The Women of Solaris

Solaris Books are a relatively new British SF & F imprint whose output includes a number of anthology titles. In particular they have produced a series of flagship volumes proudly bearing their name.
The Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction edited by George Mann ran to three volumes, but appears to have now been rebranded Solaris Rising New Science Fiction for the latest volume under editor Ian Whates.  Mann also edited The Solaris Book of New Fantasy.  That’s a lot of New work there, 81 stories in total of which just 10 are by women.

Oh yes, The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction by Boys volume one has Mary A Turzillo as token feminine contributor. One woman from eighteen listed authors.  Volume Two is obviously the feminist volume with a remarkable three women out of fourteen involved. Neal Asher gets two stories though, to restore the balance. It’s back to normal for Volume Three as fifteen stories allow room for just one woman.
As you know, from previous lists of 225 Women SF Authors, women don’t write SF they write Fantasy as demonstrated by both female authors amongst sixteen in The Boy’s Own Solaris Book Of New Fantasy.
It might be tempting to just blame editor George Mann for this. Perhaps it really is just his personal taste. After all Ian Whates is now on board, and he published an excellent all female anthology for Newcon Press, Myth-Undertakings.  His Solaris Rising might reflect that? No, nineteen stories, 21 contributing authors, just three women.
Five volumes clearly setting out Solaris’ brand identity, showcasing their intent as serious SFF publishers, explicitly labelled Solaris, setting out a vision called New. 10 of 81 stories by women. 12.5% oh brave New Solaris world.

And yet, I must note a couple of other original anthologies on the Solaris list. Shine edited by Jetse de Vries has near parity with eight of its seventeen contributors women.  Similarly Ellen Datlow picks ten women against nine men for Poe. So no reason why it can’t happen, but curious that Solaris don’t try to make it happen when it has their name so prominent in the title.

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46 Responses to The Women of Solaris

  1. Ian’s all female anthology was a direct response to criticism that his anthologies represented women writers very poorly. While it was a nice thought, it was just that, a nice thought. It did not address the issue.

  2. Ian Whates says:

    Just to the record straight, the three women authors in the book are Pat Cadigan, Jaine Fenn, Tricia Sullivan and Laurie Tom… Ehm, Kev, when are you taking that maths exam?

    Yes, there are more male authors in this one than female. Last year, through my own NewCon Press, I released ‘The Bitten Word’ (10 female authors, 7 male) and Anniversaries (7 female authors and 2 male). Strangely, no one raised the issue of gender then. The recently released ‘Fables’ features just one female author. I’m about to release a short story collection by Liz Williams with an intro by Tanith Lee and cover art by Anne Sudworth (0 males), and the next anthology, ‘Dark Currents’ looks likely to again have considerably more women contributors than men…

    In the real world, some books have more men than women, others have more women than men. Sorry if that offends anyone.

    Oh, and by the way, Farah, what you say simply isn’t true. Planning for Myth-Understandings was underway while the first book was still in production. It was not in any way a reaction to criticism of the first book (a fundraiser) because there hadn’t been any (nor have I heard any subsequently). The book came about as the result of a chat with Liz Williams, who told me that Justina Robson had put a lot of work into compiling an all-woman edition of Interzone which had never happened. I suggested to Liz that perhaps I should put together an all-woman antho via NewCon Press. She thought it a great idea and I next broached the subject with Justina, who was lkewise enthusiastic, so I took it from there. No reaction to anything, I just thought it an excellent idea, as did all the women authors and artists who participated.

  3. kev mcveigh says:

    Thanks for responding Ian. I stand corrected on Laurie Tom who I am unfamiliar with and mistakenly took as male. I think the overall point remains valid though.

    The point is not that some anthologies contain more men than women, or vice versa. That might seem reasonable if the overall balance was fair but as I know you are aware things aren’t as fairly balanced as they could be and in recognising this we take a tiny step towards correcting it.
    The point here that I was aiming for was that these five books are not just any random anthology titles, but they are specifically and prominently The Solaris Book, ie they assert themselves as representing the Solaris brand. If you choose to publish an anthology of bald authors or left handed authors that is one thing, but by identifying those five anthologies with Solaris, you identify the contents with Solaris editorial policy. To have no more than 20% female contributors in any one volume, and just 12.5% across the series sends out a powerful message from Solaris to potential female authors and readers. That is my point.

  4. Ian Whates says:

    Kev, of course their’s an imbalance, but it’s throughout the whole of genre publishing (certainly in the UK). I actually have a guest blog appearing on Steve Lockley’s site tomorrow on this very subject, so won’t pre-empt that by saying too much here.

    To be honest, if there had been no female authors in the book I could have understood the criticism, and I’m not trying to imply that a 20% representation of women is worthy of applause, but it’s a higher ratio than the percentage of female to male SF authors in the UK at present.

    Regarding Solaris, don’t forget that the Solaris imprint has been sold since the previous books were published and nobody involved from those days is in anyway involved with this new book. The selection of stories for this one has been entirely down to me. I should also point out that several other female authors were invited to submit but failed to do so, doubtless for perfectly valid reasons.

    At the end of the day, it’s the quality of the story I look at as an editor, and gender is very much a secondary consideration. If the story is a good or even a great one, I’ll snap it up whether written by a man or a woman.

    • kev mcveigh says:

      Ian, I’m sure you don’t select on basis of gender deliberately, but as has been pointed out in many similar discussions we all are subject to the unconscious influences of our culture. I can’t comment on how hard or in what ways you as an individual might have tried to overcome that, but it still concerns me that the use of the Solaris brand in this context is contributing to the cultural bias whether deliberately or not.
      To be honest, I forgot that Solaris had changed hands, but looking at it from what the public see in Waterstones or on Amazon, will they make that distinction?

      • Not everyone is subject to unconscious cultural influences in the way you suggest, Kev. I suggest you do some reading up on the Implicit Association Test, a psychological test designed to expose unconscious bias. Many people pass with flying colours.

  5. Ian asked me to contribute to the recent anthology, but I had to turn him down because I Have. To. Work. On. The. Novel. Had to do the same with Andy Remic’s new anthology.

    But if anyone is looking to commission other South African xx chromosome talent in future, can I recommend Sarah Lotz (writing with her daughter as Lily Herne and with Louis Greenberg as SL Grey) and Adeline Radloff (author of Sidekick)

    • kev mcveigh says:

      Hi Lauren, thanks for dropping by.
      I think I’ve seen SL Grey in shops already, are the others published up here yet?

  6. Donna Scott says:

    There are editors out there that certainly don’t stress about these things. Ian is not one of them. 4/21 might not be enough, but I know he wanted more and tried to get them.

    Your list though is going to help, Kevin, as is any and all discussion. Already today, I’ve had a male writer tell me that this is not a ‘real’ issue, and said author cannot see that any positive moves towards the promotion of female writers of genre would not necesarily be to the detriment of male writers. A ‘two-horse race’ he called it. I had no idea… we have to kept down or we’re just too threatening!

    I haven’t the energy for arguing with the bloke… I’m getting to know enough people in this business to see where opinions are fixed with cement, but equally where we might be able to begin making progress on this issue. I’m not kicking at anything that might hurt my toes.

    As for The Bitten Word antho that I was in… I’ve read blogs about the numbers in that, being all dismissive because it was about vampires, and vampires is perceived as a women’s thing anyway. Sorry – but only since the 90s, and what I really don’t like is the implied undercurrent that all vampire fiction these days is about fangbangers and is consequently, inherently shit. This is also sexist.

    • I think that’s the more important issue Donna. Personally, I’ve yet to see any stats that convince me there is real sexism occurring *on this level* in sci fi, just a lot of bad science. But people are hideously sexist and dismissive about the kind of fiction women prefer to write, and about women writers who are successful in those genres.

      • kev mcveigh says:

        Donna, Emma. Thanks for contributing.
        I don’t wish to suggest that publishers are all to blame, or that this is the most important issue, but it is part of the broader issue and shouldn’t be ignored. Nor am I necessarily right, or going about things most effectively.

        Where I agree wholeheartedly is in the way women are pushed into or mis labelled as part of what is deemed an inferior subgenre. The ridiculous, meaningless hierarchies of SF, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, whatever are as damaging as any aspect of this issue. I suspect I’m guilty of this when I start to rant about ‘proper’ UF too.
        Hence the List, now up to 230ish names, which aims to refute the ‘women don’t write SF’ myth. It isn’t meant to privilege SF over Fantasy, many on it write both or blur the lines.

  7. Ian Whates says:

    Just to clarify, Kev, I did approach a number of other female authors over the Solaris Rising anthology: as Lauren mentions, she was one. Gwyneth Jones was another — Gwyneth said that she would try to come up with something but couldn’t promise anything and, in the end, didn’t submit. Laura Resnick did agree to submit but pulled out a few weeks before deadline due to work pressure. Three other women authors were approached (each on three separate occasions) but failed to respond to any of the emails. All three are American authors whom I’ve never met so have no personal connection with (well, I actually met one of them briefly at Eastercon in 2006, but there’s no reason she should remember that).

    Yes, it would have been great to have included more women authors, but I can only choose from the stories that are delivered, and, at the end of the day, I was more than happy with the quality of the stories I selected.

    • kev mcveigh says:

      Whilst you’re busy clarifying things Ian, did you have similar experiences with male authors? Did you pursue dozens of men to achieve the results you did, or was it just your bad luck that women turned you down?

      As I keep stressing this is not a book called Ian Whates Favourite SF, but a book called The Solaris Book of New SF, and Solaris has history of neglecting women authors. See Jennifer Pelland’s comment about being the token women in Book 3. Maybe some women feared being tokens this time? I know you weren’t editor then, but your book shares its name with the rest of the series and gains or loses as a result of past as well as present efforts. You and Solaris maybe need to think about that, and how you can learn from past mistakes, and restore some balance and credibility instead of saying none of it is your fault, and you’re so unfairly treated.

      Not sure I understand the relevance of any personal relationship with authors you approached. Did you try their agents? Still, it is good to see you know three women SF writers from the US.

  8. It’s simple: Women writers are under-represented in the field. As such, each new publication that can publish both men and women is either addressing that issue or a part of the problem. On the basis of the stats, Solaris Rising (and by extension Ian Whates who collected the stories and Solaris who published the book) is a part of the problem.

    Ian’s excuse that the female authors he approached didn’t get back in time sounds almost identical to the excuse that SFX gave when their Horror special failed to acknowledge the existence of female Horror writers. That argument didn’t wash then and it didn’t wash now. Ian and Solaris had an opportunity to help redress a historical bias in the field and they failed to do so thereby letting down both themselves and the field.

  9. Ian Whates says:

    Sorry you don’t understand the relevance of personal relationships, Kev. In my experience, you’re far less likely to be ignored by someone you know than by a complete stranger. No, I didn’t approach dozens of authors. I approached a total of 34 (male and female), a few of whom were too busy, some of whom did submit but whose stories lost out in the selection process. In addition, I received three or four unsolicited storied which were also taken into consideration.

    Four authors failed to respond, one man and three women, none of whom I know. I suspect that in most instances the reasons for the lack of response was because they were too busy with other projects and my requests were a low priority, but clearly that’s pure conjecture.

    Yes, the anthology does share the ‘Solaris’ tag, but, as I’ve said before, I really can’t comment on the previous books since I had nothing to do with them and they were published by a different company. This book has been commissioned and will be published by Rebellion, the past three were commissioned and published by Black Library. None of the personnel involved in one had any correlation with the other. Solaris may have had a reputation for being sexist (whether justified or not) but this is a completely different outfit.

    However, if you wish to group the two companies together because of the shared name and tar both with the same brush, that’s your choice. Incidentally, my book is being released as ‘The NEW Book of Solaris Vol 1′ as opposed to the three volumes of ‘The Solaris Book of NEW SF’ which were published under George Mann’s direction (this being a decision made by the marketing department and not by yours truly).

    No, the book is not called ‘Ian Whates’ Favourite SF’ (thank goodness), but I had have full control over its compilation and story selection.

    I hope that helps clarify.

  10. Donna Scott says:

    Kev, sorry, I didn’t want to have to get into an exchange here, because – and who knows, maybe this is a female thing – I’m Really Busy, working 2 jobs, trying to fit in performance (my me time… also work), doing housework, sighing at the state of the jungle that is my garden and defleaing the cats… but… and I know this is your blog, so it’s your space and you’re entitled to… I do find what you have replied to Ian not nice and not helpful.

    It’s the problem with the internet. Words can have more bite than they were intended to, so I’m trying to account for reading things wrongly. After alll, I know you are trying your best to play your part to make things better for female readers and writers of genre. I have every faith that the more we all do, the better things will be – and it takes boldness because considerations of gender in publishing fall under the shadow of false choice both pandered to and created by the machine-brain of capitalism which is in itself a product of social engineering. I totally hear the arguments about inherent and unconscious sexism, and am ready to relate this to an understanding of bookselling as a whole, though I also find Emma’s point about the Implicit Association test quite convincing. I am currently reading Natasha Walters’ Living Dolls and she makes a point early on about the results of a survey of colour preference which the science media was keen to use to substantiate an argument for biologically-based preference between the genders, whereas the data for this association was lacking; there was no reason why social conditioning should be discounted… the point being, you can make the evidence mean what you want if you discount some of the evidence, or ignore what isn’t there.

    Here, Ian has said what he did to try to get women on board with this publication. He did not have to. You have had other women writers point out to you, besides Lauren above, that they were asked and could not do this. What you don’t have is any data about the male writers who were asked. Ian might now reply to you and say, yes, fewer men that were first choice for this project turned it down, but at this moment you don’t know. Ian told you about what he’d done to try to get more female writers on board, because this is what you were interested in.

    You said: “I don’t wish to suggest that publishers are all to blame, or that this is the most important issue, but it is part of the broader issue and shouldn’t be ignored. Nor am I necessarily right, or going about things most effectively.”

    To me this was fine, but you have since pursued Ian specifically on this issue, implying that he is in fact to blame – as a specific individual…. and this is clearly not the case. He is not ignoring the issue: the TOC is done; he tried. You said in your tweet that he is blaming the women, but he is not. It is just that women are not having it all, but doing it all, and could not fit this project in. Yes, he could have spread the net further, but who would you have had him ask? He could have asked me, but am just not in Solaris’s league at the moment. That’s not the publishing industry’s fault… I have a higher hit per sub rate than most writers I know, but I’m just too busy to fit all I want to do in! It’s an inherited social issue, and one Ian has personally done his best to work with.

    All, I’m saying is, take it easy on Whatesy. He’s not ‘the one’ to be picking on.

    Incidentally, I’m meeting Natasha Walters on Tuesday. Perhaps I should raise this with her?

  11. I’m one of the authors who did submit when Ian asked me, and I was happy to write a story for him and went out of my way to oblige. Ian is a pleasure to work with. He is also the only anthologist (apart from Jonathan Strahan) who has approached me in the last ten years and asked me to write. I wrote for Ian because he asked me, and as a writer I am usually having to ask others to please publish my stuff, not the other way round.

    I feel strangely guilty being one of only four women on board. I was happy to be included. Now I feel compromised.

    This is an area with a lot of 101-level issues still floating around, and unfortunately Ian’s recent guest post throws in some remarks that I would consider not-up-to-speed. I can understant why people are angry. This discussion has come a long way in the last year or so online, and I get the impression that Ian may not have kept up with it as well as some who are posting here. I do think he is a sincere supporter of British SF in general and he has certainly supported me in particular and I would be very surprised if there were no other women writers in this country who agreed with me. But it is hard to keep up to speed on the internet. Especially if you are working your ass off day and night, and I happen to know that Ian Whates works incredibly hard.

    I feel, as Donna has suggested, that this is an important discussion, and Kev, I appreciate your opening it up and forcing a confrontation because these things have to be examined. I don’t think 4 of 21 is enough. But there comes a point where flaying a particular person in the name of a larger cause is no longer productive. And I would ask that everybody just be careful about this. We are a small family in a small and leaky boat.

    Perhaps providing some logistical support for those with good intentions but limited means would be of use to everyone participating. I know there’s a list being compiled over on SF mistressworks. How about a comprehensive list of women writers active in SF right now–or at least recently? Newer writers with fewer credits, and perhaps more seasoned writers who haven’t been visible lately (thinking of people like Linda Nagata here, for example). Pass it out to everybody who is collecting anthologies.

    Or other ideas, perhaps? It’s easy to criticise–and these critiques have their place, certainly. But what comes next?

  12. Ian Whates says:

    Really? Kev said in a tweet that I was blaming ‘the women’…? How could anybody seek to do that? What a peculiar thing to say.

  13. Murf61 says:

    I agree with Donna and Trisha above, and as I have already said to you, Ian isn’t the bogeyman here… save the argument for someone who does not make as much effort to do the right thing by women writers as Ian. That is all.

  14. kev mcveigh says:

    I would like to say this was never meant as a personal attack on Ian Whates. From the start I sought to highlight the way the Solaris brand represented itself with regard to women in SF.
    Ian, in raising his head above the parapet, has perhaps received bullets best aimed at others involved at Solaris. In addition, my comment above and the related tweet were snarky in a way that wasn’t necessary or appropriate.
    That said, one positive result has been some of the subsequent comments and figures.

    As Jonathan says, Ian & Solaris are part of the problem. As Tricia says, Ian is unusual in trying to get women involved. Both are right I think.
    It seems like Ian thought his efforts were adequate, whereas I think the current status quo demands more. Maybe Ian’s small steps will lead to other anthologies (his or others) taking bigger strides?

    As for which women currently write, up to half the 225 names elsewhere on this site may be active to some extent. Of course some are less likely to respond, I’d be shocked if Anne McCaffery sent a story in, but there maybe more there than you realised?

  15. sarah says:

    Ian Whates is always asking me for stuff (and I’m normally letting him down.) He is absolutely non-sexist in his views on fiction of any genre and he is completely gender unaware (and I don’t mean ignorant – I just mean he see THE WORDS and not the sex) in his evaluation of writers. Anyone who says otherwise is just talking rubbish to be honest. It’s very easy to pull people apart after the event and in this case it’s entirely undeserved. I think women do need to be much better represented in genre fiction, but there are stories behind each of these publications, and I know that in Ian’s case he works hard to make sure he gets as many female contributors on board as he can in all his various publications. He also respects writers enough to know that no one would want to be included on the merit of their gender rather than the quality of their work. I know lots of women working in the field (admittedly mainly in horror) who, like myself, have decided against writing short stories for a while due to other work pressures. I’ve had conversations along those lines with Sarah Langan, Alex Sokoloff and Rhodi Hawk recently. And as Lauren above said, she too said no.
    If there is a whipping boy (no sexism intended) to be had in this debate it most certainly isn’t Ian Whates. I’m actually quite annoyed by this Ian bashing that has gone on in various quarters, even after his very rational blog post. Not everyone is a secret sexist trying to keep us women down. Some people are just doing their best in a busy climate with limited time. End of. Grrr. ;-)

  16. Liz Williams says:

    Folks, I have to agree with Sarah here. Ian’s one of the least sexist people (implicitly or explicitly) in what I regard as a very non-sexist publishing field. Since I’m usually seen as a leading feminist SF writer, and someone who is used to examining their interpersonal dynamics on quite a rigorous basis, I think I have a voice here. I’ve had a curious career in that although what I write *is* usually regarded as feminist, it’s been certain editors (David Pringle, Gardner Dozois, Sheila Williams, Anne Groell and Ian, among others) who have given me a really quite major level of support, whether or not they are regarded as feminists, whereas groups like the Tiptree committees have barely acknowledged my existence. So who am I gonna call? I don’t think you’re picking on Ian, Kev, and I thank you for your consciousness of this issue, but if anyone is regarding Ian as a target, I’m afraid you’re gunning for a paper tiger. I have, btw, been asked to contribute to anthologies and like a lot of us, I have not had the time. That’s not a function of gender, but a function of recession.

  17. Whilst in attendance at alt.fiction last weekend, I attended a number of different panels featuring a number of different authors and editors and the subject of gender bias came up on more than one occasion.
    I think it’s very easy to get on your high horse and complain about the lack of female representation, but certainly from what Ian was saying when I was chatting to him, one of the biggest problems isn’t the publishers or editors – it’s that the women themselves do not submit as much work as the men.
    If more men are submitting than women, then the statistical likelihood is that more men will be published than women. It’s nothing more sinister than that and from what little time I had to spend with Ian at the weekend, he certainly does his best to encourage more female writers through his anthologies.
    I’m in a peculiar position myself at the moment of being a female writer of military sci-fi. It’s daunting coming into a male world, but I harbour quiet little hopes that the more of us there are out there writing in genre, then the more will feel less intimidated by the male-dominated environment and step forward.

  18. Ian Whates says:

    Wow, I’m truly humbled by some of the comments here. Thank you, those who have supported me. I do find it heartening that any ‘Ian bashing’ that’s gone on here has been by the men, while the women have very kindly stepped in defend me. Perhaps, eventually, that may tell the men something regarding where I stand on the subject.

  19. cromercrox says:

    I am an SF editor. I take copy – almost always unsolicited – from anybody, and will publish it if it’s good. I don’t care if it comes from men, women or small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. I guess that there are more male than female writers who get published in my column, but as I rarely know them personally, it’s hard to tell, as some people write pseudonymously and some have names that are unfamiliar to me and might refer to either or any gender. Of course, I like to have as much diversity and variety as possible, because that makes for a more engaging read. For example, I’ve just accepted a tale from a Muslim writer in Malaysia that has a refreshingly ‘different’ tone to it.

    Commissioning, though – there one can run into trouble. I once commissioned a Q&A series for the magazine at which I work, in which I interviewed lots of scientists about their daily lives, and was criticized in a KenMcVeigh-ish fashion for being sexist as the number of female respondents seemed under-represented. This seemed unfair as I had scrupulously sought female interviewees and tried to achieve parity. What let me down, though, was that the women I asked were less responsive to sending in copy. In the end I had to ask many more many women than men to be interviewed to achieve parity in publication. There might be a lesson here, but I don’t know what it is.

  20. As a newish female fantasy writer, who has achieved some minor level of recognition over the last two years, I have had a number of editors approach me for stories for various anthologies. Some I’ve written for, some I haven’t. The subject matter has ranged from military sf to steampunk to faery.
    In all but one case, the initial approach has come from a female editor. The only solo male editor to think of asking me? Ian Whates.
    There is no perfection in this world, Kev. The most we can hope for is that people will try to do their best. Editors don’t work in a vacuum: they have pressures to present ‘commercial’ works, ‘appealing works’, ‘big names’. Especially in sf, ‘big names’ are all too often perceived as male. The problem is already there, long before any editor starts looking for stories. It’s the structures we need to be addressing, not the surface.

  21. steveh1492 says:

    Just caught up with all this today. Quite simply, Ian’s record speaks for itself; he’s quite rightly championed female authors (‘The Bitten Word’ is one of my favourite anthologies) and consistently made the best of the difficult choices that come the way of any editor. He’s doing far more than the majority of commentators out there to promote Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror of writers of any gender. More power to him.

  22. Richard Salter says:

    Kev, would it help if I told you I am really a woman?

  23. Liz Williams says:

    For the record, probably the last 5 or 6 anthology invites I’ve received have been from male editors. I very rarely get antho invites from female editors – the last one was from Esther Friesner about 2 years ago and I had to say no due to lack of time.

  24. I have no problems accepting that Ian Whates is trying not to discriminate against female writers, and that he feels that the stories he got just happened to be the best – but *every* male editor of *every* mostly-male anthology just ‘happens’ to find that the stories published in their ‘best of’ anthology ‘happen’ to be by male writers. This has been identified as a problem, and we shouldn’t pretend that this time, it’s different.

    According to the thread, 34 writers were approached. How many of those were women? That’s the first question an editor should ask themselves: are they approaching a mixture of writers – established and upcoming, male and female, mainstream and minority writers. That’s _work_, but that’s part of an editor’s brief.

    The other question of interest is whether the women writers who were approached were disproportionally disinterested in submitting. There are lots of factors which could skew that statistic – if you want to prove that [group x] is less qualified to do a job than [group y], you ask highly qualified members of y and barely qualified members of x – but there might also be a question of whether the people who decline invitations feel welcome; and if there is a problem with that – all [members of group x] being lumped together, for instance – then we, as a community need to address that problem, too.

  25. Liz Williams says:

    But what if I produced an antho, and having done the groundwork, still found that what I considered to be the best stories were all by men? It isn’t actually that likely, but what if? I have to say that I’d bite the bullet and publish them.

    Can I just ask – how many of the people who are critical of the process of contacting people for an antho have actually published one? Because I’m not seeing a whole lot of awareness here as to what actually goes on. What happens is usually this:

    – hooray! I have an idea for an anthology
    – shit! better ask some people!
    – will ask around, hopefully including people whom I don’t know, and whose work I like
    – ask big names first
    – lure other writers in with promise of being in an antho alongside X, s/he who is verily as a god/dess
    – big names reply in affirmative or negative, which will affect your chances of a publishing contract if you are not self publishing
    – will definitely ask the people who have been professional about getting stories in on deadline
    – will definitely ask some more new people, but probably not many as not sure if they will deliver and you don’t want the whole process fucked up
    – ask
    – wait
    – nag because at least 2/3 of the people you asked have made some vague comment about ‘getting it in by July’. It is now the end of May. July will be your fake deadline to fool persistent deadline offenders, but even so…
    – wait
    – nag some more, with increasing desperation
    – stare at your deadline which is looming like a looming thing
    – send round ANOTHER email asking your contributors if there’s any chance they could get it back to you in the next 2 weeks?
    – be pathetically grateful to anyone who has sent in a story, and I would be very surprised if, by this point, you noticed that your author is even a fellow human being, let alone their gender
    – August looms
    – respond as graciously as is possible to your panicking and guilt-stricken author (who is quite often me) that yes, it is quite all right to send it in by Aug 30th
    – publish it. Eventually. By now your hair will be white and your hands palsied.

    This is where issues such as gender, race, and anything else that does actually not involve 2,500+ words in a Word attachment by Sept 15th drop out of the equation. Bear in mind that this is a project that is separate from your day job, your kids, your partner and probably your sleep. No, it is not an ideal situation.

    • greenknight01 says:

      Liz, if you have balanced the invitations and the stories you can use create a different pattern, then in that moment, you have done all you can. In the longer run, if one particular group always blows deadlines or declines invitations or produces stories that do not appear to fit into anthologies then it’s worth looking at that pattern – because it *is* possible to create an environment that encourages one group of people more than another.

      But yes, I am asking that editors should sit down with the list of names they have brainstormed and question it, because otherwise, how are we going to break through the cycle of ‘nobody publishes these people, which is proof that nobody wants to read them’?

  26. Ian Whates says:

    Thanks, Liz, in many respects you’ve hit the nail on the head. As for greenknight01’s question regarding how many women were approached for this anthology, I’d suggest he reads the thread fully, because I’d already detailed that prior to answering Kev’s further question on whether ‘dozens of men’ were approached.

  27. Ian Whates says:

    Incidentally, greenknight01, it’s very gracious of you accept that I’m ‘trying’ not to descriminate against women writers. I would have thought there was enough testimony from those women writers in this thread alone to confirm that I don’t.

    Or are you suggesting that they’ve got it wrong and you know better?

    • There are two aspects to discrimination: intention and action.

      Like it or not, the gender imbalance in your anthology is part of a larger picture, which you have contributed to. The 4:21 ratio – which reflects both a trend in the visibility (or lack of) of female SF writers in general, and a trend in previous Solaris publications – is something I, and many others, see as problematic.

  28. Pingback: Cheryl's Mewsings » Blog Archive » Here We Go Again

  29. Pingback: Meanwhile, Back in SFland « Genreville

  30. Ian Whates says:

    I’m not entirely sure how you came up with the total of ‘8’ women approached, greenknight. To recap:

    4 published (we agree on that).
    Plus:
    Lauren Beukes
    Gwyneth Jones
    Laura Resnick
    plus 3 women authors who didn’t respond .

    So that’s 4 + 6 =… 8??? Okay, have it your way.

    • kev mcveigh says:

      Ian, I have now read some of the other comments on other blogs, many of which take my post as their source directly or indirectly. I want to make it clear again that my post was not a personal attack on you, but a comment on the way Solaris is presenting its corporate receptivity to women. I’m glad you’ve contributed some details as they both answer and raise questions, and I firmly believe that asking these questions is much better than ignoring them. Even at the expense of (hopefully temporary) falling out.

      That said, you may disagree with what comes next, but it is intended constructively.
      Based on your figures you invited 10 women from 34 total. According to testimonies above this is better than many anthologists. Arguably this is not enough, for several reasons. Ideally a near 50/50 split would be best but I do realise this isn’t an ideal world yet. Also it may be that the reasons a higher proportion of women didn’t respond are gender related (eg family pressures) so perhaps this needs taking into account at the invite stage. And it may be that Solaris history put some off, fearing being a token as Jennifer Pelland was in Book 3, so perhaps extra persuasion and reassurance may have helped too.
      I know that you (plural, meaning all involved with the book) have no connection to the George Mann volumes other than the name, but the name does matter. Presumably the marketing decision was made to benefit from the reputation, credibility and groundwork of previous books, and that is understandable. With that choice comes the downside that, as demonstrated, Solaris had a poor record with regards to inclusivity, and maybe it was naive of you (plural) not to consider this.

      Finally, I hope, your (specifically Ian) defense, whatever its personal individual validity, may be counter productive due to its close resemblance to excuses trotted out repeatedly by worse offendors. Something to think about. It isn’t all your fault, but possibly some of it is? And just because some criticism got personal and nasty doesn’t make it all unjustified? These are questions we all need to ask ourselves if this is to be a progressive discussion.
      Thanks for your time.

    • This is the reason I asked, because the post is too convoluted for me to be certain I didn’t miss any. Thanks for clarifying.

      It still seems to me that your chances of ending up with a balanced anthology were not particularly great.

  31. Richard Salter says:

    “Also it may be that the reasons a higher proportion of women didn’t respond are gender related (eg family pressures)”

    That’s a pretty sexist comment right there. Actually I resent that comment. My job and “family pressures” take up an enormous amount of my potential writing time so I have to pick and choose projects regularly (not that I’m invited to that many, but I’m selecting on-spec opportunities carefully). I love my family dearly so I don’t begrudge the time I spend with them in the least, but it’s still a fact of life. The insinuation that women have to put family first while men have all the time in the world to do whatever they want is simply not true any more.

  32. Pingback: Black Gate » Blog Archive » Solaris Rising, Women Falling?

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