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

Friday, April 17, 2009

queer movie medievalisms

Anyone know anything about this book??

Nicola Griffith

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We've been Amazon Ranked ... and then some!

With all the buzz about Amazon sales rankings being removed from lesbian and gay books in the name of avoiding "adult" content, I thought I had better check out QU. Typed in "queer universes" in the search box and got 5 pages of results with the word "universe" in their title -- but none with the word "queer." No QU. Disturbing. Typed in my own name, wondering whether I would have personally been Amazon Ranked because of my middle name (what would that do to Gay Talese, I wonder?). Got some of my essays (nice that Amazon.com can make a profit out of selling my work, but doesn't have to pay me royalties), but, again, no QU. Typed in Veronica's name. Ditto. No QU anywhere.

Then I tried a few keywords, like "sexuality and science fiction." Still no QU. Finally I went to Amazon.ca, where -- at least for the moment -- a title search on Queer Universes still actually produces a result. I then copied the ISBN into Amazon.com. Bingo! There's our book. From that page all the links worked -- I could get to my own name, to Veronia's and Joan's, and back to the book. Closed the browser, re-opened it and tried the search under "queer universes" again. Disturbingly, no book.

So clearly this is not just about ranking. It's about making actual books disappear. As an academic book -- a category that many folks consider dry by definition -- I don't really think it could be condemned for "adult" content. What gives the lie to this, in any case, is that Amazon has left up the links and rankings for dildoes, vibrators, anal plugs, as well as for straight sex manuals, such as The Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex.

I think a strongly worded email is on its way, not to mention a head's up to both Liverpool University Press and to the University of Chicago Press, which is QU's distributor in the US.

By the way, the ranking on Amazon.ca has disappeared, but at least the book still exists. All things considered, I'm with Nicola on this. It's despicable beyond belief.