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Women Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo Award-nominated magazine LIGHTSPEED entirely written—and edited—by women.
Women Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo Award-nominated magazine LIGHTSPEED entirely written—and edited—by women.
Women Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo Award-nominated magazine LIGHTSPEED entirely written—and edited—by women.
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Personal Essay: "Writing Stories, Wrinkling Time" by Kat Howard

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When we set out to destroy science fiction with this Kickstarter, we didn't want it to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill campaign. We wanted it to be full of smashing, crashing women's voices, telling what it really means to be a woman reading and writing science fiction. One of the ways we hope to do that is by sharing a series of personal essays by women about their experiences as a woman in science fiction. Today's essay is by Kat Howard.

"Writing Stories, Wrinkling Time"

The very first work of science fiction I ever read was written by a woman, and featured a female lead. And the female characters in the book weren’t limited to just the lead. There was an entire compelling and interesting cast of them. Not because this was some Amazonian dystopia where something happened to all the men but the one poor guy whose sad duty was to repopulate humanity, but just because! More than that, the book was given to me by a woman, by my Mom’s best friend. It was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and it wasn’t until I started writing in the field that I realized just how unusual this experience, so full of women, was when it came to SF. 

I find myself in a field now that all too often seems convulsed by the idea that if women are doing it, it can’t be SF. God knows, we shouldn’t be writing it, because then we contaminate the lovely pristine science with feelings and relationships, and with women doing things they couldn’t possibly be doing. That treats as exceptions the contributions of Mary Shelley and James Tiptree, Jr. and Joanna Russ and Connie Willis and Mary Doria Russell and Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin and Ada Lovelace and Anita Borg and Grace Hopper to their respective fields. 

I don’t want to destroy science fiction, not really. I want to remind it that—at its best—it is the literature of extraordinary possibility. Of looking to the future, to the stars, to the place past the limits of current knowledge, and saying there. There is what we can imagine. There is what we can be. There is what is possible. Of not just dreaming bigger, but dreaming better. 

I want, quite desperately, to go back in time to the world of that seven-year-old girl who read A Wrinkle in Time and felt like she had found a book and a world she belonged in. 

__________

Kat Howard is the World Fantasy Award-nominated author of over twenty pieces of short fiction. Her work has been performed on NPR as part of “Selected Shorts,” and has appeared in Lightspeed, Subterranean, and Apex, among other venues. Her novella, “The End of the Sentence,” written with Maria Dahvana Headley, will be out in August from Subterranean Press. You can find her on Twitter as @KatWithSword and she blogs at strangeink.blogspot.com.

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    1. Melissa Trepanier on January 29, 2014

      I became a physicist because of that book

    2. Missing avatar

      Dana Scopatz on January 29, 2014

      Oh, do I identify with this.