Thursday, February 13, 2014

Judith Merril. Survival Ship and Other Stories (1973)

     Judith Merril. Survival Ship and Other Stories (1973) Merril’s selection of her own stories, published in Canada. The title story proposes the then daring notion that women are a) better suited to running a starship; and b) that the few men they bring along are their sex toys and inseminators. Several other stories deal with gender roles and relations, an issue that must have bothered Merril, who had three husbands, all SF writers, and all (judging from the limited biographical knowledge I have) rather immature when it came to gender roles.
     Still, the stories are all interesting, as much as a reminder of the themes that exercised the SF writers of the 60s and 70s, most of whom did not write space opera or hi-tech action pulp, but preferred to speculate on variations on human cultural notions and values. Merril was also a better than average imaginer of aliens, and her stories about human-alien contact are all worth reading. The saddest is about a race of humanoid giants who love all lifekind as a child does, just because it’s there. But when they come out of stasis and begin to make contact with the (very low-ranking) pilot who is moving the ship towards the docking station, the military man in charge of the operation gives the signal to destroy the ship, aliens and human and all. **½ (2010)

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