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Stuff found looking for other stuff
I was trying to show Susan Shwartz had something published in the 1970s and came across this 1982 article by her about women in science fiction.

LAST fall science fiction writers and fans attending the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver awarded Joan Vinge the Hugo for her novel ''The Snow Queen.'' Suzy McKee Charnas won the 1981 Nebula, sponsored by the Science Fiction Writers of America, for her novel ''The Vampire Tapestries.'' That women won these awards, which are the Pulitzers and American Book Awards of the thriving science fiction community, bolsters a claim made by Alexei and Cory Panshin in ''Expanded Universe,'' a collection of critical essays about the genre: For the six or seven major male science fiction writers who emerged during the 70's, there are at least 15 or 20 women. ''The best writers are the women,'' declares Harlan Ellison, the controversial writer and editor of ''Dangerous Visions,'' a multivolume anthology of science fiction.


THERE is, of course, a certain degree of backlash. Although Ben Bova was the editor who devised the all-female issue of Analog in 1977 before taking over at Omni, he nevertheless issued a strong attack upon woman sf writers in a 1980 speech at a Philadelphia convention: ''Neither as writers nor as readers have you raised the level of science fiction a notch. Women have written a lot of books about dragons and unicorns, but damned few about future worlds in which adult problems are addressed.''

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.


It's kind of hard to reconcile this with him having discovered writers like Joan Vinge or Rebecca Ore (although Ore wasn't until later) but it's easy to reconcile it with how he writes women.

Could you be more clear about how you feel about Ben Bova?

I hereby commit myself to correct the male/female balance by writing grim novels based on the industrial decline caused directly by the shortage of unobtainium.

Railroads may be necessary.

Good Lord.

That sort of thing was unusual even back then... right?

No. Not that it's unusual now.

Gotta love how he skates neatly past recent (at that time) award-winners Cherryh, LeGuin, McIntyre, Wilhelm, and Tiptree, with nary a dragon or unicorn showing among those works but some very adult problems presented prominently.

Hey, LeGuin wrote Earthsea. Bigass dragons in that one!

Bova: Women have written a lot of books about dragons and unicorns, but damned few about future worlds in which adult problems are addressed.

Adult problems like the PRESSING NEED to build tin can habitats in orbit so we can accommodate the elite while the seething masses out-breed live while we go mine the vital Lunar He3 DAMN YOU REALITY (sucks thumb, goes WAAAH back to the crib)

His definition of "adult" is, of course, political.

Edited at 2011-12-01 04:32 pm (UTC)

Actually, the point of his Colony was that the elite, the 1% if you will, might think an L4 colony would allow them to remain serenely above the planet they were mismanaging but it wouldn't because at some point their infrastructure would be connected to and dependent on the masses they so despised and the masses, who we will call the 99% for no particular reason, would come and, oh, let's say occupy what was supposed to be a safe bastion of wealth.

He does seem completely locked into the population bomb model, though. In fact, I seem to recall the book where the heros install fertility controls without telling anyone mentioned Iran specifically; it's possible the current trends in Iran will reverse by the time of the book but I got the feeling he just wasn't aware of them.

Good grief. Did Bova get any backlash himself at the time for that?

Also, Richard Geis, editor of the small-press magazine SFR, protests that ''there must be a recognition of the emotional needs in fiction of the insecure young male who has made up the bedrock readership of SF for 50 years.'' At least they were right up front about it back then. Good grief again.

Won't someone please think of the man-children!

IIRC Richard Geis had his own issues, but I can't help but think he wrote that with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

OMNI! I knew I was forgetting some important magazine!

Bova went to Omni, didn't he? Now very curious about their numbers.

In the meanwhile my ever-distractible eye is caught by the Panshins publishing a collection named Expanded Universe, given that the volume which broke me of incipient Heinlein Fanboyism was Heinlein's own Expanded Universe. Is it possible there was something besides coincidence in the naming of the two volumes?

(I ask, this time, out of honest ignorance, and not to devilishly stir up flame wars other people will participate in.)

Every time I go over to Panshin's site to look for something, I become enraged at its organization. At least it's not playing music at me any more.

Have a review.

Wow, I haven't read anything by Bova since the early 80s and had no idea he was a total ass.

Oh dear. That really was quite unforgivable, and quite wrong.

Anyone want to ask him for a retraction?

Had you quoted Bova's statment and asked me to guess who said it I'd have been at a loss. I'd never have assigned it to Campbell on a bad day, much less Bova. I heard him talk once, and disagreed with pretty much everything he said, but he was quite calm and rational.

It's a strange criterion he has for "raising the level of science fiction". One could make a case that Ballard fails the criterion utterly, and I think he raised the level of SF considerably. Perhaps "Billenium" and some of his other stories satisfy the criterion, but no more than Anne McCaffery's works.

Or contrast Zelazny and LeGuin. I've recently reread some Zelazny shorts and rediscovered what a wonderful writer he was, but if he ever wrote something which spent nearly as much time on "future worlds in which adult problems were addressed" as LeGuin did in "The Dispossessed" I missed it.

I wonder if he was well at the time, on medication, or otherwise not in his right mind. In vino non est Veritas (doubtless wrong, my Latin is pretty much nonexistant).

William Hyde

I guess it's nice to be reminded that testicles are external for a reason.