James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon - Julie Phillips James Tiptree Jr. was a science-fiction author who became popular in the 1960's and 1970's. Tiptree wrote complex and jarring fiction, somehow managing to bring chaos to life, sympathy to monsters, and heroes to their own self-destruction. Tiptree is also a woman, masquerading under a pseudonym. Her name is Alice Sheldon, and this book is the story of her life. First of all, this woman's life was CRAZY. She is the daughter of big-game hunters, who take her to Africa when she is really young to see the world. From then on, her life only gets more interesting. She joins the war effort during World War II, joins the CIA, and struggles with her identity while writing cult science-fiction. What makes Tiptree such an enigma is that she kept her real life a secret for so long, even when unknowing critics were raving about her work as a reason why "girls shouldn't bother to write." (Such critics were humiliated when Tiptree was found out to be a woman.) There is one amazing quote from this biography, taken from one of Tiptree's short stories, "How can one live, being half-beast?" It always gives me goosebumps, since this was written describing the machines created for wars during the 1960's. This biographer Phillips dug up some great letters that Tiptree sent out as an anonymous writer, which was Tiptree's main way of communicating as her alter ego. This book doesn't just look at this author's life, it also looks at how writing can shape a personality.