“When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
(from Flavorwire’s 20 Totally Relatatable Quotes from Absurdist Fiction)
This week I saw the second instance I’ve seen of someone claiming that the Ancillary series by Ann Leckie is not science fiction. I’ve already ranted on this blog about how ridiculous it is to dismiss these novels for their choice of pronouns, but this is an even sillier tactic. It takes place in space! Where people talk to aliens and travel through gateways! The main character is a sentient ship! But nope, not sci-fi, nothing to see here.
In the most recent issue of Uncanny Magazine, Annalee Flower Horne and Natalie Luhrs make the case that these are all techniques long ago outlined in Joanna Russ’s work on How to Suppress Women’s Writing. The article is great (like all of this issue!!) and really worth a read.
This is from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Eleanor and Luke are in the parlor and they get into a conversation about “what are the things people always want to find out about other people.” Luke instantly turns the conversation to what Eleanor must want to find out about Luke and she thinks, “he is so extremely vain.” She realizes that what he chooses to reveal will show him what he thinks of her. Will he say something to try to seduce her, or something to reveal her weaknesses? Here’s what he says:
“‘I never had a mother.’ […] ‘I am entirely selfish,’ he said ruefully, ‘and always hoping that someone will tell me to behave, someone will make herself responsible for me and make me grown-up.’
He is altogether selfish, she thought in some surprise, the only man I have ever sat and talked to alone, and I am impatient; he is simply not very interesting. ‘Why don’t you grow up by yourself?’ she asked him, and wondered how many people–how many women– had already asked him that.”