Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Women and SF

delagar notes in the comments to my previous post on women and SF that it's common to find almost no women in the big name SF magazines; and it's common to find anthologies with 27 men and 3 women. I always count the women vs the men in Best of the Year anthologies, and the women are always a minority.

So I agree. But I also notice that I am more likely to read women than men SF writers. I currently have Andrea Hairston's novel and Nalo Hopkinson's new book and feel as if it's my birthday. So many goodies!

When I moved the last time, I went through my books and got rid of books I didn't want to pack and unpack. There are now no male SF writers left except Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Iain M. Banks and one book by Avram Davidson.

I wonder if it's possible that SF may divide the way mysteries have. "Cosies" (mysteries in the tradition of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers) are mostly read by women. Thrillers are mostly read by men. Obviously, some mysteries have a mixed audience. But I have noticed that I tend to read mysteries by women writers; and I avoid anything that looks like a thriller. I suspect it will be full of pointless violence, most likely directed toward women. Who needs that crap? At one point, the Star Tribune had two mystery reviewers, because the audiences were so different. And I suspect the woman reviewer didn't want to read thrillers; and the male reviewer didn't want to read cosies.

There are some fine and intelligent male SF writers, but too much SF by men strikes me as obsessed with hardware or violence or intellectual games; and too much of it does not seem to deal with the big and real issues that humanity faces.


Blogger delagar said...

This is true of my bookshelves too -- mainly women SF writers -- so much that I deliberately pick up male SF writers, sometimes, just to make sure I'm not missing anything. Richard Morgan, for instance, I found that way. He's really violent, but if you get past that, interesting. On the whole, though, I can't help it: women just seem to be doing more interesting things these days.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Tim Susman said...

I'm working my way through a Michael Bishop anthology right now, and he tends to write very interesting stories with strong character arcs, though I have trouble getting all the way through to the endings sometimes. Not all the stories are that violent, though I guess, thinking back on them, some of them are. I don't read a lot of SF at all these days just because I prefer the more character-rich realm of fantasy and fiction novels. And I think it's interesting that one of the male writers you kept, Delany, is openly gay. Since the other SF novelist in my local workshop and I both are as well, and we write less technological, more character-driven stories, I wonder whether you should refine your exclusion criteria to "straight male SF writers" ;).

Once my book pile shrinks a bit, I'll have to try the authors you mentioned.

4:33 PM  

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