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Piercy, Marge

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1936-    ) US author who has become recognized as a significant voice of US Feminism, initially with Poetry in volumes like Breaking Camp (coll 1968) but more importantly in novels like Going Down Fast (1969) and Vida (1980). Her first sf novel, Dance the Eagle to Sleep (1970), deals with an attempt by a group of student revolutionaries to set up a loving, communistic alternative society in the shadow of a near-totalitarian Near-Future US state. In Woman on the Edge of Time (short version in Aurora: Beyond Sexuality (anth 1976) edited by Susan Janice Anderson and Vonda N McIntyre; exp 1976) a Chicano woman, falsely accused of abusing her daughter and confined to a mental institution, makes contact with (or hallucinates the existence of) an emissary from a future Utopia called Mattapoisett, which has arisen in the aftermath of a "full feminist revolution". This vision of an America in which women and men are truly equal and truly whole has inspired many. But while the contemporary sequences are insightful and deeply moving, the descriptions of the two futures – a possible Dystopia, where the rich live in armoured Keeps and the poor are harvested for their organs, is also envisioned – tend to lack credibility. It might be accurate to say that the positive culture so described is primarily a utopia of personal relationships rather than one of social and technological structures, and is perhaps best approached as a dream rather than as a realizable society.

He, She and It (1991; vt Body of Glass 1992) more sustainedly places its examination of human relationships in a Cyberpunk-influenced vision of an America dominated by Japanese corporations, but the historical likenesses or jointures which structure the plot – an Android powered by an AI is likened to the medieval Golem (see Clichés) – seem essentially metaphorical, after the fashion of many books by Mainstream Writers of SF, especially in the closing pages, where the android sacrifices itself so a Jewish commune may live. The American edition nevertheless won a James Tiptree Jr Award for 1991, and the UK edition the Arthur C Clarke Award for 1993. [NT/JC]

see also: Sociology; Women SF Writers.

Marge Piercy

born Detroit, Michigan: 31 March 1936


  • Dance the Eagle to Sleep (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1970) [hb/Peter Rauch and Tim Lewis]
  • Woman on the Edge of Time (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1976) [short version first appeared in Aurora: Beyond Sexuality (anth 1976) edited by Susan Janice Anderson and Vonda N McIntyre: hb/R D Scudellari]
  • He, She and It (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1991) [hb/Rafal Olbinksi]
    • Body of Glass (London: Michael Joseph, 1992) [vt of the above: hb/Rafal Olbinksi]


  • My Life, My Body plus ... (Oakland, California: PM Press, 2015) [coll: in the publisher's Outspoken Authors series: pb/Robert Shapiro]


about the author


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