Gearhart, Sally Miller

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(1931-    ) US author of lesbian-Feminist works – including A Feminist Tarot (1976) with Susan Rennie – and Professor of Speech and Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. Her first sf book, one of the most extreme of those that envisage men and women as effectively different races, is The Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women (coll of linked stories 1980). It is set in the outlaw, all-women, Utopian hill communities of a future when men are restricted to the Cities and dependent on Technology, while women (in a somewhat New Age manner) have developed Psi Powers through harmony with Nature. Even the Gentles, men no longer driven by violence, know that "maleness touched women only with the accumulated hatred of centuries". The extremity of this book is significantly modified in the Little Blue sequence – comprising The Kanshou: Book I of Earthkeep (2002) and The Magister (2003), with at least one further volume projected – which is set at the end of the twenty-first century on an Earth (rechristened Little Blue) where the female/male population ratio stands at twelve to one, and most of the men are in penal servitude, where they are called – ominously, for coinings create normality, as George Orwell demonstrated – "habitantes". The problem of violence remains central, and the plot of the sequence revolves around different theories as to its origin and control, and over the practical/ethical issues infecting any easy decision to use the remaining males of the world in controlled experiments in the eradication of violence. Gearhart's long advocacy of animal (or non-human animal) rights is also reflected in the vigorous intellectual movement of the tale. In the second volume, the children of the world begin to die: in harmony, it may be, with a profound Gaian impulse: but any resolution remains unpublished in 2008. [PN/JC]

see also: Pastoral.

Sally Miller Gearhart

born Pearisburg, Virginia: 15 April 1931

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