Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

Summary:

These 18 darkly complex short stories and novellas touch upon human nature and perception, metaphysics and epistemology, and gender and sexuality, foreshadowing a world in which biological tendencies bring about the downfall of humankind. Revisions from the author's notes are included, allowing a deeper view into her world and a better understanding of her work. The Nebula Award–winning short story Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death, the Hugo Award–winning novella The Girl Who Was Plugged In, and the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning novella Houston, Houston, Do You Read? are included.

The stories of Alice Sheldon, who wrote as James Tiptree Jr. ( Up the Walls of the World ) until her death in 1987, have been heretofore available mostly in out-of-print collections. Thus the 18 accomplished stories here will be welcomed by new readers and old fans. ''The Screwfly Solution'' describes a chilling, elegant answer to the population problem. In ''Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death,'' the title tells the tale--species survival insured by imprinted drives--but the story's force is in its exquisite, lyrical prose and its suggestion that personal uniqueness is possible even within biological imperatives. ''The Girl Who Was Plugged In'' is a future boy-meets-girl story with a twist unexpected by the players. ''The Women Men Don't See '' displays Tiptree's keen insight and ability to depict singularity within the ordinary. In Hugo and Nebula award-winning ''Houston, Houston, Do You Read?'' astronauts flying by the sun slip forward 500 years and encounter a culture that successfully questions gender roles in ours.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

I have very mixed feelings about these stories.  I couldn’t finish the book, but I did find some of the books extremely interesting and though-provoking.  All of the books creeped me out at some level, I just got to the point where I couldn’t handle the creepiness any more.  They all have quite dark tones that I think was not communicated well in the summary preview.

Those with stronger tolerances will love the mixture of stories and what they address.  Although all have a feminist theme, I don’t think they’re in the “traditional” sense, but rather challenge role stereotypes and the approach to how society operates.  I would read more of Tiptree’s stories if I came across them in the future, but I don’t think I’ll seek them out any time soon.

Warning: Contains repeated violence and sexual content.

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Science fiction fiends that are willing to go a little more out there than “mainstream” science fiction.