Notes from The Buffer Zone: Women of Futures Past

I don’t often do a full-on commercial when I write non-fiction. I’m not the modest sort, but I’m a bit reticent at times to toot my own horn. However, I’ve convinced myself that what I’m doing today is not about my horn, it’s about everyone else’s.

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I edited what I initially called “the women in science fiction project.” I started the project when more and more people kept telling me that women were excluded from science fiction.

Me. A woman. With a long career in (ahem) science fiction.

I nearly lost it altogether when a young woman told me that women never got published in sf, “present company excluded, of course.” I thought she was delusional—I really did—and then I decided to use mostly women’s sf to teach a science fiction course.

And I found that almost all classic short sf by female writers had gone out of print, even if the stories were award-winners.

So I decided to remedy that. I went to Toni Weisskopf at Baen, another woman with a long career in science fiction, found out that she’s as angry about this misperception as I am, and we decided on what’s become The Women of Futures Past, which releases on September 6.

To say I’m proud of this volume is an understatement. Toni insisted on a ten thousand-word essay in the front of the volume, detailing the history of women in the field, which turned out to be not nearly enough. I also added some notes about the history in the introductions to the stories. But I do feel this is just the beginning.

As the announcements for this project went out, a number of publications trumpeted the volume in their upcoming books sections. Some even featured the fact that it was coming in reviews of other books. The Los Angeles Review of Books mentioned it favorably in its review of Mike Ashley’s The Feminine Future, saying, “Editors like Ashley and Rusch do a great service to readers looking to expand their sense of sci-fi’s forgotten, and often inaccessible, past. Equally, the materials they bring together can help us to understand the roots of some of the most inventive sci-fi of the past half-century.”

Exactly. That’s what I wanted to do, and what I hope will come out of the project.

Then the very first review hit, from Publishers Weekly, which has given the book a boxed, starred review, its highest honor.  PW says:

Veteran editor Rusch assembles a wholly engaging and varied anthology of speculative tales covering the depth of the genre and spanning its history. . . . The tales themselves are the true stars: smart, beautiful, gracefully aged, and still challenging, each builds on the others in the collection. . . . This anthology is modern and fresh enough to be valued by readers with contemporary tastes, and wealthy in the charm and tropes that draw fans of the classics.

The review thrilled me. Usually I tell my writer students to ignore reviews, but I eagerly awaited the first one for this anthology. I wanted to see if I got my message across—if others enjoyed the short stories in the volume as much as I did.

And they did, which was a great relief.

I know you folks love science fiction in all its forms. Many of you helped with this volume as I put it together, by giving me suggestions, sending me books, reminding me of authors I had forgotten.

This book is for you, with thanks.

Links:

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/spectacular-designs/#! http://www.publishersweekly.com/9781476781617

 

One thought on “Notes from The Buffer Zone: Women of Futures Past

  1. Tim Sayeau

    On reading this, it occurs that arguably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus qualifies as a science-fiction novel, possibly even the first such, at any rate a significant forerunner. No women in science-fiction, hah!

Leave a Reply