Science fiction for women

Newsweek says spaceships are fun for both genders.


Page Rockwell
January 18, 2006 12:35AM (UTC)

About a year ago, a sci-fi-loving guy I know got sick of my Dungeons & Dragons jokes and dared me to actually read a work of science fiction instead of just making fun of his reading list. With a lot of eye rolling, I did. To my mild embarrassment, I got completely hooked and have now read about 10 books with spaceman-dominated cover art and titles like "Borders of Infinity."

So I wasn't too surprised by Newsweek's report that science fiction and fantasy aren't just for dudes. According to sci-fi and fantasy author Libba Bray (which sounds less like a real name than an almost anagram for library, but no matter), teenage girls are reading and writing otherworldly fiction in increasing numbers.

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Newsweek's summary of how Bray customizes science fiction for a female audience -- "Think 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' but in corsets and with a heady infusion of historical detail" -- didn't sit well with me. (Corsets? Talk about one step forward and 37 steps back.) But the Q&A with Bray is worth reading for her funny and stereotype-challenging turns of phrase; when asked what inspires her work, she mentions her childhood friends, whom she describes as "somewhat feral and unsupervised."

And Bray has an interesting take on why sci-fi is the best place for female characters right now:

"Often, when it comes to girls and women, we don't show the full emotional spectrum of what we experience; there's still a lot of fear about showing anger in women. If you think about when they show women on TV or in the movies, if they're angry, it's either like: 'oh isn't she cute, she's angry' -- or it's scary, fatal attraction. There's no in-between."

Apparently, today's most realistic heroines are out of this world.


Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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