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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.
The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction - Justine Larbalestier The past few years there's been much discussion of the absence/decline in numbers of women published or winning awards in SF. So many arguments - "The stories are judged with no attention paid to gender". "Women just don't write SF." "Men just write better SF." It's a strange argument to listen to, since so much of SF _is_ women to me.I started with McCaffrey, with Norton, with Diana Wynne Jones and L'Engle and Tanith Lee. Oh, there were men who wrote SF as well, and once you started scanning the shelves, there were probably more of them, but not that many more. Those stories were fun too.That is a gift of timing. I started reading at a time when there were plenty of female writers (and kids could care less about awards) so was fortunate in what shaped my view of the genre.I am glad not to have been born in the period this book primarily discusses. I am glad to have had my Harimad-sols and my Menollys and my Killashandra - women who did more than scream, or be raped, or be rescued, or be the prize. I'm glad to have seen so many female names on the spines of those books, and to have never had the impression that this was a genre where I did not belong. I'm not sure how I would have felt about letters suggesting that women tainted SF, weakened it, wrote only about babies and housekeeping, or were only there for the purposes of romance, and did not belong.This is a book which makes me glad for the genre which was created for me, away from that (apparently continuing) rejection. Very interesting reading.I did find ironic a chapter discussing the belief that women were not part of SF in the early years of the genre, that they only showed up on the scene as writers during a boom of the 60s and 70s. This book quotes different people reeling off lists of names of (mostly obscure) female authors who were writing SF before the 1960s. And then the book moved on to Alice Sheldon, a most remarkable woman and author of "The Women Men Do Not See" among others, and famed for the pseudonym of James Tiptree Jnr (a most manly writer, thoroughly seen).All through the chapter discussing the fact that women did in fact contribute to the SF genre before the 1960s, I kept waiting for another Alice - one of my favourite authors, a GrandMaster of SF, who also published at first under a male pseudonym. Her first book was published in 1934. Her first fantasy book was published in 1951 and her first SF book in 1952. She had ten books published in that decade. Ironically, she was not mentioned a single time in either the chapter or this book. An author this book didn't see.