One of the hot sf novels of the season, Neal Stephenson's Anathem, has been getting feminist scrutiny from Nic at Eve's Alexandria, who found the novel "heavy-going," and from Liz Henry at the Feminist SF blog, who writes "I love the book, I think it’s fabulous, I wallowed in it and couldn’t stop reading it" but was constantly jolted out of her enjoyment by the book's "unnecessary sexism." After looking at specific instances of this, Liz writes:
A general complaint, not directed in particular at Stephenson. I don’t ask that every book be all things. But this book tries to be so much, and it fails so notably at this thing which to me seems so simple. Just make women characters as human as the male characters. Why is that so hard? How can anyone so smart and cool write something that fails to do that simple thing? Why do we as female readers and geeks so often get left behind and disappointed in this way by male writers? I am haunted by these questions in general while reading science fiction. Men, and heterosexual ones who claim to love and appreciate women and who in their daily lives surely do just that, fail to be able to write STORIES where women have full human agency and are important in any way other than romantic symbols or sadly cardboard sops to “strong female hero”.
Yeah. What you said, Liz.
Both are insightful, incisive reviews worth checking out.