significant discrepancy in favor of male writers percentagewise.

Mind you, I take those numbers with a grain of salt, too: Personally, I don't think anyone has good data. I don't think anyone understands what a reasonable margin of error would be in a study like this. And I am certain nobody understands the deeper dynamics in the primal decision making process of editors.

Beyond the numbers, though, I agree with you Mike.

Things evolve, and change, and no one understands everything going on.


It doesn't get any truer than that. In general, I think most of the changes I see are for the better, and I look forward to understanding the things that continue to elude me today.
Oct 11, 22:23 by Mike Brotherton
Bluejack, I am careful about the things I say on this topic, because I've been attacked by the ignorant too many times in the past. I go into a little bit more detail in the blog entry I cite. It does seem to be true. There was an article (SFWA Bulletin a few years ago) where someone interviewed most of the major sf/f magazine editors and got some hard numbers. The editors are equally likely, within the statistical uncertainties, to buy from men or women, but they get more stories from men.

This is the only fair accounting of the numbers I've seen. Too many less than thoughtful people have looked at the absolute publication numbers and cried foul. Analog, for instance, publishes a lot more male writers than female writes. They also definitely get a lot more male writers submtiting more stories to them, which is often overlooked. I think it's terribly unfair to claim any discrimation at all without having a clue about the submission numbers, especially when the only thing I've seen published on the topic rules against discrimination.

I'm a scientist, and I respect data, and a reasonable interpretation of it. It's unfair to propogate myths of being discriminated against when it doesn't seem to be true. I don't believe Ellen Datlow or Gardner Dozois or Stanley Schmidt or any professional editor would turn down quality stories that would help their sales.

There's an awful PC aura about such topics. You, warning me to be careful, for instance, about even saying something that seems to be true based on available data. These things HAVE to be talked about, or they grow and fester into damaging myths, and people inside and outside the field start to believe it.

Just because it's complex doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss it, analyze it, and try to understand it. The discrepency in the absolute publication numbers indicates something is going on, and identifying the wrong cause will make the discrepency worse, not better.

Personally I think the problem lies primarily in the culture of science that makes it less appealling to more women in general than men. I say this as someone who had a female PhD advisor, currently has female graduate students, and has a female editor. This is a hypothesis, and surely not the only cause even if it is a primary one.

I don't think entertaining the notion that the current sf/f editors are gender-biased without good evidence for it is a great hypothesis, or the most healthy one to discuss first. There are bad/beginning writers who all too eagerly look for excuses they don't sell rather than face the fact that they need to write better stories.

The bottom line, to me, is that professional editors buy good stories when they come accross their desk.

Oct 11, 22:57 by Mike Brotherton
And just to be crystal clear, there may be all sorts of subtle and not so subtle discrimination (from individuals and society as a whole) that still tend to push women away from the hard sciences and hard science fiction, and some of this will be part of the "culture of science" I mention above. A lack of role models alone in great numbers is an issue. I just really don't think we have any clear or overt discrimination from the professional sf/f editors working today. It isn't editorial feedback leading to different submission rates.
Oct 12, 00:17 by Bluejack
There's an awful PC aura about such topics. You, warning me to be careful, for instance, about even saying something that seems to be true based on available data. These things HAVE to be talked about, or they grow and fester into damaging myths, and people inside and outside the field start to believe it.


Well, the only data I've seen contradicts the data you reference, which I haven't seen; Gordon Van Gelder has admitted that the stats on his slush pile suggest that he unconsciously discriminates against women to a small but significant degree. I don't think GVG is exactly a swaggering sexist, so it's a telling point.

I'm not saying I trust the data I've seen for all the reasons I specified above, but at least I've seen it.

I'm not trying to be PC, I'm trying to point out the lack of reliable data; and in the absence of reliable data *any* claim is suspect.

*Obviously* absolute numbers are meaningless. But I'm not sure that any of the proportional numbers are meaningful. Not unless there are hard tallies over time. And you know: not all names on a slush pile can be definitively classified.

When *anyone* makes any assertion about the presence or the absence of discrimination on the part of editors, I am going to say the same thing. Show me the numbers. Explain the methodology behind this data.

And I'm not trying to be the PC police either. Lord! Look at my own reviews this month. Only one review of a story by a woman. I review the stories about which I think I have something at least mildly interesting to say. If I reviewed only stories by men, every month, would that make me a sexist? Not necessarily: it would demonstrate that I only have something to say about stories written by men. Which would not be a very high recommendation for me as a reviewer, but it doesn't necessarily mean I should be shackled and taken off for reeducation, either.

(Although if they served gingersnaps at the reeducation camp, I might be up for it.)
Oct 12, 06:17 by Jay Lake
I will say that Polyphony, which is a market with a conscious (but not mandatory) policy of publishing a gender balance of authors, runs about 60/10/30 in the slush pile.

60 = writers with identifiably male names
10 = writers with ambiguous names or initials only
30 = writers with identifiably female names

We do make an actual count, by the way, and we report those stats to a couple of people who make a point out of studying this question in detail.

Warning: What follows is pure speculation, not data or testable hypothesis.

Mind you, Polyphony is not Analog. I don't think our readership or our submitting pool has a significant self-selecting gender bias, and still we are significantly tilted. Historically, across five volumes, I think we've published M:F in a ratio of about 55:45, which means to some degree we are discriminating against *men*, assuming generally similar statistical distribution of quality among the manuscript universe.

Ie, it's not that simple. But we all knew that.

FWIW, my comments about Polyphony are purely my own and are not an official statement by Wheatland Press.
Oct 12, 07:41 by Darja Clarke
What seems to be going on is that science fiction has expanded and become more inclusive, and certain readers resent that.

I agree, and I think there are even more facets to it. The Golden Age story is a product of early to mid-twentieth century notions of (white) manhood—the need for exploration, to assert the self through “conquering” new lands, etc.—these motifs confirm culture’s visions of what it meant “to be a man” at that time. Golden Age SF reflected and reinforced what being a man was about, and it molded how men perceived their own experiences.

As the publishing landscape becomes more inclusive, the kinds of stories told are changing—it’s not just stories that reflect (white) men’s lives anymore. Stories told by women of color, white women, and men of color change all that, as Jay and Ruth have said.

But another change has been that notions of what it means to be a man are changing. To some folks, what’s so frightening about the loss of Golden Age SF is not just that those kinds of stories are gone—it’s that that vision of manhood isn’t current any more. It’s a loss not just of that kind of story, but a way of men understanding or envisioning themselves “as a certain kind of man” that is being lost.

In response to mbrother, one thing to keep in mind is that these kinds of “men’s” stories are the norm against which other kinds of stories have been evaluated historically. The vast majority of editors certainly don’t intend to discriminate against women writers, but that is not to say they are not influenced by ideas of what a story should include, or what an “interesting” or “compelling” story might be about—notions that have been formulated and molded by a history of (white) men’s fiction.

--Darja Malcolm-Clarke
Oct 12, 08:28 by James Pfundstein
Nestvold and Lake wrote (in part) of Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey":
it has a strong resemblance to the ultimate male romance, the Western, complete with a shootout at the end of the story


I don't see how the fact that the hero fires a gun towards the end of a story makes the story like a Western. Guns are fired in lots of stories, and indeed many (if not all) of them are written by men, but they're not all Westerns. Nor do I remember a Western where the shootout is resolved by the arrival of a rocketship. (Of course, we could say: the rocketship = the US cavalry. But then we could say: Tweel = Harding, and claim that the whole thing is an allegory of the Teapot Dome scandal. You have to draw the line on this sort of thing somewhere.)

The story's real roots are in a kind of fiction even more alien to the modern reader than Westerns: pulp fiction of exotic adventure and lost races. This doesn't have much application to gender studies, but might to ethnic studies (since we're talking about whiteness as well as maleness here).

I was surprised that the writers didn't talk about the "Dream Beast"-- that episode contains the most interesting and explicit female sexual imagery in the story (and it reappears in the sequel "Valley of Dreams"-- paging Dr, Freud; Dr. Freud to the faculty lounge, stat). It would have disrupted the rather simplistic course of their argument, but that wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing.

One female writer active in the 1950s (when Hugos were being handed out) who made it to the grave untainted by any trace of a major sf/f award was Leigh Brackett. She was writing a type of genre fiction which was marginalized by the groups who gave out awards. Were these types of fiction outlets more receptive to women authors, or was Brackett as much a standout in her field as C.L. Moore was in hers? It would be interesting to know the answer to this, but the structure of the article's argument keeps Nestvold and Lake from even asking the question.

JMP
Oct 13, 19:10 by Robert Waters
Hello all. I've read both the Nestvold/Lake article and the response to it on Tangent Online by Dave Truesdale, and I frankly wish that the agrument was not about whether or not our genre is being "metrosexualized" or "feminized" or whatever, but is "science fiction" at risk of being destroyed by "fantasy"? These days, I can barely find a good science fiction novel between all the 10-volume fantasy epics packed onto the shelves. What's happened to science fiction? Indeed, there are still sf novels being written, but come on, it doesn't take a PHD to see that SF is the forgotten step-child of the new millenium.

Herein lies the problem, I think. Some in the field may get the impression that SF is being softened simply because they just don't see it anymore on the shelves. This, I think, is the problem worth railing against.
Oct 14, 01:32 by Bluejack
Excellent point.
Oct 14, 01:57 by Bluejack
BTW: Dave's article at Tangent Online is here and the thread devoted to Dave's response is here.
Oct 16, 11:38 by Mike Brotherton
Bluejack, here is the 2002 article, by Sue Linville:

http://www.sfwa.org/bulletin/articles/linville.htm

Data from Gordon van Gelder is included. If there is any gender bias from the editors, it is TINY compared to the effects of an imbalance in submission rates.

If Gordon is very slightly more likely to buy a story from a male author than a female author, and he has enough statistics to show that the difference is significant, that's good for him to learn and understand, but it was not evident in 2002. There didn't seem to be any bias at all based on the data he provided for the article. He published 27.5% stories by women, and got between 25 and 30% submissions from women (some names were ambiguous as to gender). Such a tiny bias, if it's even real (a few percent at most, and Gordon needs to understand sampling statistics to determine the significance level), is completely swamped by the disparity in submission rates.

The data suggest you're wrong, at least about this particular corner of the issues involved in the Truesdale and Nestvold/Lake articles. Editorial gender bias does not create the large excess of male authors appearing in genre magazines. The numbers show that clearly. Sorry I didn't find this link for my first post.

This is a really important point to understand, because it helps reveal what's going on so that it can be addressed. I'll quote the end of Linville's article:

Be it discouragement, time constraints or other obstacles, the under-representation of women in the short fiction market hurts us all. Readers miss the unique insights that women bring to fiction.

Women writers receive fewer reminders that it is possible to sell their work to major markets. Editors and publishers fail to connect fully with the larger audience of women. In 1995, Pamela Sargent wrote, in her introduction to Women of Wonder The Contemporary Years: “Women have unquestionably made advances. It remains to be seen whether these advances are subtle and pervasive, but not yet easily discerned, or instead ambiguous.” Hopefully, the data and anecdotal evidence presented in this article provides at least a glimpse of an answer.

Women have worked diligently for fifty years to achieve parity in the SF & Fantasy short fiction markets. Progress has been made and progress can continue to be made.

The future of women in SF & Fantasy is carried in every woman’s intellect and imagination and her willingness to persist. If women are to achieve true parity in this field, they must encourage their work, finish their work, submit their work, and persist in marketing their work.

It seems likely that publication success is due less to external than internal factors.

Oct 17, 20:28 by Allan Rosewarne
I'm not sure why, but the Lake and Nestvold essay reminds me alot of a Charles Platt essay called Rape of science fiction written 1989 in Science fiction eye. In this essay Mr. Platt accuses a group of authors, including Pat Murphy, Vonda McIntyre, and some others of turning science fiction into nothing but 'soft' science fiction. Additionally, Platt places blame for poor taste in selecting stories on Judy-Lynn Del Rey and the Del Rey fantasy series books.

So whenever I read comments about the feminization of SF, I always recall Mr. Platt's old, tired and hackneyed essay.
Oct 19, 21:37 by Dave Truesdale
"So whenever I read comments about the feminization of SF, I always recall Mr. Platt's old, tired and hackneyed essay."

Your view of it doesn't support or negate the facts of his assertion or theory. Is is true? Is it false? What did Charles mean by the "feminization" of SF? Within his definition (whatever it was), did he support it with facts? Depending on what his definition of "feminization" was, is this a good or bad thing for what separates those things that make SF different from what, and how, the mainstream deals with certain issues?

Just thinking out loud. ;-)

Dave
Oct 20, 18:29 by Dan Goodman
"The Golden Age of science fiction is twelve" is what Pete Graham originally said. Or at least, that's the way I saw it in fanprint a few decades ago. (Ironically, those fanzines were mostly published by people who, if they're still around, lament the decline of fanzines.)

On guns and masculinity: In at least one pulp genre, the hero didn't use a gun to win. Ever. And did win, against armed villains at least some of the time.

Among the pulps devoted to fiction about various sports, there was at least one about boxing. Naturally, the hero had to use his boxing skills to win.

Louis L'Amour wrote some of these stories. It was disconcerting to run across them in a collection which also included Western short stories.

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