The back-to-back blogs on Bova and Nagata got me to wondering about how men and women approach science fiction. The general stereotype seems to be that hard SF is a man’s genre. See Jack Choros’ article on a recent Amazon kerfluffle here, for example. Jack Eason, reviewing Dark Beyond the Stars: A Space Opera Anthology, says, “I’m sorry to offend fifty percent of the population but it has to be said that when it comes to writing Science Fiction, it still remains a purely male domain.” This is assuming that space opera (with its tropes and clanking hardware) is actually science fiction. Checking TVTropes Mohs’ Scale again, I see it actually falls pretty far down the hardness scale and often slides into fantasy.

Carolyn Cox, responding to Eason, suggests it’s still a good idea for women SF writers to use a male pseudonym (this nearly 30 years after James Tiptree is gone from the earth). So why does this prejudice about science fiction exist?

Eason based his comments on the “shoot-em-up,” action style of space opera, noting that men always seem to do this better. He later admits to posting the review as a promotional effort for his own book, but he’s still made a real point. I tend to be a space opera fan, myself, and I think there’s a definite split in the length of action vs. the length of character-oriented scenes preferred by men vs. women in both literature and film. This means the definition of what good space opera is will vary. Maybe we need separate genres for men vs. women?

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