Saturday, May 7, 2011

Joanna Russ (1937-2011)

Despite being inactive in fiction and criticism for many years, the loss of Joanna Russ is a significant one, a major voice in science fiction and fantasy silenced. She makes my list of top ten most influential United States science fiction authors of the past 50 years. Among her novels, especially notable are We Who Are About to . . . (Dell Books, 1977) and The Female Man (Bantam Books, 1975). Her short fiction was her greatest strength. Perhaps her best known is the Nebula Award winning short story, “When It Changed” (1972).

Graham Sleight, in his excellent essay on Russ’s short fiction that appears in On Joanna Russ (Wesleyan University Press, 2009) edited by Farah Mendlesohn, concludes:
For sheer inventiveness, formal range, and emotional force, I can think of only a few bodies of short SF to rival it: perhaps those of Theodore Sturgeon, James Tiptree, Jr., and Gene Wolfe. 
Russ’s essays and criticism were similarly extraordinary. Most recently published is The Country You Have Never Seen: Essays and Reviews (Liverpool University Press, 2007).

Related links:
Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: Russ, Joanna
The New York Times: Joanna Russ obituary
Timmi Duchamp: Remembering Joanna
Kathryn Cramer: Goodbye, Joanna
Rose Fox: RIP Joanna Russ
Joanna Russ: When It Changed
Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Remembering Joanna
Brit Mandelo: Queering SFF: The Female Man
Brit Mandelo: How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ
Annalee Newitz: How to Remember and Discover Joanna Russ
Jeff VanderMeer: Joanna Russ and The Weird

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