Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (Collection) by Tiptree, James Jr., 1969

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James Tiptree, Jr. may have had one of the oddest journeys through the genre thus far. Tiptree was the pseudonym for Alice Sheldon (also known as Raccoona Sheldon), and was acknowledged as one of the genre's best authors in the 70's. I think she only put out two novels during her lifetime, but the body of short work that she left behind is one of my favorites. I usually don't care to comment on the author's lives too much in these reviews, but Tiptree's warrants a few comments. She suffered from debilitating depression almost her entire life, and not only was it so bad that she almost killed herself several times along the way; in the end she committed a murder/suicide, killing also her ill husband, Huntington Sheldon. She spent a lot of time in the neck of the woods that I am from, McLean, Virginia, because she and her husband both were CIA officers for a time. She adopted her pseudonym at a time when the perception was that a woman would have a very difficult time in building a solid male fan base, and she kept the illusion up until being outted by a fan. That fan happened across an obituary for Tiptree's mother, and noticed striking similarities between the life described in the obituary and the mother Tiptree described in various letters to fans. Once she was outed her career died a slow death, but she managed still to put out some extremely good short stories before she killed herself in the late 1980's. The stories in this book are made up mostly of ones that I have seen anthologized elsewhere, but are her absolute best. The book contains two Hugo Award winners and two different Nebula Award winners, but all the stories, almost without exception, are amazingly good. People still argue about whether or not these stories have a masculine or a feminine edge to them. It should be noted that these stories are not for the feint of heart, or the easily offended. Tiptree dealt frequently with rape, power discrepancies between men and women, breakdowns in communication that were generally along gender lines and usually led to enslavement, rape or death, and other similar ideas. To her credit Tiptree never pointed her finger at men and said that it was their fault. Her meta-message usually was something like, “this is just the way it all is,” so I find that in reading her fiction, as a man, its best not to view her as threatening to whack you with a blame stick. I’m not apologizing here – just warning.

One other warning: The fiction of James Tiptree, Jr. is not easy to read. She is a provocative author who dealt her provocations as subtleties, at least until We Who Stole the Dream came along. Virtually none of what is written below came to me right away. Its taken me a few years to understand this well, and let me be the first to say that I still really do not get it all. That’s really OK. Feminist pieces have always struck me this way: Its one of the reasons that I really love them. Another is that they tend to be bloodier and much more personal, but that is beside the point. One of Tiptree’s messages was that communication is sometimes a useless exercise not only between men and women but between people generally. Again, not an excuse. Just the truth of the matter. At least I know for sure that I will have something interesting to read and contemplate for the rest of my life.

THE LAST FLIGHT OF DR. AIN, 1969 in Galaxy Magazine, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: This story was told from a future perspective looking backward and in the voice of a criminal investigator. Dr. Ain traveled all over the globe by commercial aircraft, disembarking at as many layovers as possible to stretch his legs and feed the birds. All the while Ain was fantasizing about a very sensual woman who he longed for, but can never find. The Doctor's mental images of the woman were mixed alternatively with beautiful scenes of nature, and man-made disasters. In the non-fantasy scenes of the story Dr. Ain encountered a lot of people with the flu. Dr. Ain was an epidemiologist and in one city got off the airplane to attend a conference on contagious diseases. There he got drunk and after confirming that he was involved in the manufacture of biological weapons, admitted that he was an active carrier of a genetically modified virus that he had made to kill humans. After capture Ain was taken to Hawaii. On the trip he began to fantasize again about the woman, who was revealed to be the personification of Gaea. Ain's purpose was to kill humanity off so that the Earth could have the time it needed to recover from the ecological damage we have done to her. This one feels like its straight out of one of Tiptree's CIA threat meetings, and knowing what she did for a living makes it pretty chilling, with an unexpected twist at the end. It’s also an interesting twist on a motif that you will see again and again in Tiptree’s work, in which Tiptree substitutes the plight of her subject, for example an alien race, for that of women here on Earth. I think this story influenced the writers of the film 12 Monkeys a great deal. Themes: Plague, Catastrophe, Ecology, Crimes, Insanity, Sex, Genocide

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION, 1977, in Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction, as by Raccoona Sheldon: A man in Colombia, Alan, corresponded with his wife in the U.S.A., Anne. Alan was there to research insecticides and to try to help eliminate a parasitic pest called the canefly. He contemplated doing this by eliminating sterile females from the population with chemicals, but before he could really get going on the project he began to receive letters from his wife that caused him concern. In various parts of the world a fundamentalist group called The Cult of Adam had started killing every single female that they found. The members of this cult did not seem to be stark raving mad, but still refused to stop murdering women and girls. They did it to please God, who they thought wanted women - and thus temptation - to be removed from the Earth. They never stopped to think about what would happen if they succeed in killing every woman, but believed that God would save them once they showed him a clean Earth, in accordance with his will. They regularly had visions of angels telling them that this is what God wanted them to do.

Alan flew into the U.S. in Miami, and while awaiting his connecting flight to the mid-west began having a sexual fantasy about his beloved wife. Without his realizing it, Alan’s sexual fantasy turned into a murder fantasy. Alan got sexual gratification from fantasizing about murdering his wife. In a moment of clear thinking Alan realized that he has been affected by whatever was affecting other men. He called his wife warned her of his condition. Before his murderous fantasy returned to dominate his mind Anne told Alan that a neighbor who was a climatologist deduced that the cause of the madness appeared to him to be a contagion that was spreading on the prevailing winds from the central tropics. Alan could not overcome his blood lust, and when he finally arrived home he found his daughter there, who he murdered. The neighbor, who for some reason was still unaffected, helped Anne escape to a cabin in Red Deer in Alberta, Canada. Once she was there she was safe until she went into town for supplies. While away from her cabin Anne was hunted by men, and when in the wilderness encountered one of the angels that has been visiting the cult members. Anne realized that it was not an angel but an alien that is looking at real estate it is about to acquire from its former owners.

In this story human beings are compared to parasitic insects which must be eliminated so that a more worthy race could prevail and survive. It is typical for Tiptree’s work that the females feel the steel of the sword first, but upon closer inspection the message that Tiptree was probably trying to send is that this race of aliens is really doing nothing more than amplifying the typical response that males have towards females: They are dominating them, and in this case killing them instead of merely raping them. This story reminded me a great deal of Chad Oliver’s work as there were some weak anthropological themes in it that he liked to work with, namely the relative power discrepancy between races that tends to lead to destruction, especially when the gulf is a wide one. This theme turns up again in Tiptree’s body of work, and she always uses it very well. Themes: Angels & Demons, Aliens, Catastrophe, Plagues, Parasites, Genocide

AND I AWOKE AND FOUND ME HERE ON THE COLD HILL'S SIDE, 1972, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Don't you just love Tiptree's titles? They remind me of Bradbury's and Ellison's titles, only more intense. This one is about a reporter who gained access illegally to a place called Big Junction, which was a space-station based cross road for trade between humans and a variety of aliens. Humans were the newest race to the guild of traders, and had much to learn about how the universe worked. The reporter met a technician who was high and drunk, and got him to tell his story. The engineer was a rube from Nebraska who had a sexual encounter with an alien in a bar in the big city, and then felt called to go to where he could encounter more aliens. The man has transformed from an innocent farm boy to a tortured xenophobe who could not give up his perversions. Tiptree seems to be saying here that mankind has strong - irresistible actually - urges to venture far from home and mate with members of different cultures. She evokes the experience of Polynesia as a reason to wake up and realize that mating with the aliens is pointless because our biologies are completely incompatible, drawing a comparison between the Cook expedition that was destroyed because of cultural incompatibilities. The aliens, meanwhile, were basically raping us in body and taking our resources in exchange for knick-knacks. The story is about power discrepancies between different cultures, and how the mere incidence of contact can destroy the weaker. This is also a brilliant story about the power of biological urges and the deep depression that can come from uncontrolled, irrepressible and irresponsible action upon mating urges. Fortunately the brilliance shines brighter than the depression. Themes: Aliens, First Contact, Sex

THE GIRL WHO WAS PLUGGED IN, 1973, in New Dimensions 3, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: The story of a horribly deformed girl who attempted suicide out of loneliness, but failed to kill herself. When she awoke after the attempt she found herself in a tiny room. While in the room she had complete, intimate control over the body of a construct human: A stunningly beautiful girl. The girl quickly grew to love playing her part, even though she gets very little feedback from the sensory organs of the construct because of bandwidth limitations. The girl was told that her only job was to live lavishly, go to parties, spend money and use certain products that were given to her in the way that she was told to use them. In this particular future, advertising was illegal, so wise and secretive advertising agencies had developed this technology to create lovely people that others wanted to emulate. The construct, named Delphi, became wildly popular and got a television show. As her fame grew Delphi, through her real person, began to chaff at using certain products. Later she met and fell in love with the son of a radical who ran the crusades against the advertising agencies in the first place. Out of paranoia the advertising executives try to reign in the girl and get control of her again. Her boyfriend did not know Delphi's secret, but he nevertheless urged her to break ties with the company that, to him, owned her in a way reminiscent of the way the movie studios in the 1920's owned their talent. The three way conflict came to a head. The issues that I saw in the story were about the relationship between physical beauty and love, loneliness and happiness, the interplay between sex and advertising, and the extent to which big business will go to own an individuals sexuality and physical presence. Others have noted that it is a typical piece by Tiptree that details the control of a woman, especially a woman in love, and there is truth to that, but I think this one is a little bigger than an individual story of one girl. Of course, you can reduce any of Tiptree’s stories to that one human issue, but I like to look for the bigger things. This is a very tender love story, and even I found it interesting. The ending is shocking, and makes the trip worth the effort even more. Themes: Love, Beauty, Advertising, Corporations

THE MAN WHO WALKED HOME, 1972, in Amazing Stories, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: An amazing time travel story that accomplished easily what Piers Anthony was trying to accomplish with his novel Bearing An Hourglass, about the immortal incarnation of Time who lived backwards in time. In this story mankind has learned the secret of time travel, but has serious trouble syncing travels in time with the change in space that occurs while the traveler is away. While the scientists were still trying to work out the kinks, and before they had figured out how to bring someone back safely, a traveler was accidentally propelled to the far future instead of just a few moments forward. When the traveler returned he impacted the spot of his departure like a nuclear warhead, destroying most of the Idaho countryside where the time travel machine was located. The fallout of dust and soil from the impact coated the Earth, and started a real nuclear war. Civilization of course was culled massively, and almost died, but did survive. As humans with a bronze-age technology started to build civilization up in the area, they noticed to their horror that every year at the exact same time and for just a few moments a monster visited a field where they grazed sheep. Over the course of several hundred years humans built back up to a technological level akin to what we had in the 1850's or so, and have turned the "monster's" annual visits into a pilgrimage that allows them to bilk lots of money from tourists. Some researchers, looking at ancient documents, put together that this was the man sent forward in time, skipping like a stone across the surface of time like a stone on his way back to his point and time of origin. They realize that he will eventually cause the cataclysm that brought nuclear war. Tiptree tells this story backwards, expertly, in a way to mimic the movement of the traveler backwards through time. This is an incredibly strong story that someone should have made into a movie-of-the-week by now. Some may find the chrononaught’s plight to be the most moving aspect of the story, but I personally don’t think that I know any more about him after having read the story than before. I liked the sociological aspects of the story more. Themes: Time Travel, Catastrophe, Post Apocalyptic

AND I HAVE COME UPON THIS PLACE BY LOST WAYS, 1973, in, Nova 2, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Another incredibly told story that will stay with you for quite some time after you finish it. Evan was a young scientist who had just been assigned to a research vessel that was exploring a new planet. Most of the crew were very famous researchers, and Evan felt out of place. He wanted to succeed, but felt like a tiny fish in a very big pond. To make matters worse, Evan was looked down upon because he was an anthropological psychologist who had to actually go into the field to collect data and samples. All of the other physical scientists on the ship relied exclusively on remotes to gather samples and on computers to do the actual analysis. "The computer has freed man's mind," they recited to Evan as they fed raw data into it for the only analysis they were ever likely to do. Still, Evan tried to impress by showing some initiative, even after he learned that the other scientists were lazy. He asked for permission to visit a mountain-top where he noticed something that looked artificial. He thought it might be high technology, which would be a big find on the backward planet he was on – he thought it might have been from another culture that had visited the planet in the past. In their hubris and out of fear of being shown up the others convinced him that he was imagining things. Evan learned that they are afraid, and stole away to climb the mountain, called the Clivorn. On his way up a group of aborigines accosted him. They thought that he was going to die, as the only men who climb the Clivorn are those who go be one with the dead. The group wants his high-tech clothing, which would change their lives, so they ran him through with a spear when he tried to get away. Evan escaped, though wounded mortally. He managed to get to the top of the Clivorn, and in fact did discover high tech equipment: The first evidence of a high tech civilization other that his own. This is about the perseverance of belief, the power of individual intuition in the face of powerful adversaries, and the real power of science properly applied. Themes: Scientists, Death

THE WOMEN MEN DON'T SEE, 1973, in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: While on vacation in Mexico a man and two women were in a small plane with a local pilot that crashed in a mangrove swamp. The women were quite stoic, and are not really bothered by anything that happens to them; none of the indignities of the swamp concerned them at all. The four spent two days and two nights in the swamp, and nobody came, so the woman, Mrs. Parsons and the man set out in search of drinkable water. The man struck up a conversation with the woman, and came to the conclusion that she was a spy on the run from someone or something. During the night away from the downed plane a group of men in a boat with bright lights set upon them, and the man thought that they were a group of smugglers who had some business with the spy. As the night wore on the man began to think that the woman was an alien. He contemplated his fate at the hands of her friends. I think that this story is really about how males lack the language to describe females, and thus flail around, adopting wild theories about them. Although this one is regarded as a genre-breaker and the one piece that established Tiptree’s reputation as a feminist – at a time when Tiptree was still regarded as male – I did not think that it was so strong, and I will likely never read it again. I’m deathly afraid that I’m missing something here though. Themes: Communication, Aliens, First Contact

YOUR FACES, O MY SISTERS! YOUR FACES FILLED OF LIGHT, 1976, in, Beyond Equality, as by Raccoona Sheldon: In a far future post-apocalyptic landscape a lone woman walked westward out of Chicago. She was a messenger and a bard who walked a regular route, delivering missives and letters. She absolutely loved her job and her life, and encouraged other women to travel with her as she moves. The problem is that this woman is a fantasy of another. In this future there are no other free women anywhere. The woman who dreamed the traveler had been raped and thrown aside by society. She in turn dreamed of a world without men. As the rape victim lies, dying in a puddle of her own blood, the fantasy woman leaves the city and walks westward, and is set upon by a gang who brutalizes her further. The mobs have invaded even the fantasies of the brutalized. Truly nobody is safe anywhere. Themes: Rape

HOUSTON, HOUSTON, DO YOU READ?, 1976, in, Aurora: Beyond Equality, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Novella length piece. A capsule with three men rounded the sun on a scientific mission. When they come back into the sight of Earth and began the long, long trip home, they encountered another ship that was crewed entirely with women and one man. They opened communications with the ship and with a base on Luna that they had never heard of before, and learned that they had somehow traveled three hundred years forward from their own time. The two ships docked, and the crew of women gave the men access to their ship's library, where they learned of a devastating virus that killed every single man on the planet, and most of the women. Now a population of fewer than two million lived in the southern United States, and despite their low numbers they somehow managed to support a very high technology.

One of the crew of men learned further that the women were clones and that there were really only "eleven thousand" more of them on Earth. At first they assumed that there are eleven thousand clones on the Earth with the rest of the population, but it turned out that there are actually eleven thousand genotypes that survived the virus, and those eleven thousand reproduced themselves by cloning. The clones now numbered above two million. Moreover, the single "man" on the woman's ship was a female who has been genetically modified for muscle mass. Since all men were gone, cloning was the sole way that humanity has to reproduce. There was a serious question about whether or not the men would die of the virus when they landed, but before they even get close to Earth two of the men try to sexually dominate the women. I hesitate to use the term "rape," even though it does apply, because the women really had no idea what the men wanted to do to them, and wanted their sperm anyway. The confrontation ended horribly for the men. This story really is one of the most amazing gender stories I have ever read. It is about how our culture inculcates ideals of misogyny into the young. In other words, these men could not help but behave the way that they did – though the extreme degree of their reaction was probably a product of the extreme nature of the situation that they found themselves in.

This story is also a retelling of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis. The women have had hundreds of years to rebuild their society after the catastrophe that rid them of the men, and have come into harmony with their environment; they are happy, productive, they want for nothing, and there are no limitations that they cannot overcome. And into this suddenly and without warning came Satan, in the form of few men. It’s told from the men's point of view, so I think that some who read the story are confused and fail to see Tiptree's true focus. It is not a story about a few men who wake up one day and find out that they are useless and unwanted. It’s about a society that is suddenly plagued with some unwanted anachronisms. The female survivors are lesbians, and they have reproduction well in hand. With their human needs for love, sex and reproduction all accounted for the men were really no longer needed. They reacted poorly to the situation they find themselves in. Because of their inherent “male” values, and in response to the woman's curiosity about sexual mating and reproduction, and compounded by their shock over the state of the world, the men resort to rape and violence.

In the Book of Genesis Eve was tempted by Satan to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and by doing this she "became aware of her own nakedness." This of course did not mean that she suddenly saw in a mirror that she had no clothes on. Instead it meant that Eve realized that she was a sexual being. Once she was aware of this amazing thing about our species she probably felt pulled two ways; she probably wanted to share this knowledge with another, and she was probably scared out of her mind for violating the orders of God. So she did what she could to resolve her dissonance - she shared. The actual reason why has been debated longer than just about anything in our entire history, but the result, at least from a theological perspective, has not. Humankind became aware that they, like their God, had the power to create, and for usurping that knowledge from God, we were punished. In this story the dynamic is changed a bit and the theology has been excised and the catalyst that brings evil back into the world is a curiosity about the original nature of mankind. In the female future where there are no men, the women who discover the ship from the past become very curious about sex. When the men became aware of the opportunity they reacted not with compassion, but with an attempt to dominate. Essentially the same story, told from the opposite perspective, and tightly tailored to account for the differences in outlook between the sexes. Themes: Sex, Homosexuality, Rape, Gods & Demons, Post Apocalypse, Plague

WITH DELICATE MAD HANDS, 1981, in Out of the Everywhere and Other Extraordinary Visions, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: A slightly deformed (pig-nosed) and extremely solitary young girl daydreamed about travelling to space and visiting her imaginary friends who she dreamed call to her psychically. She grew up to become a very highly competent spacer, and was assigned duty on an inner-space mining vessel. She served as a jack-of-all-trades as well as a ship’s whore for the male crew. She became very adept at eating crap from everyone, but never lost sight of her goal and continued to dream her dream. One day while most of the crew was out working in their singleships she was brutally raped and sodomized by the captain, whom she killed afterwards. She also killed the remaining crew, commandeered the ship, and sets course for out of the system. She had limited supplies, and knows she was going to die shortly, but wanted to try to reach her friends, whom she has come to believe were real. She navigated the ship to a remote, oxygen-free and highly radiated brown dwarf, then landed. There she learned that this was her fate, and found true love before dying of radiation poisoning. The woman learned to create her own destiny, and to throw off the shackles that men put her into. Very bittersweet, and very, very good. Themes: Psi-Powers, Sex, Love, Space Travel, STL, Rape

A MOMENTARY TASTE OF BEING, 1975, in The New Atlantis, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Novel length piece about the genetic future of mankind. A colony ship left from Earth and found a suitable planet a long distance away. There was already a race there though, but the colonists discovered that humans were intended to mate with these new creatures. As a matter of fact, humans are only the sperm cells of yet another race, and these new creatures are the ova we are intended to fertilize. An incredibly good story that reads like a mix of Harlan Ellison and Octavia Butler. Highly recommended.

WE WHO STOLE THE DREAM, 1978, inStellar 4, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Mankind has reached the stars and had enslaved all other races that they have come across. We have become drunk on power and make war every time we encounter a new race, and always win. In the various wars we have discovered two races that stood out, and both were very gentle and kind. One race sweated a chemical when frightened or in pain that to us is a very strong intoxicant. We have developed a ruthless industry of capturing these creatures and torturing them to death so that we can capture the chemical as they excrete it during the torture sessions. In fact, human beings try to capture mated pairs because when the creatures watch their loved ones tortured to death it increases the yield and potency of the chemical. The drink is called Star Tears. The other, the Joilani were a diminutive race who had colonized a planet long before we found them, very far from their own home. The Joilani were meek and kind, and are disgusted by the way we harvested Star Tears, and generally by everything else about us.

We conquered and enslaved the Joilani, and despite the fact that they were so small that sexual penetration by a human male ruined their females reproductive organs and destroyed their ability to reproduce, we used them as sex slaves and manual laborers. This story was about their revolution. They stole a ship – the Dream of the title - many of them dying heroically in the process. The survivors set a course for the region of space they believed that their ancestors originally came from, though so much time has gone by they are unsure. When the ship came out of hyperspace, they found a Joilani cruiser crewed by a strain of Joilani that was hearty - strong and tall - much like humans. They learn that a deficiency in the soil of their colony world caused them to eventually evolve into diminutive weaklings. Reassured by their stronger and larger cousins they were told that the Joilani would crush mankind for what they had done. Treated at first like returning dignitaries, they were eventually put somewhere where they would not be noticed. The former slaves were given a world to till, but were constantly interviewed about mankind. They began to fear what their cousins would do, until they watch fellow Joilani drinking Star Tears, and then know for sure that this race was no different than the humans from whom they had escaped. Another excellent story, this one about the momentum created by the need to be strong in the face of an adversary. One of the strongest elements in this story was the Joilani race. They were amazingly well crafted, and imbued with a distinctly feminine outlook, where as the humans had a distinctly male outlook. The Joilani cared for and respected each other, whereas the humans were only concerned with the other’s economic uses. Sex was more to the Joilani than just release, but to the humans it was just a form of transaction. Themes: Space Opera, Evolution/Devolution, Revolution, Sex, Rape, Slavery

HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER, 1974, in Final Stage, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Millions of years in the future after all everything on Earth is dead and gone an alien descends and reanimates the (spirit? soul?) of a human being. The human relives his life, jumping from one physical relationship to another. When the human realizes what is going on he resolves to correct his past mistakes, but feels the pull back to death. Very odd and very good story that is open to multiple interpretations, not only about what it all means, but about what the heck is happening on the pages. Theme: Reincarnation

LOVE IS THE PLAN AND THE PLAN IS DEATH, 1973, in The Alien Condition, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Very odd story about the life cycle of a spider-like creature. There were no human beings in this story at all, and Tiptree did a good job of getting into an alien psyche without reference to humankind at all. As the years of the creature’s life wound on members of the spider species became more and more violent. Ultimately they descended to an almost non-sentient state. The main character did what it could to hold on to its intelligence, but ultimately, I think, failed. Very dense story, told from an odd first person perspective. Themes: Insanity, Devolution

ON THE LAST AFTERNOON, 1972, in Amazing Stories, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: This is an odd alien attack story. At the beginning of the story a group of humans had been castaways on an alien planet that was essentially one giant mangrove forest, having crash landed there years ago. They found one coastal area where the trees had been cleared and established a camp there. Nobody ever wondered why the trees were missing from that one spot, but were instead just grateful to find one small piece of arable, livable land. As the years went by, mortality jumped up significantly higher than normal, as the alien soil could not supply all the minerals humans needed to survive. After making permanent camp the humans had found what appeared to be a piece of alien technology – though it could have been an actual alien creature - called the noian. With great concentration and effort the noian could be used to affect reality. The noian was really only useful during critical emergencies because using it took too much effort and concentration. Thirty years after colonization the humans had used the noian only a few times before. They wanted to use it more, but in truth they were too weak to do so.

In that last year they learn that the forest where their colony set was cleared because monstrous worm-like creatures used it as a mating nest. The beasts had a very long mating cycle, and returned to their nests to mate. They were so massive that they did not really notice the humans or their camp, and threatened to crush everything beneath their bulk. After the assault started one of the village elders urges the noian to help the humans. The noian eventually agreed to do so, but the man's heart and will are too weak to do much.

I think what this story is about was the difficulty that people had communicating to each other, even in a situation where they speak the same language. Throughout the story the humans debated the wisdom of many of their choices, especially the location of the camp, but also methods of food production, water hauling, use of the noian, sexual relations among the survivors, and many others. Lots of people came up with good ideas, but nobody really listened to one another. I don’t get the feeling that Tiptree was as focused on gender differences in this story as she was in others, and I don’t think that one group of characters stood in for a certain gender, but I do think that communication issues are of paramount importance to feminist theory, so this story does have a feminist bent to it. Themes: Aliens, First Contact, Psi-Powers, Monsters, Artifacts, Survival

SHE WAITS FOR ALL MEN BORN, 1976, in Future Power, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Humans on a far future, post-nuclear Earth evolved the ability to kill with thought. The gift was rare, and usually accompanied blindness. Most of the blind were killed at birth because the society could ill-afford to care for them, so nobody realized that particular trait had developed. Eventually a girl was born who was only blind in one eye, and because she could still be useful she was allowed to live. After puberty her gift has matured, and one day when frightened she used it. She hardly knew what she was doing, and she helped her village by striking down a ferocious predator of man who was hunting a friend. Others in her village, frightened by her power, called her a witch and attacked. The young girl defended herself, with spectacular results. Intense look at how we tend to explain that which we can’t understand as perversion, and seek to destroy it, even if having it is in our best interest. Themes: Evolution, Psi-Powers, Witches, Prejudice

SLOW MUSIC, 1980, in Interfaces, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Peaceful feminist yarn. Not my favorite. In fact, I could not even finish it.

AND SO ON, AND SO ON, 1971, in Phantasmicom, as by James Tiptree, Jr.: Very short and very terse look at various philosophical concepts in the context of hyperspace wormhole instability. Themes: FTL, Philosophy

Reviewed by GTT · Rating Rating of 4.5 star(s)


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