I might be a bit salty about having missed my CBR9 cannonball, I was REALLY close, you guys. This book was one of my close calls, and while very enjoyable was just a bit too dense for me to plow through it the way I wanted to.
I bought this on a “well, it’s cheap” whim, unfamiliar with or Sheldon, and on further reading I realized that the only story of hers (his? Theirs?) I was familiar with was written by another pseudonym of Alice’s – The screwfly solution. But one need not be familiar with the author’s work to find her biography fascinating. Her own story might be as unlikely as any of her fantasy worlds; the child of privileged parents who explored Africa in her girlhood, Sheldon’s conflicted sexuality, wild streak, and mercurial temperament made her ambiguous pen name fit well. (Even before being outed as a woman, apparently Tiptree fans wondered if he might be gay.)
Her biographer does a good job exploring Sheldon’s background and how it made her camouflage all the more convincing, with a particular attention to the struggles specific to women in each generation – Alice, her mother, and tiptree’s acolytes – while avoiding the implication that the tiptree mask was solely about gender. Sheldon seemed to want to be judged absent all the signifiers she herself embraced – woman, daughter, genre writer, and even tiptree, her own creation.