Science fiction scholar Lisa Yaszek's recent book The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin, is a secret history of women in science fiction, reframing the story of exclusion ("women weren't welcome in early sf writing circles") as one of erasure ("women made vital contributions to early science fiction, and these were systematically expunged from the record when the first wave of historical sf anthologies were published, as part of a backlash against first-wave feminism").
Yaszek's work is very personal to me, dealing extensively with Judith Merrill, the great feminist sf writer, editor and critic, who was my mentor growing up in Toronto.
In a new interview with the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast (MP3), Yaszek elaborates on her work and its ramifications for how we think about the story of the future.
“[Campbell] was going on and on about how women can’t write science fiction, and [Merril] said, ‘Well, I bet I could write a science fiction story you’d buy,’ and he said, ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen,’ and she said, ‘I bet I could write a story you’ll buy, and you’ll beg me for more.’ … So she wrote [‘That Only a Mother’], and Campbell loved the story. He bought it from her, and he was like, ‘Oh my gosh. You were right, I was wrong. This is an amazing story. I want more from you.’ So she sent him her next story, which was a space colonization story—good standard science fiction fare—and he rejected it because he said, ‘There are no mothers in it. I don’t really want this from you. You should be writing more about mothers.'”
The History of Women in Sci-Fi Isn’t What You Think [Geek's Guide to the Galaxy/Wired]