Guardian Podcast on Women in SF

The latest Guardian Books podcast went online today. There is some interesting material, including discussion of the development of language, and an interview with Téa Obreht. The bit that will interest most of you, however, is right at the end. Following on from the dreadful David Barnett article, the podcast interviews Gwyneth Jones about the current state of women in science fiction.

It is a bit embarrassing. To start with the podcast identifies Nicola Griffith as “a blogger” rather than “an award-winning British science fiction writer”, which might have been more appropriate. When asked about women’s involvement in the field, Gwyneth pretty much buys into the invisibility mantra by stating that there were almost no women writing before the 70s. And when asked to name five modern women SF writers she can only manage two: Tricia Sullivan and Justina Robson.

To be fair, I think the latter question meant UK-only, but hey: Liz Williams, Karen Traviss, Jaine Fenn. Also I have no idea what editing The Guardian may have done to Gwyneth’s words, or what warning she will have had about what she was to be asked. But it re-affirmed my opinion that The Guardian isn’t really interested in SF other than as a means to get people yelling at each other in comment threads.

12 thoughts on “Guardian Podcast on Women in SF

  1. Hey, at least I’m a ‘sharp-eyed’ blogger 🙂

    I heard Gwyneth’s comment about the 70s a bit differently from you, I think: as an ironic statement regarding women ‘taking over the genre’ for a decade. But, eh, irony in editable audio is a dangerous game…

    1. It certainly is. Also Gwyneth sounded like she’s unaware of the work that people such as Justine Larbalestier and Lisa Yasek have done in “re-discovering” pre-70s women writers who had been dismissed by the 70s crowd for being too “domestic”. I’m sure she isn’t, and the point about work is a valid one, but it rather missed the central topic of invisibility.

      1. And you can … all that you need is an ‘mpeg ‘ ? … help please Cheryl ? … image of that Page.

        Click on the image from the previous post, save it and then import it into Photo shop to be improved a bit and then take the resulting image on a usb flash drive to a local producer of T Shirts that are im- printed with an image of your choice. Eh Voilà!

        At least I think thats how I think that it should work… sort of and Maybe.

  2. ‘The Guardian isn’t really interested in SF other than as a means to get people yelling at each other in comment threads.’

    You’re probably right. But is that bad; people talking yelling or otherwise create a momentum that keeps the issue alive and brokers possibilities for change.

    The Guardian is in the business of selling ads in newspapers. They don’t care that much about social or literary change, but in fomenting discussions about women writers in sci-fi – or lack thereof, they are also filling a niche that allows us to address our concerns.

    1. I see your point. All publicity is good publicity. But there are times when that sounds a bit like saying Little Britain advances trans rights. Also I get a bit annoyed that journalists get paid to write troll bait rather than informed, reasoned articles.

      1. I understand ‘you getting annoyed’. When I was younger and far less cynical, I would be frothing at the mouth, firing off letters to the editor; now like Farah, I save my serious indignation for truly evil content – like the toxic crap posted by Ms. Jeffries.

        We need to pick our battles carefully – not just on the basis of ones that we can win, but those that deeply affect the lives of the people in our community.

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