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MR Lost Classic Warm Worlds and Otherwise by James Tiptree, Jr. Ballantine, 1979 (reissue—paper) Star Songs ofan Old Primate by James Tiptree, Jr. Ballantine, 1978, 270 pp. (paper) Like many of the unforgettable characters created by the late science fiction writer James Tiptree, Jr., Delphi has a problem. Her brain, or at least the brain that controls her nimble little body, actuaUy belongs to a shambling hulk of genetic mismatches known as Philadelphia Burke, "The Girl Who Was Plugged In." In Tiptree's early story, "Fault," MitcheU and his wife begin to experience some provocative difficulties with time management. Dr. Aaron Kaye wants "A Momentary Taste of Being" from the sessUe aUen in the scout ship's hold but fears, rightfully, for his connection to his sister and for his Ufe. Then there's the Ul-fated crew of the Sunbird I, three men who find themselves unprepared for survival among the ostensibly more evolved human beings of Tiptree's masterpiece, "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" The stories in Warm Worlds and Otherwise and Star Songs of an Old Primate, Tiptree's second and third short- story collections, give us a teeming world of desperate characters in dire situations but very little of their author. Now and then we get a glimpse of the wizard behind the curtain, but mostly Tiptree preferred to stay weU hidden. According to friend and coUeague Ursula Le Guin, that's why Tiptree withdrew "The Women Men Don't See," from the 1974 Nebula race. He'd won the previous year for "Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death" and worried that the high profUe of a second win, especiaUy with an overtly feminist story such as "The Women Men Don't See," would raise questions he wasn't prepared to answer—because Tiptree was, in real Ufe, a woman. The creator of the fictional persona James Tiptree, Jr., and the author of "his" work was Atice Bradley Sheldon , a woman whose many talents and occupations included painting and graphic design, photo intelligence work for the army, a two-year stint as one of the founding members of the CIA, doctoral work as an experimental psychologist and, finally, writing. Tiptree went on to winthree Nebula awards, two Hugos and a Jupiter award given by the Instructors of Science Fiction in Higher Education. AU but one of those award-winning stories come from either Warm Worlds or Star Songs. When Arkham House brought out a best-of coUection in 1990, Her Smoke Rose up Forever, eleven of the seventeen stories were from these same two remarkable books. What we get in these two volumes is an artist at the dizzying height of her considerable powers, a writer whose legacy is of central importance to science fiction as a genre. "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" presages cyberpunk as a subgenre. Tiptree's influence on feminist genre work has been so powerful that the award for "fantasyorsciencefiction thatexpands or explores our understanding of gender" bears her name. Her unique blend of hard science fiction—technical stuff with spaceships and gadgets— 212 · The Missouri Review and soft science fiction—stories that ponder the philosophical, psychological and sociological implications of technology—pushed the limits of the genre in ways that writers such as Octavia Butler, Marge Piercy and Douglas Adams have buUt on with great success. Including posthumous work, Tiptree published three novels, more than seventy short stories, a coUection of poems and numerous essays, aU in less than twenty years. Ofthat rich cache of work, what remains in print and easily avaUable is her second novel, Brightness Falls from the Air, and Jeffrey D. Smith's Meet Meat Infinity, a coUection that reprints eight of Tiptree's previously uncoUected stories and the noveUa "The Color of Neanderthal Eyes," along with a wide-ranging selection of her published nonfiction. The award-winning stories and some of the others Uve on, scattered through anthologies, but not together in one place. This dearth ofin-print material makes teaching or studying Tiptree a difficult venture. A full-length biography of Tiptree by writer and scholar JuUe Phillips is due from St. Martin's Press in the spring of 2004. Here...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 212-213
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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