I don’t normally link to reviews of SH material from here (should I?), but the Molly Gloss story we published earlier this year, “The Grinnell Method“, has picked up two excellent critical responses that deserve to be read on their own merits. Both link to Paul Kincaid’s “Widening Gyre” review at LARB.
First, Maureen Kincaid Speller has a very detailed reading of the story, followed by consideration of its generic identity, on her blog, Paper Knife:
How do we determine whether or not something is science fiction? Is it actually possible to do so any more? Indeed, is it even desirable? We can take a story like ‘The Grinnell Method’ and look at it in a number of different ways. It might be sf because its author has determined that it is and has submitted it to editors under that rubric. Equally, it might be sf because a venue that publishes sf has chosen to publish it as such (this is not quite the same thing as the author submitting it as sf). It might be sf because the reader chooses to tag it as such. Or it is sf because enough people decide that it is and some sort of ad hoc consensus is reached. Equally, it might be read as being something other than sf, and by extension, out of place in the particular venue in which it was published. But if that is so, what is it and how do we decide? And critically, does it even matter?
Meanwhile at io9, Abigail Nussbaum compares the story to Karen Joy Fowler’s “What I Didn’t See”:
Both stories, as well as Tiptree’s, are underpinned by their heroine’s awareness of the stifling narrowness of the options afforded her in a male-dominated world, and a desire to escape into something inhuman. And both stories are rooted in the unknowable. In the Fowler story, as the title itself suggests, the narrator is absent for the story’s central event, the massacre of apes instigated by her husband, who fears that if the men of the expedition aren’t given an outlet for their rage and frustration, they will turn on the Africans, and of course the mystery of the woman’s disappearance is never solved, just as the nature of the flaw in “The Grinnell Method” is never revealed. Gloss’s story has the distinction of being more science-oriented than either Fowler or Tiptree’s — where the narrator of “What I Didn’t See” is characterized by her lack of sight, Barbara is characterized by her observance — and more overtly fantastic, but the lines of similarity are nevertheless there.