Sunday, January 18, 2015

Proofreading and Writing Essays

I am now proofing Daughter of the Bear King, my third novel, for the second time. Aqueduct has decided to bring it out next in e-version, after The Sword Smith. When I went over Daughter the first time, having not looked at it for years, I was not impressed by it. Though I noticed that a lot of scenes stuck with me after. Now it looks fine. The same book, two different moods.

You should never listen to an author about his or her work. On the good days, it's a masterpiece. On the bad days, it belongs in a landfill. Actually, I never think my work belongs in a landfill. Instead, I notice all the things that need fixing. I am very much restraining myself re fixing. The book is what it is. It belongs to another era, and it should remain in that previous era.

It occurred to me that my rant about getting disappeared from SF history (see below on Junot Diaz) could be toned down and turned into a Strange Horizons essay, though I will have to do some more research.

The backlash against the Second Wave of Feminism started in the 1980s (the Reagan era) with Cyberpunk. The Cyberpunk writers were almost all men, at least at first, and some were openly contemptuous of the 70s women writers. There were still women writing in the 1980s and producing good work. LeGuin, Judith Moffett and Joan Slonczewski all wrote long, slow eco-feminist novels, as did I: Always Coming Home, Pennterra, Door into Ocean and A Woman of the Iron People. Pat Cadigan, Lois Bujold and Melissa Scott all began writing in the 1980s and kept on, though Scott took a long break from publishing in the early 21st century. Pat Cadigan was just about the only women in the first generation of Cyberpunkers. Scott wrote at least one novel, Trouble and her Friends, which is Cyberpunk.

I think of the 1990s as the decade when space opera made a comeback. Most of these authors were men. Bujold writes military space opera -- though what her books are really about is how many different forms humanity can take: clones, quaddies, the eight foot tall soldier Taura, the very short Miles Vorkosigan with his long history of disability, his seriously overweight twin brother Mark, the eerily beautiful Cetagandans, the all-male society of Athos...

The Noughts are when I lose a good sense of science fiction, though I think it's the period when writers of color began to be more numerous and visible.

In any case, a person who wasn't paying attention might miss the Second Wave of Feminism.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The New Book with Cup and Marmalade

The book and a jar of Tiptree marmalade, my current favorite variety. The photo also contains a cup by the potter Rachael Hoffman Dachelet.

Me and the New Book

To the right, above my shoulder, you can see a few tentacles belonging to Daisy my plush octopus, soon to star in her own story.

What Am I, Chopped Chicken Liver?

I'm not alone in noting the irony that a genre like sf, historically obsessed with alterity, should have so much trouble with actual people of color and women and LGBT peoples. But when one understands the degree to which nearly all our genres are haunted by, and have drawn a lot of their meanings, materials, and structures from the traumatic Big Bang of colonialism and its attendant matrixes of power (coloniality) - irony strikes one as the least of our problems.
Alien invasions, natives, slavery, colonies, genocide, racial system, savages, technological superiority, forerunner races and the ruins they leave behind, travel between worlds, breeding programs, superpowered whites, mechanized regimes that work humans to death, human/alien hybrids, lost worlds—all have their roots in the traumas of colonialism.

-- Junot Diaz

Well, yes. but... I have been writing SF about women for more than 40 years, as have many women SF writers. (Remember when the Second Wave of Feminism hit SF? Remember when Theodore Sturgeon said all the good new writers in the 1970s were women, except for James Tiptree Jr?) My second novel, begun 40 years ago and published about 30 years ago, has a lesbian protagonist. My third novel, a fantasy published about 30 years ago, has a main character (not the only main character, but the only male main character) who is black, as well as an entire black civilization. My fourth novel, published 24 years ago, has an Asian American (PoC) protagonist. My fifth novel, published 22 years ago, has two main characters, one a Hispanic woman and the other a gay man. I have been writing stories about an entirely gay alien culture for more than 20 years. I am not the only writer who has dealt with women, GLBT characters and people of color. Remember Melissa Scott? Remember Judith Tarr? How about Suzy Charnas? How about Joanna Russ? Nalo Hopkinson's first novel came out 17 years ago. (I am skipping over Butler, Delany and LeGuin because everyone knows about them.) The current new, improved history of science fiction has disappeared my entire generation of women writers, plus a bunch of writers who were prematurely GLBT or PoC.

Yes, SF has been too white and too male, but a whole lot of us have been chipping away at this problem for decades. And we're gone out of history.