The Abstracts — Femspec 2.1, Vol 2, Issue 1, 2000

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EDITORIAL REMARKS:

By Batya Weinbaum

The editors explain the nature of the editorial process and the transition to new editors taking greater responsibility, and they announce the acquisition of a new publisher. They explain the average response time for submissions is 4-6 months.

CRITICISM:

The Snow Queen and the Goddess in the Machine By Janice Crosby Feminist theorists and critics have examined women's role in the history of religion. These findings have relevance for women who are experimenting with new forms of spiritual practice. The author argues that although feminist spirituality and goddess images are still rare in canonical fiction, genres do exist where female spiritual presences are found more readily, such as science fiction and fantasy. She examines Joan Vinge's The Snow Queen in this light.

Mending the Rationality/Romanticism Divide in the Study of Women's Science Fiction By Mary Catherine Harper The author discusses the "chinks" she has discovered in the "science fiction criticism machine," which became apparent when she began studying women's science fiction and fantasy. She discusses her evolution from a romantic stance in her desire to follow aliens like the women characters created by Tiptree and discussed by Fenton, into a better universe away from the gender-based oppression of this world. She relates her own development of a more complex stance, under the influence of Haraway as a feminist theorist. She examines much feminist sf criticism, including that of Piercy's contrast between utopian and dystopian futures in Woman on the Edge of Time. She then categorizes and criticizes the numerous evolving feminist science fiction critics.

The Utopia of the Perverse: An Exercise in Transgressive Reinscription By Veronica Hollinger Part One of this essay explores Califia's Macho Sluts and Rice's Exit to Eden, which both appeared in the mid-eighties. She discusses the stature of Califia's underground classic, and Rice's mainstream publishing event that nonetheless seems like s trashy romance. She criticizes Rice for having what Foucault would call peripheral sexualities be resolved by conventional romance forms, while praising Macho Sluts as a utopia-oriented text. Part Two then offers a few conclusions about the intersections of perversity and utopia in these two texts, and raises questions about what might be meant by a utopia of perversity.

I Would Have Swallowed the Kiss: Reflections on Feminist Speculative Poetry By Nancy Johnston The author establishes that a speculative poetry is something that continues to be published, and suggests we now turn to how women writers specifically participate in this genre. She surveys American speculative poetry in order to sketch what place women poets have in the field. In particular, she examines the poetry of Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen. She outlines the history of speculative poetry in relationship to science fiction, in order to provide an appropriate context.

&Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior and Shaman: Fighting Women in the New World By Diane Simmons The author explores how Kingston gives agency and subjectivity to the No Name Woman, in the beginning of Woman Warrior, and by doing so establishes the need to re-imagine the stories of subjugated Chinese women. She points out that while the woman warrior of Fu Mu Lan may seem to be a rather obvious figure of female empowerment to western eyes, that this device to conjure up ancestral help on the part of Kingston may in itself reinforce the male dominant system. The author connect the work of Kingston in examining how women have been colonized by controlling narratives of those who dominate them to the work of Edward Said who examined how narratives perform the work of subjugation.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND CREATIVE NON-FICTION:

Interview with Janet Asimov By Marleen S. Barr Carol Stevens' introductory note explains the importance of oral history in changing the construction of social reality, and Marleen Barr then asks Janet Asimov to explain how two extremely professional people could have maintained a successful relationship. They discuss issues such as how budget cuts hit women worse than men, and the different assumptions with which both interviewee and interviewer were raised.

Third Person Peculiar: Reading between Academic and SF-Community Positions in Feminist (SF) By Sylvia Kelso Kelso's presentation at WisCon 20 in Madison explains her discomfort with the academic slot at cons, although she admits to taking pleasure in academic-like consumption of sf texts. She discusses her history as a reader of such texts, beginning with her girlhood and moving through reading as a political English graduate student of the late 60s in Australia. Although the range of the texts explored is many, they include Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed and Nicola Griffith's Ammonite. She discusses as well her experience on the feminist sf list, and at women's studies conferences and the various understandings of feminist history and feminist issues in the feminist sf community.

POETRY:

Housework Beast By Barbara Minchinton An observant poet from Brunswick, Australia, humorously describes her wrestling with the beast created by dealing with stale frying food, laundry and all the rest of the onerous tasks of keeping a houseclean, until she decided to dance with the beast rather than to conquer it, in middle age, whereupon it promptly disappeared.

FICTION:

Interview with a Housework Beast By Christine Croyden An author involved in feminist publishing in Australia arranges to meet her own Housework Beast. Interviewing her right at her own kitchen table, she finds her to be the personification of all the ugly thoughts and feelings she has about housework which she had not recognized. She ties in her own feelings to the results of social research that shows although men's attitudes might have changed, their behavior hasn't yet, concerning housework, even though it has been thirty years since feminism took off.

If the Sun and Moon Should Doubt By Linda Johnson A Canadian writer from the Vancouver area who has published a collection of short stories and novellas, short stories and numerous poems in dozens of literary magazines creates a futuristic work in which an alien couple, Choh and Mor, do everything they can think of to make Elizabeth, an eight year old human orphan, happy living with them on a new planet. The father adopts the alias Joe when he works as a social worker among the humans, where the ratio of male to females in the population had been reduced one to ten by the genetic engineers since the men were not surviving well on the new planet.

Coyote Wants a Baby By Stephanie Sellers A lecturer in Native American and Women's Studies at Penn State-Mont Alto, a Shawnee and activist for the Native people as well as published writer in Through the Eye of the Deer: An Anthology of Native American Women Writers satirizes the male control of the medical business by showing how Coyote, the trickster, tried to get pregnant the way Rabbit told him she did by eating clover and tender bark. Various animals including the Mole give him similarly unhelpful advice, until Coyote decides to look in the Yellow Pages under gynecologists and then makes an appointment. He brings $2000 in travelers checks to pay for his first five minute appointment, and launches into a series of adventures with Dr. Babies=Money who adopts a variety of names and postures.

HISTORICAL DOCUMENT:

Out of the Void By Leslie F. Stone This excerpt of a work by Leslie Silberberg, published under her pseudonym Leslie F. Stone originally in Amazing Stories, explores gender roles, androgynous aesthetics, homosexual relations and cross-dressing surprisingly to some in a 1929 issue. In the excerpt, the main character, a woman, cross-dresses as a man in order and goes to outer space on an experimental voyage.

CONFERENCE COVERAGE:

NWSA 2000-Boston By Batya Weinbaum Paula Gunn Allen, Alix Dobkin, Mary Daly and about 20 other women attended the salon created by Batya Weinbaum and Gloria Orenstein. Daly talked about her "intergalactic study" in which she explored future, archaic, and pre-patriarchal non-linear pasts. Diane Saenz of Poet Talk read a poem about a dream of her mother who talks to the dead. Publisher of Calyx told of growing up in Latin America where she assumed that spirits were part of reality, not necessarily part of a separate magical realist reality, a North American publishing term.

NWSA 2000-Boston By Gloria Orenstein Gloria Orenstein talked about the NWSA FEMSPEC Salon as part of the salon matrilineage, in line with her own Women's Salon in NYC in the 1970s.

SFRA 2000-Cleveland By Batya Weinbaum Many papers and panels addressed issues of relevance to FEMSPEC readers, including the discussion of the New York Futurian oral history project undertaken by Justine Larbalastier at the suggestion of Judith Merril. Also of particular interest was the discussion of feminists and the history of women in Feminist SF, attended by among others Karen Fowler, Samuel R. Delany, and Joan Gordon.

HISTORICAL DOCUMENT:

The Poet as Cartographer By Marcus Casal Beatriz Badikian's Mapmaker Revisited: New and Selected Poems published by Gladstone in Chicago (1999) chronicles continents of experience, in the reviewer's view. Myth and geography are induced as metaphors in chronologies of relationships and the vision gesturing towards the mythic is sustained throughout.

Don Quixote, the Joads, and Jack Kerouac Move Over: A Chinese American Woman's Adventures On the Road [of Life] By Phillipa Kafka The review of Dorothy Bryant's Confessions of Madame Psyche tells the history of the incarceration of the psychic who predicted the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

On Women of Other Worlds By Karen Schneider An eclectic collection growing out of the editors' experience at WISCON, the annual feminist sf convention held in Madison, covers the Guest of Honor speech of Ursula K. Le Guin and other highlights, such as an interview with Suzy Charnas and a "herstory" of feminist fandom.

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