SUMMARY Star Songs of an Old Primate
By death THE PSYCHOLOGIST WHO WOULDN'T DO AWFUL THINGS TO RATS Dr Tilly Lipsitz hated his name loved his rats and Songs of an MOBI #9734 would be out of a job if he didn't come up with a real zinger of an experiment soon He didn't have much in mind until he took a midnight trip to his lab and learned than he would have thought possible SHE WAI. This was a great collection of stories by Tiptree As well as shorts there is a novella A Momentary Taste of Being which starts off like a normal colonisation tale with a ship looking for planets to colonise to relieve pressure from an Earth creaking at the seams but becomes something much darkerHouston Houston Do you read is a story that s stayed with me for some time after reading telling the story of three astronauts who get bumped forward in time by a few hundred years and the world they return to while Her Smoke Rose Up Forever shows flash points in the protagonists life as he is forced to relive them again and againThese stories do show Tiptree at her finest and while The Psychologist Who Wouldn t do Awful Things to Rats may not be the most subtle of pieces it s still an excellent story in an excellent collection
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TS FOR ALL MEN BORN she had eyes that could not see but without sight she had powers that went far beyond those of all who came upon herContentsYour Haploid Heart And So On and So On Her Smoke Rose Up Forever A Momentary Taste of Being Houston Houston Do You Read The Psychologist Who Wouldn't Do Awful Things to Rats She Waits for All Men Born. Read for the LGBT Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge and the Collections Reading Challenge at Worlds Without End Two of the novellas in this collection were also counted towards similar but not the same reading challengesJames Tiptree Jr was the pseudonym of Alice Sheldon who traveled extensively in her childhood joined the CIA in her adulthood during the McCarthy era and resigned in the mid 50s to study experimental psychology This gave her what I m sure was a uniue perspective on life and it shines through in her stories I think I m in love with her partially because there s an apocryphal story that she was nominated for a Hugo that she turned down in part because as Ursula K Le Guin points out in her introduction one of the keenest subtlest minds in science fiction wrote It has been suggested that Tiptree is female a theory that I find absurd for there is to me something ineluctably masculine about Tiptree s writing I don t think the novels of Jane Austen could have been written by a man the stories of Ernest Hemingway by a woman And many if not most of the stories in this collection certainly challenge the nature and role of gender along with the nature and role of what it is to be human Men are likely to find it particularly challenging but women will be challenged tooThis collection contains a few her most highly acclaimed works including Her Smoke Rose Up Forever A Momentary Taste of Being and Houston Houston Do You Read Links are provided to two of these which are novellas that I wrote independent reviews forI discovered this obscure little paperback in the wonderful bookstore that I work at Expressions in Time which is a great place to discover unusual and hard to find books But I snatched it up right away because by this time I had heard so much about Tiptree that I fully realized what a treasure I had discovered I was intrigued by the uniue cover image also and had pretty much accepted it was one of those weird whimsical sorts of covers they slapped onto sci fi books published in the late 70s when it was finally revealed that no the cover did indeed relate to the stories in the book and was uite relevantI described Tiptree s writing on one of the Worlds Without End message boards as lightning prose of the highest order I loved this collection so much that I found myself resenting one of my favourite authors David Weber for writing such a ridiculously long book The Shadow of Saganami because I d borrowed it from the library and therefore had to finish it first Many if not most of the stories are mind blowing Most of them are also which is something other reviewers don t seem to mention with Tiptree disturbingly creepy I cannot emphasize enough how creepy As a matter of fact I am certain that Tiptree is one of the many classic sci fi authors who influenced the writing of Stephen King One of these stories The Psychologist Who Wouldn t Do Awful Things to Rats has direct parallels in one of the stories that appears in Night Shift go ahead and read them both and see if you can spot which oneThat story by the way was the only one in the whole book that I didn t like first of all because of the horrific images of animal experimentation of the part of psychology students which I have no doubt was informed by Tiptree s experience as an experimental psychology student shudder and secondly because I don t think I really got it I m not sure what exactly has happened at the end of the story nor why the viewpoint character is doing what he does I have a couple of guesses but I don t know which one it is and I suppose that was probably Tiptree s goal but I find it frustratingDo I recommend this collection Actually I would call it an essential read for anyone who has any interest at all in the roots and development of science fiction and one you ll enjoy thoroughly if you love the genre like I do Please do yourself a favour and read it
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Of an PDF #203 A marvelous medley of Tiptree's best YOUR HAPLOID HEART When Ian Suitlov and Pax Patton landed on Esthaa to check for humans the job wasn't as easy as it appeared Though the natives seemed human enough only Star Songs eBook #211 cross breeding would be conclusive proof But how were they to prove anything when sex was punishable. James Tiptree Jr or Alice Sheldon as she was known when publishing psychology papers instead of science fiction stories is one of the best of an innovative era for the form beginning to publish right at the cusp of the 60s and 70s Whether originally intended or incidental her choice of a male pseudonym allowed her uncommon approaches to uestions of gender and identity so that many of her short works simultaneously subtly satirize male literary gaze while gracefully exploring the changing gender politics of her time with an insight that often extends past their occasional datedness and into ours At the same time she wrote with a great stylistic and conceptual fluidity turning on a dime from imitation adventure tropes of her chosen form to modernist subjectivity and deep conceptual dislocation and expansion Her stories then are some of the best SF can offer Thoroughly thoughtful and usually experimental often unabashedly embracing the sheer alienness and fantasy the form promises while exploring timely concerns and never completely ignoring the essentially pulp entertainment that the form is built on even if only to toy with it This does not hold her back She is non literary by normal definition too gleefully sci fi for some but much sharper than much of that morass of mediocrity that makes up all too much literary fiction todayThis was her third collection 1978 but it draws from across her productive period up to that point around two novellas that were also published separately By storyYour Haploid Heart 1969 A relatively earlier example and it shows in an action forward compression that favors rapid plot development over elegance The breathless pace works alright though as there s a lot crammed into here psychosexual hang ups what it means to be human the consideration of genetic crossover if there are in fact other human populations in the universe and reproductive strategies that exist on earth but are under utilized by higher organisms And So On And So On 1971 An and a slighter example The subject here is the necessity of new frontiers to sustain intelligent life s development and perhaps civilization s integrity which makes it a short companion to Delaney s much greater expansion of these ideas in The Star Pit By arranging it as essentially a chorus of voices by ambiguous speakers in a context that only appears by suggestion Tiptree allows the themes and meanings to seep out upon the reader s awarenessHer Smoke Rose Up Forever 1974 After those introductory pieces we start to get into the meat of the collection Here emotional memory as flashes of disembodied light above a vast and devastated landscape This is a great example of Tiptree s affinity for complex formalthematic progression within a single story Initially we seem to be in the deceptive vernacular Americana of a kind of Boy s Adventure Story but this is uickly unsettled by fever dream high concept pseudo science not so fringe British parapsychologist Whately Carrington social shifts intimations of the final Ending that extends beyond the last page of many Tiptree stories and something like tragedy in thematic and narrative dissection of human emotion All in 20 pages It s not for nothing that this story leant its title to the omnibus edition of her stories that came out after her deathA Momentary Taste of Being 1975 As the longest centerpiece novella here at a full 100 pages this could have been published as a stand alone honestly I saved this one nearly for last For that reason only I d been feeling that this collection was a bit weaker than Tiptree s others But no it s all here Subtly developing a direly believably version of the space colonization is the only way out for an overcrowded earth plot we see the best the human race has to offer pulled together in a last collective effort to find a new habitable world And at the threshhold of success we see the corrupting power of possibility and the ways in which we can fall apart But what is human Our selfish or sectionalist fallibility or our sometimes greater collective drive towards some great success or meaning The answers here are not simple and are finely recalibrated throughout only to take a completely original turn by the end It s one of Tiptree s best and essential sci fi reading in general Houston Houston Do You Read 1976 This was actually my original Tiptree introduction as a stand alone novella with a Joanna Russ novella reading from the reverse end of the book It s structurally and thematically a pretty straight forward analysis of gender politics in the present and the implications of a post male future world related perhaps to Russ The Female Man a couple years earlier but in a less experimental format Still she uses psychotropic elements elegantly and conveys her concepts with effective economyThe Psychologist Who Wouldn t Do Awful Things to Rats 1976 I used to work in animal behavior In the spectrum of neuroscience lab jobs I preferred behavior specifically because it allowed me to deal usually with living animals and in the case of my work healthy ones as well So I can empathize with the protagonist here who is too soft to do proper psychology studies with his rats ie terrorizing them then chopping up their endocrine systems and cerebellums or whatever As a psychologist herself Tiptree must have valued animal studies but here seems to be urging that empathy specifically is not a frivolous or wasted feeling to have towards one s animal co workers And what she s actually advancing here enriched environments over sterile cages access to nesting materials and conditions designed to minimize stress as much as possible was actually just catching on as uantitatively better for behavioral study by the time she wrote this fortunately Here however the cautionary turns hallucinatory then shifts darker It s of a pointed polemic than most of Tiptree s so the highlight for me is the drawing of various common rat behaviors of no interest to institutional research reviewfunding boards Yep those are all too familiar to me as well and in fact we did use some as behavioral indices in my time afterall ProgressShe Waits for All Men Born 1976And at last as a coda a pulp poetically refined reflection on the deathlife dialogue that drives evolution and cultural development onto ever greater peaks And on the inescapable flipside troughs Tiptree playful as she may be retains a very bleak overarching worldview and sense of the indifferent forces shaping life and the universe