Here at the library, we're spending the summer reading feminist sci-fi. We'll be meeting in Portland to discuss Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy on June 21st. Then we'll be discussing Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler on August 16th. If you're in Portland, come to our book clubs! If you can't be here in person, perhaps you'll consider joining us from afar as we read some of the staples in feminist science fiction.
Here's what I love about sci-fi (and speculative fiction in general): it sometimes shows us worlds in which we've found creative ways to overcome oppressions that we struggle with today. But more often, it allows for stories that explore futures and alternative realities in which sexism has gotten even scarier than it is now, rendering women completely subservient. These kind of stories provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the world we live in today, to question just how close we might be to these fictionalized realities, and to consider the work that we must do to ensure that these stories don't become our reality.
In 2005, Margaret Atwood wrote a piece for The Guardian in which she discussed why we need science fiction. She ended the piece with these words:
We want wisdom. We want hope. We want to be good. Therefore we sometimes tell ourselves warning stories that deal with the darker side of some of our other wants...Literature is an uttering, or outering, of the human imagination. It lets the shadowy forms of thought and feeling—heaven, hell, monsters, angels and all—out into the light, where we can take a good look at them and perhaps come to a better understanding of who we are and what we want, and what the limits to those wants may be. Understanding the imagination is no longer a pastime, but a necessity; because increasingly, if we can imagine it, we'll be able to do it.
Hear, hear. We're looking forward to spending time with some feminist sci-fi. In the meantime, what are your feminist sci-fi picks? Let us know in the comments!