Literary Review Of Sexuality And Gender In Science Fiction Literature

3277 words - 13 pages

Literary Review

My argument is that SF literature offers a utopian hope for the future where individual differences are no longer criticized. To conduct this literature review I used multiple information sources to examine issues of gender and sexuality within science fiction literature. None of these sources claim to have produced a conclusive work on the interpretation of gender and sexuality in SF. Some of what I have read seems to be a general overview while some is more focused, but everything clearly references other theorists, studies and texts to back up the arguments made.

The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction- Edward James

This book combines essays by academics and writers of SF, which examine the genre from diverse perspectives. It inspects the beginnings of SF from Thomas More to the present day, and presents significant critical approaches such as Marxism, feminism and queer theory. There is an overlap of themes throughout which provides a chance to read about interrelated subjects from different angles written by numerous authors, which makes the work stronger.

In ‘Gender in science fiction’ Helen Merrick explores the depictions of masculinity and femininity. She illustrates how SF is proficient in examining gender issues, noting texts that have assisted in going against standard sociocultural norms. This chapter is only a brief discussion of the pioneering work of feminist SF writers (particularly the emergence of female SF writers), however, Veronica Hollinger deliberates the topic further in ‘Feminist theory in science fiction’. In Merrick’s chapter her overall point is that the SF genre is a means for investigating gender and humanity and ridding the mind from the austerity of standard norms. What this chapter lacks is opposing views and variety in the literature it discusses.

Hollinger’s chapter on feminist theory illustrates that “feminist SF is not simply SF about women; it is SF written in the interests of women” (128). In other words feminist SF is an effective and powerful means for feminist visionary developments that are crucial for the initial attempts to embark on the cultural and social changes that are the goals for the feminist political enterprise. Hollinger discusses Le Guin’s view that feminist SF doesn’t prophecy the future but it refers to the world as it is. This is interesting because it emphasises this idea that the SF can explore such issues of gender and sexuality in reality.

Hollinger references works such as ‘The Female Man,’ ‘Bloodchild’, The Left Hand of Darkness’ and ‘Women on the Edge of Time’ together with people like Donna Harraway, Teresa de Lauretis and Judith Butler. In addition to the well-known feminist utopian works of the 70’s Hollinger also mentions Helen O’Loy, which is an early masculine focused novel. We see the importance of feminist SF when we read about works such as this, because the contrast shows that some SF writers obviously didn’t identify the historical...

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