It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible

A few notes about the sf mistressworks meme

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The meme has been out there now for a week, and a number of people have picked up on it. This is excellent. There have also been a few comments about the books which appear on the list. So here’s something of an apologia…

Yes, there are many authors I should have included but missed – Kit Reed, for example; or Wilhelmina Baird. Mea culpa. There are also a few I have read but didn’t feel were strong enough to appear on the list. Plus many who have written more, and better, books this century than last (in several cases, it’s only their debut novel which sneaks into the tail end of the twentieth century). In fact, it’s likely a few names will even appear on both the sf mistressworks list and the 21st century sf mistressworks list…

There are a couple of books which shouldn’t be on the list, as well. Jirel of Joiry, which I’ve not read myself, is apparently fantasy, not sf. The year given is the year it first appeared in book form, according to isfdb.org. Orlando… well, the central device is fantasy inasmuch as it’s unexplained and unexplainable. But the story feels more sfnal than fantastic. Ash: A Secret History is certainly science fiction, and was even shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award.

In several cases, I perhaps didn’t pick the best-known or most highly-regarded book by an author, but instead chose one that I’d read myself. For example, Alison Sinclair’s Cavalcade was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 1999, but I’ve only read her Legacies. On the other hand, while I prefer Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness to The Dispossessed, I think the latter is a more interesting novel.

This, I hope, helps explain some of the (seemingly) odd choices in the list. But at least the meme is getting out there, at least people are spreading it across the internet. It’s changing as it spreads, but I’m perfectly happy with that. It should evolve – it was, after all, put together partly from my own taste in science fiction (and my ignorance regarding some of the authors and titles).

And if you’ve not seen it yet, it’s here.

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