Meet Me at Infinity

James Tiptree Jr

Tom Doherty 2000
A book review by Danny Yee © 2002
The first half of Meet Me at Infinity contains short stories not included in other Sheldon/Tiptree collections. Two long stories are included: inspired by Star Trek, "Happiness is a Warm Spaceship" (1968) was among Tiptree's first works, while "The Color of Neanderthal Eyes" (1986) was the second-last story Alice Sheldon wrote. The others are mostly short throw-away humour pieces, with one piece of science fiction erotica. All these stories are enjoyable, but they are not among her best works, so newcomers to Tiptree should start with a collection such as Her Smoke Rose up Forever.

The second half, "Letters From Yucatan and Other Points of the Soul", contains Tiptree/Sheldon's published nonfiction, much of it taken from small-circulation fanzines and hence largely unknown. There are travel reports, mostly from Yucatan and about the Maya. There are Tiptree's contributions to a famous 1974/75 round-table "Women in Science Fiction". There are some forwards and afterwords from her own stories, as well as comments on other people's, and some perspectives on writing generally. There's Sheldon's own view of the great revelation (that James Tiptree and Raccoona Sheldon were actually Alice Sheldon) as well as a bio-sketch and interview she put together for Contemporary Authors. And there's a 1946 story from The New Yorker (written as Alice Bradley) on the plight of Displaced Persons in Germany, a short letter on old age and aging, and even one poem (about women science fiction writers). I found all of this a great pleasure — Sheldon/Tiptree is clever, insightful, and entertaining, whatever she is writing about and under whatever identity.

Both the stories and the nonfiction pieces are accompanied by comments from Jeffrey D. Smith, the friend of Tiptree's who became her literary executor and who has edited Meet Me at Infinity. His comments provide information about the works' context and publication history; sometimes he includes extracts from private letters that shed light on them. The result will be a gold-mine for Tiptree fans and those interested in the history of science fiction, but is unlikely to command a broad general audience. It is a bit too much of a grab-bag — I suspect there are people who would enjoy the travel pieces, for example, but who would lack the context to appreciate the ruminations on science fiction.

September 2002

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- James Tiptree Jr - Her Smoke Rose up Forever
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%T Meet Me at Infinity
%A Tiptree Jr, James
%I Tom Doherty
%D 2000
%O hardcover
%G ISBN 0312858744
%P 396pp