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New Treasures: Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction, edited by Lisa Yaszek and Patrick B. Sharp

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Sisters of Tomorrow-small Sisters of Tomorrow-back-small

While I was at Wiscon in May, I didn’t just attend readings (although it probably seemed like it). I also hung out in the Dealer’s Room, where I bought a whole bunch of vintage paperbacks, most of which remain unpacked on the floor of my library. With luck, I can steal some time this weekend to photograph them for upcoming Vintage Treasures columns.

I haven’t unpacked them because all the time I would normally be spending with them, I’ve been spending instead with a fabulous anthology I bought from Greg Ketter: Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction. It’s packaged as a scholarly tome (and is even published by Wesleyan University Press), but don’t be fooled — this is a top-notch collection of pulp-era SF by women, which also doubles as a very compelling argument that “women have always been part of the genre” (to quote the back cover copy.) One of the great things about this volume — in addition to the fabulous (and rarely reprinted) pulp tales by Clare Winger Harris, Leslie F. Stone, C. L. Moore, and others — is that it also includes poetry, articles by women, editorials, and even a gorgeous selection of pulp covers in color.

Feast your eyes on the Table of Contents:

Introduction: New Work for New Women

1. AUTHORS

Clare Winger Harris — “The Evolutionary Monstrosity” (1929)
Leslie F. Stone — “Out of the Void” (1929)
Lilith Lorraine — “Into the 28th Century” (1930)
L. Taylor Hansen — “The Man from Space” (1930)
C. L. Moore — “Shambleau” (1933)
Dorothy Gertrude Quick — “Strange Orchids” (1937)
Amelia Reynolds Long — “Reverse Phylogeny” (1937)
Leslie Perri — “Space Episode” (1941)
Dorothy Louise Les Tina — “When You Think That… Smile!” (1943)

2. POETS

JULIA BOYNTON GREEN
“The Night Express” (1931)
“Evolution” (1931)
“Radio Revelations” (1932)
VIRGINIA KIDD
“Untitled” (1933)
LEAH BODINE DRAKE
“They Run Again” (1939)
“The Wood-Wife” (1942)
“Sea-Shell” (1943)
TIGRINA
“Defiance” (1945)
“Affinity” (1945)
LILITH LORRAINE
“Earthlight on the Moon” (1941)
“The Acolytes” (1946)
“Men Keep Strange Trysts” (1946)

3. JOURNALISTS

ELLEN REED, FRAN MILES, HENRIETTA BROWN, LYNN STANDISH, AND LAURA MOORE WRIGHT
Ellen Reed, “Natural Ink” (1942)
Fran Miles, “Oil for Bombing” (1944)
Henrietta Brown, “Marine Engineering in the Insect World” (1945)
Lynn Standish, “The Battle of the Sexes” (1943)
Lynn Standish, “Scientific Oddities” (1945)
Laura Moore Wright, “Sunlight” (1946)
L. TAYLOR HANSEN
“Scientific Mysteries: The White Race—Does It Exist?” (1942)
“Scientific Mysteries: Footprints of the Dragon” (1944)
H. Malamud, I. Berkman, and H. Rogovin, “A Protest” (1943)
L. Taylor Hansen, “L. Taylor Hansen Defends Himself” (1943)

4. EDITORS

MARY GNAEDINGER
“Editorial Note” (1939)
“The Editor’s Page” (1940)
“The Editor’s Page” (1943)
DOROTHY STEVENS MCILWRAITH
“The Eyrie” (1940)
“The Eyrie” (1940)
“The Eyrie” (1941)
LILITH LORRAINE
“Cracks—Wise and Otherwise” (1943)
“Training for World Citizenship” (1946)
“The Story of Different” (1950)

5. ARTISTS

Olivette Bourgeois
Lucille Webster Holling
Margaret Johnson Brundage
Dorothy Louise Les Tina
Dolly Rackley Donnell
Conclusion: Challenging the Narrative, Or, Women Take Back Science Fiction — Kathleen Ann Goonan

One of the things that compelled me to pick up this book was my experience with the incredible Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (2010), a massive 792-page volume that purports to be “The best single-volume anthology of science fiction available,” and may very well be right. It’s an absolutely knockout collection that belongs on every serious collector’s shelf.

The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction-small The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction-back-small

One of the surprising things about Sisters of Tomorrow is how delightful it is to browse. There’s a lot of great reading here for any fan of the SF pulps. casual or fanatic. My only regret is that there aren’t additional volumes.

Speaking of which, this book is part of Wesleyan’s Early Classics of Science Fiction line, which includes an astonishing 34 titles and counting.

Subterranean Worlds-small

Here’s just a handful:

Subterranean Worlds: A Critical Anthology (2004), edited by Peter Fitting
Imagining Mars: A Literary History (2011) by Robert Crossley
Three Science Fiction Novellas: From Prehistory to the End of Mankind (2012) by J.-H. Rosny and Danièle Chatelain
Invasion of the Sea (2002) by Jules Verne
Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (2003), edited by Yolanda Molina-Gavilán and Andrea L. Bell
The Black Mirror and Other Stories: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Germany and Austria (2008), edited by Franz Rottensteiner and Mike Mitchell

Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction was published by Wesleyan University Press on June 7, 2016. It is 393 pages, priced at $29.95 in trade paperback and $23.99 for the digital edition. No cover credit I can find.

See all our coverage of SF Pulps here.

5 Comments »

  1. Sounds like an incredible anthology. I didn’t know Leslie Perri ever wrote fiction. I knew she contributed illustrations for the magazines Frederick Pohl was editing while she was married to him (Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories) but his memoir never mentioned that she wrote fiction. I am surprised, however, the Leigh Brackett didn’t make it into that anthology.

    Comment by Amy Bisson - July 11, 2017 10:27 pm

  2. Obviously an important book, but phew!—it’s expensive.

    Another recent volume sampling early women writers is The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers (2015), edited by Mike Ashley and available at a very reasonable price from Dover Thrift Editions.

    Comment by dolphintornsea - July 12, 2017 8:34 am

  3. Thanks for the recommendation, dolphintornsea. I’m in the middle of The Mammoth Book of King Arthur right now, so I definitely respect Mike Ashley as an editor and I find his books tend to be excellent values for the money.

    Comment by Amy Bisson - July 12, 2017 10:30 am

  4. > I didn’t know Leslie Perri ever wrote fiction.

    Amy,

    I’m not familiar with her at all… thanks for the background info!

    > I am surprised, however, the Leigh Brackett didn’t make it into that anthology.

    I was at first as well… but overall, I’m glad to see fiction from new names (well, names that are new to me). I have all of Brackett’s fiction (and CL Moore’s) many times over at this point.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 12, 2017 8:49 pm

  5. > Obviously an important book, but phew!—it’s expensive.

    Dolphin,

    That it is. It seems to be marketed more as a textbook than a mass-interest anthology… the hardcover edition is $90! But Amazon had the trade paperback for $21.60, which is reasonable enough.

    > The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers

    Great suggestion! I wasn’t aware of this one at all… it’s in print, and only $4.50!

    Comment by John ONeill - July 12, 2017 8:55 pm


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