“…Would we not shatter it to bits and then
Remould it closer to the heart’s desire…”
(Omar Khayyam, as translated by Fitzgerald)
The June 2014 issue of Lightspeed is a special issue called “Women Destroy Science Fiction.” With an all female guest editorial team and an impressive roster of women writers, the issue is a great start toward a newer, richer science fiction. I have not finished reading all the stories, but the ones I’ve read achieve a fine balance of style and substance. There is of course no doubt in my mind that women can write science fiction, being one of those women myself. But in many ways I feel we are still at the start of the journey. The journey began with Mary Shelley, with Rokeya Sukhawat Hussain, later it got a fresh start with Joanna Russ, Ursula Le Guin, Eleanor Arnason, Octavia Butler among others, and even later with a new crop of women writers, increasingly international and diverse, among whom I feel privileged to count myself. Each start was from a different place, and each part of the journey carried all of us women writers, and indeed science fiction itself, into new and strange places. It is in this sense that I refer to the special issue as a ‘start.’
So what does it mean to ‘destroy science fiction?’ The guest editor, Christie Yant, says this:
Why “Women Destroy Science Fiction”? Are we really trying to destroy it? As you read the stories in this issue, you may very well think so. Here you’ll find galactic gastronomy and alternate astronomy, far-future courtship and a near-future food court—right alongside alien invasion and deep-space salvage missions. My hope is that one or more of these stories will reach a reader who never realized that kind of story is science fiction, too, and will seek out more like it. And I hope that one or more will convince those writers—the fantasists, the poets, the ones more comfortable in Middle Earth or the Midwest than on Mars—that they, too, can create science fiction stories and participate in the expansion of the field.