Friday, February 04, 2011

Letter From Hardscrabble Creek: Chasing Margaret - Chas S. Clifton

"Perhaps Margaret St. Clair felt she had given away too much in Sign of the Labrys, for her subsequent novels were not so overtly Wiccan, even though a feminist Pagan outlook continued to inform them. Despite wearing the camouflage of the male-oriented "Golden Age of Science Fiction," she had always tended to deflate the heroic ego in her stories. Her "successful" male characters, like Sam Sewell, were skeptical and humble; when more heroic, grasping types defeated them, the long-term prognosis for humanity was going to be bad. Her 1949 story "Hathor's Pets" undercut the traditional "Golden Age" female characterizations: helpless, inferior, or evil. Although the narrator's sister "was never very logical" and hardly "violated the cult of feminine delicacy," she is a product of her times: "the government-sponsored cult of feminine modesty, chastity, and brainlessness in the late 1980s had put an end to [feminine intelligence and independence]. Nowadays a woman was a cross between a dripping sponge and a vegetable." Perhaps St. Clair was prophetess enough to foresee the rise of the Religious Right and Focus on the Family."

4.5 out of 5