Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination
Part Two: Texts
PART TWO Texts Chapter 4 Joanna Russ, The Female Man Live merrily, little daughter-book, even if I can’t and we can’t; recite your- self to all who will listen; stay hopeful and wise. […] Do not complain when at last you become quaint and old-fashioned, when you grow as outworn as the crinolines of a generation ago and are classed with Spicy Western Stories, Elsie Dinsmore, and The Son of the Sheik; do not mutter angrily to yourself when young persons read you to hrooch and hrch and guffaw, wondering what the dickens you were all about. Do not get glum when you are no longer understood, little book. Do not curse your fate. Do not reach up from readers’ laps and punch the readers’ noses. Rejoice, little book! For on that day, we will be free. — Joanna (in The Female Man) Joanna Russ appreciates the use value of utopia. For her, the utopian prac- tice of imagining a better world is one means of transcending the barriers to concrete utopia, one way of rejecting and negating those aspects of our world which are not fulfilling for the great majority of humanity. In the forefront of the utopian revival of the 1970s, Russ uses the literary utopia in new and creative ways compared to what had become the model of that genre’s tradition. Not the static, reified object of a passively perfect society, but the engaged, open, critical utopia is found in the pages of The Female Man, and indeed in...
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