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by Gideon Marcus

It's not quite time for a funeral, yet!

Nearly a decade ago, the Chicken Littles of our genre scribbled at length in our magazines and buttonholed each other at conventions to voice their fears that science fiction was dying. Well, it is true that we are down to just six American sff digests per month, off of the 40 magazine peak of 1953. On the other hand, I'd argue that we're not that much worse off for having lost the lesser monthlies. Moreover, sff novels still seem to be doing a brisk trade.

In the three years since I started this column, I've seen a cadre of new writers burst onto the scene; clearly, no one told them that their field is dead! And while sff continues to be something of a man's world, this fact is changing, slowly but surely. Since just last year, when I wrote 18 mini-biographies of the women authors of science fiction, I've become exposed to a whole new crop of female bylines. Some of them are just new to me, having been in the biz for a long time. Others are genuinely fresh onto the scene.

Without further ado, the supplemental list for early 1962:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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A woman on the City Council? Say it ain't so!

It's not news that there just aren't a lot of women in politics these days. Universal suffrage is now 40 years old, but women comprise just 18 out of 437 members of the House of Representatives and 2 of 100 Senators – about 4% and 2%, respectively. For most of us, that's not an alarming statistic. That's just the way it's always been. But for some of us (including this columnist), equal representation can't come soon enough. After all, when women make up half the population but only 4% of the government, that's a crisis of almost Revolutionary proportions.

I'm not the only one taking a stand, but sometimes support for the cause comes from the unlikeliest of places.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Many years from now, scholars may debate furiously which decade women came to the forefront of science fiction and fantasy. Some will (with justification) argue that it's always been a woman's genre – after all, was it not Mary Shelley who invented science fiction with Frankenstein's monster? (Regular contributor Ashley Pollard says "no.") Others will assert that it was not until the 1950s, when women began to be regularly published, that the female sff writer came into her own.

It's certainly true that a wave of new woman writers has joined the club in just the last few years. If this trend continues, I suspect we'll see gender parity in the sf magazines by the end of this decade. Right around the time we land on the Moon, if Kennedy's recently expressed wishes come to fruition.

Come meet six of these lady authors, four of whom are quite new, and two who are veterans in this, Part IV, of The Second Sex in SFF.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Here's a question I've gotten more than once: what is the point in spotlighting woman writers? Shouldn't I simply point out the good stories as I find them, and if they happen to be written by women, bully for them? Why should I create an artificial distinction?

Those are actually fine questions, about which I've given much thought. I make no claims to being an expert, or even someone whose opinion should matter much to you. All I have is my taste, my gut and (lucky for me) my own column in which to voice my opinions. So take my words as strictly my viewpoint.

We live in a particular kind of world. Men are the default: the default heroes, the default writers, even the default pronoun. Open a history book, and it will be filled with the names of great men. Women are a seeming afterthought. You may not even have thought twice about it. It seems "natural" that movies should star men, that books should star men, that men should be the generals, the presidents.

But, there is a change a brewing. Black men universally won the right to vote in 1865. Women secure duniversal suffrage in 1920, fully three generations after the least privileged men. The gap is narrowing. This year, a Black man became skipper of a U.S. Naval vessel. 1961 also marks the year a woman became a shipboard U.S. Naval officer for the first time. Women are now just one generation behind the least advantaged of the men. Someday, we may be on a level playing field, all races of men and women.

Science fiction is supposed to be forward-looking, yet socially it seems stuck in the present, or even the past. One almost never reads about woman starship captains or woman presidents or woman...well... anything. I don't think this is the result of deliberate collusion by the science fiction writing community. It's just that society is the air we breathe. We are unconsciously bound by its rules and traditions. Unless something shakes up our viewpoints, we'll stick in our ruts and continue to accept this male-dominated paradigm as the natural order of things.

So when I spot something unusual that I think should be universal, I note it. I encourage it. I enjoy it.

Without further ado, part #3 of my encyclopedic catalog of the woman writers active as of this year of 1961:

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Welcome to Part 2 in this series on the women actively writing science fiction and fantasy in 1961.

This installment will be a bit different, but don't worry -- we'll go back to the original format with the next one.

After I wrote the first part, my wife asked me why I have a preference for woman-penned stories. That brought me up short. Why did I look forward to seeing a woman's name on the cover or in the table of contents of one of my science fiction magazines? After some mental wrangling, I think I've got the answers:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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1961. The year that an Irishman named Kennedy assumed the highest office in the land. The year in which some 17 African nations celebrated their first birthday. The air smells of cigarette smoke, heads are covered with hats, and men run politics, industry, and much of popular culture.

In a field (and world) dominated by men, it is easy to assume that science fiction is as closed to women as the local Elks Lodge. Who are the stars of the genre? Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Sheckley; these are household names. But if there is anything I have discovered in my 11 years as an avid science fiction fan (following another 20 of casual interest), it is that there is a slew of excellent woman authors who have produced a body of high quality work. In fact, per my notes, women write just one ninth of the science fiction stories published, but a full fourth of the best works.

For this reason, I've compiled a list of female science fiction writers active in this, the second year of the 1960s. These authors are just the tip of the vanguard. They are blazing a trail for women to one day share equally in the limelight...and the Hugos!

Here they are, in alphabetical order:

(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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