El Coyote Gordo (supergee) wrote,
El Coyote Gordo

What’s in a name?

I got into fandom in the 70s, and one of the new friends I liked the most was a nice old man named James Tiptree Jr. He wrote great stories, and he was fun to hang out with in the virtual world of zines. OK, so he was a lot younger than I am now, and…

I never suspected Tip’s actual gender, but fortunately I didn’t write well enough to come up with a phrase like “ineluctable masculinity” that would get me remembered for my mistake.

Gene Wolfe once said that he liked James Tiptree Jr. more than he liked Alice Sheldon, and I think he was onto something. Alice Sheldon was a human being who wanted to be a success in the manly, competitive world of business and to love women and was told she was unfit to do either for what we are finally are beginning to realize is a stupid reason. That attempt to be something other than what she was born to be was probably one of the reasons for that final murder/suicide.

But she managed to create James Tiptree Jr., the nice old man who wrote brilliant stories. I like to imagine a parallel universe where she was James Tiptree Jr.—had the career and then wrote the stories—and I’m glad we have an award appropriately named for that admirable figure.
Tags: reading
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