I am happy to welcome April 2016 guest for Sci-Fi Women Interviews: Diana Gordon. I met Diana shortly after joining WordPress and I worked on several projects with her in the past few years, whether guest posts, Feminist Friday series. I am glad she accepted the invitation!
Diana is a nerd, a bookworm, a feminist, and a social media junkie. She is a freelance writer and researcher and the administrator of the blog Part-Time Monster. You can follow her on Twitter @parttimemonster or find her on Facebook. She lives in New Orleans with her son, her husband, and one very energetic terrier.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
GORDON: Star Wars was a really big deal in my house when I was a child. I had two older brothers, and both of them had been to theaters and seen the movies. We re-watched them a lot when I was young, because they were something that the entire family could watch and enjoy–my mother, who really doesn’t like movies but loves Harrison Ford; my father, who loves nothing more than a happy ending (well, except maybe a John Wayne film); my brothers, who were teenagers; and me. We watched the movies on VHS so many times that we ruined our copies and had to buy new ones.
NG: What are you top 3 favorites for Science Fiction books, TV shows and movies?
GORDON: This is so difficult! I always find it hard to make a list–I don’t like to play favorites! But I’ll try! Books would be: Ready Player One, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and….Frankenstein; for films, I would probably go with Equilibrium, The Empire Strikes Back, and Ex Machina; and for TV shows, I’ve settled on with Black Mirror, Sense8, and Futurama. If you ask me tomorrow, I might make a different list. But there’s today’s!
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your creative endeavors?
GORDON: Most of my writing is focused on girls and women, and I enjoy talking about different ways of representing women, what those things might mean. That’s really a cross-genre thing, and so I end up looking at a lot of different writing and TV and film. But even within all of that, science fiction is a unique genre—it’s relatively new, historically speaking, and it’s incredibly expansive.
NG: What do you think of the place of monsters (especially female) in Science Fiction?
GORDON: Some of the most interesting depictions of women, to me, are the gods and monsters–those women who are not-quite human. And science fiction is a pretty good place for that, because quite often, what you get is not only powerful women but powerful women of various races and species. There’s a lot of cultural work that’s done in writing about the non-human female.
NG: What can female monsters bring to a narrative?
GORDON: I think that story-wise, you can do pretty much anything with monsters, because a monster can be anything. A monster can be linked to archetypes we already know–Yeti, Bigfoot, Nessie, vampires, witches, etc.–or it can be something totally new. And that frees you up so much as a writer. You can craft a monster narrative that does anything. Making the monster female allows for all sorts of cognitive dissonance between expectations of docile, feminine virtues and fears of the monstrous feminine.
NG: How do you view the connections between Science Fiction and other genres like horror or folk tales?
GORDON: I think that some of the very best fiction, whatever genre it may be, makes use of conventions and ideas from other genres. I think that the intersections of science fiction and horror make for some very compelling stories, and we see that with works that have endured, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, not just newer works like M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts. And folk tales have provided a pretty rich heritage that we keep coming back to and re-working, even in science fiction. I’m thinking now of Charlie Jane Anders’s All the Birds in the Sky, a science fantasy that I’ve just finished reading. It uses a lot of folk tale conventions that work very well paired with the more scientific parts of the novel.
NG: How much do you believe mythology inspire Science Fiction?
GORDON: I think it’s difficult to say just how much influence mythology has in the world of science fiction, because this probably depends on the author who is writing the science fiction. But I think there are definitely works of science fiction that are inspired by mythology. While myths generally helped explain things that already were, science fiction often looks forward, and so the two would seem to be doing different cultural work. But of course even that isn’t true of some of our biggest sci-fi stories, Star Wars in particular.
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction can influence writers outside of the genre?
GORDON: Absolutely. I think that as writers we are constantly drawing on things that we’ve read and seen, not just things that we’ve felt and known or even things that we imagine.
NG: Do you believe that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to complex female characters?
GORDON: I think it can be. There have been some major missteps along the way, but genre fiction has generally been more welcoming to complex female characters (and authors) than literary fiction.
NG: What is Science Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?
GORDON: In some ways, I hesitate to place a restriction or responsibility on any genre, honestly. But at the same time, representation matters a lot, and readers should have access to works that challenge them and represent an array of perspectives and peoples. I do think that science fiction is especially well equipped to create and disseminate works that are inclusive and diverse.
NG: Thank you very much, Diana! I’m sure my readers will enjoy your answers and likely check your blog out.