Joanna Russ

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Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011) was an American writer, academic and feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism and is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction and satire.


  • The trouble with men is that they have limited minds. That's the trouble with women, too.
    • Existence (1975)

Picnic on Paradise (1968)[edit]

All page numbers from the paperback edition published by Ace Books #66021 (Dec. 1974)
  • “And you think they’ll let you,” said Machine. It was a flat, sad statement.
    “No,” she said, “but nobody ever let me do anything in my life before and I never let that stop me.”
    • p. 119

And Chaos Died (1970)[edit]

All page numbers from the paperback first edition published by Ace Books
  • Sit a man on his ass with nothing to do but eat and the first thing that goes is his mind. It never fails.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 42)
  • He wished his imagination would not take so impressionistic a turn. It never fails.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 110)
  • Houses stretched off on all sides, sometimes dipping below the ground and sometimes emerging out of it, piling themselves into pyramids, into almost toppling waves, never one rooftree more than eighty yards from the next. The planet was covered. There were the old, open-air cities planted with whatever would grow, mountains honeycombed, resorts in Antarctica, covered roads crammed with carrier traffic only, hovercraft, sea-craft, masses, structures, and installations under the sea, nets of algae towed in the air, some insects and no animals whatever, but people, people, people everywhere.
    What’s the opposite of the Garden of Eden?
    • Chapter 3 (p. 120)
  • “Rational people,” said the man, “realize that their lives must be made meaningful. Meaning isn’t just given us.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 155)

The Female Man (1975)[edit]

All page numbers from the paperback first edition published by Bantam Books
  • How withered away one can be from a life of unremitting toil.
    • Part 2, Chapter 5 (p. 22)
  • Dismissing the whole thing as the world’s aberration and not mine, I went back to bed.
    • Part 2, Chapter 8 (p. 25)
  • There are more whooping cranes in the United States of America than there are women in Congress.
    • Part 4, Chapter 8 (p. 61)
  • Anyway everyboy (sorry) knows that what women have done that is really important is not to constitute a great, cheap labor force that you can zip in when you're at war and zip out again afterwards but to Be Mothers, to form the coming generation, to give birth to them, to nurse them, to mop floors for them, to love them, cook for them, clean for them, change their diapers, pick up after them, and mainly sacrifice themselves for them. This is the most important job in the world. That’s why they don’t pay you for it.
    • Part 7, Chapter 1 (p. 137)
  • Fucking, if you will forgive the pun, is an anti-climax.
    • Part 7, Chapter 2 (p. 139)
  • “Well, hell,” said Jael more genuinely, “the war. If there isn’t one, there just was one, and if there wasn’t one, there soon will be one. Eh? The war between Us and Them.
    • Part 8, Chapter 6 (pp. 163-164)
  • I told him to open his eyes, that I didn’t want to kill him with his eyes shut, for God’s sake.
    • Part 8, Chapter 8 (p. 181)
  • Remember, I don’t threaten. I don’t play. I always carry firearms. The truly violent are never without them.
    • Part 8, Chapter 8 (pp. 181-182)
  • If you want to be an assassin, remember that you must decline all challenges. Showing off is not your job.
    If you are insulted, smile meekly. Don’t break your cover.
    Be afraid. This is information about the world.
    You are valuable. Push yourself.
    Take the easiest way out whenever possible. Resist curiosity, pride, and the temptation to defy limits. You are not your own woman and must be built to last.
    Indulge hatred. Action comes from the heart.
    Pray often. How else can you quarrel with God?
    • Part 8, Chapter 9 (p. 191)
  • As my mother once said: The boys throw stones at the frogs in jest.
    But the frogs die in earnest.
  • Remember: I didn’t and don’t want to be a “feminine” version or a diluted version or a special version or a subsidiary version or an ancillary version, or an adapted version of the heroes I admire. I want to be the heroes themselves.
    What future is there for a female child who aspires to being Humphrey Bogart?
    • Part 9, Chapter 4 (p. 206)


  • In the field of science fiction or fantasy, morality—when it enters a book at all—is almost always either thoughtlessly liberal (you can’t judge other cultures) or thoughtlessly illiberal (strong men must rule) or just plain thoughtless (killing people is bad).
    • "Books" (review column), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1968
  • Perhaps it’s because I was brought up with no religion at all that I detest the science-fiction tropism towards re-writing Christianity from what one might call the village-atheist point of view. Although (Robert Sheckley's) “Budget Planet” and Fritz Leiber’s “One Station on the Way” are colorful and active enough, there seems to me to be no point in flogging dead fundamentalist doctrines so late in the day.
    • "Books" (review column), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1970
  • Only those who have reviewed, year in and year out, know how truly abominable most fiction is.
    • "Books" (review column), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1979

Quotes about Joanna Russ[edit]

  • All my early fiction tends to be rather male-centered. A couple of the Earthsea books have no women in them at all or only marginal woman figures. That's how hero stories worked; they were about men. With the exception of just a few feminists like Joanna Russ, science fiction was pretty much male-dominated up to the 1960s. Women who wrote in that field often used pen names.
  • Joanna Russ told me the same thing that when she was in high school she thought if she didn't write about men going off to war or hunting big game then she didn't have anything significant to say.

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