Merrick boldly goes where no ... academician has gone before and brings back an entertaining tale of women writers, editors, publishers and fans. You'll meet a lot of wonderfully outspoken women in this book, writers, critics and, critically, fans. It's SF convention girl-gossip channeled by a university scholar. The results are bracing, well-informed, and sort of shocking. Literature and feminism entwined in an unusual manner in that primordial soup. What emerged was, not surprisingly, sort of magical.
What's interesting to more general readers is the existence of an intensely active, intensely intelligent literary, cultural and sexual discussion taking place in the back waters of a genre that many think begins and ends with, as U2 calls them, ''Stories for Boys.'' --Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column
I really enjoyed this. It's a wonderfully thorough, analytical, and inclusive account, sure to become an indispensable resource. Better than that, it's a terrific read. Here you'll find everything you always wanted to know about women in fandom, women in publishing, women as writers. . . with the added value that the snippets of tasty vintage gossip are woven into a rich fabric of discourse. Helen Merrick's style is unassuming yet authoritative; she manages to be a scholar and an entertainer at the same time. Years ago, I read Women of Other Worlds, edited by Helen Merrick and Tess Williams, and was impressed. The Secret Feminist Cabal is more demanding, an ambitious project, but equally successful: this is a fine book. --Gwyneth Jones, author of White Queen
The Secret Feminist Cabal is an extended answer to the question Helen Merrick asks in her introduction: ''why do I read feminist sf?'' In this wide-ranging cultural history we are introduced to a multiplicity of sf feminisms as Merrick takes readers on a tour of the early days of sf fandom, tracks the upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s and the explosions of feminist sf in the 1970s, and contextualizes subsequent developments in feminist sf scholarship. Her history is expansive and inclusive: it ranges from North America to the UK to Australia; it tells us about readers, fans, and academics as well as about writers, editors, and publishers; and it examines the often uneasy intersections of feminist theory and popular culture. Merrick brings things up to date with considerations of feminist cyberfiction and feminist science and technology studies, and she concludes with an intriguing review of the Tiptree Award as it illuminates current debates in the feminist sf community. Broadly informed, theoretically astute, and often revisionary, The Secret Feminist Cabal is an indispensable social and cultural history of the girls who have been plugged into science fiction. --Vernoica Hollinger, ed. Edging into the Future
About the Author
Helen Merrick is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Media, Culture, and Creative Arts at Curtin University, Western Australia. She has published widely on feminism, science fiction, and science studies and is on the editorial boards of several academic journals. She co-edited the acclaimed Women of Other Worlds: Excursions through Science Fiction and Feminism
and is the co-author of a book on Donna Haraway, forthcoming from Columbia University Press. She lives in Western Australia.