Talk:James Tiptree Jr.

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Characterization of her works[edit]

Would be nice to see some characterization of her works. A-giau 06:06, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Your wish is my command. ←Hob 11:14, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the expansion. Frankly I lack the knowledge to evaluate this material, but what I read is internally consistent, and so I say, "More power to you!" A-giau 09:49, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

=Adapted cut'n paste[edit]

I've added an adapted cut'n paste from the German WP article on Tiptree. It's stuck inside that ugly gray box! Is this what happens to all cut n' paste? The timeline was under GDFL license, after all!

Let's keep it as a placeholder, until I can figure out how to reformat it. Rhinoracer 15:52, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject banners[edit]

I've added a bio workgroup banner and I'm rating this page as "start" by that group's standards because there's only substantial material on one of her careers here. Randwolf 18:55, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Add SF workgroup banner. Class B on the SF scale; a good bibliography, but short on criticism--it understates Tiptree's influence on the field--and short on biography. Randwolf 03:59, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Link to the starry rift[edit]

the link to the starry rift, links to a jonathan strahan anthology of the same name, not the tiptree collection/story/novella.Tychoish 03:19, 11 October 2007 (UTC)


The article should be listed under her actual name and the pseudonym should redirect to her actual name. It's backwards as of now. Quadzilla99 08:59, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure. She's better known as Tiptree and that was her primary nom de plume. Does wikipedia have a policy on this? I've briefly looked and not found it. --lquilter 18:29, 31 December 2006 (UTC)W
Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies). The article title is the name by which the person is most commonly known. Undoubtedly Tiptree, for Tiptree. —Celithemis 22:50, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks - I looked but somehow didn't see it! Head cold. --lquilter 23:15, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
,Well, so much for George Sand, George Orwell, and Voltaire. Please, Quadzilla 99, why create a problem where none exists? Rhinoracer 18:39, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
In a case like Cordwainer Smith it's debatable, but none of the stuff Tiptree did under her own name is still notable. On an unrelated note I read a bit of an excerpt of that recent biography. I guess her being bisexual maybe helped her fool some of the male writers. They'd get a letter from "James" who'd talk about duck hunting and women "he" found attractive so think "nahh can't be a woman." (Granted they did know of LGBT people, but added to the other details of her life masculinity just "fit.") She was a fascinating, if screwed up (as in suicidal, etc), individual so I'm thinking the book might be interesting reading.--T. Anthony 18:19, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Er, are you suggesting that Allie was ipso facto 'screwed up' because she committed suicide? I find it hard to consider it screwed up for a 70 year-old woman - in circumstances where her beloved husband is becoming increasingly frail, and her own rich life is increasingly constrained - to take the decision calmly and rationally, in consultation with her husband, to end their lives. Indeed, for such a woman to battle on - through years that would clearly have been a time of diminishing returns - seems considerably more screwy.
Just my opinion, but the common tendency to consider suicide as automatic evidence of mental disturbance - regardless of the circumstances involved - seems short-sighted to me. To impute such defect to a woman of Alice's stature, intelligence and fortitude is little short of insulting.--Cdavis999 (talk) 21:28, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I know this is late, but that's not what I meant. I meant that she was suicidal for a long time and had some personal difficulties. She described herself as a child as having "a head full of death" or feeling overwhelmed by her mother. Throughout her life she had moments of extreme despair or hopelessness. I didn't even mean "screwed-up" to be all that judgmental as most of your really interesting people have some trauma or illness that makes them a tad "dysfunctional."--T. Anthony (talk) 11:44, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Many people are too smart for their peers and even the adults around them. They feel existential curiosity at a young age. A "head full of death" does not always mean "only wanting to be dead." It can mean being fascinated by death. This is not always (or only) an expression of wanting to die. Death can be seen as something extremely fascinating as a process, or fact (as the finiteness of life). Sometimes this can be coupled with existential fears, more so if the child or an individual of any other age with a "head full of death" knows that any expression of such a fascination will be considered as "being screwed up" or will cause others to look for trauma and illness. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:59, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Problem with this page as a bio of Sheldon is that Sheldon had at least three major careers: intelligence analyst, academic researcher, and sf writer. (Chicken farmer probably doesn't count.) Her marriage to Huntington Sheldon connects her to significant US history as well. I suppose it's fair to say that her career as a writer was the most significant, but I'm not comfortable with it, nonetheless. Randwolf 18:55, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Part of my problem here is that Tiptree was a construct--Sheldon's construct; as much a fictional character as any in Tiptree's published fiction. Sheldon's big masquerade was of a person much saner than herself; I would say that "Tiptree's" sex was, in retrospect, a smaller part of the story. Entering this here, under Tiptree, is, I think, to perpetuate the deception. Then again, perhaps that is appropriate. Randwolf 04:04, 27 April 2007 (UTC)


Reasonable to merge the more trivial article into the bio. Louisamild 21:16, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

No-- just delete it. Rhinoracer 20:24, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

There wasn't any content to What Came Ashore at Lirios so I just redirected it here. Tocharianne 20:26, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Knocked out the "merger" template on the main page. Randwolf 17:25, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Description of Works - accusation of ambiguity[edit]

"Before the revelation of Sheldon's identity, Tiptree was often referred to as unusually feminist for a male science fiction writer — particularly for "The Women Men Don't See", a story of two women who are visited by aliens and, rather than being abducted, go willingly to escape their limited opportunities on Earth. However, Sheldon's view of sexual politics could be ambiguous, as in the somewhat colorless and ruthless society of female clones in "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?""

This paragraph puzzles and bothers me lots. It seems to suggest that the feminist issues raised by - and the attitudes implicit in - 'TWMDS' and 'HHDYR' are different. I don't see it, m'self.

Both stories are powerful illustrations of the danger to women posed by men. The indictment is the core of both stories, and is the same in both: men inflict horrible, unjust injuries upon the bodies, freedoms and lives of women.

The first story shows the two sides of life for women who are respectively a) sexually attractive; and b) not. Both situations are intolerable, for similar reasons - enough to make escape to an alien world devoutly to be wished, despite all the risks.

The second story enacts - cleverly, via a subthread to the main SF plot - a Final Judgement on Man: should women keep us around, given a choice? The answer, from the denouement, is No: we're too dangerous.

Are the clone people of the future all-female society 'colorless and ruthless'? They're less gung-ho than the male astronauts, but that's the point. Ruthless? They're able to kill, in self-defence.

As someone of the male persuasion myself, I found both stories shocking and revelatory, and too well-observed to argue against. These are serious points: Tiptree is not a rabid SCUM_Manifesto-style feminist, and she's not averse to men - some of her best husbands are male. Nevertheless she thinks we're mortally dangerous to her sex.

The two stories seem to me to present an entirely consistent feminist attitude and message. Move to strike the suggestion of ambiguity. --Cdavis999 (talk) 16:42, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

I disagree. In the first story, the male protagonist is (though sexist) a nice chap, and the women are fleeing into an unknown, possibly awful future. Tip seems to be warning against 'opt-out' feminism, a futile escapism. As for 'Houston', you can't deny the rather repellant nature of the society depicted. To sum up, I think Tip's stories are rich in potential readings, and ambiguity is a fair description of this richness. User:Rhinoracer —Preceding comment was added at 11:21, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the ambiguous nature of the feminism in her stories. Houston shows that men are unremittingly violent, but that the world without them is stagnant. This is ambiguous, in that the reader cannot say if Tiptree is for or gainst the society. Similarly, Your Face, Oh my Sisters, shows a character living in a lovely feminist utopia, but actually simply being mentally deluded, and walks into her own gang-rape and murder. NONE of the stories are the unambiguous feminism (women are great, everything is mens fault) of say Nicola Griffith, or even Joanna Russ.Yobmod (talk) 16:45, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

@Rinoracer & Yobmod: I'm fascinated and baffled. We seem almost to have read different stories.
I didn't find the central character in TWMDS 'a nice chap' at all - in the context of the story. I'm sure he'd be a delightful and interesting person to share a Substance with of a Saturday night, but it seems to me that this was JT's point: he's perfectly normal and typical, but he's also an armed, dangerous, paranoid predator. From the PoV of the women, he's a scary person to be worked around.
Nor did I find the all-female society in HHDYR particularly 'repellent'. I'm going to have to find out where I've hidden it, and read it again, because my recollection was of an intriguingly self-actualised society where everyone knew themselves - their potentials, their defects, loves and hates - perfectly, and could optimise their lives around that knowledge. Different, certainly, but no more repellent than an Elizabethan would find our society, I suspect. The men, on the other hand, were horrible.
(BTW, Yobmod, I assume you're not really suggesting that in order to be other than an 'ambiguous feminist', one must believe that 'women are great, everything is mens fault'. You would accept, I hope, that a sane and happy medium exists that includes a rational feminist outlook?)
I'll study further, and thanks to you both. I'm not convinced, though.--Cdavis999 (talk) 13:34, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
The all female society in HHDYR wasn't so repellant, but it was stagnant (I remember that hardly any new chess gambits were invented etc). In SF, it is generally assumed that such stagnation is bad, and surely Tiptree knew this would be the opinion of most SF fans of the time.
This is in stark contrast with the majority of women only societies written by unambiguously feminist writers, like Griffith (women form a lesbian feminist utopia and gain superpowers) or Tepper (only men instigate wars, only solution is eugenics to fix them). (hence why Tiptree is the better writer). I agree some of her stories can be read as feminist, but clearly people disagree in some cases, so the feminism is ambiguous.
As to the man-hating feminist stereotype, maybe Tiptree should be called a "true feminist", in that she shows men and women to be equal (-ly flawed). But when critics point to a work of SF and call it feminist, they never mean that genders are treated equally. To call Tiptree's work (simply) feminist would misinform the reader imo. We cannot educate the reader as to what feminism SHOULD mean, it is pretty firmly used to mean reverse-sexism in SF, imo.Yobmod (talk) 14:49, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
In Love is the Plan (my favourite story ever!), gender roles are shown to be pre-programmed, neither males or mothers being able to resist their nature, even if they know it to be detrimental. Females are in no sense opressed, and end up killing their mates. This is a very different view of sexualpolitics to TWMDS
Oh, final thought - you imply that ambiguous means inconsitent above; but i find that Tiptree's writing are consistently ambiguous :-)Yobmod (talk) 14:51, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Infoboxen - too many careers[edit]

Alice B. Sheldon
Born August 24, 1915
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died May 19, 1987 (age 71)
McLean, Virginia, USA

Baccalaureate, American University

Doctorate, George Washington University
Occupation Artist, Intelligence Analyst, Research Psychologist, Writer
Spouse(s) [William Davey (1934 - 1941)
Huntington D. Sheldon (1945 - 1987)
Parent(s) Mary Hastings Bradley
Herbert Edwin Bradley
Alice B. Sheldon
Pen name James Tiptree Jr.,
Raccoona Sheldon
Occupation Author, Intelligence Analyst,
Research Psychologist, Artist
Genre Science Fiction,
Notable works Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
Tales of the Quintana Roo
Spouse William Davey (1934 - 1941)
Huntington D. Sheldon (1945 - 1987)
Relatives Mary Hastings Bradley (Mother)

Is there any way to combine the current infobox with a the author infobox? The problem is that she has had too interesting a life!

The current info box doesn't give any info on her writing (genres, influences, notable works, even her pseudonyms etc) - which i think everyone agrees is her most important contribution to the world. But the writer infobox doesn't allow parents (she has a notable one) or education (she has lots).

If there is not an overall infobox, which is better?Yobmod (talk) 09:02, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

In the absence of help from an infobox guru, and having to choose one over the other, I think the Infobox Writer one is better, and should be used. RedSpruce (talk) 16:37, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

Additional source that could be used[edit]

Timeline of Stories[edit]

The meaning of the gigantic table in "Timeline of Stories" is entirely opaque. I have no clue what information the table is trying to convey. --zandperl (talk) 00:16, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Wow -- I see what you mean. So it appears it is meant to contain a list of stories by year and to show which collection(s) the stories were published in. But it seems out of place, or at least, badly formatted. Skandha101 • 19:26, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

It also needs to include the New Yorker piece written in the 1940s that the bio mentions and anything else she may have written prior to the Tiptree name. LamontCranston (talk) 05:52, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

Big Green Yes?[edit]

What is the "Big Green Yes" about? It's not clearly explained in the article. --Metropolitan90 (talk) 08:44, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I’m pretty sure I understand what those yeses mean, so I’ve reverted the joke about “Big Green Yes status” and added an explanation. —Eric S. Smith (talk) 16:41, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

pointlessly huge table[edit]

I converted the table, with its many big empty boxes, to a more compact and readable list. It might be even better to cite the collections as footnotes in a special group, which I don't know how to do. —Tamfang (talk) 19:08, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

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Hi, I'm a new editor and participating as part of #1Lib1Ref. I've added a citation for Tiptrees correspondence as a man, and included quotes from the same source by Robert Silverberg and Joanna Russ regarding suggestions that Tiptree was a woman. Please review my changes.


PrometheasOre (talk) 10:46, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

Hi User:PrometheasOre, thanks for contributing. While I may not be the best person to review changes (I've been away from WP for a while and may have missed some style decisions), I see no one else has picked up on this yet, so for what it's worth here's my response:
  • I don't think the Silverberg quote ("ineluctably masculine") needs to be repeated in two sections-- or actually three, since it was already in the "Quotes about Tiptree" section too. It certainly fits in the "Gender performance and identity" section, but right now most of the second paragraph in the "Science fiction career" section is pretty redundant and could probably be cut or merged into the other section. And I'd be inclined to remove it from the "Quotes about Tiptree" section, which seems to be intended more for general comments that don't fit elsewhere about her importance as a writer.
  • I'm not sure why you specified "page 3" for the NPR link. The story doesn't seem to have multiple pages. If I'm right that this qualifier isn't really adding anything, then you could just use the existing ":0" named reference, which is to the same article without the page number (this currently appears in the References list as #17).
  • But I'm also a little confused about the use of this particular citation. The NPR story has three parts: a brief introduction without much relevant content; a lengthy excerpt from the Julie Phillips book; and an audio clip (which can also be read as text on the separate transcript page). I think the actual source for the information you're citing is the Phillips book, in which case it might be better to cite the book (as was done for many other facts on this page) rather than an article that happens to reproduce part of the book. But there I defer to other editors, because WP citation style (and relative preference for web vs. print citation) has changed a lot over the years.
  • Speaking of which, this isn't about your edit, but I see that the various Phillips book citations have become kind of a mess-- some of these things are clearly mistakes but in other cases I'm not sure of the best choice, so I posted a separate question below for other editors ("Inconsistent citations of Julie Phillips").
Hope that's helpful... ←Hob 04:15, 23 March 2017 (UTC)


According to her biographer,

  • contrary to what the article says, she called her lawyer after having killed her husband (NPR interview)
  • they had a suicide pact: agreed to commit suicide together when they became too old to go on (Biography excerpt). -- (talk) 04:22, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
The telephone call sentence was clearly an error, which I've fixed. It was correctly described in the "Suicide in Later Life" book that was cited in that same passage, but that doesn't look like a particularly good source to me anyway-- there are some errors in descriptions of her work, etc.-- and this section could probably be changed to cite Phillips or other sources. But I'm not up to writing much now, so the only other edit I made was to remove the bit about "becoming reclusive", as it seemed redundant with earlier text. ←Hob 04:47, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Inconsistent citations of Julie Phillips[edit]

As the Phillips book is by far the most comprehensive biographical work about Tiptree, it makes sense that it's cited many times here. But, based on the current appearance of the References list, it seems as if many editors have independently run across the book and chosen to cite it in inconsistent or redundant ways:

  • The book itself has a master entry under Citations, including publisher info, ISBN, etc. - great.
  • Many inline citations just refer to the master entry: "Phillips, p. xxx" - also good.
  • But quite a few other inline citations repeat some or all of the book details as if it's never been mentioned before. I assume there's no reason not to simply change those to "Phillips, p. xxx".
  • Then there are citations of excerpts from the book on its promotional website - which also has a master entry under Citations, but is described again in full in the inline citations anyway. Unfortunately, the website has exactly the same author and title as the book, so I'm not sure how to disambiguate them in a shortened citation. Should they just be changed to citations of the book itself, since that's what the website is excerpting? Or is the idea that if part of something is available online, the web citation is preferred because it's easier for the reader to check immediately?
  • Similarly, there's one link to an excerpt from a publisher's page (Macmillan), and several to an NPR story that contains an excerpt. Again, the cited text is ultimately from the same source: the Phillips book.

Any thoughts? ←Hob 04:30, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Well, I went ahead and did the straightforward (I think) part in this edit: I changed all of the inline citations of various pages of the Phillips book so they just reference the master entry (which I also reformatted slightly using Template:Cite book). Using Template:Sfn, this produces things like "Phillips 2006, p. 11". That could still be slightly confusing because there's also a separate article by Phillips with the same year, 2006. But I think it's at least better than what we had. ←Hob 05:11, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Education section - citations and scope[edit]

Whew, this article has more problems than I thought. There's a substantial section on Tiptree's early years and schooling-- all added at once by one editor-- which is full of what look like footnotes, but are actually just text like "<sup>[1]</sup>" that don't link to anything. That seemed like an odd mistake to make, but by looking at User:Marissaarnett's edit history I figured out what happened: the editor (apparently as part of a school project) did a lot of sandbox work to get the new text into shape, and then copy-pasted from the sandbox, but somehow only copied the formatted text-- not the underlying wikitext, which did contain real inline citations. Here's the sandbox text. But I'm hesitating to copy the citations over, because this editor used a different edition of the Phillips book, so the page numbers may not match the edition that's used for all other citations of that book in the article; not sure of the best approach there, but I think it'd be weird to have both "Phillips 2006" and "Phillips 2007" cited when they're essentially the same thing. I guess someone who has the book at hand could check whether the page numbers still work for the 2006 edition. ←Hob 16:28, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

I'm informed via email by Ms. Phillips that the page numbers are not the same between editions, so unfortunately those citations can't just be changed en masse to the other one. ←Hob 22:05, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Also, that section is very long... it's well written and does a good job of summarizing the book, but does it really need to be longer than every other section in the article? I'm inclined to think most of it should be merged into the "Early life" section... although her writing career started relatively late, so I don't know if referring to all of the earlier stuff as "early" would make as much sense as it does in other articles of this kind. ←Hob 16:28, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Agreed. I've tried to merge the relevant details into the "Early life" section, and removed overlapping parts. If it had been properly sourced, it's possibly it would have made sense to create an "Education of Alice Sheldon" article instead, but lacking actual footnotes for the education section, that didn't seem like an option. /Julle (talk) 13:52, 15 April 2017 (UTC)
Though with only one edition cited in the sandbox, perhaps that problem is solved now. Either way, I think it was overly long for the main article. Part of writing an encyclopedic entry is to not include things, lest you end up with a book instead. /Julle (talk) 13:55, 15 April 2017 (UTC)

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