I'd like to talk a bit about a feminist utopia written in 1905 called Sultana's Dream by Rokheya Sakhawat Hossain. This short story is set in a place called "Ladyland," where men are behind the purdah and women run the country much better than men ever did.
In this role-reversal fantasy, men are kept confined to the inner courtyards and kitchens, crime is eliminated (since dudes were the one who were creating all the trouble, obviously) and women are doing fantastically well, thank you for asking. Working in laboratories and flying planes, the women in Sultana's Dream are charming, reaching far higher than women in 1905 were deemed capable of—and then the dream ends. The story is jarring in many ways, especially when you realize the women feel so little about confining men, thinking of them as lesser beings. Hossain has the last laugh when learn this unease does what it is supposed to: make us question power inequalities in gender relations, and how little things have changed in the last century or so.
Here at the library, we're spending the summer reading feminist sci-fi. We'll be meeting in Portland to discuss Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy on June 21st. Then we'll be discussing Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler on August 16th. If you're in Portland, come to our book clubs! If you can't be here in person, perhaps you'll consider joining us from afar as we read some of the staples in feminist science fiction.
What are your feminist sci-fi picks? Let us know in the comments!