Non-Fiction Spotlight: Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Volume 2 (1953 to 1957), edited by Gideon Marcus

After the Hugos is before the next Hugos, so I’m continuing my Non-Fiction Spotlight project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that come out in 2022 and are eligible for the 2023 Hugo Awards. For more about the Non-Fiction Spotlight project, go here. To check out the spotlights I already posted, go here.

For more recommendations for SFF-related non-fiction, also check out this Facebook group set up by the always excellent Farah Mendlesohn, who is a champion (and author) of SFF-related non-fiction.

Some time ago, I featured Cents of Wonder: Science Fiction’s First Award Winners, an anthology which mixes reprints of largely forgotten science fiction stories with essays and commentary. Today’s featured book is another anthology in that vein, this time focussing on science fiction by women writers that has been overlooked and deserves to be rediscovered. Full disclosure: Not only is the editor a good friend of mine, but I also contributed the afterword to one of the stories in the book.

Therefore, I am pleased to welcome Gideon Marcus, editor of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Galactic Journey as well as of Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Volume 2 (1953 – 1957) to my blog today:

Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women: Volume 2

Tell us about your book.

This is the second volume in the Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women series, covering the years 1953-1957.  This was something of a high water mark for women’s participation in mid-20th Century science fiction, when there were dozens of science fiction magazines, and right after the surge in women’s participation in fanzine culture in the late ’40s and early 1950s.

There are twenty pieces in this book (19 stories and one essay) comprising some of the very best SFF output oif the mid-50s. Plus, each story is accompanied by an afterword by a modern-day creator, giving context and biographical information.

I daresay we’ve come out with a better volume than the first one, which covers 1958-1963.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a science fiction writer, a four-time Hugo Finalist, a time traveler, and a publisher. The people I work with are cooler than me. 🙂

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

By 2018, I had read dozens of great stories by women in my trek through all the period science fiction magazines. That same year, I ran across A. J. Howells, who had started up a small press to republish The Office by Fredric Brown. His experience made me realize that it’s not too hard to start a press these days. Putting two and two together, it was obvious what my first project would be: a collection of all of my favorite stories by women from the era.

Rediscovery, Volume 1, was a genuine hit, selling thousands of copies. It still sells, as a matter of fact, and it can be found in most bookstores in the US. It was inevitable that we would come out with a second volume. Since I’ve only gotten to 1967 in the Journey, this time, I had to cast backwards from 1958 for more stories, and that meant reading the ~400 stories by women published in the 1953-1957 time frame. This time, it was a group effort, as several folks joined me in the curation process.

Why did I edit Rediscovery, Volume 2? To have an excuse to read all these great stories, of course! 😉

Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?

Most of the stories in Rediscovery 2 have never been reprinted, and those that have, have not been reprinted recently. These are not the same pieces that have been anthologized over and over. These are deep cuts, but also brilliant ones, literally some of the best science fiction ever written. Many of the stories read as fresh now as they did then, and all are really good.

I’m hoping that the book rekindles interest in the era, in the authors, and in women’s contribution to science fiction.

Do you have any cool facts or tidbits that you unearthed during your research, but that did not make it into the final book?

We discovered so many interesting writers with fascinating stories, both fictional and biographical. My only regret is that the book could not be twice as long.

SFF-related non-fiction is somewhat sidelined by the big genre awards, since the Nebulas have no non-fiction category and the Best Related Work Hugo category has become something of a grab bag of anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. So why do you think SFF-related non-fiction is important?

Science fiction does not exist in a vacuum; it is part and parcel with the world in and for which it is written. I’ve gotten a much better appreciation for stories when I’ve understood the context in which they were produced. Good history is hard. I hope that Rediscovery is a nice hybrid: –introducing folks to great stories they’ve never read, and also offering a large collection of historical essays that together depict a nice historical cross-section.

Are there any other great SFF-related non-fiction works or indeed anything else (books, stories, essays, writers, magazines, films, TV shows, etc…) you’d like to recommend?

Olav and Amanda et. al. at Hugo Book Club Blog uncover interesting stuff and statistics, covering everything from the dawn of the genre to now. Marie Vibbert meticulously documented the participation of women in science fiction in magazines from the 40s onward, partial results of her work appearing in Analog.

I also recommend Fred Pohl’s The Way the Future Was, an interesting autobiography from one of classic science fiction’s more important voices.

And of course, Galactic Journey, which has many articles about the fashion, politics, and space shots of the time.

Where can people buy your book?

Literally everywhere. I strongly urge folks to buy it from their local independent bookstore and/or check it out from their local library. If the bookstore doesn’t have it, call and place an order—–-they’ll get it. Ditto, your library.

But you can also get it electronically. 🙂

Where can people find you?

Galactic Journey
Galactic Journey’s Twitter
Galactic Journey’s Instagram

Journey Press
Journey Press’ Twitter
Journey Press’ Instagram

Gideon Marcus’ website
Gideon Marcus’ Twitter

Thank you, Gideon, for stopping by and answering my questions. Do check out Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Volumes 1 and 2, because they are great anthologies that belie the claim that women did not write science fiction before [insert date here].

About Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Volume 2 (1953 – 1957):

Women write science fiction. They always have.

Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1953-1957) offers, quite simply, some of the best science fiction ever written: 20 amazing pieces, most of which haven’t been reprinted for decades…but should have been. Whether you are a long-time fan or new to the genre, you are in for a treat.

This collection of works—18 stories, 1 poem, 1 nonfiction piece—are a showcase, some of the best science fiction stories of the ’50s. These stories were selected not only as examples of great writing, but also because their characters are as believable, their themes just as relevant today, their contents just as fun to read, as when they were written almost three quarters of a century ago.

Dig in. Enjoy these newly-rediscovered delicacies a few at a time…or binge them all at once!

About Gideon Marcus:

Gideon Marcus is the founder of the Serling Award-winning and twice Hugo-nominated historical web project, Galactic Journey, Gideon Marcus is a science fiction writer and space historian. His alternate history story, “Andy and Tina,” is the lead tale in the Sidewise-nominated anthology, Tales from Alternate Earths 2. He lives in the San Diego area with his wife and their prodigy daughter as well as a matched pair of cats.


Are you publishing a work of SFF-related longform non-fiction in 2022 and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.

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