Reading: Joan Slonczewski – A Door into Ocean

A special arrival on Friday: three books of Joan Slonczewski, who is now on my Illustrious List of Science Fiction Writers, alongside Charles Stross, Iain M. Banks, and China Miéville. And the first woman on the list too. Excellent!

It was Charlie who caused me to discover Joan, when she guest-blogged there, and The Highest Frontier was my book of the year last October. I since got through Brain Plague, and decided in the best tradition of gluttony that the only sensible course to follow was to acquire as many of her remaining books as quick as possible.

I also needed a small break from reading all things Canton.

My original idea in writing about what I was reading was to write before I began, so this would be a short document of my reasons and expectations for reading. Being a glutton, I finished this some time Saturday morning. Fie!

So, I write from behind.

I was somewhat anxious about this one, as aspects of Joan’s feminism as well her age places her squarely in 2nd wave territory, and all the nasty essentialist separatism that goes with it. Equally though, she is a Quaker and a microbiologist, and I would say both at very least annul any corporal nationalism inherent in a ‘feminist utopia’ based on separatism.

Still, A Door to Ocean was written in the latter days of that wave, and years before gender theory and people like Anne Fausto-Sterling, so I was prepared to experience sourness. Luckily not. It’s not as weirdly sublime as Brain Plague, but nonetheless has that same beauty, poignancy and glorious inventiveness, and characters whose personalities float around in my thoughts for weeks and months.