"Exploring Feminist Fabulations: Women's Science Fiction as Counter Science Fiction in works by Leslie F. Stone and Lilith Lorraine."

Michael, Andrew, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Olwell, Victoria, AS-English-Eng Lit Ops, University of Virginia

Recent scholarship has noted that around 450 women published science fiction professionally between the years of 1926, when Hugo Gernsback published the first dedicated science fiction magazine, and 1945, when the end of World War II brought on a new generation of women in science fiction. These women writers made up approximately 16% of the total American science fiction writing community in the first two decades of its existence. However, recent criticism has disproportionately relegated their contributions to the footnotes of science fiction history, choosing instead to favor either (1) works written by men, or (2) works written by women from 1973 until the present day.

From this larger group of female authors publishing in the early days of the American science fiction pulps, a small subset—including writers such as Clare Winger Harris, Leslie F. Stone, Lilith Lorraine, C.L. Moore, Sophie Wenzel Ellis, and L. Taylor Hansen—began to explore new, more effective ways of telling stories which challenged the very constraints that had long kept them from publishing in the genre, thus opening up new possibilities for exploring gender through narrative form.

In this essay, I explore works written by two of these authors—Leslie F. Stone and Lilith Lorraine—to make an argument for why revisiting the works of these authors from the perspective of narrative is form is critical for understanding their place in the canon.

These writers had something important to say about gender and, more importantly, used the narrative liberty found in science fiction to do so. Rather than writing explicitly about historically contemporary constructions of gender, these authors pioneered specific techniques and ideas that allowed them to challenge gender directly through both complex and subversive narrative constructions and subtle meta-textual hints that promote multiple readings of how women fit into both the genre and the wider world these stories are meant to play off of.

MA (Master of Arts)
American Science Fiction, Women and Literature, Leslie F. Stone, Lilith Lorraine, American Pulp Fiction
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