With Delicate Mad Hands • 1981 • SF novella by James Tiptree, Jr.


“Carol Page, or CP as she was usually known, was an expert at being unloved” – the space opera follows a girl’s life who has been rejected for her whole life because of a squashed pig-like nose. Male astronauts abuse and rape her while shoving her underpants over her face. But she endures that all because she was called as a child by a voice in her mind to a „pig-world“ somewhere in space. She murders her collegues, mutinies, steals the space ship, travels to unknown territory, finds the pig planet and the pig aliens, one of them calling her.


A post-apocalyptic world which slowly accepts women – who have to pay themselves for sterilization –  into space programs. So far for the feministic part.

The overlong short story or very short novella is technically not very accomplished, a bit agonized and heavy-handed. One-dimensional characters, a boring plot, uneven pacing with over-stretched action parts in comparison to the delicate finish. The only interesting part was when the narration switched from a close third perspective on Carol to a distant third unhuman perspective for the last couple of pages. It felt like the author couldn’t decide if she wanted to write an action-oriented space opera or a romance but went into a dark, sarcastic voice filled with hatred against rotten males. She clearly looses tension with length.

Meta: ISFDB. First published 1981 in Out of the Everywhere and Other Extraordinary Visions. I read it in the collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. It was nominated for the Locus award.


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