One year ago today, Vonda N McIntyre died. I miss her so much. To mark the first anniversary of her death, I want to persuade you to buy a copy of her first novel, The Exile Waiting—the first thing by her I ever read—which has just been republished by Handheld Press.
The new edition of The Exile Waiting also includes extras: a juicy Afterword by Una McCormack—the perfect tool for those wanting to teach this book—plus the very first republication of Vonda’s 1972 short story, “Cages,” in which she created the strange and terrible pseudosibs.
I found The Exile Waiting when I was 19, and fell in love with it. It was my introduction to feminist SF. Here’s what I wrote about this powerful, beautifully-realised book:
The impact of The Exile Waiting on science fiction was massive but, like an iceberg, largely hidden. Today, McIntyre’s concerns—power, identity, inequity, climate, and social justice—are at the forefront of humanist SF.
One focus of this marvellous novel is disability. Written in the early 70s, it largely anticipates the later theoretical work of disability studies. I can see ways to argue that without this novel, and its companion novel, Dreamsnake, then the accompanying wave of work by Le Guin, Russ, Charnas, and Butler, there could have been no cyberpunk. (There again, as Una McCormack points out in her afterword, Samuel R Delany has already done that.)* But part of that story begins with this book.
Here’s the publisher, Kate Macdonald, talking about the novel’s importance, how much she loves the book, and why she wanted to publish it.
You can read the first chapter at Seattle Review of Books. Please do. Then buy it. Then try to wrap your head around the fact that it’s 45 years old, and still so very relevant today. After that, go read all her other brilliant work.
And after that console yourself with the fact that there is one last McIntyre novel still to read: Curve of the World, the beautiful, realistic-and-hopeful novel that you could, perhaps, call an alternate history but I prefer to think of a perhaps-it-really-was history. This fine novel, finished two weeks before Vonda died, is not yet published. But it’s out there, waiting…
*Samuel R Delany, ‘Some Real Mothers…: The SF Eye Interview, in Samuel L Delany, Silent Interview: On Language, Race, Sex, Science Fiction, and Some Comics (Hanover NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), 164-185, 177.