James Tiptree, Jr.

(Nonfiction; Picador, 2006)

The author James Tiptree Jr. emerged on the American science fiction scene in the late 1960s, a fresh voice in a fruitful period for the genre. His fast-moving, unsettling stories quickly found an audience, and he entered into epistolary friendships with some of sci-fi’s leading figures: Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Joanna Russ. But his letters, with only a P. O. Box return address, were as close to him as anyone could get. Rumors of Tiptree’s identity abounded, fed in no small part by the hints in his letters. CIA operative? Repressed homosexual? Tiptree was both, and a one-time soldier, colonial explorer, chicken farmer, and psychologist too. But he was also sixty-year-old Alice B. Sheldon, living in suburban Virginia with her husband of twenty years.

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