Tuesday, August 21, 2007

James Tiptree Jr.

I just finished James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips. I highly recommend it. Sheldon was a woman who used not only the pen-name of Tiptree but created a separate male identity through which she befriended a great number of fellow writers, notably Ursula Le Guin. Her (his) fiction won Hugo and Nebula awards, and Harlan Ellison, William Gibson, and many others raved about her (his) work. Once the secret was discovered--that Tiptree was a sixtyish female--the community generally accepted and welcomed her. But her self-hatred as an "old woman" seemed to interfere with her writing from then on. Sheldon was a feminist who was born too early, and she was depressed as well as defiant her whole life. She ended up shooting her husband and herself to death when she was 71.

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