Review of ‘Ten Thousand Light-Years From Home’ by James Tiptree Jr

First published in 1973, this collection of 15 short science fiction stories has been reissued in a new Penguin edition. I’d previously read a few of this author’s stories, in various anthologies, so was curious to experience more of her work. James Tiptree Jr was the pseudonym of Alice Bradley Sheldon but this wasn’t generally known at the time of this book’s publication.

The title of this collection is certainly apt, as every story is so distant from us in space or time (or both). The writing style is extraordinary, often lyrical but also with a pulp fiction feel. Unusual phrases and weird dialogue leap through the paragraphs. It can be disorientating, as quite often I wasn’t sure what was going on. To me, these stories seem very advanced for the era in which they were written. Some of them explore the fluidity of gender via sexual encounters with alien species. However, the content of the stories was liable to be overshadowed by the confusing nature of the writing style.

I can’t say I loved reading this book, but it was definitely an otherworldly experience.

Thank you to Penguin for the advanced copy via NetGalley. The book is now available to buy.

2 thoughts on “Review of ‘Ten Thousand Light-Years From Home’ by James Tiptree Jr”

  1. Interesting review. I am not sure I have ever read any of James Tiptree’s stories (not that I remember anyway) but I did read half of her biography: James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips. I say I read half because I had to give up half way through as I found it all a bit depressing and disturbing. The biography is very well-written and I do recommend it. But I think Julie Phillips really got into her head and it was way too dark a place for me. Also, as I knew the book was going to end in a murder/suicide or suicide pact (whatever theory you prefer) made me realise things were not going to her any happier so I quit halfway through. I think i might have given the book away now. LOL!! This was an odd one for me. I have read biographies of unhappy people or of people whose lives were difficult and had no problem before. But something about this biography started me screaming, “I can’t take anymore!!” LOL!! But you might really enjoy it….(I’m being sincere as her story is fascinating)

    1. She certainly had an interesting life which doubtless was good material for a biographer, but I’m not sure I’d want to read it! Sounds too dark and I would be quite upset if I got to the end. Thanks for your comment.

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