Initially Yours: On Beyond Cisgender VI
by Jeff Baker
NOTE: This occasional series was inspired in 2019 by suggestion from A. M. Leibowitz about a reading list for High School beyond the straight, male paradigm. —jsb
I am writing this during March 2023, which is Woman’s History Month. So here (a month or so late!) is a short overview of some (not all!) of the women who wrote sci-fi for the pulps and a little later. I fits in well with this ongoing series “On Beyond Cisgender” which started as recommendations for High School reading but these books are fine for everybody. Especially in states where books with any hint of diversity are being pulled from the shelves, including biographies of Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank.
The pulp era (called that because popular fiction magazines were printed on cheap pulp paper) was a much different era. Many female writers hid their gender behind initials like C. L. Moore or male sounding names like Leigh Brackett or Andre Norton.
So here’s a short list of women writers of Sci-Fi. Most of their work can still be found in new or used stores. And I have dedicated column space to some of these authors before.
Judith Merrill: Maybe equally important as an editor of “Best of the Year” collections. Her story “That Only a Mother” dovetails nicely with Matheson’s “Born of Man and Woman” and has been anthologized frequently.
Leigh Brackett: who wrote the screenplay for “The Long Goodbye” and “The Empire Strikes Back” as well as an excellent apocalyptic novel “The Long Tomorrow.”
Miriam Allen deFord: Writer of sciFi, mystery and horror. Her short-stories were popular with anthologists like Ellery Queen. Her story “A Death In the Family” was adapted for TV’s “Night Gallery.” A definitive collection of her genre work is long overdue.
Andre Norton: A familiar friend thanks to her countless young adult novels and her Witch World series. Don’t miss “The Jekyll Legacy,” a sequel to Rbt. Louis Stevenson’s classic co-written with Robert Bloch.
C. L. Moore: Catherine L. Moore, an absolute master of science fiction, fantasy and horror. “Shambleau” is an often-reprinted classic that so impressed the editor of “Weird Tales” that he declared it to be “C. L. Moore Day” and gave the office staff the day off. Her collection “The Best of C. L. Moore” is out in a digital edition.\
Mildred Clingerman wrote gentler fantasy and sci-fi mainly for Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the 1950s. Hes story “Letters from Laura” about time travel and a Minotaur is a not to be missed classic.
I did a whole column about Zenna Henderson, also a writer of gentler fantasy and sci-fi. Best remembered for her stories about “The People.”
Well, that’s a few of them. As I said their works are available if you look, or at least they were in the paperback era. And in this new digital world they are still available to read and to entertain.
Jeff Baker blogs about reading (and writing) SciFi, Fantasy and Horror on or around the thirteenth of every month. He is a regular contributor to the RoM/Mantic Reads e-zine https://rommanticreads.wordpress.com/ and his fiction and non-fiction regularly get rejected from many other markets. He posts fiction on his blog https://authorjeffbaker.com/ and wastes time on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063555483587He lives happily with his husband Darryl in a house full of books.