There They Go Again
June 2, 2016
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This is from Point of Vision- Celebrating Women Artists in Fantasy and Science Fiction over at Society of Illustrators:
When people think of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre they often think of it as a male-dominated field, both in authorship and art. However, women have always been a critical part of the genre, and have often brought a slightly different point of view to the way that they create around the themes of myth, heroism, science, and futurism. Mary Shelley wrote one of the first, if not the first science fiction books in Frankenstein. For every Tolkien there was an Ursula K. LeGuin. For every Frank Herbert an Octavia Butler. When we think of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art, it is often the names like Frazetta and Hildebrandt that come first to mind. However, all along through the art history of the genre you have women such as Kinuko Craft, Mary Blair, Julie Bell, and many more who have been creating their own visual worlds and illustrating the worlds of authors, filmmakers, and game designers. For the first time, the work of women in this genre will be exhibited together in Point of Vision: Celebrating Women Artists in Fantasy and Science Fiction at the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators.
I just want highlight that when most people talk about science fiction and fantasy– even people that are endeavoring to educate people about it– they jump from 19th century pioneers straight on to the New Wave era. The period of about from 1910 to 1955 or so does not register at all for some reason. Devotees of that period have no shortage of talented women to praise: grandmaster C. L. Moore for starters. Weird Tales Readers in the thirties were blown away by her stories Jirel of Joirey, for instance. The cover for the first of those, “Black God’s Kiss”, was done by Margaret Brundage whose works are synonymous with the era. The story and cover painting together received top billing as “the weirdest story ever told.”
Why then do people think of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre as a male-dominated field? Well, that view is being promulgated largely by people outside the field– the sort of people that walk past the piles of Andre Norton books at the used book stores as if they aren’t even there. The sort of people that will uncritically pass on the idea that Leigh Brackett’s Star Wars script was “discarded”.
You know, I’ve got no problem with people promoting the sort of authors and books that they like. Different strokes and all that. But leaving out the fan favorites in “a celebration of women authors and artists” is a rotten thing to do.