Futurism, This is why we can't have nice things

When a review of an anthology ignores all the women in it

You’re probably tired of hearing me bang on about the Hieroglyph anthology. But one of the reasons I’ve talked about it and promoted it so tirelessly is because I had a great time participating in it. A large part of my enjoyment had to do with the talent, patience, and confidence of my editor, Kathryn Cramer. When I was procrastinating because I was afraid of “not being optimistic enough,” or “not living up to Neal’s vision,” or “not accomplishing the goal of the project,” Kathryn calmly told me to follow my instincts. That whatever fiction arose would be ours to work on, not just mine to salvage. In other words, she did what all good editors are supposed to do: be patient, be firm, believe in the writer, and read carefully. It was one of the best editorial experiences I’ve ever had. A damn sight better than some others I could mention.

That’s why I’m so disappointed to see that this review by Paul Voosen of the anthology in the Chronicle of Higher Education didn’t mention Kathryn once.

Oh, and the reviewer forgot to mention any of the other women. At all. Not me. Not Elizabeth Bear. Not Vandana Singh. Not Annalee Newitz. Not Charlie Jane Anders. Not Brenda Cooper. Not Kathleen Ann Goonan. Our content constitutes a good of half of the anthology, and yet no mention is made of our contributions. Judging by the review, the only optimistic vision of the future Voosen believes in is the one where men dominate the conversation.

Now, granted, most of the review also discusses the awesome event we had with Slate and the New America Foundation, called “Can We Imagine Our Way to A Better Future?” Myself, Kathryn, Kathleen, Elizabeth, and Vandana all participated, as did numerous other women in the technology and media fields. None of our participation is mentioned in the review of our event. In fact, Voosen highlights my mention of Peter Watts’ name during our discusson of surveillance politics (and Watts’ disagreement with David Brin on the idea of a transparent society), without once mentioning my name. Hey, Paul. I gave you that talking point. You’re welcome.

I suppose this could be interpreted as me arguing with a bad review, which is a terrible thing to do because it wastes everyone’s time and energy, especially with one’s own. But as my work and my contributions — and those of all the other women involved — were summarily ignored, there’s no review to argue with. I know that some people enjoyed my story, while others didn’t. I know somee people enjoyed my panel, and others didn’t. Even those that disagreed with me were gracious enough to acknowledge my presence and start a conversation afterward.

Wish I could say the same about The Chronicle of Higher Education.

2 thoughts on “When a review of an anthology ignores all the women in it

  1. I don’t interpret this as you arguing with a bad review, because you aren’t taking umbrage with a claim made by the reviewer. The review is kind of a slipshod mess and I might take a swing at it. But that it doesn’t address any of the contributions by woman, and that CC Finlay had to prod them into acknowledging the female co-editor? That is utterly fair to point out on your part. Thank you for writing about it.

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