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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

you wanna get burned, you wanna get turned, you wanna get fucked inside out....

Kids these days don't read the classics?

Lemme see. Okay, very few modern books period (nevermind SF novels, nevermind feminist SF novels) have entered the canon to the extent that The Left Hand of Darkness has, so frankly I think that's a straw man. If you set up a definition of success that more or less only includes TLHoD, it seems to me a little disingenuous to then disallow Joanna Russ for being less accessible than Le Guin. I think there's an unexamined catch-22 in that argument: Russ doesn't count because she's not popular; she's not popular because she's offputting; she's offputting because she's radical.


As for your questioning of gender roles? Off the top of my head, and without really trying.... Walk to the End of the World, Stars in my Pockets like Grains of Sand, Native Tongue, Shadow Man, The Female Man, We Who Are About To..., "The Screwfly Solution," City of Bones, Set This House In Order, Titan et al, that Elizabeth Lynn book I am too lazy to look up the title of, the Chanur series (the whole thing, if you read, is genderfuck setting the Natural Order of a lion pride against the Natural Order of a gang of primates--and then Cherryh has the balls to call the lions sexist assholes, too. I do so love her when she's on.), Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis. Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed (which I feel the need to say I love), probably doesn't count for the same reason that Kameron disallows the Nicola Griffith books--it's The Left Hand of Darkness proslash, with a heck of a lot of plotty goodness.

...of the lot of these, several have a large popular readership, several are far more "radical" by modern standards than TLHoD, and several have certainly had the critical impact. (Joanna Russ, come on down.)

or is LeGuin just so incredibly talented that you only get that mix of great writer/great thinker/great feminist once every fifty years?

...well, when you put it that way, yes. Also gracious, funny, passionate, and darned good looking. But I may be a drooling pathetic fangirl.

And she's not the only person writing feminist SF. She's just the one who happened to hit that particular home run.

Give it another thirty years; somebody is probably writing the radical bastard stepdaughter of The Left Hand of Darkness as we blog. A few of us are certainly giving it the old college try, anyway. And if we're failing, it's because we are not the great writer/great thinker/great feminist for this fifty years.

Which kinda sucks to wake up to, but it takes a lot of Salieris to make one Mozart look good. ;-) So note: none of that is any excuse not get out there and genderfuck.

ETA: I should point out here that I take no exception to the vast majority of the philosophy, content, and call-to-arms of Kameron's post. Just the logical fallacy that it's hung on.

IE, it's hard to write a groundbreaking book of genderfuck-SF now, because, well, the ground is broken. The idea of ungendered or multiply gendered or shifting-gender people alone is not shocking any more. We're already talking about it.

Progress notes for 16 June 2006:

"Venom Cock"

New Words:  1123
Total Words: 3041
Pages: 14
Deadline: none to speak of.
Reason for stopping: blogging about feminism.

Stimulants:  Smartfood and sushi.
Exercise:  core, exercise bike. I was going to hit the ski machine, but my gimpy hip decided that it wasn't merely twinging today, but sending SPIKES OF SENTIENT FLAME through my hip, quadriceps, and obliques. So, um, no, not so much.

Twenty minutes on the recumbent knocked it back into alignment, though. And I skipped the lower body weights. Because I may be stubborn, but I'm not THAT dumb.

Mail: nomail
Mean Things: sidewalk pizza
Darling du jour: They were disrupting traffic flow, the cardinal sin of New York's secular religion.
Tyop du jour: Melissa was too busy dodging pedestrians to give Gina the were you born that stupid or do you practice hard? look, and Katie was infinitely graceful. (typo on a second order cliché. Lookit that.)
Books in progress: Martin Cruz Smith, Stallion Gate
Things I am glad I did not go to my grave without seeing: The revolution will be televised.

via mirrorthaw.

That's some nice audio editing.

stillsostrange found a Whelan painting that could be cover art for The Sea thy Mistress. Except it's the skeleton of a dead sea animal she ties him to, not a dead tree.

The glamour!: grocery shopped, so I have something to feed commodorified tomorrow. The apartment is filthy, however.

Ah well.


On the subject of the revolution, have you read "Revolution is not an AOL Keyword"? As is the nature of internet things, it is already a bit dated, but that's okay. It is still rather quite funny.

...I would fear the bastard hate child of Lewis and Tiptree.
I remember thinking Ammonite (Nicola Griffith) was quite genderbendy when I read it in 1992, but not at all in the same way as LHoD.

Joanna Russ... I took a writing class from her back many MANY moons ago. I didn't like what she wrote then, I found her intimidating as a teacher, but I learned a hell of a lot in that class. And I suspect I'd like her work a lot more now that I am 47 instead of 20. Her anger was hard for me to connect with at 20. Now it wouldn't be.
OMG. Do you have any idea how much I want to lick you right now?

She's become a hardcore BTVS fan and currently recovering from hip replacement surgery.

Send her a fan letter. *g*

Almost everything Tiptree ever wrote.

Most everything Delany's ever written, also.

Geoff Ryman, The Warrior Who Carried Life. (And presumably many of his other books which I have not yet managed to read.)

Elizabeth Bear, Carnival. (oh wait, that hasn't been published yet.)

Emma Bull, Bone Dance.

David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly. (No, not sfnal, but Hwang is DOWN with the genderfuck.)
Oh, God. Geoff's The Unconquered Country.

A book I am glad I read.

Because I never have to read it again.


He's a fucking genius.
Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed (which I feel the need to say I love)

It's like she took every genre in the world, stuck it in a blender with some LHoD slash and an Andre Norton book to be named later, and came up with a... political thriller/planetary romance/murder mystery/romance/feminist critique/sociological SF novel/first contact book.

WTF, over?

And where can I get what she smoking?
genderfucking... I'm exhausted.

It's funny, I just bought the set of Varley books since a friend told me I couldn't dare market what I'm writing unless I know those books.
Russ doesn't count because she's not popular; she's not popular because she's offputting; she's offputting because she's radical.

Actually, I always found Russ offputting because she was writing a political treatise rather than an actual story, and Ayn Rand really burned me out on that kind of crap. But then, I first read her back-to-back with Tiptree, and, um. I think she suffered a lot in that comparison.

Nevertheless: LeGuin was writing about people who happened to reflect a political cause: Russ was writing about The Cause. I've always preferred the former.

As for genderfuck -- I enjoy reading good genderfuck, but you only get to drop the same bomb on people so many times before it stops blowing their brains open. After that, you're either doing the laudable work of quietly prying open cupboards people didn't know they had, or you're moving on and finding another bomb. There's still plenty to do and say about gender constructions and feminism, but at this stage there's not a lot of bombs left. People like the poster you link... eh. They remind me of the "feminists" I knew in college who used to hang out in front of public doorways waiting for a boy to come by and politely hold it open for them so they could rip the poor guy a new asshole. I never quite saw the point, and I always wished they'd go find a cause that could actually *use* all that fanatic energy.
"LeGuin was writing about people who happened to reflect a political cause: Russ was writing about The Cause. I've always preferred the former."

fjm has some interesting points to make about this, here.

To my mind, Russ and Le Guin are both among the great writers of SF's history, but I have to agree with fjm on one point: decades after reading the stories, it's Russ's characters that I remember better.
Come on, leave some of those observations on the FSF blog comments!
I'm way too lazy to register for an account. *g*
*g* Well, that Le Guin quote in my userinfo is there because I agree with it, but also because of its irony.
It's hard to write genderfuck, yes. Part of it's been mentioned already-- we've seen it now. I read 'The Handmaid's Tale' this winter, and all I can say about it is that I would have liked it better before I had heard about it. Being told it was a lifechanging saga of feminism and LIFECHANGING... nope. The first person to mention it to me was writing similar stuff as an eigth-grader, and I was reading it then. I was already a mostly-atheistic feminist. I had read the reactions and further explorations; the original had no impact and until I realized that, I couldn't enjoy it at all.

Some of it's just writing something that is both lifechanging, if you hit it at the right time of life and brain, and good, if you happen to miss.

Maybe you could make a genderfuck reading list on Amazon and put it in your links...

It'd be awesome and a great procastination tool.

I wonder if Amazon would let you call it *genderfuck*?
What's the genderfuck in Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand?
Excellent use of Damien Rice lyrics!

(I wrote excellent use of Venom Cock, then caught myself... Freudian?!?)