JAMES TIPTREE, JR: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON
September 3, 2006
JAMES TIPTREE, JR: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON by Julie Phillips (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). James Tiptree, Jr. was one of the rising stars of SF when I first broke into the field in 1971. A mystery man known only through his stories and letters, Tiptree wrote some of the most provocative and elegant short fiction of the period, and was esteemed by the Old Wave and New Wave alike. The curtain finally parted in the fall of 1976, however, when “Tip” was unmasked. Behind the mask was a woman named Alice B. Sheldon, a former WAC and CIA agent and African explorer, as tormented as she was talented. Now comes Julie Phillips with JAMES TIPTREE, JR: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON (St. Martin’s Press, 2006) a fascinating new biography of one of our field’s most enigmagic and tragic personalities. Most writers lead fairly boring lives, and their biographies become one long string of “and then he wrote…,” but Sheldon was a huge exception, and Phillips does a splendid job of telling her story. If there’s any justice, this book should walk away with the Hugo for “Best Related Book” next year. Read it… and find some of Tiptree’s collections and read them as well. You’ll be glad you did.