The Mistressworks Meme

Came across the female equivalent of an SF masterworks list, the Mistressworks Meme, via the backlist of Galactic Suburbia podcasts.

As I went down the list, I was struck by two things: First, I haven’t even heard of a lot of these authors or their books. Out of 96 titles on the list, I’ve read 13 and have been trying to find copies of 8 for a while now. Second, I’m angry that there are a number of cases where Hugo/Nebula winners by female authors have been out of print for decades (Dreamsnake, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang), whereas award winners by their male counterparts are perennials on store shelves. It pisses me off that the history of women in literature often seems to be written on sand, disappearing in each era so people can make the tired old case that women are either newcomers or are just not as good.

One thing I really like about the Galactic Suburbia podcast, aside from offering lots of great recs and commentary, is that one of the podcast’s creators is doing a complete survey of women in Australian SF, and one of the things she’s looking at is the gap between the number of women being published in a given year and the number of mentions they get in everything from best-of-year roundups to acknowledgment sections in books: the ways that they have historically been erased from the conversation. And it becomes clear that one of the internet’s gifts to feminism is that both the original works and the conversations about them don’t have to go out of print anymore, which makes it easier for women to draw on continuity and remain part of the dialogue. So right now I’m both angry and hopeful.

And very grateful to work for the Jewish Women’s Archive, where this use of the internet is part of our core values.


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