However there is lots of diversity and variety within this genre Although the

However there is lots of diversity and variety within

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one or two of these characteristics. However, there is lots of diversity and variety within this genre. Although the first science fiction novel, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818), was written by a woman, the genre of science fiction has been totally dominated by male writers. The science fiction genre prior to 1960s was completely dominated by male authors. Their heroes were mainly men trying to avoid their assigned responsibilities. Joanna Russ states that prior to the feminist utopias of the sixties and seventies women were considered by writers as “the other.” She has explained the point saying: …and the other does not have the kind of inner life or consciousness that you and I ha ve. In fact, the other has no mind at all…. No other ever has the motives that you and I have; the other contains a mysterious essence, which causes it to behave as it does; in fact ‘it’ is not a person at all, but a projected wish or fear. (83) At that time, women were traditionally far from scientific and technological fields. Jules Verne (1828-1905) and H.G. Wells (1866-1946), the pioneers of this genre, had no place for women in their fantasies. Women in other writers’ fantasies were just stereotypes of the existing society. The Science fiction genre gives women freedom regarding the style of writing as well as content. Sarah Lefanu states in Feminism and Science fiction (1988) that Science Fiction: ‘breaks down the traditional hierarchies between writers and readers, and challenges the conventional authority of the single author’ (6). Therefore, women writers try to make the best use of Science fiction as a useful tool for examining society’s conceptions and traditional norms of gender and sexuality. Sarah Lefanu asserts that Science fiction gives freedom to writers more than any other literary genre: Unlike other forms of genre writing, such as detective stories and romance, which demand the reinstatement of order and thus can be described as ‘closed’ texts; Science fiction is by its nature interrogative and open. (100) Women writers in the utopian literature of the 19th and early 20th century, at the time of first wave Feminism, often wrote about gender and sexism. Both Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s
30 Herland ( 1915) and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928) belong to the first wave of feminism because of calling for woman’s rights. During the 1920s, women writers such as Clare Winger Harris (1891-1968) and Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883-1848) produced science fiction works based on female perceptions. After World War II, women writers entered science fiction and achieved a radical change in this genre as they present new topics they could not discuss in their real life. This is referred to by Jeanne Gomoll in Women of Other Worlds , who states: For feminist churning a revolution in the midst of patriarchal institutions, Science fiction offers the space to imagine what new institutions, relationships and cultures might look like when women and men stand equal, with the same opportunities to conduct their work and their relationships. (6) Feminist science fiction novels depict a utopian society free from gender issues and oppression. The writing of utopian fiction almost disappeared after World War II. As a reaction to this terrible war, dystopias, like G eorge Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four (1948), began to dominate the genre. The appearance of new utopian writings by American writers in the late

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