Joanna Russ is dead

Joanna Russ is dead, which is terrible and sad and depressing as hell.

Her 1972 short-story ‘When It Changed’ blew my mind when I first read it in 1979 and still makes me re-cast my eye over so many things I tend to take for granted when I re-read it today.

Her early essay, ‘Towards an Aesthetic of Science Fiction’ saved me from a life wasted arguing at cross-purposes about the merits (or otherwise) of genre fiction.

And her later essay, ‘Power and Helplessness in the Women’s Movement’ saved me from a life wasted arguing at cross-purposes about the merits (or otherwise) of power.

Her novels, especially We Who Are About To… and The Female Man, made me re-think almost everything, turned me on to feminist SF, and (with regards The Female Man especially) made me laugh out-loud, a lot.

And her book, How to Suppress Women’s Writing, is still the best (and funniest) guide to how people in power keep others powerless I’ve encountered.

None of which, unfortunately, makes it any better. Because Joanna Russ is still dead and it’s still terrible and sad and it’s still depressing as hell.

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