Gideon Marcus is joining us today to talk about the anthology he edited, Rediscovery 2. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Women write science fiction. They always have.
Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1953-1957) offers, quite simply, some of the best science fiction ever written: 20 amazing pieces, most of which haven’t been reprinted for decades…but should have been. Whether you are a long-time fan or new to the genre, you are in for a treat.
This collection of works-18 stories, 1 poem, 1 nonfiction piece-is a showcase, some of the best science fiction stories of the ’50s. These stories were selected not only as examples of great writing, but also because their characters are as believable, their themes just as relevant today, their contents just as fun to read, as when they were written almost three quarters of a century ago.
Dig in. Enjoy these newly-rediscovered delicacies a few at a time…or binge them all at once!
What’s Gideon’s favorite bit?
Even better, I have no idea what to expect.
At Galactic Journey, we review science fiction as it comes out. Big deal, you say. Lots of folks do that. It’s true.
But we’re the only ones who are time travelers!
For us, it’s currently April 1967, and we’ve been writing reviews since 1958. Every other day for the past decade, we’ve put out an article covering the science fiction magazines, books, shows, movies, comics, etc. of the day (and other stuff, too, but mostly SF). These stories are all new to me, even though they came out more than a half-century ago, and I get to enjoy them with fresh eyes.
Journey Press was an outgrowth of Galactic Journey. We had read so many great stories by women, authors who had largely disappeared from our collective memory. It was perhaps inevitable that we would produce an anthology of our favorite works. Thus, Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963) was born.
The process for curating the stories for Rediscovery was easy. All we had to do was take the best-rated pieces from the last six years of Journey articles, pick for a good thematic balance, and presto – a representative sample of SF’s Silver Age.
Rediscovery 2 was a bit harder.
We’d always planned for Rediscovery to be a series. The problem was, if we waited for Galactic Journey to get through the next five years before we selected stories for the next volume, it’d be another six years before it went to press. Folks wanted more Rediscovery sooner than that. So we did the obvious thing: we went backwards.
1953-57 was the heyday for magazine-based science fiction. There were nearly forty periodical publications coming out monthly/bimonthly/quarterly. It also marked the highwater mark for a long time for women’s participation in science fiction. With so many magazines hungry for content, the barriers to entry were much lower. Plus, women had gotten into fandom in a big way in the era just preceding, and the backlash to women “intruding” into a largely masculine domain did not climax until later in the decade.
So we had plenty of material to choose from. 350 stories. Talk about a bonanza!
We often hear about the lousy job of the slush reader, who has to wade through hundreds of submissions to find the one good story fit to print. I got to be a slush reader for whom every story was one good enough to be published. Instead of a 100:1 bad to good ratio, I had a 5:1 good to bad ratio!
That was a fun summer of reading.
I learned so much about this classic world of science fiction that summer. I got to explore the prime of Margaret St. Clair’s career, who, writing as “Idris Seabright”, penned some of the most peculiar and haunting SF ever to grace the pages of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I revisited the work of Evelyn E. Smith, who wrote some of the best pieces that appeared in Galaxy’s amazing first half-decade. I discovered the pre-“Seth” career of SF-writer-turned-spiritualist Jane Roberts, who wrote with a wry bitterness that seared the page. I marveled at the brilliance of the first story by Madeleine L’Engle, who hit one out of the park long before she ever sold the first Wrinkle in Time book.
I also discovered names I’d never heard before: Ruth M. Goldsmith, who penned just two stories before moving on to other pastures, of which “Moonshine” was a touching, comedic wonder that we had to include; Hungarian-born Garen Drussaï, who wrote a few pieces for F&SF, then disappeared, but left us the sly vignette, Women’s Work, as part of her legacy; April Smith, about whom we know virtually nothing, save that her “Birthright” is one of the most poignant stories of the classic era.
There were other names, too. Some familiar, like Mari Wolf, whom I’d only known through her fan column in Imagination; Doris Pitkin Buck, who’d already appeared in the first volume of Rediscovery, but whose work was so good that we chose an earlier story of hers for the second; Carol Emshwiller: the writing half of the author/artist married duo. Others were completely new to me: Thelma D. Hamm, whose work always had a touch of horror; and Alice Eleanor Jones, whose “Miss Quattro” was anything but horrific. Miriam Allen DeFord, Leah Bodine Drake, Leigh Brackett, Ann Warren Griffith–all wrote compelling works we had to include, making this volume half again as long as our first one.
That doesn’t even count all the others, women like Kitty Marcuse, Mildred Clingerman, and Shirley Jackson, who all wrote fine pieces, but for whom we simply didn’t have the room. Maybe if we cover the same period in a later volume…
And then, of course, there are all the wonderful current authors who offered up contextualizing afterwords for these tales, each worthy pieces in and of themselves.
Getting to meet, through their writings, all of these amazing authors, was my favorite bit in making Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women, Volume 2 (1953-1957)…next to getting to share it with all of you, of course!
Gideon lives in San Diego with his writer/editor wife, their polymath artist daughter, a California King snake, and their keeper, a gray cat named Anthy.