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For Readers: Talk About James Tiptree Jr.

James Tiptree Jr.

FOR READERS

Today’s reader topic comes from QSFer Kari Trenten:

“Also, I’d love to have conversations about specific authors, whether it’s Plato or J.R.R. Tolkien, their particular works.”

Today – James Tiptree Jr. For those who don’t know about her (from Wikipedia):

Alice Bradley Sheldon (August 24, 1915 – May 19, 1987) was an American science fiction author better known as James Tiptree Jr., a pen name she used from 1967 to her death. She was most notable for breaking down the barriers between writing perceived as inherently “male” or “female”—it was not publicly known until 1977 that James Tiptree Jr. was a woman. From 1974 to 1977 she also used the pen name Raccoona Sheldon.

Unsure what to do with her new degrees and her new/old careers, Sheldon began to write science fiction. She adopted the pseudonym of James Tiptree Jr. in 1967. The name “Tiptree” came from a branded jar of marmalade, and the “Jr.” was her husband’s idea. In an interview, she said: “A male name seemed like good camouflage. I had the feeling that a man would slip by less observed. I’ve had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damned occupation.”[16] Her first published short story was “Birth of a Salesman” in the March 1968 issue of Analog Science Fact & Fiction, edited by John W. Campbell. Three more followed that year in If and Fantastic.[1]

The pseudonym was successfully maintained until the late 1970s, partly because, although “Tiptree” was widely known to be a pseudonym, it was generally understood that its use was intended to protect the professional reputation of an intelligence community official. Readers, editors and correspondents were permitted to assume sex, and generally, but not invariably, they assumed “male”. There was speculation, based partially on the themes in her stories, that Tiptree might be female…

Have you read any of Tiptree’s work? What are your favorites? What else do you want to discuss about this pioneer in sci fi?

Writers: This is a reader chat – you are welcome to join it, but please do not reference your own works directly. Thanks!

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