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This appears to be the table of contents for the first issue of New Scientist’s upcoming SF zine Arc



Counting everything:
Total       Male     Female     F/M    F/T
  15        13        2         .15    .13



I think NS is supposedly international but this first issue of its daughter magazine shows a decided British leaning, which may explain the lack of women. As an editor of British origin, Simon Ings can be excused for being unaware of any British female SF authors of note (1), British SF having apparently taken a vow to purge the ranks of the published of women.

If you were going to pick a prominent female SF writer for inclusion in the first issue of your hypothetical SF (in the narrow sense) magazine, who would you pick? To make it more interesting, because it would just be too easy if the impressive number of talented female American SF writers were available, we will limit this to Commonwealth writers only.

1: Atwood is of course quite well known but also Canadian. Also not super-popular amongst the propeller beanie set but her genre creds are impeccable so props to Ings for including her as one of the two women in this issue.

Date: 2012-02-23 07:39 pm (UTC)
0jack: Closeup of Boba Fett's helmet, angular orange stripe surrounding a narrow window on a greenish metallic field. (Default)
From: [personal profile] 0jack
Thank you so much for the designation "propeller beanie set". Also, seriously, TWO? :( But yay for Atwood.

Date: 2012-02-23 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sean o'hara (from livejournal.com)
I'll just point out that they're copying the MIT Technology Review, which not only managed to find four hard-SF stories by women, but even some by people of color, and still had room for Paul Di Fillipo.

Date: 2012-02-23 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Really, Di Fillipo? Was there a tragic shortage of blank paper?

Date: 2012-02-23 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sean o'hara (from livejournal.com)
They probably ordered lettuce and his story was accidentally mixed in. That was the one piece I couldn't get through -- gave up when a sewer-worker began contemplating his deodorant needs: "Even industrial-strength odor-remediation ribozymes from TraumaTech failed to eliminate every molecule of stench." I'd explain why I find this line laughable, but first I need to send a message over the Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution system on my Verizon Android Smartphone, manufactured at a Foxconn plant in the Longhua Science & Technology Park.

Date: 2012-02-24 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neowolf2.livejournal.com
I take it Di Fillipo fills a well-needed gap in the literature?

Date: 2012-02-24 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
He's a good go-to guy to keep in mind should your anthology prove to be very rich in one specific sort of author and poor in others:

You know what: a potato field is not likely to contain corn plants. A pine forest might feature an oak or three, but be 99% pine trees. The Beatles were white guys. Sonic Youth has no people of color! My ream of copy paper is all white, with no sheets of lettuce included!

Date: 2012-02-24 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
In the time since the first MIT TRSF came out, Stephen Cass, the editor (Who, incidentally, is Irish), has contacted me and (I believe) several other writers looking for leads on non-American, female, queer, and not-white SF writers who may not be as well-known as The Usual Suspects.

He's busting ass to cast a broad net, and I think it's pretty laudable.

Date: 2012-02-24 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
Yeah. I must have missed this one. The first one was four out of twelve (or 33%), which actually isn't as bad as some other projects. I look forward to the second volume, then!

Date: 2012-02-24 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
Definitely not bad, especially when you consider the ideal is hard SF, and quote-unquote "top-tier" authors.

Sadly, it's one of the pain in the ass markets for women to make it in, and in my experience a certain element of the readership has a lot to do with that.

Date: 2012-02-24 05:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
Is it a vicious cycle, then, at least with regards to the British market, do you think, in terms of, well, publishers don't publish women, so women don't write science fiction, and readers don't get to see it, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse, to the point where female readers are getting their kick elsewhere in other categories, and female authors are submitting elsewhere, and publishers are, like, "Well, we don't get submissions, so we can't publish what we don't get." How does one break that?

Date: 2012-02-24 05:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
Write it anyway, I think. And accept that what would get called "Hard SF" if [livejournal.com profile] autopope or Richard K. Morgan wrote it is "cyberpunk" or "space opera" or "gay romance" when I do--according to a certain set of gatekeeping fans.

Which gets up my nose, but...

Really, I've gotten more resistance from a certain subcategory of readers than from any editor or publisher I've ever met. Fortunately, there are other readers. And publishers and editors WANT HARD SF, at least in the US, and do not seem to care who is writing it.

I've never had a problem selling hard SF in the U.S. But until RANGE OF GHOSTS, which is the most unabashed epic fantasy I've ever written, I've never gotten a UK release.

I do think there's a higher level of entrenched sexism in the UK readership, and publishers don't think they can sell SF by women there. So yeah, it is a vicious cycle. And I think, again, it leads back to the readership.

The solution? Educate the fucking readership. And raise a new generation of them who are willing to read Chris Moriarty without her having to use an androgynous pseud.

Date: 2012-02-24 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
I mean, part of the solution is Tor.com and Lightspeed publishing Yoon Ha Lee and Charlie Jane Allery and a host of other women who write pretty fucking crunchy stuff. And the rest of us talking up female SF writers at every opportunity.

If everybody in the internets is talking about how awesome Liz Williams is, then it's going to have an effect by osmosis.

If there are not enough female SF BNAs, isn't it our job as critics to, when we find a woman with the chops to do the job, discuss her? And not as an exception, but as a science fiction writer, period.

Date: 2012-02-24 05:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
That's always boggled me. There's plenty of markets publishing sf by women, CW, LS, Tor.com . . . but is it that they're invisible? Or is it because what women write isn't considered science fiction?

Date: 2012-02-24 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
Yes.

Men can write SF and fantasy and be science fiction writers. (Charlie Stross. Richard K. Morgan.)

I'm one of the very few women in the current crop who has gotten away with that (possibly because my first four novels were so very unabashedly SF?).

It's kind of ridiculous that the same people who will class John Scalzi as a hard SF writer will dismiss Liz Williams or Lois McMaster Bujold.

(Please note: I have nothing against Charlie, Richard, or John: I consider two of them very good friends indeed, and have a great fondness for the other one's work.)

The solution is pretty simple, I think, and involves the body of the SF establishment being just as willing to call Caitlin Kiernan an SF writer as we are China Mieville. Hell, I think she's a *hard* SF writer. I've read her Mars stories.

It's not that there is anything *wrong* with fantasy--but that's a different fight. And reminding a certain subset of genre snobs that they're talking out their asses when they dismiss fantasy is also everybody's job.

Date: 2012-02-24 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
But women did at one time and not so long ago write SF that got published in the UK, didn't they?

Date: 2012-02-23 09:05 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-23 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rachel-swirsky.livejournal.com
Helen Keeble. Charlie Allery. Helen Oyoyemi. Lauren Beukes. Tansy R. R. Roberts. Alisa Krasnostein. Lucy Sussex. Chitra Divakaruni. Leah Bobet. Karen Lord. Nalo Hopkinson. Amal El Mohtar.

I don't have authors sorted into this category in my head so I'm not fluidly coming up with names, but it's clear there's no shortage.

Date: 2012-02-24 08:23 am (UTC)
ext_2507: Green-jacketed library books (Default)
From: [identity profile] rosefox.livejournal.com
Marianne de Pierres. If non-Americans who are also non-Commonwealth are allowed, Aliette de Bodard.

Date: 2012-02-24 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
But do any of those authors sell in large enough quantities to be considered Big Names, which is now the argument I'm hearing?

Date: 2012-02-24 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Atwood's a big name but in SF she's an acceptable target.

Date: 2012-02-24 03:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Plus how big _in SF_ are Ravan, Mullins and Pumell?
Edited Date: 2012-02-24 03:35 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-24 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Or if we're talking outside SF, in what universe is Baxter qualified to walk ten paces behind Atwood while scourging himself and chanting "I am not worthy! I am not worthy!"?

Date: 2012-02-23 11:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] realinterrobang.livejournal.com
Wait, Margaret Atwood writes science fiction? And here I was with my two degrees in things lit'ry thinking she wrote polemics and/or fables using the tropes of science fiction (badly, IMNSHO).

Date: 2012-02-23 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rachel-swirsky.livejournal.com
What's the difference between SF and things using the tropes of SF?

Date: 2012-02-24 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scott-sanford.livejournal.com
Too often, Hollywood.

Date: 2012-02-24 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com
Death to the outlander!


I mean, that's the difference, usually.

Date: 2012-02-24 03:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Not by her definition, I think, but by mine. Also, she has written a non-fiction book about SF.

Date: 2012-02-24 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frogworth.livejournal.com
Justina Robson, Gwyneth Jones, Lauren Beukes, Tricia Sullivan, Nina Allen... (More but I'm sitting at work)
I wish I knew of more female (er, British Commonwealth) authors who wrote SF in the (fairly) narrow sense, since that's what I generally prefer to read.

I think of a good few of the authors in Rachel Swirsky's list as SF only in the pretty broad sense, FWIW.
But I am not an anthology/magazine editor, whose job it should be to find suitable authors. And I'm sure a "how about your write a core SF story for my upcoming anthology?" request would turn up some really interesting stuff! (See Jonathan Strahan's The Starry Rift, with sf from Kelly Link and Margo Lanagan for instance)

And even given the 5 short stories which I presume represent the fiction (I did buy the iPad edition, so I'll see) (20% female!) are by pretty prominent authors, it's really not that hard to find one or two other women. Beukes would have been perfect.
(Admittedly lots of people get asked and just don't have the time, or don't submit in time. I don't think any of us think that's the main factor here!)

Date: 2012-02-24 02:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rachel-swirsky.livejournal.com
A prominent female editor who was working like 20 years ago, I think, said that when she was running her magazine, a lot of times when she solicited female writers, she found they were busier than the male writers (with more solicitations, but probably also with female second-shift stuff) and often less able to send stories in a good period of time.

Date: 2012-02-24 12:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
What's the solution, then? Maybe you approach twice as many women as men, in hopes of balancing them out?

Date: 2012-02-24 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
I almost feel like there should be a resource, listing all the female authors who write science fiction, that someone could go to, for projects. I'm sure there's already something like that, though.

Date: 2012-02-24 02:07 am (UTC)
ext_90666: (Default)
From: [identity profile] kgbooklog.livejournal.com
Is Liz Williams still writing science fiction?

Date: 2012-02-24 04:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
From Prime in June: Worldsoul: Book One. Looks like fantasy to me but it can be hard to tell with Williams.

Edited Date: 2012-02-24 04:09 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-24 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Liz and I wrote a novella for the Eastercon souvenir book; it's very much SF although in the far-future Vancean mode, and we hope it won't be our last collaboration. We hope to re-sell it soon.

As for ARC, I can only speak of my own experience but the window for submitting a story was extremely tight. It was just good luck that I was able to get something done; nine times out of ten it doesn't work that way.

Al R

Date: 2012-02-24 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Anything like her Banner of Souls or Winterstrike?

Date: 2012-02-24 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I loved Winterstrike and I think there's a touch of that in there; in fact I rather hoped there would be.

(Al R)

Date: 2012-02-25 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
It's been known since Worldcon, perhaps even sooner than that, that they were putting together this issue, though?

Date: 2012-02-24 08:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coalescent.livejournal.com
Obviously, they commissioned more women. They just couldn't find any others when those dropped out.

In related news, new British sf author sells debut novel to Night Shade, basically ensuring no UK edition grr arrgh.

Date: 2012-02-24 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Why would a woman waste her time trying to sell SF books to UK publishers when by the numbers Americans are far more open to the idea of women SF writers?

Date: 2012-02-24 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
And Canadians are generally irrelevent, I admit.

Date: 2012-02-24 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
For a privately-solicited project, where you have a year or more to work on it, and your possible mandate is to produce something that might appeal to both sexes, why would women (or men) dropping out mean anything, really? You simply go out and reach for some more. It happens all the time to projects, particularly anthologies, but it's usually fixed before completion, so your target demographic is represented or reached.

Night Shade has distribution through Diamond, which sells into Britain, along with the rest of the Commonwealth. So I imagine the novel would be available there, too, no? My books are routinely distributed everywhere, and I know this because Charles Tan tells me that he sees NS and Prime Books releases in the Phillipines on a regular basis.

Date: 2012-02-24 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coalescent.livejournal.com
For a privately-solicited project, where you have a year or more to work on it, and your possible mandate is to produce something that might appeal to both sexes, why would women (or men) dropping out mean anything, really?

Well, quite.

Night Shade has distribution through Diamond, which sells into Britain, along with the rest of the Commonwealth. So I imagine the novel would be available there, too, no?

They're available here (albeit spottily), but they don't count as published here, which means they're not eligible for UK-based awards, which means it's harder (though by no means impossible) for them to enter the discourse around the field in this country. Which is arguably more of a shame for us the readers than for the writer, given that the US is a substantially larger and more lucrative market, but I think it is a shame.

Date: 2012-02-24 06:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com
Doesn't that spell out the flaw in the awards criteria more than anything else, when sf authors are skipping the local market in favor of the States, yet they're disqualified?

Date: 2012-02-24 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coalescent.livejournal.com
No, I don't thiink so. The field has awards in which everything is eligible regardless of publication location; national awards also have value.

Date: 2012-02-24 10:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] despotliz.livejournal.com
Pat Cadigan.

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