Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Not a top 10, but yet a list

More than 12 years ago, for my Ph.D. dissertation in semiotics, I built my own list of women's queer SF. Not really a top 10, but a list of 9 narratives based on what I had read back then, and what I thought would be a representative selection. More specifically, I was working on narratives (novels and short stories) written by women and featuring a sexualised encounter between a human character (a character living in a world based on two genetically dominant genders, male and female) and a character not pertaining to such a system (a mutant, an alien, etc.). I had chosen to focus on the period I defined as "between the New Wave and the Cyberpunk", so that explains why I had to omit too ancient or too recent yet relevant texts. Submitting my dissertation in a French (Québec) university, I also thought important to include fictions originally published in French.

Anyway, here is my list:
  • Octavia Butler, "Bloodchild"
  • Pat Cadigan, "Pretty Boy Crossover"
  • Jaygee Carr, Leviathan's Deep
  • Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Christine Renard, "Les Narcisses poussent le soir" ["Narcissuses grow at night" (my translation)]
  • Esther Rochon, Coquillage [The Shell]
  • Joanna Russ, "What did you do during the revolution, Grandma?"
  • James Tiptree, Jr, "Your Haploid Heart"
  • Élisabeth Vonarburg, "Dans la fosse" ["In the Pit"]
I'm not sure if my list would be the same if I was writing the same dissertation today, but those sure were great and rich narratives.

The dissertation (in French) Je pense or je suis: Discours et identité dans la SF côté femmes: Entre la New Wave et le cyberpunk [I Think or I Am: Discourse and Identity in SF on the Women's Side: Between the New Wave and the Cyberpunk] is available through the Université du Québec à Montreal library.

Sylvie Berard


  1. Leviathan's Deep. Wow. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone else who admits to reading that one.

  2. Not only reading it, but analysing it for a couple of years :-)

    For my dissertation, I studied the English text, but I had discovered the novel in French, in a translation by Élisabeth Vonarburg (http://www.noosfere.org/heberg/auteurstf3/infolivre.asp?site=58&numlivre=3556).

  3. I'm ashamed to admit I can only read in English. (Well, given enough time I can puzzle through simple French and Spanish and Latin, even the occasional word of Anglo-Saxon, but fiction? Only English. Sigh.)

  4. Bah, I wish I could read in German and, why not, in Japanese :-)