Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Names, Please?

So here's the thing.

A few weeks ago Anna sent out a clip from, I think, a New York Times article about genre fiction or SFF on TV or something, I don't know, I don't read the NYT because, well, it sucks out loud.

Anyway, Anna sent round to me and a couple of our friends a clip from a blogger who had seen the article and wanted to talk about it and that's totally fine and the blogger (he, she, it, I don't know that either!) was complaining about how the NYT article didn't talk about women in SFF. Which is a totally legit complaint although it does indicate a certain naivete about the NYT.

The actual comment runs like this:
"But I am glad to know that science fiction has never had anything to say about simple human emotions like love. We don’t have Firefly, which is all about freedom and healing and, most of all, family. We don’t have Octavia Butler’s Kindred, with its harrowing exploration of slavery and how it twists love and what people do to survive it. We don’t have Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which is all about the love between Genly and Estraven. Star Trek talks about the importance of love so much it gets tedious. 
"You can’t even fucking say Lightsaber Stories aren’t about love, because the climactic moment of Star Wars is where Luke redeems Darth Vader through the power of love. Did this person even bother to watch to the end of the movie?"
But I want to complain about the complaint because if one more person complains that no-one talks about women in SFF and mentions Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia Butler (or fucking Margaret Atwood or Madeline L'Engle), I'm gonna have to start shootin'.

Now, I understand that these ladies are the grand pantheon of female SFF as far as a lot of people are concerned; I understand their importance in the historical development of SFF; I have even read their stuff (although without any pleasure and solely as a historical exercise); and I have friends who love them as authors and find them deeply moving and helpful. And that's all great. They don't speak to me personally but they don't have to -- there's no rule.

But here's a thought: They aren't the only women writing SFF. (And I understand this wasn't the original blogger's point either.) It's gotten to the point when you see the article or the blog post or the commentary about "Women in Genre," you can tell who they're going to talk about without even bothering to click or listen. (It's much the same for the guys, too, but that's another rant.)

Can we talk about Connie Willis for a change? Or what about Cherie Priest? Mira Grant? Tanith Lee? Kage Baker? Caitlin Kiernan? Nina Kiriki Hoffman? If you've got to talk about SFF as a gender-divided thing (which is the stupid way to talk about it anyway), can we at least get some fucking new names up there?

Seriously, if anyone comes up with Margaret "I Don't Write Genre Fiction" Atwood again, I'm gonna have to insist on bombing Canada.

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