SF Mistressworks nominated for a BSFA Award

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA for short) has just announced the shortlist for its 2011 awards. And amongst the nominees for best non-fiction is a website I’ve contributed too, Ian Sales’ SF Mistressworks blog. Ian set the blog up last year as part of his attempts to get more coverage of female science fiction writers, inspired by the discussions about the gender imbalance in science fiction in general and British sf publishing in special. For the same reasons last year I had my own reading project, to correct the gender imbalance in my own reading.

The SF Mistressworks blog is intended as a showcase for all sorts of science fiction written by women, to demonstrate that,
as Ian puts it:

a) women have been writing science fiction since the genre’s beginnings,

b) many of their books should qualify as classics, and

c) many of their books are, in fact, better than “classics” by their male counterparts, and have at least aged better.

Such a showcase being necessary because more so than their male counterparts, female sf writers run the risk of being written out of the genre’s history, even when they were incredibly popular. For instance, around the time that Ann McCaffrey passed away, I remember reading a rant by somebody annoyed that a high profile review of Christopher Paolin’ Eregon books talked about the influence of Tolkien on them, but said nothing about the obvious Pern influences[1]. For various reasons, it’s much easier to construct male orientated histories of the genre, to talk about Verne-Heinlein-Niven-Egan-Stross, not so much to talk about Shelley-Moore-Le Guin-Cadigan-Williams.

I’ve contributed several reviews to the site, reprinted from my own booklog, for books I considered fitted in well with its aims[2]. As such I can’t help but be proud to see Sf Mistressworks recognised for its contributions, though obviously its success is mainly due to Ian Sale’s hard work and dedication. It’s a great initiative and I hope this recognition will help it continue its good work.

[1] If anybody recognises this article, let me know, as could I find it today? Could I buggery.
[2] E.g. The Sign of the Labrys, Ammonite, The Sword of Rhiannon and The Female Man.

1 Comment

  • Alex

    February 19, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    It still astounds me how common this view still is, in this age of information dissemination. My first boyfriend told me “Women can’t write good science fiction,” and I didn’t argue. I wasn’t allowed to read these things until I left home, because as very conservative christians, my family kept tight control over my life, so my nascent science fiction and fantasy tastes were shaped by my first boyfriend. He took an intern job and we were apart one summer. He left me a reading list on a napkin (before that sounds too awful I have to explain that I’m a voracious reader, and at the time it was a romantic gesture). I wish I still had it. I remember Asimov making the list, and Douglas Adams, but I don’t remember any of the rest. To this day I can only think of two or three science fiction authors I’ve enjoyed…until I look at my bookshelf. I like to blame the fact that I’m much more into fantasy, but in reality it’s probably partially early programming. I have the same problem with westerns, which I also happen to enjoy. Last year I read Joanna Russ’s “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” and found it gripping, and it made me think about the process and reasons I always named certain authors when asked to name science fiction classics. For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of a women-only year of reading. However, school makes that rather impractical right now. I have just about zero time for fun reading, because the quarter system is my version of hell.

    I’ll have to check out this weblog. Thanks for posting a link to it.

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