Wednesday, October 30, 2013

On criticism, presupposition, reading, and "reading"

In yesterday's post I said in passing that L. Timmel Duchamp's essay "Something Rich and Strange: Karen Joy Fowler's 'What I Didn't See'" (in Daughters of Earth) "could be said to be about, at least in part, the issues" I was discussing in that post. After some fruitful twitter-talks (particularly with the eternally interested and interesting Niall Harrison, to whom immense gratitude) and some reflection, I realize now that this statement might be confusing (and is certainly muddled as it stands, in part because I was writing in the wake of my self-suppressed longer review, which contained a great deal more detail).

After all in a lot of ways what I was complaining about there was a tendency among sf critics to focus on "genre" and sf-at-large rather than the individual story that's right in front of their faces, and Duchamp's essay is precisely about sf at large, what makes a story sf, who has the right (or the knowledge) to say what is sf and what isn't, and how what we know already from other stories affects our understanding of the story in front of us, specifically as all these issues relate to women, feminism, and the pasts and presents of women's and feminist sf. Collective, general issues to be sure!

The difference, I think, is that where so much of the sf criticism I have problems with arrives at any given story already possessing a set of theories, classification schemes, and presuppositions, ready to slot the story into its predetermined place at a moment's notice,* Duchamp (or so it seems to me) begins by reading the story. This might sound trite or simplistic, or like I'm saying Duchamp has no critical apparatus--but described by that simple term "reading" is a complicated act: one in which we simultaneously receive, translate, and create the text,** bringing to bear for all of these purposes everything we have ever experienced, everything we know and feel about the world (which includes everything we know and feel about other writing that exists within the world) and at the same time, crucially, experiencing the new ways that what we are currently reading has of opening that world to us. It is precisely this complex and above all open activity that the rigid way of "reading" I have been criticizing makes impossible--it both simplifies and closes it.

*And not a moment too soon!--for there is, I strongly suspect, an element of panic at work.
**It might just be that I'm currently enthralled with my studies in classical Greek, but I'm almost tempted to think of "to receive," "to translate," and "to create" a text as, respectively, the passive, middle, and active voices of "to read."

Duchamp reads Fowler's story and finds that it sets up particular resonances for her, which she seeks to explore. She sees that other readers, who (for politically determined, gendered reasons) inhabit a different world than she, did not find that the story set up these same resonances, and she seeks to explore the (politically determined, gendered) reasons why this might be. She does not treat the story as a puzzle to solve, a code to crack, something to be "figured out"; and though it might seem contradictory it is for this very reason that she is able to uncover in (or with or through) the story what might otherwise have remained obscure, where many other critics are not so able.

So, that thing that academic sf critics apparently call the "sf megatext" * is still relevant, because it is a part of the world we bring to the story, and a part of the world that the story opens up to us. Not only this, but it is a part of the world that the story cares deeply about (this is in large part what it means for a story to "be sf"), and as sf readers it is a part of the world that we care deeply about--so it is always right there, influencing, being influenced. But the moment this megatext becomes determinant (or the moment it becomes merely a collection of "tropes," or of "plots"), we have ceased to read, ceased to experience the story; and so far I don't see that anything worthwhile replaces this experience.

* I confess to an instinctive dislike and distrust of the term; I think the word "field," which I have come also to use in place of the totally inadequate "genre," covers the concept nicely.


Credit where due: this post was also sparked in part by my reading last night in Timothy Clark's great introduction/guide to Martin Heidegger, particularly this passage in which Clark is describing (a part of) Heidegger's approach in his investigations of language:

The thinker must take a step back from language, that is to give it the kind of non-coercive, presuppositionless attention we have already seen at work [in previous chapters; don't worry about it right now -ER].... It means not presupposing that we already know its mode of being and then trying to get a clearer concept of it as if it were an object one could turn at every angle beneath our eyes. Released from such attitudes thought may become attentive to the delicate but all-powerful way in which language articulates the open space or clearing in which we find ourselves, making things accessible with the significances and implications that give them their determinate being. It brings things to a world and a world to things.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In lieu of a review of Justine Larbalestier's Daughters of Earth

This past weekend I wrote a long long long long long long long long long review of Justine Larbalestier's Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, but I've decided not to post it. Daughters is a collection of eleven stories by women published between 1927 and 2002, nearly all marvelous, some revelatory, few often reprinted; all originally published in venues right at the heart of what is often, alas, called "genre sf"--which is to say, that portion of the field whose history began decisively with Hugo Gernsback's 1926 founding of Amazing Stories and which has always been commonly assumed primarily male. By collecting these stories, utterly essential to any clear understanding of this field's history, Larbalestier has conclusively proven that women's contributions to the field are and always have been central; anyone who tries to argue otherwise after reading the stories collected here can, as far as I'm concerned, be wholly dismissed as a particularly active misogynist. For this alone--and, something we should not lose sight of, for the sheer quality of the stories themselves--the anthology is vital, essential, indispensable; and we are all forever in Larbalestier's debt.

But the book is something else, too; and here there's a problem. Each of the eleven stories is followed by a critical essay about it, its author, and the place of both in the life and history of the field. A wonderful idea! But unfortunately, with the exception of an excellent essay by Andrea Hairston (on Octavia E. Butler and her "The Evening and the Morning and the Night"), a crucial one by L. Timmel Duchamp (on Karen Joy Fowler's "What I Didn't See"), and a decently useful one by Joan Haran (on Pat Murphy's "Rachel in Love"), the essays are…well. The reason I am not posting the review I wrote (which I wrote in a seven-hour cathartic fury) is that it feels distasteful, to put it mildly, for me to be so lengthily and thoroughly mean about what is at base a noble enterprise and an important book, but I can't in good conscience say anything publicly about Daughters without acknowledging that the other eight essays are at best pointless, and at worst radically, irresponsibly inadequate to the incredible stories they purport to be about, distorting their subjects beyond all recognition while focusing on misreadings, trivial game-playing, and a surprisingly timid and apologetic brand of academic feminism.

So in lieu of that scathing review, four or five times as long as this post, I offer this.

Looking at the list I keep of books I need to ask my academic librarian friend to request for me (pro tip: always have an obliging friend with access to an academic library), I was reminded that the new critical anthology Parabolas of Science Fiction, which I've been interested to read, was edited by Brian Attebery and Veronica Hollinger--both of whom, having read their contributions to Larbalestier's anthology, I now have reason to be suspicious of. With that in mind I recalled Paul Kincaid's recent Strange Horizons review of Parabolas, which--as seems usually to be the case with Kincaid's writing--both intrigued and kind of vaguely, but strongly, irked me. And with that, I think something kind of clicked for me.

If there's one thing the bad critics in Daughters of Earth have in common, it's a bizarre inability (or unwillingness) actually to read a story when it's in front of them--a common enough problem to be sure, but one that is thrown into sharp relief by a book with the format Daughters has, in which each essay is preceded by the story it claims to be about, and in general creates an illusion of comprehensiveness, authoritativeness.* Some of the time my differences from these critics could be ascribed to differences of interpretation (many of which are in turn caused by profound "philosophical" differences, I suppose you could call them), but many are far less arguable; I'm talking about basic failures of reading comprehension.

*In this case the presence in the same anthology of the superb essays by Hairston and Duchamp, excellent readers both, also helps make the problem starkly visible. (It occurs to me, incidentally, that Duchamp's essay in particular could be said to be about, at least in part, the issues I try to raise here.)

Meanwhile, I think the source of my irritation with Kincaid's review (and not yet having read Parabolas I don't know whether to ascribe this to the book or to the reviewer; either way I'm speaking of a general tendency, not trying to excoriate a specific target) is that, while it to my mind correctly identifies one of the primary elements that makes the concept of "genre" as usually understood today inadequate to an investigation of sf--roughly, that sf has no required "plot" elements whatsoever--it nevertheless immediately sets about creating a scheme in which sf stories can be charted, classified, and defined according to their plots, a scheme in which what is most important about sf stories is not what they individually do* but how much they can be considered to be the same as one another. And while there is much that follows in Kincaid's essay that I agree with or find provocative, it is all colored by this almost unaware insistence on determinism and categorization, so much at odds with so much that Kincaid--and/or Attebery and Hollinger--seem to want to do.

*Which, given the variability of "plot" in sf and its being inessential to making a work sf, perhaps it might be fruitful to look elsewhere when considering what these stories do. Kincaid points out that those stories we typically think of as genre are "closed" (I would argue in an analogous fashion to how the stories we typically think of as "realist" are closed), sf "opens to infinity" (I would argue in an analogous fashion to how modernist work, at least as I understand the term, can do; I would also say that Kincaid's formulation desperately calls out for a "potentially").

It's not that I think one should never write about sf in general (as I have been known to do myself!), but rather that I think the usual way of doing so is nothing more or less than a panicked retreat from the individuality of the story at hand. Schemes like the one in Parabolas, at least as Kincaid describes it, are totalizing; once you've developed one, you can fit literally anything into it--but only at the cost of doing severe violence to any story that's actually worth reading. And this, I suspect, is in large part why the critics in Daughters of Earth are so often unable simply to read what's in front of them; they are so busy trying to force their chosen stories into a pre-made mold, "this is what (in this case feminist) science fiction is and does," they are so sure that they know what a story says before they've even read it, that they lose all sight of the fact that they are at any given time reading one individual story--and thus become unable, in fact, to do that.

There are things that all sf stories do, else they would not be sf stories (much in the same way that there are things that all poems do, all plays do, etc.); whether these things can ever be definitively enumerated, I have my doubts. Most of the criticism I see in our field is devoted primarily either to rote (and usually inaccurate) taxonomy, to prescriptivism, or both. And while I'm sure I myself fall into this pattern more often than I'd like (real criticism, like real fiction, is hard to do, is a struggle), both tendencies are incredibly damaging, especially insofar as they forget that there is anything more to a story than its "plot"--plot itself, though important in its way, being a bizarrely abstract notion that gets far too much attention in our neck of the woods. To be sure, the large majority of our fiction writers gleefully slot themselves into all these predetermined plot forms (most especially, these days at least, the obligatory mystery plot), but the extent to which a writer does this is precisely the extent to which that writer is not worth our time.*

*This goes too for those writers who can too-easily be described as "subverting tropes" or "upsetting genre norms"--because a subverted trope is still a trope, an upset norm still a norm.

I see very little sense in our field of what anybody thinks they're doing, or why. What is all this busy-ness? What is all this writing? What is all this science and technology? What is this "future," this "alternate" past or present? Why are we talking to each other? What are we talking about? When I'm reading a story, what am I doing and what is in front of me?

I don't know, I think this post has turned into more of a ranting ramble (rantble?) than I'm happy with, and I have no conclusions to draw. But I think the things I'm trying to talk about here, the questions I'm asking, are far more my problem with the kind of criticism I found in most of the essays in Daughters of Earth, with the kind I suspect I'll find in Parabolas of Science Fiction, than any of the specific complaints I went on about in my unpublished review. The essays might engage in weirdly drastic misreadings, might draw conclusions I find silly or irresponsible, but at base my question for the essayists is Why are you doing this?, and my problem is that I doubt most of them could answer it--or, rather, since I'm not sure I could truly "answer" it myself, not sure it has an "answer": I doubt many of them could understand the question, could feel the necessity of its being asked.

Friday, October 25, 2013

On Tiptree and the backlash

The discovery that James Tiptree, Jr., was a woman was, I think, the last straw: was why sf's 1970s had finally to be suppressed and repudiated.

When you look at men's contemporary writing about her before what she called her "unmasking" there is an enormous investment in her being a man. Not just Robert Silverberg's famous line about there being "something ineluctably masculine" about her writing or Gardner Dozois's similar (though more equivocal) inanities, but also less surface-absurd comments that nevertheless more powerfully reveal a deep-seated anxiety (one which I believe was also the reason behind Silverberg and Dozois's overzealous assurances--which are not, after all, usually considered necessary for writers writing under male names).

Two statements in particular come to mind: first is Theodore Sturgeon's observation* that, aside from Tiptree, all the best and most important new or newly prominent sf writers in the 70s were women. I know nothing of the context in which he said this, or what his feelings were on it--but clearly the situation was, shall we say, being noticed.

*I think it was Sturgeon; if not, it was someone of similar standing.

The second comes in the absurdly overlong and self-congratulatory editorial comments in Harlan Ellison's Again, Dangerous [sic] Visions*; in the course of his constant crowing about how the stories are all going to be jockeying for the big awards, he says that Kate "Wilhelm is the woman to beat but Tiptree is the man" (emphasis mine, because I don't think the use of "but" rather than "and" is incidental). Perhaps this comment would have had a vague semblance of reasonable justification were the Hugos and Nebulas gender segregated, like the Oscars, but in fact they are not.

*With a vanishingly small handful of honorable exceptions the stories in the Dangerous Visions anthologies are so extremely--and often violently--status quo-reinforcing that I always feel the title requires a [sic].

Combine this with Ellison's introduction, in the same volume, to Joanna Russ's "When It Changed"--which introduction features the revolting spectacle of his "endorsement" of feminism, in which he bravely notices sexism in Keith Laumer's fiction (apparently for the first time, somehow) and which concludes with the comment that Russ looks better than Laumer in a bikini. Lovely as all that is, the key point for our purposes here is when he says that all of the best contemporary sf is being written by women--this in an anthology in which only nine out of forty-six stories (19.5%) are by women--one of them co-written by a man, and one of them written by Titpree, who Ellison thought was a man, which brings the figure down to 15% stories Ellison thought were written solely by women.* I think we can safely say that Ellison was (and is), ahem, anxious about women's writing: women are writing all the best sf, but I'll hardly publish any of it in this enormous anthology supposedly dedicated to writing that couldn't be published elsewhere, and meanwhile I'll unnecessarily separate my own quality judgments (themselves unnecessary) into "best woman" and "best man," place the best man at the end (with the best woman buried somewhere in the middle), talk about how the last story in an anthology has to be mind-blowing, how this one also (for some reason) has to up the ante on Samuel Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah", which closed the previous anthology (in the introduction to which, incidentally, Ellison had said admiringly that Delany wasn't some "pathetic little homosexual who still lives with his invalid mother"**)...and granted, ok, sure, Kate Wilhelm might be good for a woman, but here's a man for you.

*This is admittedly an improvement over the first volume, in which three out of thirty-two stories were by women. But, um.
**Which is ironic (or just stupid) not just because Delany is in fact gay but also because he has since written very movingly indeed about his mother's decline and lingering death.

So we have a situation where a male-dominated field is being invaded by women who are doing amazing work, a situation in which even the men who are committed to their own dominance in that field have to admit that the women's work is simply better, more vital, more important--but in which they can nevertheless say, "Oh, but thank god: Tiptree."

And then it's 1977, and Tiptree is Alice Sheldon, a woman.

And then almost immediately you get Barry Malzberg writing (in several of the essays that would be collected in Engines of the Night) about how the sf of the 70s is muddled and unengaged and apolitical and boring (and you can tell it's true because he stopped being able to get published--he seriously presents this as evidence). True, he seems to like, ish, Tiptree (though in a clearly retroactive move he relegates her pretty firmly to the--for him--ghettoized world of "feminist writing"). But the timing is suggestive. And as far as I can tell at this remove, he was the one who really got the ball rolling on this narrative, that the decade in which fucking Analog, for Pete's sake, could publish Vonda McIntyre's "Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand" was a decade of bloat and self-indulgence and apathy.* This revisionist narrative culminates in 1985 with Bruce Sterling's unhinged but, in terms of sf culture, successfully valedictory introduction to William Gibson's short story collection Burning Chrome, in which the fact that what he really means by "70s sf" is "women's sf" is barely concealed. Sterling's introduction sparked Jeanne Gomoll's righteous (and still utterly relevant) "Open Letter to Joanna Russ," which if you haven't read it go do it this instant, with the caveat that Gomoll, objectively speaking, goes far too easy on Sterling, who has to be read to be believed (and his response--PDF link, go to page 7--to Gomoll...there simply are no words).

* "Snakes (outside of the Book of Genesis) are not political" writes Malzberg, arrogant, ignorant and tone-deaf as ever.

And so you have a surge of literature in the late 70s, early 80s, that behaves as though sf really needs to be shaken a bunch of straight white men with politically and aesthetically reactionary agendas, who pretend (visible most clearly in Gibson's curiously ill-informed and inaccurately titled "The Gernsback Continuum") that Buck Rogers remains to be repudiated, as though Buck Rogers were ever representative of sf in general in the first place, and anyway as if the John W. Campbell of the 30s and 40s, the Galaxy and Fantasy & Science Fiction of the 50s, the so-called "New Wave" (however we're ahistorically applying the term today), feminists, afrofuturists (avant la lettre, as I would say if I were a snoot), queers, and so and and so on and so on and so on hadn't already taken care of it time and again, in all their very different ways and with their varying levels of artistic success.

And we're still, I submit, suffering from the aftermath today. And not just in terms of gender politics, though that's bad enough on its own (and was the major cause of the backlash), but in terms of aesthetics as well. Because once the astonishing work of 70s sf writers was deemed stale and self-involved, the artistic direction they were taking the field in had to be redirected as well.

It's not that it's Sheldon's fault, good god, no; her pseudonym no doubt helped hold the backlash at bay three or four years longer than might have been otherwise. It's just that, so long as she could be held out as a bulwark against the women's invasion--so long as, ok, there are a lot of good women, but there is A Great Man (who really Gets Women, to boot!)--the incipient counterrevolution was unable to build up enough steam. I find it highly significant that Tiptree was a downright celebrity in the field at the time, but now is read almost exclusively by those with an interest in feminist sf--not just that, but in feminist sf history (as L. Timmel Duchamp discusses in her essay on Karen Joy Fowler's "What I Didn't See", in Justine Larbalestier's anthology Daughters of Earth). Had the secret of her identity remained hidden long enough to die with her in 1987, it is easy to imagine that the backlash would have happened almost identically: "The sf of the 1970s," men like Malzberg and Sterling would have written, perhaps a few years earlier in this alternate universe than in our own, "was, except for the energetic and rugged stories of James Tiptree, Jr., bloated, self-indulgent, and stale." As it is, she's been swept under the rug with the rest of them.

Tiptree, at least, was a man. But then Sheldon was a woman. And the panic could no longer be restrained.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In which I take Charles Stross to be a symbol of a certain very popular kind of contemporary sf in general

Matt Hilliard praises Charles Stross's Neptune's Brood highly in his Strange Horizons review. As a review it's quite good, giving a coherent description of both the book and Hilliard's perspective on it, his reasons for liking it. But Stross--or more specifically his popularity and the critical respect he receives--has been becoming more and more of a symbol in my mind of the extreme tininess of a big swathe of the sfnal imagination, and a bit in the plot-summary section of the review has irked me into writing this post, which isn't really about Stross, and much less about Hilliard, but more about a general climate I find in sf today.

Stross's novel, Hilliard writes,

is set thousands of years from now in an era when the androids who survived humanity's extinction have spread to hundreds of star systems...Krina Alizond-118, a "metahuman" looking for Ana Graulle-90, [and] her "sister"...carry the two encrypted halves of an incomplete Bitcoin-style peer-to-peer financial transfer.
The description of the setting sounds potentially interesting (though honestly I'd like some kind of a moratorium on the "meta-" prefix in sf*); lots to explore there. But my problem--and this is always my problem with Stross, and with writers working in a similar vein (Hannu Rajaniemi comes to mind, and many others as well, though I can so rarely finish their books that I can't recall their names at the moment), so I doubt I'm just overinterpreting one line in a review of a book I haven't read, though if I am, my apologies, but everything that follows is still how I feel about this kind of writing in general--is that, having come up with this intriguing setting, he immediately goes about filling it with, basically, The Latest Internet Trends.

*In the fiction itself, not in writing about it.

I can't help but think that this whole enterprise is just radically wrong. I hate to break it to you, but the internet, both as it is composed today and in itself as an entity, is extraordinarily ephemeral. I'd be startled if any aspect of it were recognizable in ten years, and even more startled if it existed in any form whatsoever in, say, forty. To suggest that the kind of thing that goes on on it today might be going on thousands of years from now when all the humans are extinct...I'd call it goofy if it didn't make me so depressed.

It's not that I think sf futures should be beholden entirely to some "plausible" notion of what the future will really be like, as though such a thing were possible (though I do think there are certain responsibilities one takes on when one chooses to portray a future, but that's a topic for another time), and much less do I think sf should be (shudder) "predictive." It's that I find the smallness of imagination required to posit a society thousands of years from now that is merely rehashing some of the technologico-economic trends of today extraordinarily tiresome.

People often complain, rightly, that the writers of the so-called Golden Age, though writing about galaxies-spanning societies hundreds of thousands of years in our future, couldn't seem to envision any change whatsoever in such institutions as the family, or really mid-century WASP culture in general. And yeah, this is a problem! But I find that I would much rather read this kind of future than the kind Stross writes about, despite the fact that I nominally "agree" with his politics much more*, despite the fact that these future societies are if anything more oppressive towards people like me (and even more so towards people unlike me) than present reality, because it is apparent in them that these failures of imagination, colossal and reprehensible though they certainly are, come about because the imagination is focused elsewhere.** In these contemporary stories of PAYPAL IN SPAAAAAAACE and so forth, the imagination fails most catastrophically precisely at the point where it chooses to focus itself.

*Though I must say his radicalism tends to carry a bit more of a whiff of liberalism than I'm comfortable with.
**Not to mention that a portrait, even a thoughtless one, of an oppressive expansionist empire is much more honest than a one of an expansionist empire that is somehow magically not oppressive (I don't know if Stross specifically is guilty of this, but this post isn't really about Stross specifically and it's a common thing). As Joanna Russ liked to ask, who's taking care of the kids? who's making the food? where does the wealth come from? etc...

My problem is not so much with Stross himself; he is either, to look at it charitably, writing what interests him and what he is capable of writing or, to look at it a bit less charitably, writing what he knows will sell well. And this last is really what troubles me: this immensely impoverished vision is popular, is critically respected, is considered to be vital work--in a field that prides itself on its intellectual and imaginative adventurousness.

[BTW, I'm writing this at work, which, pro!, is why it's a (slightly) shorter post than my usual lumbering beasts, but con!, means I'm not able to devote much attention to cleaning it up. So, apologies for the probably-greater-than-usual awkwardness of the writing. Also, please don't take my comments here on "Golden Age" sf as comprehensive. I'm not proposing we ignore its failings, I just think that assuming a fixed background is a different kind of failing than actively positing a fixed foreground.]

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Joanna Russ chronological bibliography - work in progress, assistance requested!

I'm semi-considering beginning a chronological Joanna Russ read-through. Because I'm an obsessive, the mere thought prompted a painstaking effort to compile a chronological bibliography of all of her work that I'm aware of. I figure, hey, other people might want to use this, so I'm posting it here. (If you know of a better way to do this than linking to it on icky Google Drive, let me know).

I'm not a scholar, so my methods I'm sure are pretty slipshod, but I've written up an over-lengthy description of them anyway. If you are a scholar and you're interested, please wince your way through them; I'd be glad for any tips. If you don't care, you can just look at the bibliography, of course.

But I want to say right off: my feeling is that this bibliography is pretty much complete as far as her "genre" sf work is concerned (i.e., fiction published in the recognizable sf magazines), but that any number of other fiction and essays, and an assuredly vast quantity of letters, are missing from it. So: if you happen to know that any of the information on here is inaccurate, or if you have formatting or methodology tips, or, most importantly, if you know of any of Joanna Russ's works that are not listed here, please let me know: either by leaving a comment on this post, tweeting at me, or emailing me. (Also, let me know if it's hideously unlookatable--the equipment I'm on here dates from antiquity and I very likely am not seeing what you're seeing.) I'll update this post if and when new information comes in, noting what's been changed and crediting the source (unless you don't want me to).

UPDATE I: At Richard's urging I've added a list of books reviewed in the notes for each review column. 10-4-2013
UPDATE II: I've received some very good tips on search methods, which have so far enabled me to add 33 (thirty-three!!) more items to the bibliography. There are far too many to list here, but they include some very early poems, several interviews, and a number of essays and stories, along with some audio and video recordings and what appears to be a play version of "Window Dressing". 11-5-2013
UPDATE III: Added 14 more items, mostly very early poems I have learned about from Brit Mandelo's two articles on the subject at Stone Telling. 11-7-2013
UPDATE IV: Added 10 more items, some of which I'm less certain of (the MLA article from December 1977 might be "SF and Technology as Mystification" under a different name, for example), but also including several stories, interviews, and articles. Also noted original titles of two Alyx stories and titles of three letters.
UPDATE V: Improved accuracy of entries for early poetry with reference to the actual volumes of The Cornell Writer in question, rather than sloppy secondhand cataloging; fixed titles, added some previously unlisted poems and short fiction, moved "Innocence" from its 1975 F&SF publication to its original (identical) 1955 Cornell Writer publication.

OK, so, my methods:

First I went to Russ's sixteen books (that I'm aware of; if there are any more I will be shocked and amazed!): the seven novels Picnic on Paradise, And Chaos Died, The Female Man, We Who Are About To..., Kittatinny: A Tale of Magic, The Two of Them, and On Strike Against God; the two long nonfiction works How to Suppress Women's Writing and What Are We Fighting For? Sex, Race, Class and the Future of Feminism; the three nonfiction collections Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans & Perverts, To Write Like A Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction, and The Country You Have Never Seen: Essays and Reviews; and the four fiction collections: (The Adventures of) Alyx (which contains Picnic on Paradise), The Zanzibar Cat, Extra(Ordinary) People, and The Hidden Side of the Moon. In the case of The Zanzibar Cat the hardcover and paperback editions have different contents: each has three stories that the other does not. Two of the stories that are only in the hardcover version are also found in The Hidden Side of the Moon, while none of the three that are unique to the paperback have been collected in any of her other books, so I've considered the paperback the preferred version, and have put a note on "Poor Man, Beggar Man," the one story that can only be found in the hardcover.

I compiled a list of the books that are complete works and the contents of the collections, using the information given on the acknowledgments pages of the collections as my first source for the dates of the shorter works. Where this information was incomplete (which it was frustratingly often), my next recourse was to her ISFDB page. After that: lots of googling.

The books don't contain anywhere near her complete works, so next I went down her bibliography as listed at ISFDB and added anything on it that I didn't have already: stories, essays, and letters that haven't been collected (some have been anthologized, some have not). Then I added the small handful of her other works that I happen to know about (her contributions to the Khatru symposium on women in science fiction, the WisCon interview with Samuel R. Delany, etc.). That probably rounded out her genre sf work, but as I said before, I'm sure there's a large quantity of other work (and maybe even some more sf stuff) out there that I don't know about, and don't know how to look for.

I've been a little loose with accuracy as far as dates are concerned, because for my purposes assigning a rough date is more important than 100% accuracy. When I can't find a certain date for a piece, sometimes I've guessed based on other information (when it started getting reviewed, when it or the anthology it was published in had its softcover edition, things like that). Sometimes when I know things were written well before they were published (most notably The Female Man) I've gone with the date of publication; sometimes (especially with unprinted letters first published in one of her collections) I've gone with the date of composition. These decisions are all fairly arbitrary, depending as they do on what your interest in chronology is, and I've mostly gone with what "feels right" to me. I've at least tried to note where I've done this. Another thing I've done is that when pieces were originally published in quarterly journals I've assigned them to the last full month of the season (i.e., February for winter, May for spring, August for summer, November for fall). I've marked these with an asterisk. When I can't manage to make any guess whatsoever as to when in a given year a piece was published, I've left the month blank and put it at the end of the year of publication.