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September 15, 2008 / schulerbooks

SCI-FI ESSENTIALS: The Female Man by Joanna Russ

Each month, Schuler Books and Music Eastwood selects a volume of classic science fiction worthy of note and attention and puts it on special display with a limited time discount of 20%.

“I raked him gaily on the neck and chin and when he
embraced me in rage, sank my claws into his back.
You have to build up the fingers surgically so they’ll take the strain.
A certain squeamishness prevents me from using my teeth in front of witnesses
-the best way to silence an enemy is to bite out his larynx.”

So says Jael, one of the four women who’s lives intersect interdimensionally in Joanna Russ’ groundbreaking work of feminist science fiction, The Female Man.

Across parallel worlds living alternate lives, four women are brought together: Jeanine, a librarian awaiting marriage in a world where the Great Depression never ended; Janet, citizen of a world without men; Jael, a cybernetic soldier on the frontline of a literal gender war; and Joanna, a feminist in the seventies just trying to get ahead. The result of their meeting is a groundbreaking feminist novel that both broke the “Boys Club” rules of science fiction. Joanna Russ, award-winning contemporary of Samuel R. Delany and inspiratrice of proto-cyberpunk author William Gibson, was one of the leading voices of socially relevant literature in the ’60s and ’70s. The Female Man shows science fiction’s power at it’s strongest: in its ability to explore abstract ideas as concrete realitites.

-Greg Baldino, Eastwood Towne Center


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