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Sittenfeld, Curtis

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1975-    ) American author, much of whose work chronicles the concerns and tribulations of patrician US society and its inevitable involvement in Politics. Her work crossed into the Slipstream of the sf genre with Sisterland (2013), in which twins with ESP adopt different paths in life, dependent on their respective acceptance or rejection of their inherited powers.

Following American Wife (2008), a non-genre novel inspired by the life of former First Lady Laura Bush, Sittenfeld's Rodham (2020) is an Alternate History that takes as its Jonbar Point the refusal of a young Hillary Rodham to marry Bill Clinton. The timeline thereby ensuing came under fire from some critics for retaining the importance of Clinton in the heroine's life thereafter, although this was part of Sittenfeld's narrative point – that both of them were destined to be major figures in political history, as were Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, and indeed Donald Trump, whom the novel's Hillary fatefully attempts to groom as a useful idiot. Similarly, Sittenfeld's account of a presidential run by Rodham depicts her encountering the same issues of patriarchy and discrimination that dogged that of the real-world Hillary Clinton in 2016 (see Women in SF; Feminism). Narrative jumps common to Sittenfeld's fiction propel her heroine into a Slingshot Ending overshadowed by a long and sinister speech by her sponsor Trump, who in this fictional world is a laughable buffoon who cannot possibly do any harm.

In doing so, Sittenfeld joined a subset of Mainstream Writers of SF speculating about paths not taken in the turbulent 2010s, alongside Jeffrey Lewis with The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks on the United States: A Speculative Novel (fixup 2018) and Yanis Varoufakis with Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present (2020). [JonC]

see also: Parks and Recreation; History in SF.

Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld

born Cincinnati, Ohio: 23 August 1975

works (selected)


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