Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pre-release Special for The Secret Feminist Cabal

Aqueduct Press has taken delivery of Helen Merrick's The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms. For a brief time, we'll be selling it at a reduced price through our website. Here are a few descriptions of the book:

The Secret Feminist Cabal is an extended answer to the question Helen Merrick asks in her introduction: "why do I read feminist sf?" In this wide-ranging cultural history we are introduced to a multiplicity of sf feminisms as Merrick takes readers on a tour of the early days of sf fandom, tracks the upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s and the explosions of feminist sf in the 1970s, and contextualizes subsequent developments in feminist sf scholarship. Her history is expansive and inclusive: it ranges from North America to the UK to Australia; it tells us about readers, fans, and academics as well as about writers, editors, and publishers; and it examines the often uneasy intersections of feminist theory and popular culture. Merrick brings things up to date with considerations of feminist cyberfiction and feminist science and technology studies, and she concludes with an intriguing review of the Tiptree Award as it illuminates current debates in the feminist sf community. Broadly informed, theoretically astute, and often revisionary, The Secret Feminist Cabal is an indispensable social and cultural history of the girls who have been plugged into science fiction.—Veronica Hollinger, co-editor of Edging into the Future, Blood Read: the Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture, and Queer Universes

I really enjoyed this. It's a wonderfully thorough, analytical, and inclusive account, sure to become an indispensable resource. Better than that, it's a terrific read. Here you'll find everything you always wanted to know about women in fandom, women in publishing, women as writers. . . with the added value that the snippets of tasty vintage gossip are woven into a rich fabric of discourse. Helen Merrick's style is unassuming yet authoritative; she manages to be a scholar and an entertainer at the same time. Years ago, I read Women of Other Worlds, edited by Helen Merrick and Tess Williams, and was impressed. The Secret Feminist Cabal is more demanding, an ambitious project, but equally successful: this is a fine book. —Gwyneth Jones, author of White Queen and Deconstructing the Starships

An amazing book for cultural analysts of all kinds. This is a story-laden feminism, one that weaves together not only the historical contexts for women’s presences in SF and the varieties of feminisms women did and did not espouse, but tells us HOW all this happened. Merrick’s work allows us to learn how to practice this kind of story-telling ourselves, demonstrating how many knowledge worlds co-created feminist SF. She has a genius for letting us feel out what one knows and embodies when trafficking among worlds of academic critique, commercial publication, visionary futures, institutional intervention, and science studies. She teases out how dynamic networks linking stories and publications respond to new contexts, newly reattaching meanings to feminist SF itself, the body and embodiments, cyberpunk and cyborg feminisms, feminist versions of naturecultures, and sexual and racial politics. The very basis for what might count as feminist SF, for better or worse, is de-normalized and re-genred year after year, as told in cautionary stories about the James Tiptree Jr. Award, titled after pseudonymous feminist author Alice Sheldon’s pen name. Perfect for teachers, theorists, authors and critics, and for fans, The Secret Feminist Cabal is a new kind of transdisciplinary writing, a demonstration of the spaces that are continually coming into being for increasingly complex practices known as feminisms in SF. —Katie King, author of Theory in Its Feminist Travels: Conversations in U.S. Women’s Movements

A reminder: an excerpt can be found in the winter issue of the Aqueduct Gazette. You can revisit my earlier post about Rick Kleffel's review here. And to purchase The Secret Feminist Cabal now, go here.

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