Schnaucl's Reviews > The James Tiptree Award Anthology 3: Subversive Stories about Sex and Gender

The James Tiptree Award Anthology 3 by Karen Joy Fowler
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's review
Aug 10, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: anthology, fantasy, fiction, glbt, horror, august, read_2009, science-fiction, series, owned, non-fiction
Recommended to Schnaucl by: Leah C.
Read in August, 2009 , read count: 1

This anthology has some very good stories and some forgettable stories. I know the Tiptree Awards are about rethinking gender but I must confess there were some stories that I didn't understand how gender fit in.

I liked Have Not Have by Geoff Ryman, which is apparently the first chapter in a longer work. The section included in the book suggests the novel is about the Internet reaching the farthest corners of the earth so that everyone is connected and how that would affect previously isolated peoples and communities. I've put the full book on my reading list.

Liking What You See by Ted Chiang posited a world where technology makes it possible to prevent people from recognizing a face as beautiful. It was interesting, but I couldn't help thinking it was rather pointless. If you take away beauty people will just find something else to use to put people into hierarchies. Clothes, eye color, hair color, etc. And it did nothing about body image. It also focused on faces and I think a bigger issue is fitness and weight, which weren't mentioned at all.

There was some discussion as to whether using technology to blind people to a face's physical beauty was a good idea, but I would have liked more. And there was little recognition of the fact that if people don't use beauty they would use some other standard.

Another interesting question might be whether beauty is a valid standard. People go to pretty amazing lengths to be beautiful, cosmetic surgery, lengthening bones, etc.

But is intelligence any better? Everyone is born with a certain level of both intelligence and beauty but there's only so much a person can do to raise those levels.

The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree, Jr. was an interesting tale about subversive advertising but I'm not sure what it had to do with gender.

Little Faces by Vonda N. McIntyre was strange. It's full of women, but they have male companions living inside them. However, there's nothing particularly feminine about the women (they actually felt asexual to me). The male companions inside them are mostly depicted as hungry and attention starved. They apparently have personalities, but I didn't get a real sense of that and they felt asexual too.

Shame by Pam Noles is an interesting essay on the fiction of Ursula K. LeGuin and what it means to be a fan of color. I liked it a lot, but it's another piece where I didn't see how it was related to gender.

The Future of the Female by Dorothy Allison is an essay on Octavia Butler's fiction that confirms my opinion that Butler is most definitely not for me. It sounds too much like Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, all about raising kids.

There were other stories and essays, but those were the ones that stood out to me.

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