Well, my brother's wedding was just unspeakably depressing, so let us not speak of it. Heteronormativity gives me an itchy rash, but you knew that. Let us -- and by us
I mean me
-- instead give thanks to those who cheered me up after, in 24 hours in the City That Cheers Me Up: bowdlerized
, Matty O., Amanda, twotoedsloth
most of all. I love you and miss you and miss everyone I didn't get to see, too.
But that's not what I wanted to post about. What I wanted to post about is Julie Phillips' biography of the science fiction writer James Tiptree Jr./Alice B. Sheldon. It's not a great book, but it's fascinating me. Phillips is a fine journalist but not a historian, and so she has some difficulty distinguishing what's unusual about Tiptree's life from what's typical for Cold-War era women of Tiptree's race and class. This makes the book a little baggy and shapeless.
The details are gorgeous, though. Phillips quotes extensively from the (apparently voluminous) correspondence between Tiptree and Joanna Russ, and Tiptree and Ursala LeGuin. It was your basic lj-type conversation, smart, flirtatious, wideranging, and with identities of all sorts in play. Also, at least one threat of psuedocide. Internet fandom avant la letre! Seriously, it made me think hard about the historical roots of what we do here, how we adapted the internet to our own purposes rather than having our lives revolutionized by new technology.
The detail I loved most, though, will matter to only a few of you - but those who care will care a whole lot, I bet. So in 1975 Jeff Smith -- a fan who became Tiptree's friend and literary executor -- organized and published a written "symposium" on gender and feminism in science fiction. He came up with a list of questions and then a bunch of writers responded, and then he circulated all the responses and the authors struck up a conversation by mail that (mostly) ended up in print. It wasn't, as far as I can see, all that different from what you might find on the web, a few clicks beyond Making Light or some such, except that the participants included Russ, LeGuin, Tiptree, Samuel Delaney, some SF authors I don't care so much about, and ... "African historian Luisa White." Yeah. Yeah! Luisa White -- who must then have been just starting graduate school -- is one of us