Tiptree, James Jr. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. San Francisco: Tachyon, 2004.
Bought at amazon.com
I read one of Tiptree’s short stories, “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” about a year ago and loved it, and since then I’ve been looking for her (James Tiptree, Jr. is a pseudonym for Alice Sheldon) books in bookstores. Salt Lake City has a fantastic bookstore scene–the best I’ve encountered outside of New York City–but it lacks in the science fiction (SF) department, so I finally broke down and ordered the book online. I am only two stories in thus far, but the second story, “The Screwfly Solution,” is immediately one of my favorite SF stories. Like “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?,” it manages to communicate a strong feminist message without being pedantic. The epidemic of femicide that breaks out as a result of Christian fundamentalism is not that far-fetched. It is a slight extension of the misogyny portrayed in texts such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which already occurs in places such as Iran and in polygamist Mormon sects in rural Utah (see Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven for more on this topic).