Since 2011 Lethe Press has published Heiresses of Russ, a collection of the best lesbian speculative fiction published in the past year. Self described as:
stories about lesbians, women who choose women as primary partners, lovers, playmates, and co-conspirators,
this is a collection of speculative fiction that seeks to intentionally queer the genre. The annual publication honors the late Joanna Russ (1937-2011) and her contributions to queer feminist speculative fiction. An open lesbian throughout her adult life, Russ is one of the pioneers of feminist science fiction criticism. She pushed for the genre to be radical and wholly unlike the science fiction written by men.
I have not read any of Joanna Russ’ work, though both her fiction and feminist criticism have been on my to read list for over a year (especially her novel, The Female Man, and her satirical nonfiction How to Suppress Women’s Writing). Now that I have a copy of Heiresses of Russ 2013, I have the opportunity to read the product of her legacy as well as her original work.
As I continue to read books by women for a year, I’m looking forward to discovering favorite female characters from short stories, especially the female characters who carve their own queer feminist space.