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Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Jr.…

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (1990)

by James Jr. Tiptree (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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My favorite piece in this collection remains "With Delicate Mad Hands," a story I read and wrote about several years ago: http://doorq.com/2009/07/27/views-assembling-women-in-neuromancer-and-with-delic....

I also discovered the amazing "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" and was fascinated by "A Momentary Taste of Being." I couldn't stop thinking about these stories after reading them; they were wonderful brain food. Other great stories include "Houston, Houston, Do You Read" and "Slow Music." It was brilliant to end the collection with "And So On, and So On."

There were a few shorter pieces that were occasionally beautiful while more incoherent. Overall, her work is powerful and compelling--worth reading and re-reading. ( )
  Marjorie_Jensen | Nov 12, 2015 |
One of my goals this year was to start reading books that have won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, which is presented for stories that explore aspects of gender, primarily in SciFi and Fantasy. Since I was reading these award winners, I figured I should also read some of the work by the author after whom the award is named. James Tiptree, Jr. is a pseudonym for Alice Bradley Sheldon, who wrote hard science fiction for years without readers knowing she was a woman.

Tiptree is a perfect namesake for this award because so many of her own stories explore gender and sexuality in challenging and innovative ways. These stories are intelligent, sometimes challenging, and often bleak.

"The Screwfly Solution," which is one of the best short stories I've read in years, involves increasing numbers of attacks by men against women. Bits of news clips, letters, and diary entries are placed alongside the main narrative of a man trying to make it home to his wife and daughter amid the mounting chaos. The ending is fatalistic and powerful, haunting.

In "The Women Men Don't See” a journalist on a trip into Mexico takes a flight on a small plane with a mother and daughter, whom he finds unsettlingly independent and not fitting into his expectations of how women should be. I can’t say much more about the story without giving too much away, but the exploration of gender roles becomes increasingly explicit.

“With Delicate Mad Hands” is the story of a woman with a facial deformity who has lived her entire life unloved by her fellow human beings who mock and abuse her. She perseveres through an inner secret drive to leave Earth’s solar system behind her, and she achieves this one day by stealing a ship and steering it solo to the stars. There is so much more to the story than that short description, but I don’t want to say anymore. Although as dark as any other of Tiptree’s stories, this was also sweet and romantic.

Another subset of stories explore sexual behavior through alien bodies and include stories such as “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death,” "On the Last Afternoon," and "A Momentary Taste of Being." The alien-ness of these creatures or beings is startling and often destructive to human existence.

Other stories reflect on moral complexities of human society. “The Last Flight of Doctor Ain,” for example presents bits and pieces of Doctor Ain’s last flight told through the points of view of the people who meet him along his journey (again, this tells too little, but it really is a thrilling story). In "We Who Stole the Dream" an alien race enacts a revolt against humanity which holds them captive, breaking free from slavery and suffering, only to find that the home they are returning to is not the dream-come-true they expected.

Although I didn’t necessarily love every story, reading this brick-thick collection was a fantastic experience. Tiptree was an amazing writer, a master of the genre. Her work is a must read for any science fiction fan. ( )
1 vote andreablythe | Aug 31, 2015 |
When I first started reading Tiptree back in the late 1970s – it was Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home, originally published in 1973 but my edition was the 1978 paperback – I knew “he” was a woman, but from what I’d read somewhere I thought the pseudonym was in order to protect the author’s career with the CIA. It never occurred to me Ali Sheldon used it because she was a woman. Now I know better, of course. In the early 1980s I bounced out of Tiptree’s Brightness Falls From the Air, and never quite got back into reading her. Well, at least not with the same fervour as before. I’ve reread Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home over the years several times, not to mention the odd story in various anthologies, but it wasn’t until Her Smoke Rose Up Forever appeared in the SF Masterworks series – deservedly so, I might add – that I really decided to give her a reread in earnest. I would normally review this book for SF Mistressworks, but I’ve already got a review lined up by someone else; and besides, I’ve probably reviewed half of the contents in reviews of other anthologies anyway. For the record, not every story in here shines, but a number of them so do very brightly – ‘The Screwfly Solution’, personal favourite ‘And I Awoke And Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side’, ‘The Women Men Don’t See’, even ‘The Man Who Walked Home’ (a story which has haunted me since I first read it decades ago). There are stronger collections in science fiction out there, but not many. ( )
  iansales | Aug 27, 2015 |
Death was the engine of their lives, death fueled their sexuality. Death drove them at each other's throats and into each other's arms. Dying, they triumphed. . . .That was human life.

There is a lot of death and killing in these stories in these stories, of individual men, women and aliens and of the whole human race. I wonder if the author's age had anything to do with it - maybe someone who starts writing in their 50s is already facing up to the fact that Death 'waits for all men born', unlike the young who think that they will live forever.

And there is so much anger about the bad things happen to women (and aliens) in these stories at the hands of men, both human and alien, that I am not surprised that James Tiptree Jr. was suspected of being a woman well before her true identity was discovered.

Long hesitation. When she speaks again her voice is different. "Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful, and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish like—like that smoke. We'll be back where we always were: property. And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was. You'll see." ( )
  isabelx | Aug 1, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tiptree, James Jr.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clute, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Picacio, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sleight, GrahamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, AndrewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swanwick, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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