Remembering Susan Wood

Before Claire Brialey and Tansy Rayner Roberts won the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 2011 and 2013 respectively; before I won in 2009 (if you accept that win as fair and accept me as a woman); before the long, dark years of the Langfordian Ascendancy; there was Susan Wood. Susan won three times — in 1974, 1977 (tied with Richard E. Geis) and 1981. I never met her. She died late in 1980, aged just 32. However, her legacy remains in the form of many fanzines that she wrote and edited.

While the prevailing view on social media appears to be that the 1970s were an awful time in which women were barred from participating in fandom, Susan was an ardent feminist. This was, after all, the time of Joanna Russ, Ursula K. Le Guin and James Tiptree Jr.. Of course progress has been made since that time. Worldcon masquerades are no longer an excuse for male writers and fans to ogle female fans in various states of undress. But it is also worthwhile to remember what was being done in those days.

Over at Amazing Stories, R. Graeme Cameron has written a retrospective of Susan’s career. You can find it here. I certainly found it interesting, not in the least for the fact that the Feminist SF program stream that Susan helped curate at Westercon 30 was trans-inclusive — in 1977!

Feminism shouldn’t just mean making sure that present-day women writers are remembered. It should mean rescuing women writers from the obscurity to which his-story has consigned them. Susan is very much someone who deserves remembering.