Book Review: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree, Jr.

Now, I’ve done a bit of research, and apparently when you review a collection of short stories you have to review each individual story – I’m not going to do that.

And it’s not only because I’m lazy – I actually don’t want to ruin any of these beautiful stories for you. You should buy this book, I’m not joking.

James Tiptree, Jr. was probably one of the best science fiction authors to have ever written. Why am I tagging a bloke called James Tiptree, Jr. in my year of reading women? Because James Tiptree, Jr. was actually Alice Sheldon, an intelligence agent for both the USAF and the CIA, who wrote as Tiptree to protect her professional career.

“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.”  – Robert Silverberg

NOW, SPOILERS BELOW!

Tiptree’s work collected here deals with sex, and violence, and arousal, and death. From the tragic xenophobic xenophile of And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side to the story that has haunted me since childhood – although I forgot the name of the author, I always remembered Houston, Houston, Do You Read? to the sad, haunting victory of With Delicate Mad Hands. Yes, James Tiptree, Jr. was a master of titles.

I cannot recommend this collection highly enough, And Her Smoke Rose Up Forever is a beautiful, moving exploration of humanity and of real science fiction – our humanity is exposed through our non-humanity, to each other and to the aliens that we conquer and subjugate in her stories. The cold hostility of humanity toward the conquered in We Who Stole the Dream and to one another in The Screwfly Solution are breath-taking, as is the beauty found in Slow Music. 

What a beautiful collection. Equal parts terrifying, beautiful and tragic.

Glorious science fiction.

“Passing in any crowd are secret people whose hidden response to beauty is the desire to tear it into bleeding meat.” 

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One thought on “Book Review: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree, Jr.

  1. […] This review originally appeared on Chris White Writes. […]

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