Sad news in the last day, with the passing of Joanna Russ. Russ was at the forefront of a new, literary breed of writers like Ursula leGuin and Samuel Delany in the 60s, who helped modernise and expand the psychology of the SF genre. Her most well-known work within the genre was undoubtedly the novel The Female Man, but for me she was never better than her Nebula-winning short When It Changed, which I first discovered in Again, Dangerous Visions, and which was one of the first signposts towards proving to me that the SF tag of “literature of ideas” could be expanded to encompass challenging, socially confronting, human ideas, rather than simply engineering notations.
Russ is often overlooked, because her output was never overly large, and unlike leGuin she did little of her work within the regular genre channels. But she was a powerful, articulate voice for the humanism of genre writing, and her finest works are still brilliant reads. She was 74.