Boldly to go where no man.., the feminist science fiction of Joanna Russ.

Thumbnail Image
Glanfield, Ross Edward
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Joanna Russ is a gifted writer whose works expose the folly of the dominant paradigm in science fiction, a patriarchal society which subverts female development. My thesis examines Russ's development as a writer, her innovative and heuristic approach to science fiction, and her feminist convictions. To trace the development of Russ's works I will examine the characteristics and qualities of science fiction and adventure fantasy, their relationship to one another, and how they differ from conventional fiction. I will then apply those principles to Russ's "Alyx stories" as they develop from fantasy to science fiction, becoming more sophisticated and critical. Picnic on Paradise (1968) heralds Russ's arrival as an author of science fiction. As a feminist entering a predominantly male genre, Russ established a foundation for later feminist writers via her critical approach to mainstream ideology and her intelligent alternatives to conventional gender roles. By detechnologizing science fiction and incorporating feminist issues in her plot and characterization she brought the women's movement into science fiction. Russ's most provocative novel, The Female Man (1975), examines the difficulties of constructing a workable feminism for women of differing backgrounds and interests. She exposes the socialized self-denial and isolation used to divide women's groups and proposes a humanistic approach to feminism which subverts stagnant patriarchal conventions.