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message 1: by DivaDiane (new)

DivaDiane | 170 comments I didn't see BJTriton's reply to my post about The Gate to Women's Country before the topic was closed down, but I thought perhaps it warrants its own discussion...

what other fem SF lit are you reading? What about Joanna Russ (The Female Man)? that always comes to mind for me in femSF stuff.


When the Feminist SF, Fantasy and Utopian Literature BDG was still alive, I read quite a lot of the selections, some of which were new and some of which were classic selections. I was, of course, inspired to read more of the "cannon" (if you will!). There's a list of recommended reading on the website if anyone is interested.

I've read The Female Man, but found it very difficult reading and didn't enjoy it much, to be honest.

Let's see, what were some of my favorites that I've/we read?
The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
The Saga of the Renunciates by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Dawn by Octavia E. Butler. The whole trilogy, now in omnibus as Lilith's Brood is well worth reading.
Ammonite by Nicola Griffith
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

I could go on like this - only half way through the alphabet. But I'll stop here for now... :-)


message 2: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) Are we just talking about the list? I think Fem SF/Fantasy is very board today. So what do I like?

The Wee Free Men (as well as its sequels) and
The Witches Trilogy A Discworld Omnibusby Terry Pratchett
The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong
A Secret History by Mary Gentle
The Hero and the Crownby Robin McKinley
Un Lun Dun by China Miéville
Midnight Blue The Sonja Blue Collection by Nancy A. Collins

Many of Michelle West's books too.


message 3: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta | 178 comments Diane: I agree with you about The Female Man. Really wanted to like it but did not at all - really, at all.


message 4: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3065 comments Mod
OK, does anyone want to define "FemSF" for me?

I've read several of the books named here (The Witches Trilogy A Discworld Omnibus by Terry Pratchett, A Secret History by Mary Gentle, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, War for the Oaks by Emma Bull) and don't quite see why that label would apply except perhaps to A Secret History. Is it just having a strong female protagonist?


message 5: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) I think the term comes in part from when the book is published, and yes, whether there is a strong female protagonist. I'm not sure if I read the same list Diane did, but at least two of the books I mentioned were on it.

The Hero and the Crown - Fem, because of publication date. It is also the first high fantasy novel I read that had female protagonist. Not a girl and a boy working together.

I consider the Women of the Otherworld and Michelle West's books to be Fem because they are some of the few books I've seen that show women being strong in different ways. Additionally, while gender issues are not central, both Armstrong and West touch on them.

I'm not entirely sure why War of the Oaks and the Witches are considered FemSF, but I've seen both on FemSF lists. Un Lun Dun and Wee Free Men are not on any list I've seen, but considering they are children's books were the chosen (or unchosen) one is female and solely female I figured, what the heck. I also wonder if both books were written in response to Harry Potter.

Sonja Blue gets put there because the books are about female independence.




message 6: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 966 comments "The Female Man" did not read well with me either. But I like Joanna Russ's short stories. Her collection "And Chaos Died" is excellent.

My favorite of the '70's sci-fi "Fem" writers is Alice Sheldon, who is best known for writing under the name James Tiptree, Jr., and sometimes Racoona Sheldon. Mostly she wrote short fiction, and that is what is best of hers. But I personally like the sci-fi murder mystery, novel-length, “Brightness Falls from the Air” http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25064

Also, the short novel “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” is wonderful.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31...
Interesting that it was paired with a short novel by Joanna Russ, “Souls” in a re-release for a Tor Double:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91...




message 7: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 966 comments ...except "And Chaos Died" by Joanna Russ is a novel, sitting on my bookshelf as yet unread. I was thinking of "The Zanzibar Cat" as her excellent short story collection.


message 8: by DivaDiane (last edited Aug 13, 2009 04:46AM) (new)

DivaDiane | 170 comments I would even go on to define FemSF even more broadly. Not just by publication date (although the 1970's is when the sub-genre came into its own, I think) or simply by virtue of the novel or story having a strong female protagonist. But rather I take my inspiration from the idea behind the Tiptree Award: "...an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender."

I don't believe that a novel has to have been written by a woman or even have a woman as protagonist to qualify as Feminist SF, although those characteristics would definitely qualify a book, if the female characters were not victims or typical damsels in distress.

I left off in the middle of my list, but Tiptree/Sheldon is definitely in there. His/Her novella The Girl Who was Plugged In" is excellent as are most of the short stories.

The list continued:

Walk to the End of the World by Suzy McKee Charnas
Mainline by Deborah Christian - although this book is flawed by indiscriminate editing
Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin
Carmen Dog by Carol Emshwiller
Also Slow River by Nicola Griffith
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
Tehanu and The Other Wind (Earthsea) also by UKL
Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing
Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Illicit passage by Alice Nunn
Set This House in Order A Romance of Souls by Matt Ruff
The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
The Gate to Women's Country by Sherri Tepper
The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Children of Arable David Belden
Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh
Commitment Hour by James Alan Gardner
Air Or, Have Not Have Geoff Ryman
Heroes and Villians by Angela Carter
Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold

That's a selection of the books on my shelf that I'd consider Feminist SF. You can find a much more comprehensive reading list here:

http://feministsf.org/


message 9: by Kevis (last edited Aug 15, 2009 06:13AM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) Diane wrote: "I would even go on to define FemSF even more broadly. Not just by publication date (although the 1970's is when the sub-genre came into its own, I think) or simply by virtue of the novel or story having a strong female protagonist. But rather I take my inspiration from the idea behind the Tiptree Award: "...an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender."

I don't believe that a novel has to have been written by a woman or even have a woman as protagonist to qualify as Feminist SF, although those characteristics would definitely qualify a book, if the female characters were not victims or typical damsels in distress.

I left off in the middle of my list, but Tiptree/Sheldon is definitely in there. His/Her novella The Girl Who was Plugged In" is excellent as are most of the short stories."


As a male author who has recently published a science fiction novel with a strong female protagonist, I find this discussion enlightening. I was not familiar with the term Feminist SF until now.

But wouldn't the fact that I wrote a SF book which features a female protagonist invalidate my book from being considered FemSF? I don't understand how the term can be so loosely applied as you mentioned above to include SF books written by male authors.


message 10: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) I think that many people believe, incorrectly, that a male writer cannot be a feminist. I haven't read your book, but if it focuses on gender issues or at least deals with them than why wouldn't it be?

Part of the problem, I feel (and maybe I'm wrong) is there is a tendacy to put everything into a box. It has to meet the checklist. According to some people, you can't be a feminist unless you support abortion. This means the ex-nun who taught my religion class in college couldn't be a feminist, even though she believed that women should be priests (the reason, why she stopped being a nun). There does seem to be a double standard in this. Male writers get judged one way in how they protray women. Female writers get judged a different. For instance, if the later Anita Blake books were written by a man, I'm sure the reaction would be different and far harsher.

Part of the problem might be we need a better defination of feminist.




message 11: by Kevis (last edited Aug 15, 2009 06:40AM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) Chris wrote: "I think that many people believe, incorrectly, that a male writer cannot be a feminist. I haven't read your book, but if it focuses on gender issues or at least deals with them than why wouldn't i..."

Chris,

I really like your explanation since it cuts to the heart of the problem. What defines feminist fiction in the first place? Like you say, the real question is what is the definition of a feminist?

From a male point of view (or at least my own), I cannot really grasp the concept of a male being a feminist. I do understand how a male can be pro-woman or for equality of gender. I have been surrounded by strong, independent women my entire life and never subscribed to the archaic male beliefs that are typically associated with femininity.

In the case of literature, and specifically in this case, I am intrigued to find male names among the list of writers in the books above. My book features a strong female protagonist because that's how I envision women. Some male authors may perceive women as being the lesser of the two sexes and thus showcase them in subjective roles in their own books.

Ultimately, I am not certain there will ever be consensus on the definition of what a feminist is because our concept of feminism is still evolving. Where that evolution will take us is going to be very intriguing.


message 12: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (last edited Aug 15, 2009 01:49PM) (new)

Kathi | 3065 comments Mod
Just my 2 cents, but I strongly believe men can be feminists, mostly by espousing and living by the beliefs that seem to be most commonly connected with feminism.

From Wikipedia (I know, not the most authoritative source, but easily accessible and a good summary of a generally accepted description of feminism):

"Feminism is a political discourse aimed at equal rights and legal protection for women. It involves various movements, theories, and philosophies, all concerned with issues of gender difference; that advocate equality for women; and that campaign for women's rights and interests."

"Feminism has altered predominant perspectives in a wide range of areas within Western society, ranging from culture to law. Feminist activists have campaigned for women's legal rights (rights of contract, property rights, voting rights); for women's right to bodily integrity and autonomy, for abortion rights, and for reproductive rights (including access to contraception and quality prenatal care); for protection of women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay; against misogyny; and against other forms of discrimination."


message 13: by DivaDiane (new)

DivaDiane | 170 comments Hi everyone!
I'm really glad about where this discussion is going. Thank you, Kevis, for expressing your concerns, and confusion. And I agree that it is confusing and a difficult, emotionally charged topic. There are so many different feminist persuasions as well and I don't doubt that some of them exclude men in their definitions as a matter of principle. Personally, I believe men can (and have met some that consider themselves to) be feminists. Kathi's contribution with the Wikipedia entry does well to clarify things a bit, no? If you can say you agree with all or most of the above principles then you could (though no one will force you to) call yourself a Feminist.

The ideas espoused by Feminism are indeed evolving and I hesitate to put it in a steel box and say "This is what it is".


message 14: by Frank (new)

Frank Taranto (xtontox) | 38 comments I consider myself a feminist. I don't believe my being a straight male makes a difference. I think that if you consider men and women as equals, and treat them that way, then you are a feminist whether you claim it or not.


message 15: by Kevis (last edited Aug 17, 2009 07:22AM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) Interestingly enough, I'm afraid to call myself a feminist only because I hate labels. But that has a lot to do with my personal biases which reject being categorized a certain way because of my beliefs. But in light of what I've learned from this discussion, including Frankt's comments above, I feel that I'm probably a feminist too. Still, I admit it's going to take some time for me to get used to calling myself a feminist.



message 16: by Jade (new)

Jade (jaderubies) Diane wrote: "I didn't see BJTriton's reply to my post about The Gate to Women's Country before the topic was closed down, but I thought perhaps it warrants its own discussion...

oy! and I didn't see this discussion until today! :-)

I also found The Female Man difficult to enjoy. But it seems so "serious" and like "real literature" (I had to read it in college) that its still the first thing that comes to mind when I think of FemSF!

I *love* Octavia Butler, as well as LeGuin--both are fab. But I have a special love for Butler... I think she takes gender & race issues and twists them into difficult places to get you to think hard about things we don't like thinking about. I miss her!

these from your list have been on my TBR list for some time:
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
Air Or, Have Not Have Geoff Ryman

Beggars in Spain (Kress) is awesome, but Fem? I'm not sure about that...I thought it more about minorities vs the majority conflicts.

I just finished Cyteen recently--and I so loved the world building and character development but can't help but think "what happened to the plot??" It just seemed to be a big build up for the real plot line... which never happened. I'll read the sequel, though, and look forward to more of her work (this was my first).

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith totally irritated me--I thought it was so one-sided and narrow. I kept thinking this is why people hate the term "feminist".

Which brings me to the term "feminist"... it really does sadden me that its become such a negative word in a lot of ways. I don't understand how people can say they believe in equal rights but don't want to be called a feminist. (I'm not at all picking on you, Kevis--I have met a lot of women, usually younger than me, that say this same thing). I always think of femisist=equal rights, but I think somehow the term has become warped over the years to mean something else (femi-nazis and such) to a lot of different people.

I think you all are right, though... this is a charged topic, and always evolving!

this is kinda a quick response to something I should think about more! but I'm juggling auditors this week, and its crazy. :-)



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