On Beyond Cisgender Part Two
By Jeff Baker
About a year ago I posted a column suggested by A. M. Leibowitz’ list of suggested reading for High School of sci-fi/mystery authors outside the usual straight-white-male paradigm. These next few may be considered addenda of sorts, but are not as readily available.
I have a thing for science fiction of the Nineteenth Century-early Twentieth Century and recently got the Dover Publications book “The Feminine Future.” Subtitled: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers, the book presents fourteen stories of sci-fi published between 1873 and 1930. Cyborgs, mysterious rays, a strange island, a robot housemaid that’s too good to be true are among the subjects of the stories. I’ll admit I mainly bought the book to sample the work of two authors: Francis Stevens and Claire Winger Harris. Stevens was the first female author to contribute regularly to the pulp magazines. I found her style gripping and entertaining after nearly a hundred years. Harris was the first woman to contribute to Amazing Stories, the first science-fiction magazine. Hers is the story about the cyborg.
The informative introduction and story notes (by Editor Mike Ashley) are worth the price of the book and could be the basis for a class on the subject.
Patricia Highsmith was the novelist behind the series about the “Talented Mister Ripley,” as well as the novel “Strangers on a Train.” She was also a lesbian and tried repeatedly to cure herself. Her novels remain in print and eminently readable; most of them being psychological thrillers.
Mary Shelly’s novel “Frankenstein” needs little introduction (even to the majority of people who haven’t read it) but her short stories are not as well known. They blend supernatural themes like immortality with themes of identity. Shelley preferred writing novels, like “The Last Man,” an apocalyptic tale set in the 21st Century involving a pandemic.
Jeff Baker blogs about reading or writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters on or about the thirteenth of every month. His fiction has been published in QSF’s “Innovation, among other places, and his non-fiction has appeared on the “Amazing Stories” website. He and his husband Darryl live happily with more books than they will ever read. He regularly blogs and posts fiction on his website, authorjeffbaker.com https://authorjeffbaker.com/ and wastes time on Facebook at Jeff Baker Author https://www.facebook.com/Jeff-Baker-Author-176267409096907 . He and Darryl wish all readers a Happy Thanksgiving in this strangest of years.