Why, you may ask, am I so interested in the issue of women in speculative fiction? Three reasons, basically. One, a better representation of women in the genre that I like makes for better stories for me to read. Two, I have two daughters, one of whom reads speculative fiction (the other of which is only 7 months old, and so doesn't read anything yet), and I want them both to be exposed to strong and realistic female characters in the fiction they read, to make up for the lack (or, ideally, to support the existence) of strong female figures in the non-fiction they may encounter. Three, my dissertation topic focuses on the political actions of women at the end of WWII - I am basically interested in stories of strong women where ever I find them.
Second thing. The Help - I reviewed it a while back, it's currently on Amazon's best seller list (because of the movie which has just come out), I enjoyed it a lot, and I know several of you enjoyed it too. The Association of Black Women Historians would like to remind us all that The Help is a work of fiction:
It is, of course, possible to respond to this statement with indignation - "I really liked the book, how can you say such mean things about it" - but that is unproductive, I think. Ideally, if you enjoyed the book, it should make you interested in looking at other representations of the period in question. To that end, I am glad that the ABWH has provided some additional reading, both fiction and non-fiction.
From my facebook friends list over the weekend:
Oh, wait, one more thing! Here's this thing about independent book stores, thriving in this painfully thin economy. Couple of thoughts - the article is spot on about starting book groups in big box stores. My wife and I organized a small group in our local big box, back in VA. Despite enthusiastic buy in from one of the PR folks, and the fact that my wife worked in the store, we never got signs, we couldn't guarantee access to a space to meet, there was no official recognition, or support (no 20% off the book the group is reading, or anything like that). Bah. Second - my parents just did a book promotion thing. (Did I mention that my parents have written a book? They totally did - Chinese Characters, a collection of informative e-mails from their year teaching in China. It's pretty cool!) They couldn't get access to big box stores, but our little local bookstore gave them space, put books on the shelves, advertised the event - it was a good time! Independent bookstores for the win!