On Women and Speculative Fiction

70s-lesbian-sci-fi-headerSo oftentimes I will read something I like and want to share it here on the blog. For whatever reason the mind kicks in and says “this is something which should be preserved.” So I file it away and eventually, I write up my thoughts about the link and then I set it to post. 

Right now, in my draft file, there are several pieces I’ve wanted to share and just never found the right time or situation to do so, and interestingly, all of these involve female science fiction/fantasy writers. As the father of a daughter, I want her to know that the world of writing is open to her.  So is the world of reading. Not mentioning the spectacular worlds created by these folks would be a crime in and of itself.

Then I read “In Search of Doors,” V.E. Schwab’s amazing lecture at the Pembroke Tolkien Conference (video at the bottom of this page), and realized I just needed to write about all of these links in one post and get them out there. So that’s what I’m doing.

First, there’s C.L. Moore. Sure, the impetus for my wanting to talk about her was this piece on Tor.com about who she was and what she brought to the table, but I was a fan long before this. In fact, I was a fan before I even knew I was a fan. One of my favorite short stories ever is called “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and it was written by Lewis Padgett (the text is here and an abridged recording of William Shatner reading it, which, yes, I do own on vinyl, can be found here). Turns out, Lewis Padgett was a pseudonym for Moore and her husband, Henry Kuttner, when they wrote together. Moore on her own, though, was amazing. She was right up there with Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian) when one looks at the dawn of the sword and sorcery genre. But while Jirel of Joiry was a warrior woman who could hold her own against any of her male compatriots, I think you’d be hard-pressed not to see her creation of Northwest Smith as anything other than an inspiration for both Han Solo (in action and demeanor) and Indiana Jones (in name).

Then there’s Leigh Brackett, who wrote the first draft of what would become The Empire Strikes Back. Thing is, she also co-wrote the screenplays for The Big Sleep and  Rio Bravo ( and there’s a wonderful interview with her here, from Starlog Magazine) not to mention being highly influential on some up and coming writers in the 40s, like Ray Bradbury. And this was all in addition to her being a highly regarded science fiction author.

While these are just two of the female authors I wanted to speak of, specifically, I’ve also recently linked to other compilations of great (and classic) science fiction (not gender specific) like Who Are the Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction? or A Survey of Some of the Best Science Fiction Ever Published (that one curated by publisher Judy-Lynn Del Rey). It’s the women, though, who are really of interest, mostly because I just don’t know about them. I didn’t know anything about Marie Severin before her recent birthday and subsequent death, and I’m trying to make up for lost time there.

I’ve also picked up copies of books I first learned about while reading through ‘s multi-part series on Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s and 1980s. And now Literary Hub gives us 10 Great Reads From the Feminist Lesbian Sci-Fi Boom of the 1970s which provided me with more books to add to my TBR list.

So ultimately, I really just wanted a place to collect these thoughts and to make note of these women who wrote amazing books – some I’ve read, many I’ve not, but I wanted to remember them nonetheless.

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