Monday, July 14, 2008

Women and sci-fi

M likes watching Star Trek: TNG and Voyager but doesn't like to read sci-fi. I wondered why but she said didn't know. Megan McArdle posted on this - "SF isn't girly":
"The feminists are mad because I said SF isn't girly. I think SF is girly, because I'm a girl, and my father gave me my first 3 SF books for my eighth birthday (Tunnel in the Sky, Sargasso of Space, and the third one escapes me). I spent one summer in Bantam Doubleday Dell's science fiction department, which was all female. I have an entire elaborate space opera planned out in my head which I may someday write, if my fiction writing stops being terrible.

But I think it's kind of hard to deny that there are a lot of women who do not like science fiction because it doesn't fit into their conception of girly. Stating that you are a woman who likes science fiction, and lots of women like science fiction, is theatrical, but it's beside the point; the demographic is overwhelmingly male. Connie Willis and Megan Lindholm and Sheri Tepper are great (I mean, at least until Tepper went off the deep end and started writing novels that implied men would be so much better if they were . . . women), but they are not the core of the genre. We can angrily declare that SF is so woman-friendly all we want, while women nod politely and bypass the SF section for the mysteries or the bodice rippers. Or we can try to convince them that they are making a tragic mistake, because what they are looking for in a romance novel or a good mystery can also be found in the SF section."

Read the rest of the post and comments for recommendations of SF. I don't know if the "girlyness" of SF is all or even a major part of the problem. It may be nerdyness ... so the question here is: Are there more nerdy guys than girls? And if so, are nerdy guys more likely or just as likely to read SF.

It gets even harder to discern the reason when we start breaking down SF to different categories - is Fantasy (Anne McCaffrey etc.) considered SF? What about Jean Auel's Earth's Children series ? (Incidentally, M loves this.) And the "hard core" SF writers such as David Brin, Vernor Vinge, etc.?

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