Continuing today’s tradition of being bored, I want to write an entry on something that I’ve been wanting to talk about ever since speaking with Kelly Link (or perhaps it was Nancy Kress) about Tiptree. This author (whoever she may have been) really loved Tiptree’s “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” Which is about a bunch of astronauts who get blasted into a female-dominated future where they are not dangerous or surprising, simply unnecessary. Additionally, in another conversation I saw alot of love for “The Women Men Don’t See.” This one was about a jungle adventure where two women, mother and daughter, choose to go away with aliens rather than stay on this male-dominated earth.
I did not particularly like these stories. My Tiptree favorites, from when I read her collection “Her Smoke Rose Up Forever” were “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” and “The Screwfly Solution”.
This conversation came back to me recently after reading the tiptree bio, “James Tiptree, Jr.: The Secret Double Life of Alice Sheldon,” which is an amazing work, and there’s not much more I can say about it that hasn’t already been said in sci-fi circles. But the epilogue intrigued me, where the author speculated as to what it was like for modern science fiction fans, who know that Tiptree is a woman before ever reading one of her works, for whom the speculation about her identity is an open and shut case.
Well, as one of those fans, I think that I can offer something to this debate. I was born and raised in an era where women do pretty much all of the book reading. The YA novels I read as a kid were intended for women. The modern novels I read nowadays, are intended for women. Even in sci-fi and fantasy, there are tons of women writers and readers (and many more in the future, if my Clarion is anything to draw conclusions from). The male female ratio is heavily weighted in favor of women.
In this climate, it might be that stories like Houston and the Women Men Don’t See don’t resonate for me as much. It might also be an age thing, of course, where I don’t really see all the culture wars that are going on around me. But for whatever reason, stories like P. Burke’s (from the Girl Who Was Plugged In), seem much more timeless to me.
Hmm, I wish I could be more in-depth in this analysis, but I find that I lack the words to enumerate my exact feelings on the matter. I really need to go back and re-read that collection.