Sexism in Sci Fi

I’m reading “the queen of air and darkness” by Poul Anderson, and I’m struck, certainly not for the first time, by how often science fiction authors choose not to question sexism in human society.

The job of the science fiction author, after all, is to question everything. From relativity, to the presence of non-human species, to the notion capitalism or government or whatever. But more often than not, science fiction hold on to the notion that men run Society, and women are the followers.

I just read the phrase “she’s one of the three women ever admitted to the Club” – a phrase that I expect in Dickens or Isak Dinesen or Somerset maugham, but not in futuristic science fiction.

I recognize, of course, that it’s a function of its time. Poul Anderson was writing in a time when these things seemed unquestionable. But he questioned light speed travel, and assumed that we would eventually have colonies on other planets.

It’s just fascinating to me what the human mind is capable of questioning and what it assumes as immutable fact.

This is also one of the reasons that I enjoy Tad Williams and NK Jemesin and other contemporary Sci Fi writers who do throw out all of these preconceived notions.

I wonder, though, what a reader Thirty or forty years from now will say about the writers of today, and the things that they seemed unable to challenge.