In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction

The title comes from a line of dialogue in ‘The Women Men Don’t See’, a short story by the late great James Tiptree Jr (aka Alice Sheldon and Raccoona Sheldon): ‘What women do is survive. We live by ones and twos in the chinks of your world-machine.’

So you thought science fiction was a boys’ own zone? Think again! In this classic work of science fiction criticism – winner, when it was first published, of a prestigious MLA award – Sarah LeFanu looks at the work of a whole range of science fiction writers and explores the fusion of a feminist political worldview with the myriad possibilities of science fictional otherworlds. With individual chapters on the work of Suzy McKee Charnas, Ursula Le Guin, Joanna Russ, and Tiptree herself, and a new preface from the author.

‘Astute and searching’ Sunday Times

‘Ranges widely with great intelligence … LeFanu has done something important for us, whoever we may be, male or female’ Locus

‘Highly readable, containing much valuable comment, not only on the four writers who figure in Part Two (Tiptree, Charnas, Le Guin and Russ) but also on many other women writers and, indeed, on the nature of SF itself’ Paperback Inferno

Buy In the Chinks of the World Machine

Sarah’s other writings on Ursula Le Guin include a re-reading of The Left Hand of Darkness (Guardian, 3/1/04) and ‘My Life with Le Guin’, reflections on forty years of reading Le Guin (80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K Le Guin, edited by Karen Joy Fowler and Debbie Notkin, Aqueduct Press, 2010).    
And on Joanna Russ: introductions to The Female Man (Easton Press), The Two of Them (Wesleyan University Press) and To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction (Indiana University Press).