This collection of stunningly wonderful short stories has been sitting on my currently reading for a month after I finished it, while I tried to figure out what I wanted to say about it. There are other reviews on GR that say that Tiptree is brilliant, harrowing, a story writing ninja, they are all absolutely correct.
I had read a Tiptree story or two before. I read science fiction and you can't really read science fiction for any length of time and not hear about Tiptree. I knew she was good, but something about reading eighteen in a row just... it was like watching fireworks go off. Wow! Bang! Surely the next one wont be as good, well its pretty, I like it. Okay... But then here comes another one screaming up out of the darkness and ...ohhh wow! I wonder what will happen next wowie... oh that was a squib, no wait it's lighting up the whole sky!! Gasp!
At the end I'm left folding up my blanket in the dark and the chill and making my way back to the car a little sad, a little tired, sorry that its over, but ready to go home now.
What I'm left with after the light show is a set of pretty strong emotions. For all Tiptree is fiercely intelligent the emotions are what stay with me. Envy, because she writes so damn well that I want to be her for just a few hours to know what it would be like to be a virtuoso. But only a few hours because oh the Sorrow, my god that woman was in pain! And anger. Fury at the time, the mores, the people, the circumstances that made her feel so profoundly alienated and excluded.
She has written beautifully, intelligently, with craft and wit about that fury and alienation but oh it hurts. At the same time it feels like a clean anger because of the honesty with which she faces it, most of the time she refuses to demonize others or wallow in self pity - not always, but enough that what I'm left with is respect and affection and a wish that it could have been different for Alice, and for all the Alices who didn't possess her furious pen.
I hear she wrote some comic stories, I have to hunt them down now, because maybe that will help me feel less haunted. I would like to be able to imagine her laughing some of the time.