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Feminist SF&Fantasy incomplete list

Via either whileaway or wiscon I came across the following: Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Incomplete List compiled by Cynthia Ward

Go read it there. But I'm including here an annotated list here of the ones I've read.

Note, most of the annotations will tell you more about my taste in books over a number of decades than about the books themselves. Several years after I read a book I mostly forget specifics about it and only remember in a general and emotional way what I thought of it.


Eleanor Arnason, A Woman of the Iron People I read this during the 2004 Wiscon, at which Eleanor Arnason was a guest of honor. The premise and world were very interesting. I found the story less compelling, and I asked myself why. I've begun to figure out that there are styles of feminist / women's fiction that don't appear as often in fiction by men, and this book is an example of one of those styles. It's about people (and aliens) meeting, doing things, dealing with problems, but it doesn't have a strong single-minded movement to a climax and then resolution (what we were taught novels should be like). If you see similarities in those descriptions to two kinds of sexual encounter, well, so do I. This style of novel also doesn't have good and evil characters so much as more pleasant and more challenging characters, or characters with issues that aren't about good and evil. Since thinking about all this, I've been more interested in this style of novel - but I confess I still don't like it as much as what I think of as the "more classic" style.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. I read this quite a while ago and found it too depressing/unrealistic/paranoid. I might feel differently now.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Shattered Chain et seq. (collected in The Saga of the Renunciates). I haven't read this collection, but I really loved The Mists of Avalon, which I read when I was in my 20s and newly exploring women-oriented pagan spirituality. I didn't care for The Forbidden Tower at all (the only other book of hers I've read).

Gerd Brantenberg, Egalia's Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes (a.k.a. Daughters of Egalia). A friend gave this to me. I enjoyed it - it was kind of one-note, but the note was played very very well.

Dorothy Bryant, The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You. I read this in my 20s and really didn't like it much. If I remember correctly it's a utopian book and I think I just don't much like utopian books.

Angela Carter, Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories. I've read a few of Angela Carter's rewritten fairy tales and I loved them. They were thoughtful, imaginative, suspenseful, and sexy.

Samuel R. Delany, Trouble on Triton (previous title, Triton). I haven't read this, but I've read other Delaney, some of which I liked and more of which I found too obscure for me at the time. I should probably re-read some of it; my understanding of complex novels is much better now than it was when I was heavily into science fiction in my teens.

Carol Emshwiller, Carmen Dog. When this book came out, I loved it so much that I bought something like 20 copies and gave them to all my friends and family for Christmas. I have no idea where I came across the book - it wasn't during a time I was reading science fiction generally, and I'd never heard of Carol Emshwiller and had no idea she was a well known sf&f author. In 2003 I had the pleasure of listening to her GOH speech at Wiscon.

Sally Miller Gearhart, The Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women. I don't think I much cared for this because it was utopian.

Hiromi Goto, The Kappa Child I have this but haven't read it yet.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness. I've been a big fan of Ursula K. Le Guin ever since I read the Earthsea trilogy as a young teen. My favorite book of hers is The Compass Rose collection of short stories. I remember having a sort of puzzled reaction to one of the climactic scenes in Left Hand of Darkness and I later understood my puzzlement to be related to bisexual tendencies I hadn't so named yet.

Elizabeth A. Lynn I read, and greatly enjoyed, The Sardonyx Net. This was a book where most of the characters weren't Good or Evil - and even better, many of them were really sensible - but it did have the sort of plot structure I like with lots of suspense and a build-up to a climax.

Vonda N. McIntyre, Dreamsnake I loved the short story "Of Mist, Grass, and Sand" and didn't like the Dreamsnake novel as much. I liked McIntyre's recent book The Moon and the Sun.

Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time. I haven't read this particular novel of Piercy's but I've read a lot of her poetry and I read Braided Lives and thought it was pretty good. Based on what I've read, I'm not terribly fond of Piercy's writing style but she can put together compelling images and stories.

Joanna Russ, The Female Man. I read this for the first time recently. I found it difficult to follow (viewpoint character switches a lot) but it was very much worth reading. Which reminds me, I still need to go and grab some quotes out of it.

Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Tomoe Gozen I might read this again now that I have better knowledge of Japanese culture.

Sheri S. Tepper, The Gate to Women's Country. I haven't read this particular book, but I mostly liked Grass and Raising the Stones. On the other hand, they seemed pretty angry in a way I didn't care for at the time.

Connie Willis, "Even the Queen...." I haven't read this but I liked Doomsday Book a lot, and I liked To Say Nothing of the Dog and Passage OK.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando I'm pretty sure I read it, but I don't remember it very well. I remember To the Lighthouse better.

Debbie Notkin, editor, Flying Cups and Saucers: Gender Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I'm halfway through this. It has some great stories.

Justine Larbalestier, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction. I have this but haven't read it yet.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. Ditto.

____, Dancing at the Edge of the World. Ditto.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
red_frog
Jun. 6th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
I just bought The Female Man. I need to read it. I really enjoyed the Russ story in Again, Dangerous Visions.
elainegrey
Jun. 6th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC)
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale:

I think this would be just as depressing now, but perhaps a little more plausible. Or maybe i'm just more paranoid.
dawnd
Jun. 6th, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
Ineresting. I haven't read most of those books, but those that we have both read we've had rather different reactions to, e.g., I loved "Forbidden Tower," and "Dreamsnake." OTOH, there are others where we agree, such as LeGuin's work, or the fact that "Handmaid's Tale" was depressing (that one still scares me, and I haven't read it since it first came out--entirely too plausible). In other words, I think you and I recommending books to each other would be a complete crapshoot. :^)

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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