James Tiptree, a pseudonym for feminist science fiction writer Alice Sheldon, is one of those authors that feels like a secret treasure just for those genre fans in the know. Her influence can be seen far in wide in authors as diverse as Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin and Robert Reed. Few authors have been able to combine the wonder of science and technology with the raw emotion and bleak social commentary that made Tiptree a favorite among science fiction authors. If you’ve never read James Tiptree, here are the essential short stories you should run out now and read!
“Houston, Houston, Do You Read?”
The classic tale of a spaceship and its three male crew members discover a horrifying new world after their ship is lost during a solar storm.
“Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death”
A spider like creature on an alien planet tries to resist his natural urges to mate and kill, “the Plan”, that only increase as winter comes.
“The Screwfly Solution”
An unknown pathogen is causing sexual urges in human males to turn into violent acts in this harrowing story of gender roles, morality and societal decay.
“The Girl Who Was Plugged In”
In a future where product placement by celebrities allows coporations to rule daily life, a teenage girl becomes a media sensation when she takes over the body of a beautiful artificial being.
“Beyond the Dead Reef”
A man visiting the Yucatan Peninsula meets another traveler who tells him the story of a strange scuba diving experience he had in a place where the reef seems to wither and die.
James Tiptree, Jr: The double life of Alice B. Sheldon
A bigoraphy of Sheldon’s tumoltuous and triumphant life, including her rocky marriage, unconventional sexuality and tragic suicide. Few works of fiction contain as many twists and turns as Sheldon’s real life adventures.