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MEMOIRS OF A SPACEWOMAN (original 1962; edition 1985)

by Naoimi Mitchison

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2311073,676 (3.27)10
Authors:Naoimi Mitchison
Info:The Woman's Press, 124 Shoreditch High Street, London EI 6JE
Collections:Your library

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Memoirs of a Spacewoman by Naomi Mitchison (1962)


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English (9)  Italian (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)

The fact that part of this book is satire seems hardly noticed by reviewers. Maybe my reading was influenced the review of Sirius on Gaping Blackbird. That review highlighted the comic significance of a scene I didn’t perceive as comedy at all, so that may have sharpened my senses a bit. Still, this next quote more or less puts all the deep thoughts about empathic communication in a different light.

We used to take our rations and eat them where the creatures could observe us. This roused their sympathy, though they wanted to see the results of the digestive process. I believe Françoise obliged, but they found the result aesthetically disappointing, and tried to express to her their pity and even some thoughts on how a better results could be achieved. This was a first important point of higher communication between our groups.

For those who missed it: they are talking about the aesthetics of shit, as the alien creatures’ main occupation is shitting in patterns. The book is worth the price of acquisition for this passage alone, and with it Mitchison brilliantly subverts her own set up.


Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig ( )
  bormgans | Mar 16, 2018 |
Told in vignettes of her adventures on different worlds, linked by her interactions with certain people as they age and the science experiment that defines her life and changes her body, the plot is a bit choppy and some parts seem unconnected with the story as a whole. However, it is not intended to be the story of a single event, but the story of her life as a Spacewoman, so it is told as a Memoir. Intriguing world-building and complex moral dilemmas make up for the choppy plot and create an interesting read. Worth the time if you enjoy vintage science fiction set in strange worlds with complex characters. ( )
1 vote empress8411 | Feb 2, 2018 |
This book has not stood the test of time and was mainly dull.

The snobbery in the introduction of this edition also sets a high bar for the book which it completely fails to clear. ( )
  StigE | Aug 25, 2017 |
One from my Women’s Press SF collection and read for review on SF Mistressworks – see https://sfmistressworks.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/memoirs-of-a-spacewoman-naomi-m.... It felt more fabulist than science-fictional, with a chatty narrator and an almost childish approach to genre trope, although the book is anything but childish. The prose is a good deal sharper than is typical of the genre, but not, it must admitted, of the novels published under the Women’s Press SF imprint. I’d like to read more Mitchison, I think, and her The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931) is, according to Wikipedia, “regarded by some as the best historical novel of the 20th century”. ( )
  iansales | Feb 28, 2017 |
What an imagination! No wrinkled-forehead aliens here - even the humans are quite a bit different, in many ways, than us. I especially enjoyed the idea of time-blackout, which prevents the characters from feeling committed to long-lasting relationships. And the semi-sentient lab animals, who cooperated with the experiments because the scientists were able to communicate with them, were beguiling.

Labeling this book a 'feminist landmark' is accurate, but puts a stigma on it that some people will be turned off by. It's actually quite entertaining, and def. not anti-male.

My slim mm pb is avl. gratis to any US member. It's almost falling apart, so I can't bookcross it to wild release. Just send me a PM. ( )
1 vote Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Naomi Mitchisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hundertmarck, RosemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ladd, EricCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murray, IsobelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rubinstein, HilaryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Straten, Nettie vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Isobel Murray's Introduction here argues that it is by no means 'pure' Science Fiction: the success of the novel depends not only on the extraordinarily variety of life forms its heroine encounters and attempts to communicate with on different worlds: she is also a very credible human, or Terran, with recognisibly human emotions and a dramatic emotional life. This novel works effectively for readers who usually eschew the genre and prefer more traditional narratives. Explorers like Mary are an elite class who consider curiosity to be Terrans' supreme gift, and in the novel she more than once takes risks that may destroy her life. Her voice, as she records her adventures and experiments, is individual, attractive and memorable.
Isobel Murray is Emeritus Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen.(
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