Sunday, May 5, 2013

Short Story of the Week (May 2013) Women in Science Fiction Literature

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Each week at the Classic Science Fiction Message Board we read a short science fiction piece (short story, novelette or novella). These stories are always available for FREE online so that anyone can participate in the discussion. The stories are chosen by a different member every month, so that we get to read a variety of stories. May's stories are being picked by Melanie. 

I'm 36 and have lived in Nashville, TN for 13 years now, which is about 11 years longer than I thought I would be here! I grew up all over the southeast US, spending time in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and finally Louisiana. I moved here after I graduated from LSU to live with a friend of mine and just never left. My husband and I got married this past summer and then bought a house. I'm also just finishing my 3rd semester of my Library/Information Science Masters program at UT, so life is pretty busy. That's pretty much why the majority of our books are still in boxes! 

I got my love of reading from my parents and my preference for sci-fi and fantasy from my father. I can't remember the first science fiction I read but I read things like the Hitchhiker's series, Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series, Michael Crichton and lots of short stories as my dad always got the big end of year compilation books. Now, my favorite modern sci-fi tends to be things by guys like Neal Stephenson and China Mieville. Classic authors: Ursula K. LeGuin, Bradbury, Asimov. I also read a lot of science non-fiction and by favorites are by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Mary Roach and Michio Kaku. Unfortunately, there are just too many books to read! 


Women in Science Fiction Literature

Melanie- There's been a bit of discussion around the group regarding women in sci-fi. Personally, I've been thinking about sex/gender, equality, and human interaction in general. As I was looking over the short stories we've read in the last year, it appears men wrote 37 and women wrote 13. And when you factor in all the short stories we've read, less then 30% were by women. I think there are a few reasons for the skew; the stories have to be available free online which leads to choosing older or public domain stories. The more popular an author is, the more likely some of their short stories will be available free online, and the biggest names in science fiction, historically, are male. For the next few weeks, I want to concentrate on female authors and see what the group's thoughts are. I hope to spark some conversation and to keep figuring out my own thoughts on all these subjects. Enjoy!


Week # 1 Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okorafor

Melanie- Okorafor is an American author who's parents were from Nigeria. She's won a few awards and had some honor/finalists works as well.

This story is a take on an old theme: person creates technology, technology used for evil, person tries to right the wrongs. here's a quote "There is witchcraft in science and a science to witchcraft. Both will conspire against you eventually."  What do you think? Do you like the ending?

Week # 2 What Would Sam Spade Do? by Jo Walton

Melanie-It doesn't appear that we've read any short fiction by Jo Walton before, though we will be reading her novel "Among Others" in October.

I mentioned in the comments of last week's story that I thought it was "ok" but that it felt very much like a woman wrote it.  For this week, I like the story much more, but it doesn't feel particularly female.  Hard-boiled crime doesn't usually.  I feel like there are a lot of ethical/philosophical questions that can be unpacked from this story; let me know what you think!

Week # 3 After the Days of Dead Eye 'Dee by Pat Cadigan   

Melanie-Jim posted an article about Top Women Science Fiction Writers earlier this week and, while I know we all disagree with various parts of the list, the article did send me off to read several really good stories.  This week's is one of my favorites.  What happens when aliens make contact with a helpless old lady, alone in the woods?

Week # 4 Nonstop to Portales by Connie Willis    

Melanie-A fun Connie Willis story this week!  Can't say too much or it will give stuff away but it's about a guy stuck in nowhere, NM with some time to kill, so he joins up with a tour group for an outing.

Week # 5 Annie Webber by Elizabeth Bear

It's been interesting picking these short stories this month.  I've read so many it seems! There were several that had striking images or disturbing plots but I decided to go with another fun story.  It has coffee in it!


  1. Hi Dave - a quick question: do you know who the copyright holder is for the graphic used at the top of this post? Best wishes, Don :)

  2. It's a Starcraft II wallpaper, if that helps.