[Book Review] Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever / James Tiptree, Jr

Somehow I made it into my 30's without ever really being aware of James Tiptree, Jr.  I don't know how this occurred, especially since now I'm realizing how many authors I love have won the James Tiptree, Jr literary award.

Alice Sheldon, best known in the literary world as James Tiptree, Jr, led an amazing life that ended in tragedy.  His/her stories are original, powerful, and often unsettling.  Science Fiction set in a "now" or far in the future, close to home or far flung.

For me the biggest challenge came in the size of the volume - it appears my attention span for short story collections is shorter than the size such a comprehensive collection calls for.  It's a book that would have worked better for me not to have a month's framing to read it, but one to read stories then have time to take a break as they bounced around in my head.  That being said, I'm very happy I included it as the Virtual Speculation pick for June.  This is definitely on my "to recommend" SF reading list now.

Discussion Fodder
  • What themes did you notice in the stories?  How were they handled?  What stood out to you?
  • Alice Sheldon published both as a woman and as a man, using a female name for stories that might betray "James" as a woman.  What makes a writing style masculine or feminine?
  • Alice's reasons for writing as James have been reasonably well stated - which ones would apply to an author today?
  • How do her stories hold up some fifty years after they were written?  What shows their age, and what could be written today?
  • Did you have a favorite story?  What drew you to it?  Were there stories that you disliked?  What pushed you away?


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