girlie jones (girliejones) wrote,
girlie jones

Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jnr

A month or two ago I met jonathanstrahan in Planet Books for coffee - we catch up for coffee and usually meet in Planet first, for browsing purposes. He found me perplexed because I was hunting for feminist books in the SF section because robinpen had told me that he'd ordered in a bunch of that kind of stock. J was there two seconds before he started pulling books out that were invisible to me (damn this genre cover art, I am blind to it - it is so not being directed at me). And the first two he pulled out was the biography of Alice Sheldon and the collected works of James Tiptree Jnr. I swear I'd been there 10 minutes looking for them!!!

Anyway, I've been really enjoying reading about Alice Sheldon, who actually has this really fascinating life totally aside from being James Tiptree Jnr. And I'm sure we'll talk more at length about that stuff on a Galactic Suburbia podcast coming soon. But the bit that really tickled my fancy was how Tiptree Jnr's cover was blown. Basically, similar to someone else we love to speculate about the identity of, it was known that "Tiptree" was a pseudonym but Tiptree's gender was permitted to be assumed - most thought male but some people thought female due to the portrayal of female characters. Tiptree never made public appearances and noone had ever met him/her though she/he did correspond with fans and other writers.

After Alice Sheldon's mother died, Tiptree mentioned the death of his/her mother, in Chicago, and that information was enough for a couple of fans to go hunting out the obituaries to discover and reveal the true identity of James Tiptree Jnr as Alice Sheldon.

I LOVE that - doesn't that totally sound exactly like the specfic community we still exist in today :)

And I'm awfully excited and proud to congratulate Paul Haines for his shortlisting of "Wives" in the Tiptree Award this year and also to Jonathan Strahan for the two stories in Eclipse 3 -Caitlin R. Kiernan's “Galapagos” and Maureen McHugh's "Useless Things" which both also made the shortlist!

Tags: breaking through the glass ceiling of sf, feminism

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