Joanna Russ (1937-2011)

We have confirmation that Joanna Russ, 74, died this morning peacefully around 7:15 a.m. in hospice care in Tucson AZ. She has been ill since suffering a stroke in February 2011.

Russ was a critic and SF writer, best known for The Female Man (1975).

Born February 22, 1937 in New York City, she attended Cornell University, graduating in 1957 with an English degree, and earned a MFA from Yale Drama School in 1960. She taught at various colleges and universities, including a long stint at the University of Washington in Seattle beginning in 1977, before moving to Tucson.

Her first SF story was “Nor Custom Stale” in F&SF (1959). Notable short works include Hugo winner and Nebula Award finalist “Souls” (1982), Nebula Award and Tiptree Award winner “When It Changed” (1972), Nebula Award finalists “The Second Inquisition” (1970), “Poor Man, Beggar Man” (1971), “The Extraordinary Voyages of Amélie Bertrand” (1979), and “The Mystery of the Young Gentlemen” (1982). Her short fiction was collected in Alyx (1976; as The Adventures of Alyx, 1983), The Zanzibar Cat (1983), Extra(ordinary) People (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1988).

First novel Picnic on Paradise appeared in 1968, and was nominated for a Nebula Award. Other SF novels include Nebula Award finalist And Chaos Died (1970), We Who Are About To…” (1977), and The Two of Them (1978).

A noted critic and scholar, Russ’s non-fiction includes the landmark feminist work How to Suppress Women’s Writing (1984), Hugo finalist To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction (1995), essay collection Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts (1985), What Are We Fighting For?: Sex, Race, Class, and the Future of Feminism (1997), and The Country You Have Never Seen (2008).

She suffered from health problems including back pain and chronic fatigue syndrome beginning in the late ’80s, which reduced her writing output. She was admitted to hospice in April 2011.

See her entry at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction for more information.

A complete obituary and appreciations will appear in the June issue of Locus.