Friday, March 17, 2006

Karen Joy Fowler on Octavia Butler

at Salon.com (you do have to click through the ad, but it's worth it in this case). It's a really good short piece about Butler, but it also ends with this modest but explosive observation:

Last week, Dave Itzkoff, the new science fiction reviewer for the New York Times, created a stir on s.f. chat lists and blogs when he posted the titles of his 10 favorite books of science fiction. Since this list was never represented as more than an idiosyncratic selection of personal favorites, it's probably unfair to object. People must be allowed to like the books they like (however clear it is that the books we like are superior books) and I think (at least I think I think) it's better, even for reviewers, to be honest instead of politic about what they like.

And yet, with Butler's death still quite recent, quite raw, readers couldn't help noticing that the list is, among other things equally shocking but less to the point here, exclusively white, straight and male -- as the field of science fiction is not. If the New York Times ever asked the women of science fiction for our idiosyncratic, personal favorites, our lists would look quite different from Itzkoff's. No doubt they would also look quite different from each other's. Still, I think there are few among us who would not have included Octavia Butler in our top 10.


(Thanks to Gwenda for the link.)

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