Pamela Sargent just won the Pilgrim award for lifetime contributions to science fiction scholarship. Known for pioneering work in SF, her novels such as Earthseed and Shore of Women promote women protagonists and explore gender.
Serendipitously, I received a set of “research questions” recently from an Iranian scholar writing about women in SF. Which lead me to reflect, where is gender headed? What’s the cutting edge of gender exploration today?
Looking back, when writers first started writing fiction as women (rather than hiding behind a man’s name) they took these approaches:
(1) A woman protagonist takes a role traditionally filled by men, in a man’s world (Picnic on Paradise)
(2) A planet or country is inhabited only by women (Whileaway, Gate to Women’s Country, A Door into Ocean)
(3) A world where males and females have equivalent roles (Brain Plague).
The last approach is the most tricky, in my opinion. It only “counts” if the females and males are equally likely to succeed, and all relationships are potentially bi/trans. That’s where I see the biology heading.
What do you think are the most interesting directions for gender in fiction today?