The Abstracts — Femspec 6.2, Vol 6, Issue 2, 2005

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EDITORIAL REMARKS:

By Batya Weinbaum
“We were always about keeping the imagination alive in order to reconceptualize gender, speculatively, into the future. We can be more flexible and creative, perhaps publishing full-length creative works such as novellas or plays... I would like to assure the readers and subscribers that we do indeed have a lively future.”

CRITICISM:

“Taking Out the Trash: Octavia E. Butler's Wild Seed and the Feminist Voice in American SF” by J. Andrew Deman
The world of SF is introduced for a complex female character in the form of the maternal shape-shifter, Anyanwu. Butler’s depiction of womanhood through Anyanwu defamiliarizes the construction of women in science fiction. “In Anyanwu, Butler demonstrates the wealth of potential for characterization in science fiction, while at the same time operating against the male-oriented science fiction tropes that have traditionally excluded the voice of such strong female writers as Butler, along with complex female characters as Anyanwu.”

Cartesian Nuts: Rewriting the Platonic Androgyne in Angela Carter's Japanese Surrealism by Scott A. Dimovitz
“In her otherwise largely realist fiction before Japan, Carter often used a male protagonist, her feminism consisted mainly of female characters’ exploitation and final destruction or violently taking the role of the male characters. This binary, as it happens, informs Carter’s analysis of Sade’s work, where women are classified into two types: Justine, passively suffering, the martyr at the hands of patriarchy; and Juliette, replicating the male libertines in their brutality towards women, the woman who learns to run with the wolves.”

Bluestockings Beware: Cultural Backlash and the Reconfiguration of the Witch in Popular Nineteenth-Century Literature by Linda J. Holland-Toll
The author “decided to view four nineteenth century short stories that reflect this cultural linkage through the looking glass of narratives of American witch-hunting, Puritan theology, and the history of women’s changing roles in mid-nineteenth century America. The main conflations stand revealed as possession of knowledge inappropriate for women, i.e., religious learning, book knowledge or knowledge of healing.”

Space Opera: Melodrama, Feminism and the Women of Farscape” by Carlen Lavigne
“Lynn Joyrich has outlined in some detail her theories regarding how television melodrama, gender and affect in soap opera coax a “feminine” viewpoint. At the same time, Tania Modleski has criticized soap operas for directing female anger at female power. The science fiction series Farscape (199table-of-contents002) figures aesthetically as a science fiction/soap opera hybrid, which works toward increasingly empowered female representation,” which the author discusses.

Phenomenal Women: The Shape-shifter Archetype in Postcolonial Magical Realist Fiction” by Megan Musgrave
This article provocatively explores the usefulness of the construct of magical realism in the context of post-colonial oppositional narrative strategies, in particular by feminist authors.

E.G.E. Bulwer-Lytton's Covert Anti-Feminism in The Coming Race” by Gerardo Rodriguez Salas
E.G.E Bulwer-Lytton envisages a highly unusual utopian model where he criticizes somewhat humorously and sometimes bitterly, issues related to socio-economic, political, cultural, and religious aspects of contemporary society.

FICTION

Orion by Kate Austin
A woman in a motorized wheelchair struggling with a painful virus and delivering her own meds by pushbutton, faces her fear of death, remembering the shy girl she had been even as one of her country’s most respected scientists and as a member of a top secret research team.

Quiescent by Sharon King
A futuristic story about a loss of a family member due to an unauthorized power outage follows the life of protagonist Claire as she shuttles home to the half-underwater Venice, the ancient city enchanting at Christmastime amidst the fluttering of snow over houses, bridges and the relentless gentle waves. Flashing memories of childhood laced with messages sent to Archive Adjustment supervision, “Grief time requested,” explores the intertwining of advanced techno-bureaucracies and family life, a theme of sf since the late 1920s.

Crone’s Revenge by Carole Spearin McCauley
In the science building, Helgart’s twenty-sixth attempt to repair the auras of her expensive chinchillas had failed again. The bright life spikes of healthy aura were fading, and the healer is called upon to use her powers of mind streaming to diagnose and heal. The talented magician had worked all night to save her animals from sudden pneumonia. At 61, she had spent all her savings in buying the latest at the morning’s Corporate and Talent Fair, thinking her husband, Geflen, in the traditional school of magic, which had a few old lady enrollers, would be proud of her.

ART

Feminist Speculative Art by Marion Epstein
This nearly life-long Clevelander now deceased, had displayed during her lifetime work in numerous exhibitions, both juried and international. Artist, printmaker and educator, she used the gum bi-chromate printing process to create images that made statements about family, civil rights, world peace and the Holocaust. Through her art, she developed a visual vocabulary that allowed her to express ideas as well as aesthetics.

REVIEWS

Review of The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction by Beverly Bow
“Hollinger cites several of these works to demonstrate feminist challenges to heterosexual and patriarchal hegemony, feminist techniques of defamiliarization (e.g., re female human nature), and feminist appropriations of standard sf figures, such as aliens and cyborgs, to question traditional notions of dominance and status. In the “Sub-genres and Themes” section, the reader will find a few words from Kathryn Cramer about gender in “hard sf” (189). Ken MacLeod’s note about feminist sf as the “troubling exception to the generally progressive spirit of sf” in his essay on politics (236), and Farah Mendlesohn’s observation in regard to religion that paganism’s influence is most seen in feminist sf (271).”

Review of Slayage: The On-Line International Journal of Buffy Studies by Tanya Cochran
“From an episode guide to a cultural reference index, from an academic bibliography to an encyclopedia, from news of recent and forthcoming scholarly books, essays and conferences to an online shop, those interested in the burgeoning field of inquiry known as Buffy Studies need go nowhere else.”

Review of The Song of the Goddess: The Devi-Gita: The Spiritual Counsel of the Great Goddess by Lynne Reed
“In terms of information sharing, through this volume more people can be informed that there is the feminine centered Hindu text, the Devi-Gita, to balance the well known male-oriented Bhagavad-Gita. This seems important as a role model of an ancient religion having a supreme deity. One learns by examining this translation that Sanskrit offers different gender/andro questions than other languages.”

Review of Demeter and Persephone: Lessons from a Myth by Simone Roberts
“While this close reading is the heart of the book, the references to other feminist scholars of mythology, theology and psychology makes this text and bibliography a rich resource for scholars and a useful text for introductory classes in women’s studies that might include foci on any of several topics: resistance to and strategies for women’s individual and collective empowerment, psychological/archetypal approaches to mythology and literature, and non-competitive methodologies in feminist research.”

Review of Having a Good Cry: Effeminate Feelings and Pop-Culture Forms by Erin A. Smith
Having a Good Cry is part of a series called ‘The Theory and Interpretation of Narrative’ from Ohio State University Press, and Warhol is correct to characterize her project as (in part) bringing a feminist narratology” to cultural studies (24). This is the source of both the project’s strengths and weaknesses.”

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