The Future is Female!

The Future is Female!
Ed. by Lisa Yaszek

With a title like that, complete with exclamation mark, you’d be forgiven for expecting nothing subtle in this terrific anthology of 25 SF stories written by women between 1928 and 1969. But this period – and most of the stories here come from the “Atomic age” of the 1950s and ‘60s – was just before the more explicit and political feminism of that movement’s second wave, and subtlety was still the order of the day. As Leigh Brackett remarked of what was happening at the time, “you can get away with practically anything [in SF] as long as it’s well and subtly done.”

So while there are gender-role reversals here, and at least one piece (“Created He Them” by Alice Eleanor Jones) clearly meant to be read as a diatribe, it’s a collection that’s far richer than the label “feminist SF” would suggest. A fiercely analytical eye might find something distinctive in the approach or point of view taken. Editor Lisa Yaszek gives as an example complex character development first and foremost, and it’s not a point I would argue with. A sympathy for the “other” (and racial identity is a theme that struck me as more pronounced than gender) might be another.

Most of all though these are just great stories that show the development of the genre during a time of great technological, literary, and political change. And while the future envisioned has evolved and in some cases been left behind, what’s still relevant is less the message than the skill, and subtlety, of the messaging. A second volume covering the ‘70s would be more “feminist,” but also less of our time.


22 thoughts on “The Future is Female!

    1. Yeah, these stories are stories by women but except in a few cases like the one I mention they’re not in your face with any kind of message or axe-grinding. If they do have a feminist message they put it across more indirectly. The second volume, covering the ’70s, is more political, but it’s still very good. Will post on that next.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. cheers, the book is quite expensive so I’ll have to hunt the 2nd hand shops for it. Checked out the website, good stuff, especially like the biographies and book art.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Library of America volumes are pricey. Definitely want to get it from the library. But I seem to remember you saying you don’t have a library. Which is sad! Even Eddie’s hick town has a new library.

        Liked by 2 people

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