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Male authors of feminist SF/F?

Feminist SF

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1rudyleon
Jul 28, 2007, 1:36pm Top

Hi all,
over on LJ, elorie is asking for recs for feminist SF for a book group she's going to be moderating on her campus. Male authors of feminist SF came up, and someone commented that they would be suspicious of any list of feminist SF/F over 25 books that didn't include male authors.

I scratched my head and came up with (only) one or two male authors that I consider feminist, I put the question to y'all: which male authors would you recommend as writing feminist SF/F?

2sheherazahde
Jul 28, 2007, 5:48pm Top

Glory Season by David Brin is a novel about a predominantly female society. I thought he did a better job than some of the books on the subject by women.

Samuel R Delany writes women well. If I remember correctly The Jewels of Aptor was his take on the Maiden, Mother, Crone.

What author's did you come up with?

3rudyleon
Jul 29, 2007, 11:54am Top

Someone mentioned Garth Nix and Phillip Pullman, who I hadn't thought of. My thoughts were Delaney and Guy Gavriel Kay. I haven't read any Geoff Ryman, but he gets Tiptree noms, so I'd count him.

As for Brin, well I found Glory Season to be pretty misogynistic. But that may be flavored by how I found the book -- which was an ugly public online fight where Brin was all petulant and abusive that feminist SF authors didn't find his attempt at a feminist utopian novel to be feminist....

Surely there are more?

4sheherazahde
Jul 29, 2007, 1:26pm Top

What is feminist about Phillip Pullman? I mean OK he isn't misogynistic. But you need to do more than just write a strong female lead character to be a feminist.

Can you point me to the "ugly public online fight"?
I went looking it, and found several references to it but I couldn't find it.

I found several people stating that they thought "Glory Season" was misogynistic. But the only person who gave a reason, gave a stupid reason 'The men hang out on their boats and only come in for sex, while the woman do all the work." Indicating a basic lack of understanding of: biology, economics, feminism, and what Brin was doing.

But there is another question about male feminist authors. I have no doubt that men can be feminists (although there are some feminists who disagree) But I question the necessity of including male feminist authors in a course. I can't imagine anyone saying "They would be suspicious of any list of African-American SF/F over 25 books that didn't include white authors."

Insisting on including male authors just sounds like more male privilege (20) to me.

5andyl
Edited: Jul 29, 2007, 5:07pm Top

I think you have a categorisation error when you compare "feminist writers" to "african-american writers". One is a description of an ethos, the other is a description of the genetic makeup of the writer. It is entirely possible that a male writer could writer from a feminist standpoint just as a straight writer can write from a pro-GBLT standpoint just as a female writer can write a male-dominated society.

BTW - I've read Ryman and I'd include him.

What about Theodore Sturgeon's Venus Plus X? Considering when it was published I definitely would include it.

However I would probably agree with #4 that in a course on feminist SF one should surely be looking at how feminist SF has developed over the past 100 or so years - say from Herland to modern works (say the 90s). Venus Plus X definitely fits in to that. Modern male writers of feminist SF probably don't.

I don't buy that one should exclude male authors just for being male any more than one should include male authors to maintain a balance. Any serious study would look at the important and pivotal books, and if one of those is written by a man then so be it.

6rudyleon
Jul 29, 2007, 2:29pm Top

I'll admit I also don't agree the class would have to include male authors; that was just where the post was that got me thinking about male authors of feminist SF.

The Brin/Charnas fight was waay back when Glory Season came out, and I might have it some old unsorted files, but I think that was 3 or 4 computers (and a couple of OSes!) ago....I also can;t remember the details of why I disliked it so strongly, and just have the bad taste left. Which may incline me to reread it, but with the size of the TBR and wishlist, it's not likely.

7rudyleon
Jul 29, 2007, 2:32pm Top

I've noticed an interesting evolution in spec fic in the past 5 years or so. It seems to me that less folks are taking on the explicit questions of feminism in social scientific fiction and are assuming the full and active person-hood of women (and societies where that is true). It's becoming more background, less foreground. As a result, I've begun to class as feminist fiction anything that doesn't provoke my 'aargh! not feminist" gag response.

Perhaps this bespeaks a need for a new taxonomy? or my finding authors who have escaped my attention?

8sheherazahde
Jul 29, 2007, 6:23pm Top

Re: Message #5
I think you have a categorisation error when you compare "feminist writers" to "African-American writers". One is a description of an ethos, the other is a description of the genetic makeup of the writer.

But I didn't say "African-American writers" I said "list of African-American SF/F ". Which I admit is more ambiguous than Feminist SF/F. Feminist definitely refers to the content rather than to the author. While African-American SF/F could refer to either.

But consider, if you were making a list of African-American SF/F would you rather include Babel-17 by African-American author Samuel Delany but with no significant African American content or Anansi Boys by white English author Neil Gaiman that uses African mythology and, has an African-American protagonist and actually deals with issues of African-American culture.

9lquilter
Aug 1, 2007, 6:28pm Top

Surprised nobody has mentioned Kim Stanley Robinson yet as a feminist author.

As for David Brin, the critique of Glory Season that I heard (ten years ago now) wasn't that the women do all the work; it was that the characterization of the actual female characters wasn't that great, and the female protagonist ends up having to get rescued by the guys. ... But this was long ago, so I may not remember all the details of the book or the critiques.

10dukedom_enough
Aug 10, 2007, 8:39am Top

Do male winners of the Tiptree Award qualify? Not necessarily, I suspect, but questioning gender roles is a good place to start. That list:

Raphael Carter (maybe?), John Kessel, M. John Harrison, Matt Ruff, Joe Haldeman, and Geoff Ryman.

I sure don't think of Haldeman as feminist, and I don't see the feminist element in Harrison's Light - though it was a terrific novel. Kessel's "Stories for Men" is a story told by an unreliable narrator, namely a man chafing at restrictions in a feminist enclave in a generally patriarchal society, and I'd say it does qualify. Ruff and Ryman I don't know that well

11henrickpalsson First Message
Edited: Sep 2, 2007, 11:16am Top

I can recommend Geoff Ryman, his novell The Child Garden has a female (homosexual) protagonist. His novell Air winner of the james tiptree awards (2005) also a female protagonist.

12LizzieD
Jun 27, 2010, 10:16pm Top

Whoo! This was almost 3 years ago, but I'd like to echo >7 rudyleon: anyway. I'd list David Weber's Honor Harrington series as an example of a male taking the competent female protagonist for granted. Even the books that feature Grayson's fundamentalist attitude toward women don't seem overtly "feminist" to me. Maybe that's just me. Whatever, they certainly are fun!

13LisaShapter
Jul 4, 2010, 10:18pm Top

Robert Heinlein.

Don't laugh or throw fruit: I suggest him for one and only one work --

...All You Zombies...

-Lisa Shapter

14KingRat
Jul 5, 2010, 3:22am Top

Aqueduct Press just published It Walks in Beauty by Chandler Davis.

15lquilter
Jul 6, 2010, 1:37pm Top

#13 > What's the story of ...All You Zombies... ? I confess I don't remember it.

16AsYouKnow_Bob
Jul 6, 2010, 11:47pm Top

Ummm, it's hard to talk about the story without being all spoiler-y, but it's a time-travel-paradox story involving intersexuals? transexuals? well, sex-assignment surgery, anyway.

Sympathetically.
In the 1950s.

17dukedom_enough
Jul 7, 2010, 7:24am Top

But there's no actual feminism or questioning of gender roles. The character who has the sex-assignment immediately switches from straight, cis of the first gender to straight, cis of the second.

18avaland
Jul 13, 2010, 11:38am Top

I have to agree with an earlier poster, the mere inclusion of a "female protagonist" does not make a male author a feminist. Are we talking books with an overt feminist theme, or perhaps books whose stories may have other themes but are inherently feminist in their presentation of female characters (protagonists or not) and the culture they are a part of.

Graham Joyce's novels are inherently feminist in his care and presentation of his female characters, imo. He's not SF, more dark fantasy and magical realism. I also think he writes women extremely well.

James Patrick Kelly is another SF writer I would consider inherently feminist, though I would steer one towards his short fiction, not his novels.

I gotta tell you, the idea that one needs a male author to somehow legitimize a list of feminist SF really irks me.

19LisaShapter
Jul 15, 2010, 12:17am Top

... All You Zombies...

The story opens with a male magazine writer ("The Unwed Mother" is his byline) in a bar getting angry at "I'm My Own Grandpa" playing on the jukebox. If that doesn't ring a bell then telling more would spoil the story.

/takes a swig of Old Underwear

20sussabmax
Sep 7, 2010, 4:53pm Top

I would add Charles Stross to this list. Glasshouse in particular explores what I would call feminist themes, but in general, the way that he writes both strong female and male characters who interact based on their skills and strength professionally, in addition to romantic subplots, is what I would consider how a feminist writer constructs a story.

21Vetch
Apr 29, 2011, 3:42pm Top

David Brin has been mentioned, and folks weren't sure what to think of his writing. I have read several books by him and consider him... how can I put it politely...
the contrary of feminist.

Iain M. Banks has some really great female leads, but as has been mentioned: a strong female lead doesn't make a book feminst.
Nothing to complain though (unlike Brin's stuff...)

8)

22PhoenixFalls
Edited: Jun 18, 2011, 5:49pm Top

To the best of my knowledge, Raphael Carter is genderqueer: http://wiki.feministsf.net/index.php?title=Raphael_Carter

On the issue of Light, I had a discussion with a friend over on Shelfari and was convinced that it made sense as a Tiptree winner because so many of the major characters' damage is related to their gender and/or sexuality. It's been a little while, so I may get the details wrong, but at a minimum there were Anna Kearney's body image issues and anorexia and Seria Mau's complete retreat from her body as a result of her childhood sexual abuse; I think there was also stuff done with Michael Kearney's sexuality (don't remember what though) and Ed's preference for hyper-masculine noir tank experiences and attempt to force Neena into a traditional mothering role which she rejected. And then the Shrander, which was the only seemingly whole character in the book, was genderless as far as the reader could tell. . .

Haven't read any of the other male Tiptree winners myself, though I hear great things about Geoff Ryman.

23knownever
Apr 14, 2012, 9:32am Top

>20 sussabmax:
Agree strongly on Charles Stross. More than just writing "strong" female characters, Glasshouse has lots of play with the idea of gender and bodies not lining up. For example, the protagonist is male (or at least had been living a number of different body forms for years, i forget). Thus, when "he" gets trapped in a regressive 50s-style experiment he's all surprised and frustrated to be trapped in this stereotypically weak and vulnerable female body. Like, the first thing "he" does is start working out, and there's a scene where he's like "oh shit, this regressive 50s style husband ("herself" a future-woman in a 50s-man's body) I've been saddled with could totally rape me in my own house if he wanted to. weird!!"

24Indybooks
Jun 27, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Lisa, I was also wondering about Robert Heinlein's feminist SF works. What about Friday?

The other candidate I'd suggest for this list is Alexei Panshin, whose Rite of Passage was favorably reviewed by a woman SF writer here:

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/08/growing-up-for-real-alexei-panshins-rite-of-pas...

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