What seemed significant about my friend’s confusion was that it related to a persistent rumbling that I have heard echoing through science fiction. That rumbling says, in essence, that women don’t write science fiction. Put a little more rudely, this rumbling says: “Those damn women are ruining science fiction.” They are doing it by writing stuff that isn’t “real” science fiction; they are writing “soft” science fiction and fantasy.
Pat Murphy, Wiscon 15, March 12, 1991
So opens the introductory editorial for the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue of Lightspeed Magazine. Christie Yant’s introduction could easily have been the rallying cry that lead to the creation of Girls Errant–if it weren’t that I somehow miss all the best Kickstarters (my wallet is far happier than I am). There’s an overwhelming temptation to include quote after quote from editorials, interviews, and personal essays and simply exclaim, “This!”
Tempting. Easy. Not nearly what this fantastic double-issue of Lightspeed Magazine deserves.
Twenty-three years out and, just as Christie Yant writes, Pat Murphy’s quote could have just as easily been made last week. Or today. It could have been part of a discussion about fake geek girls or about whether ladies cosplaying in revealing costumes are just doing it for attention. Women writing science fiction doesn’t just threaten the genre: the mere presence of women at conventions threatens fandom itself.
Women, however, have been a part of science fiction since the beginning. We’ve been a part of it since Mary Shelley anonymously published Frankenstein. We’ve been a part of it since, in 1926, Clare Winger Harris was the first woman to publish science fiction under her own name. We’ve sometimes had to disguise ourselves with initials, as Ursula K. Le Guin had to do in order to be published in Playboy without alarming the male readers. Sometimes we’ve taken on a masculine pseudonym. We’re still here, as writers, as artists, as directors, as fans. (more…)