Who Are the Women Who Shaped Science Fiction?

Everyone knows about the fathers of science fiction, Buzzfeed says, but what about the mothers? And then names nine.

They left out a few. Joanna Russ should be here. And so should “James Tiptree” (if Virginia Woolf was allowed on under a pseudonym so should Alice Sheldon be).  Octavia Butler comes to mind. And Anne McCaffrey, Ann Crispin, D.C.Fontana., Elizabeth Bear.
And while we’re talking genre, let’s add the more fantastical side of things. Lois Bujold and Ursula le Guin both write across the breadth of the genre, after all, so why not grab a slice of something that isn’t just rivets and spaceships? People like Tanith Lee, Judith Tarr, Patricia McKillip – and people who SHOULD be better known out there, writers like Glenda Larke.
Buzzfeed’s 9 mothers of SF
The Usual Questions
I did an interview for Festivale, a Melbourne, Australia online magazine, that asked “The Usual Questions,” a couple of them not so usual as all that. For example:
Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?
I don’t want to be trapped in an elevator at all! Claustrophobic!! But if I had to be… can I have Jean Luc Picard…? He’d figure out a way to get us out.
Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?
That would be telling.
Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?
Other than that I love hearing reactions to my work from readers who might use a convention to tell me about it, there is no direct effect on the work. I HAVE had the occasional comment along the lines of “I wish you’d have [put together a different pair of characters/taken the story in a different direction/told us a bit more about your setting and your world/insert your own quibble of choice here] but when that happens I usually just end up having a nice conversation about it. I don’t defend my choices in the aftermath, to anyone, nor do I use the interaction to shape a future path.
The long and the short of it is that my stories are ALREADY told, and all I do is take dictation, in a sense – few things can be affected in this kind of set-up by interactions with fans.
Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?
The woman who bought a copy of Secrets of Jin Shei for her adopted Chinese daughter, so that she “would have something to read that did such wonderful things to her birth culture.” After I had asked how to spell the child’s Chinese name and carefully wrote it down in the autograph, she said, “Thank you so much! I will look forward to giving her this when she is old enough to read it!”
A little taken aback as I had assumed the girl would be getting the present immediately, I asked, “How old is she?”
“Four,” the mother said.
I am still blown away by the fact that somebody bought my book in trust for a child not yet grown, to keep as a treasure of her future.
Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?
Tolkien. Roger Zelazny. Guy Gavriel Kay. Sharon Penman, Ursula le Guin. And (one you’ve probably never heard of) Howard Spring – who is the greatest master of creating characters who suck you into a story that I’ve ever been privileged to read.
As for other media… Babylon 5. I keep on re-watching the whole damned thing. It is just so PERFECT.
What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn’t do without?)
A very substantial supply of coffee (to which I think I am literally addicted). And yes, I’d probably take my teddy bear. He’s been with me since I was a year old, on four different continents now, so why wouldn’t I take him along to the stars…?
What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?
Whenever someone comes up to me and tells me that something I wrote made any sort of difference to them – made them sad, made them happy, made them mad – my work is done. As far as a long-term goal… I’d love for my stories to be read and remembered long after I myself am no longer here.
What is the special satisfaction of your work?
I get to live in all the worlds that exist in my imagination. And better still, I get to be the guide who navigates the journeys of other people through those worlds. It’s a great feeling.
31 Day Blog Challenge, #22
Best thing that happens every year. I sold some writing.
The wheels of publishing grind slow – and it is probably only in early 2014 that the fruits of these seeds will come to full ripeness.
But in the first quarter of 2014 it is likely I will have two new YA novels out there. Two GOOD novels. Let’s hope the world is waiting for something nice to read.
—– Alma Alexander
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