Houston, Houston, Do You Read? • 1976 • SF novella by James Tiptree, Jr.



The story follows three male astronauts via flashbacks on their circumsolar mission, when something goes wrong and they are transported into a future, where males are completely extinguised by some epidemic on Earth. Houston doesn’t react any more, but they are grabbed up by a spaceship with female crew. As they realize that this is the future, they wonder why it isn’t further advanced. They gather clues and figure out that the whole humanity is cloned from some 11,000 genotypes.

The male crew reacts in a bad way to this revelation.


A dark, sarcastic, feminist story – men wake up just to find out that they are unwanted and useless, resorting to violence and rape. It contrasts all of those testosterone-stuffed space captains like Han Solo or Kirk with a sharp bite, a provocation.

I want to emphasize the brilliance of the last sentence – which is the better future for humanity?

It is a must-read and takes the 3rd place in Locus’ 20th century novella list.


Meta: ISFDB. First published 1976 in Aurora: Beyond Equality. I read it in the collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. It won the Hugo and Nebula awards.


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