Science Fiction Studies

#20 = Volume 7, Part 1 = March 1980

Editorial Introduction

"SF on Women--SF by Women," unlike previous special issues of this journal, was not planned as such in advance. Nor do we offer it as a token gesture. SFS was publishing studies of women writers long before it became fashionable and de rigueur to do so. But the articles in our special issue on Ursula Le Guin, say, or the frequent discussions of Mary Shelley in the pages of SFS, were not primarily analyses of a woman: they were analyses of Le Guin's and Shelley's writings. And similarly, the essays by women that we have published have been essays by critics.

This special issue does not signal any fundamental change in that attitude of ours. Nor do we mean to associate ourselves with--let alone promote--a Madison Avenue type of pseudo-feminism ("You've never had it so good in SF, baby--buy more of the stuff"). On the other, "SF on Women--SF by Women" does constitute our acknowledgement of the fact that the number of women contributors to SFS has risen significantly over the years (though not yet, alas, to the level--which does not, of course, mean limit--of proportional representation, to judge by the percentage of SFRA members who are women). Moreover, the analyses herein of gender stereotypes reaffirm and extend our long-standing concern with these and related socio-formalist questions in SF: in the Le Guin issue already mentioned, in the issue devoted to Philip K. Dick, in particular essays like Annas's on androgyny (in 1978), the Hahn-Pukalluses' on Perry Rhodan and Pei's on Tiptree (in 1979), and so forth. In other words, we think that the present issue is consistent with our editorial policy and stance of the last eight years; and we certainly hope that that policy and stance had something to do with the stroke of luck of finding ourselves with half a dozen essays about SF on or by women ready for print at the same time.

This interesting configuration does not necessarily call for a sermon on the "essence" of "SF femininity." Besides, many of the theoretical points we might actually be tempted to make have been made quite adroitly, if sometimes only implicitly, in some of the essays that follow. We therefore commend these essays to our readers' judgment without further comment, except to thank for their help Joanna Russ, who bears no responsibility for anything we have said in this brief editorial, and Nadia Khouri, who bears at least some.

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