Sorry for the late posting today. Life, as usual, has its own agenda.
But in case you’ve missed all the brouhaha this month with a rather sexist cover of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American Bulletin and the response to it, and the response to the response…what cave have you been in, Batman?
Mostly, though, I wanted to tip my hat to author Ann Aguirre, who is, as most of you know, an incredibly talented author who writes in several genres, one of which is science fiction (her Sirantha Jax series).
I don’t know Ms. Aguirre, but I’ve always kinda wanted to be her, you know? She writes multiple genres well, balances different writing personas, is incredibly prolific without sacrificing quality. All good, right?
She posted an amazing blog this week, talking about the treatment she’s received from the science fiction community as a woman writing SF. It is incredibly honest, and it isn’t pretty. What she said doesn’t surprise me for a nanosecond, sadly. And I suspect stories similar to hers could be told by any number of women trying to play in the boys’ SF/F sandbox and write as a woman and not a woman pretending to write like a guy.
If you haven’t read it, please do. And read the comments. It’s pretty eye-opening.
It’s not just women in science fiction that get this kind of treatment. Women writing urban fantasy and, God forbid, any spec fiction with a romantic element, encounter the same thing.
I remember after Royal Street came out, I was sitting at a bookstore that shall not be named, waiting to do a book-signing. The glow was still on the business for me–it was my first book. The reviews had been good overall. I felt lucky and happy.
The bookstore manager, who’d been treating me like an annoyance ever since I arrived, brought out some copies of Royal Street and dropped them on the table to sign. “You must not be very important,” he said. “(Insert male author name here) came to sign last week and his publisher sent him with a car and a publicist.” Well, okay. Whatever, dude. He later repeated that story to a friend who’d accompanied me to the signing.
I was polite. Played nice. Talked about the book. Greeted people. Then opened the floor to questions. The manager, who’d been sitting in the front row, said: “When is this fixation with books like yours going to be over? Aren’t the publishers getting sick of them?”
I blinked. “Which books would those be?” I asked.
“You know–these kind of fantasy books women are writing. Urban fantasy. Whatever you call it.”
I don’t remember exactly what I said. I was polite. I played nice. That’s how I was brought up, and it’s how I swing. It struck me that most of the people in the audience were women. Were any of them offended? I was, and swore that even if I became some bigshot NYT-bestselling author and that bookstore manager crawled to me begging to have a signing at his store, I’d stomp on him. That’s not likely to happen, but hey, everyone has to have a dream.
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time I’ve run into sexism in the spec fiction community. It won’t be the last. But it’s being talked about, at least, largely thanks to the SFWA Bulletin (which I don’t think was an intentional slam at women, by the way…but maybe it’s never intentional) and a brave author willing to speak out.