Sunday, March 3, 2019

Mildred Clingerman (author)

MIldred Clingerman(1918-1997)
ISFDB Biography
(A version of this originally appeared in

Science fiction started out as a male abode; the names of early SF writers shows this clearly. While there were women writing in the genre from early on, the numbers were swamped by male names. Over time, this changed.

Mildred Clingerman started publishing in 1952 with “Minister Without Portfolio,” in Fantasy and Science Fiction and appeared there three times that year alone. She quickly became a regular contributor to F&SF and was often chosen to appear in their years Best of … anthology. She was clearly one of the top women writing SF in the era.

Quite a few of her works were anthologized. Not counting single-author anthologies, it looks like 14 of her 19 stories were collected in books.  That’s an amazing percentage.

So how do the stories hold up? Actually fairly well. Some of the social conventions are dated -- the women generally don't work outside the home -- and the stories stick to the assumptions of their time. But the characters are richly drawn, even in the lightest of tales, and the stories run the gamut from science fiction to fantasy to horror. It's a different, quieter voice of science fiction, subtly played and strong on character instead of plot. In many ways they’re a precursor to modern SF.

Particularly memorable stories were the subtle but horrifying "The Gay Deceiver," the ironic "Letters from Laura," and the combination of the two in "Stickney and the Critic."

It's easy to see why the stories were so well received at the time. And how she was an important voice in SF short fiction.

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