Trigger Warning: Tiptree

I had heard there was a made for TV adaptation of Raccoona Sheldon’s story The Screwfly Solution. I came across something more interesting, a radio drama of Houston, Houston, Do You Read? by James Tiptree, Jr. Both of these names are pen names for Alice Sheldon.

I was curious about the radio adaption of Houston for the same reason I was curious about the TV version of Screwfly. Sheldon had a talent for depicting violence, especially sexual violence. But she never did so in a way that would be titillating, the way that slasher films are to fans of that genre. Sheldon managed to avoid that.

I listened to the radio adaptation of Houston and found it just about got it right. I recommend listening to it. I had read the story back in the 90’s and loved it even as I felt what Christians call the “conviction of sin” while reading it. The radio adaptation leaves out a few details and some of the subjective experiences of one of the characters, but after reading the story this evening, I have to say it captures the spirit of the story.

It does tone down the language in some parts, but there’s still those TW: Tiptree moments. You might want to read the story first, but here’s the radio adaptation:

Houston, Houston, Do you read? was published in 1976, around the time the secret of the Tiptree identity was being revealed. Harlan Ellison had suspected that Tiptree was a woman for a few years already. Tiptree broke the “bro code” and Harlan lived by that code. Robert Silverberg dismissed the idea that Tiptree was a woman, and cited Houston as evidence even when it was first published in an anthology of feminist-influenced science fiction. Silverberg argued that no woman could get so deeply into the minds of men.

The oppressed always know more about the oppressor than vice versa.

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