This accessible and provocative collection of science fiction acquaints readers with cutting-edge gender controversies in moral and political philosophy. By imagining future worlds that defy our most basic assumptions about sex and gender, freedom and equality, and ethical values, the anthology’s authors not only challenge traditional standards of morality and justice, but create bold experiments for testing feminist hypotheses.
Selections are grouped under four main themes. Part 1, "Human Nature and Reality," concentrates on whether there is an intrinsic difference between males and females. Here the authors inspect opposing views on five related questions: What does it mean to be human? What are women and men really like? How significant is the reproductive difference? How do we define the concepts of "woman" and "nature"? Why is language important?
Part 2, "Dystopias: The Worst of All Possible Worlds," first portrays misogynistic societies uncomfortably familiar to the early 21st-century reader. Chilling stories of future possibilities follow, including worlds where women and men separate into armies to fight a literal war of the sexes.
Part 3, "Separatist Utopias: Worlds of Difference," assembles stories that scrutinize both the virtues and vices of separatism, in order to address the questions Why should women want to separate from men? and What would and should these all-female worlds be like?
In Part 4, "Androgynous Utopias: Worlds of Equality," the authors create intriguing worlds that anticipate the consequences, good and bad, of perfect sexual equality in education, intelligence, capability, and reproduction.
With selections from such noted writers as Octavia Butler, Marion Zimmer Bradley, James Tiptree Jr., and many others, plus chapter introductions, discussion questions, and recommended reading list, this stimulating collection offers fresh insights on troubling issues by weaving controversial utopian and dystopian designs from the separate threads of opposing positions.
"This gem of an anthology compiles the history of utopian and dystopian - and, not coincidentally, feminist and antifeminist - Western philosophy rooted in Plato and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John Stuart Mill, and Nel Noddings, then provides a body of diverse work to illustrate the realization of philosophy through literature....Casual readers, feminist scholars, and teachers...will welcome this book; recommended."
"Little's anthology offers an array of classic and recent feminist science fiction short stories by both women and men that explores...the tragedies and comedies of gendered experience....I've already ordered this anthology for...'Literature by Women - Science Fiction.'"
JANE DONAWERTH, Professor of English
University of Maryland, Author of
Frankenstein's Daughters: Women Writing Science Fiction
"This compelling anthology belongs in every Science Fiction collection."
BILL CLEMENTE, Professor of English
Peru State College