Coode Street Follow-Up

I have managed to listen to the latest Coode Street, in which Gary & Jonathan return to the question of gender balance in SF. A few quick points are in order.

Firstly, I was very happy with the way Jonathan & Gary pulled themselves back from saying something silly the previous week. Podcasts are hard, because you can’t edit what you say, or clarify if a listener doesn’t understand, but they do a good job of watching each other.

I suspect that Gary is right in saying that women do not write the sort of emotionless SF that was popular decades ago. Male writers don’t write it much these days either. That wasn’t my point.

Also I spotted N.K. Jemisin on Twitter complaining that you shouldn’t say a work is “not fantasy” just because it has consistent world-building. That’s quite right, but also isn’t addressing my point. I’m not interested in fan debates over whether SF or fantasy is “better” or “more intellectual” or whatever. All I’m interested in is whether the gender of the author influences whether a work is regarded as science fiction or fantasy, because if it does that has implications for the whole “women don’t write SF” discussion.

And finally, you can’t disprove a point like that by pointing to examples of women who are accepted as SF writers. Of course there are many of them. Some of them write very hard SF. But I’m interested in the ones in the middle, the ones where there is some doubt as to how their work should be classified.