SF & Gender on Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting a two-part documentary, “Cat Women Of The Moon”, on gender in science fiction. They are hosted by Sarah Hall (author of the Tiptree-winning The Carhullan Army) and will feature interviews with Iain M. Banks, China Miéville and Nicola Griffith. A press release about the first episode (Aug. 30th, 11:30am), is available here. Hall’s website says the second episode will air at the same time on Sept. 6th. I expect both episodes to be available via the usual podcasting service, but I can’t be certain.

The press release notes:

In many novels the exploration of sexuality is unconventional and experimental. Some societies have more than one sex; in others, people can change sex at will. In other science fiction worlds, people form relationships with aliens or they might have sex with artificial life forms.

I confess to being somewhat nervous about this. I’ve not heard anything about it from Roz, so I’m assuming she wasn’t asked for comment, which probably means there is no input from trans people. I’m sure China and Nicola would be good if asked, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a certain amount of ignorance and prejudice on display.

Update: Just in case anyone gets the wrong end of the stick, I’m expecting problems from feminists and BBC arts pundits, not from Iain, who I know fairly well but have never talked to about trans issues.

Update 2: Nicola posts about the programmes here and mentions Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Le Guin as also being interviewed.

Many thanks to DH for the heads up on this one.

3 thoughts on “SF & Gender on Radio 4

  1. The producer, Nicola Swords, said she hoped to use quotes from both Atwood and Le Guin lifted from previous interviews. I don’t know what will end up in the final product.

    The questions were focused on the usual wo/men binary. I did try to widen the discussion. I made notes beforehand about this, and meant to say something along the lines of:

    ‘SF gets to ask of gender: what if our understanding of gender is wrong? What if it doesn’t have to be this way? What if we can change it? So we can ask: what if there are five genders? What if there is only one? What if there’s no such thing? What happens if you separate biological sex and gender, or can perfectly reassign sex and/or gender, at will, as many times as you like? We can ask: how would the world look if the notion of binary gender vanished? Or if one sex or gender was given ascendancy over the other, or others, on a rotating schedule.’

    But a) my iThing battery died, so notes, eh, not so much: I don’t remember what I actually said, and b) I have no clue what, if any, of what I said they’ll use.

    But the producer was definitely after substantive commentary. I’m hoping we didn’t screw up too badly 🙂

    1. I’m sure you will have said good things. Ditto China and Iain. But as with any media exercise, you have no control over how the words you provided are chosen and presented.

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