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Science Fiction Authors > Ruth Laura Wainwright

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message 1: by Dan (last edited Aug 19, 2018 04:33PM) (new)

Dan This week's early woman SF author only published two stories:

1) "Green Grew the Lasses" appeared in the July 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, available here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/50842. Other notable writers with stories in this issue include Clifford D. Simak as well as the Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore team.

2) "Mint, in d/j" appeared in the June 1954 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction alongside stories by Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, and Gordon R. Dickson.

I could not find a free text copy of Wainwright's second story. I also could not find much information about her. The following blog (https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/blog/2016/...) has only this to say: "And near the end of the issue we have “Mint, in d/j” by Ruth Laura Wainwright, a mysterious author who only published one other story in Galaxy in 1953. Her work is reminiscent of other women who published only a few stories in the 1950s: smart and feminist, more promising than polished, and you have to wonder what happened to her and her writing. You’re left wondering what kind of writer she might have become if she had continued to publish."

I need to ask for help in this case. Can anyone out there find more information on Ruth Laura Wainwright? Can anyone locate a free (or cheap and easily available) text of her second story? What do you think of her writing in "Green Grew the Lasses"? Did she indeed show promise?


message 2: by Dan (last edited Sep 03, 2018 08:59PM) (new)

Dan I have now had the pleasure of reading both Wainwright short stories. The first, "Green Grew the Lasses", I give five stars. Many would give it fewer, but besides the fact it was well-written, what I appreciate most about the story was how it played with themes in two John Wyndham novels: The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids. I doubt there was any cross pollination either way of ideas between the two authors, but I do find it fascinating that this story had the same plot ideas of alien invasion of plants and enforced pregnancies in a small town. Wyndham's treatment of the subject was Stephen King-like borderline horror. Wainwright's story is much lighter-hearted, entirely appropriate for a short story. Her resolution was as different from Wyndham’s as it was completely unexpected, yet entirely fitting, particularly if you, like me, have had a family guest overstay a welcome.

The second short story, "Mint, in d/j", can not be found anywhere online (as far as I know). I therefore went to the extreme measure (for me) of actually purchasing the original magazine it appeared in, the June 1954 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The story is fantasy, not even nominal science fiction, like the first story. I therefore automatically downgrade my rating one star. It was also very well-written, like the first story, in almost as light-hearted a tone. This time, though, our protagonist is matching wits with the devil in order to achieve a goal. This old and tired theme gets new and unusual treatment here by Wainwright, no doubt the reason the story was published. I love the literary references and the unexpected twists. I doubt any story since features such a dim-witted Faustian protagonist with so trivial a goal. This is also the first I’ve ever heard of such a form of payment as what was extracted for granting the protagonist her desire. Despite the exciting originality of the story, the outcome (in terms of all the consequences) was not clearly stated, at least not to this reader, a writing flaw for which I must deduct another star, bringing the story to three stars in the end.

I wish Ruth Laura Wainwright had given us more stories than these two gems. I'd definitely read them if she had.

You know, having this June 1954 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is a real treat. The story immediately behind Wainwright’s is Heinlein’s “Star Lummox”, the second of three parts. This famous story was later gathered into his novel The Star Beast. Besides that, there is a Gordon R. Dickson, an Andre Norton, and even a Michael Shaara time travel story, an extremely short one. I know Michael Shaara only by his serious, Pulitzer Prize winning work on the Civil War, and would never have guessed he once wrote science fiction.


message 3: by David (new)

David Lutkins | 38 comments Thanks, Dan. Great review of the two stories and their author. I will definitely read "Green Grew the Lasses" in the next day or two.


message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4280 comments Mod
I hadn't known that any part of "the Star Beast" or any of Heinlein's juveniles were serialized & they finished it just 2 months before it was published in book form. That's really interesting. I thought they went directly to book.

Just FYI, but I googled:
June 1954 "Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction"
& the first result was a UK site:
http://www.luminist.org/archives/SF/F...
It has the magazine available for download along with a lot of others. Clicking on the link will redirect to Dropbox. I've got it now & will be interested in reading it. Thanks.


message 5: by Dan (new)

Dan That's great, Jim. Had I known of that site earlier I'd have saved $10. I hope you'll read the Wainwright short story in it. Maybe you can figure out what happened in the end better than I could.


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4280 comments Mod
It's very frustrating to search & not find something then to have someone else do it & find it right away. That's why I posted the exact syntax I used because it seems to work best for most pulps. The quotes keep Google looking for the exact phrase. Well, it's worked best lately for me. A lot of the archive.org pulps are there, but don't have their dates properly tagged on & then it won't work at all, so I'll waste 15 minutes looking.

That was good, but I felt the story was chopped to the bone to fit the space. I had to read carefully & several times did a double take as a point flew past too quickly. Then she (view spoiler) At least that's the way I read it. Not the way I'd expected it to end.


message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan Thank you, Jim, for reading the second story and giving me your take on it. Your doing so inspired me to reread the story one more time to see if I could possibly figure out the ending, and I think I have it now. (view spoiler) Therefore I still have to give the story three stars for its logic flaws, even if it does become understandable upon third reading.


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4280 comments Mod
Some of that (like the brother) didn't occur to me, Dan. I mentioned that this story seemed cut to the bone to fit. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe she deliberately kept it very fast & bare to make her point. I got it, was delighted, & moved on. I didn't think about everything you brought up which definitely harms the story.

A lot of stories don't bear much thought. Rolling with the obvious point makes them pretty good. Thinking too much about the logic behind them can really harm them, though. I tend to do it with mystery-thrillers far too much, so I can't stand some popular ones.


message 9: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Jim wrote: "A lot of stories don't bear much thought. Rolling with the obvious point makes them pretty good. Thinking too much about the logic behind them can really harm them, though...."

I agree. Now I'm feeling pressured to read this immed., even though I'm in the middle of trying to learn how to help mod. this group. ;)


message 10: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Ok, I have to agree that Mint... is only a three-star story. The thing I don't like about it is how immature this rivalry is. At age 70, get over it already. And the end is not (view spoiler).

Still it's *almost* good imo. And fleshing it out, filling in the gaps of logic, would not have helped. Using the gimmick to write a whole different story, now, that could have been very good.

The female author seemed to write from the perspective of a sexist male, too, which also detracts from its value to me now.

Btw, the book list is real, and does have some good books on it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zamoran...


message 11: by Dan (last edited Sep 09, 2018 11:47AM) (new)

Dan I can't believe that Zamorano Eighty list is real!

I see your point on the author writing from a sexist male perspective now that you mention it. I mean, there's no reason the protagonist, Christine, had to be female. Right? After all, I'd bet of the four people who have completed the Zamorano Eighty, the majority are male. Haven't checked, but that's my hypothesis.


message 12: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Well, there's no reason she had to be such an "insipid" and silly female, at least. Imo.


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