The Screwfly Solution

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"The Screwfly Solution" is a 1977 science fiction short story by Raccoona Sheldon, a pen name for psychologist Alice Sheldon, who was better known by her other nom de plume, James Tiptree, Jr. It received the Nebula Award for Best Novelette (1978) and has been adapted into a television film.

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Tiptree Jr., James Real name - Alice Bradley Sheldon. Best known under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr., also published as Racoona Sheldon. Alice Bradley Sheldon was born on August 24, 1915 in Chicago (Illinois). Her mother, Mary Hastings Bradley, was a travel writer, and her father, Herbert Bradley, was a naturalist and explorer of Africa. As a child, Alice traveled a lot with her parents - so in 1921-22 she took part in an African safari, which she later recalled with pleasure. From childhood, the girl was fond of drawing and seriously engaged in this until she was twenty-five years old. Her paintings were exhibited in prestigious galleries, but Alice herself, although she worked very hard on them, was sure that they were not very good, so she decided to quit this occupation. In 1934, Alice Bradley married William Davy, according to her - the first guy who asked for her hand and heart, but in 1941 their marriage ended in divorce - Davy drank too much. In the same 1941, the fi...

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Tiptree Jr., James Real name - Alice Bradley Sheldon. Best known under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr., also published as Racoona Sheldon. Alice Bradley Sheldon was born on August 24, 1915 in Chicago (Illinois). Her mother, Mary Hastings Bradley, was a travel writer, and her father, Herbert Bradley, was a naturalist and explorer of Africa. As a child, Alice traveled a lot with her parents - so in 1921-22 she took part in an African safari, which she later recalled with pleasure. From childhood, the girl was fond of drawing and seriously engaged in this until she was twenty-five years old. Her paintings were exhibited in prestigious galleries, but Alice herself, although she worked very hard on them, was sure that they were not very good, so she decided to quit this occupation. In 1934, Alice Bradley married William Davy, according to her - the first guy who asked for her hand and heart, but in 1941 their marriage ended in divorce - Davy drank too much. In the same 1941, the first publications of Alice appeared in the "Chicago Sun": she appeared in the field of art criticism. However, already in 1942, Alice dramatically changed the direction of her career by joining the US Army, where she received the necessary training, from 1943 she was engaged in aerial photography in the Air Intelligence Department, eventually reaching the rank of major. At the end of the war, in 1945, Alice Bradley remarried - to Huntington Sheldon, whom she met while serving in Europe, and soon after retiring from the army in "The New Yorker", the first story of the writer was published - [The Lucky Ones] ( 1946). After completing their military careers, Alice and Huntington organized a small agricultural business and were engaged in it until their return to Washington in 1952, when Alice and Huntington were almost simultaneously invited to work in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since 1954, the future writer worked as a secret agent of the CIA in the Middle East, but in 1955, for some reason, she "quit" this job. “I used my preparation to disappear,” she later said. “One day I had a new name, a new bank account, a rented house; I really destroyed all ties to my old life.” Alice fled from everyone, including her husband, knowing that there was too much pressure on him "from above". Nevertheless, after six months he found her and their love proved to be stronger than the contradictions of workers. In 1959, the reunited couple moved to North Virginia in the town of McLeon. By the way, at the same time, the CIA moved to Langley (also Northern Virginia). Alice spent more than eleven years studying - first at the American University, and then at the University. George Washington, where in 1967 she received her doctorate in experimental psychology. On the day when she finished her studies, tired and exhausted Alice could not fall asleep and then she decided to write a science fiction story - just to relax ... Well, the pseudonym - "James Tiptree Jr.", according to her, appeared in September 1967 in a McLean supermarket, right next to a display case with Tiptree English marmalade. The first story printed under this pseudonym was [Brith of a Saleman]. Researchers are still trying to answer the question of what exactly made Alice take a male pseudonym. Perhaps her unusually tough, masculine and frankly technocratic view of things simply did not coincide then with the ideas of Americans about how to write to women. Alice herself really enjoyed a successful hoax with pleasure giving out correspondence interviews in which she diligently and lovingly created the image of James Tiptree Jr. - an adventurer and traveler who was on the Congo River in Africa (remember Alice`s African safari), and in the countries of the Middle East (and now remember her work as an undercover agent). Already in 1969, just two years after Alice turned to science fiction, her story [The Last Flight of Dr. Ain] was nominated for the Nebula Award, and [And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill`s Side], published in 1971, was nominated for three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award and a Locus magazine award. In 1973, the first collection of stories by the writer, [Ten Thousand Light Years from Home] (with a foreword by Harry Harrison), was published, which was very favorably received by critics and readers. In the same year, the story [Love is the Plan] received a Nebula Award. In 1974, another prestigious award, the Hugo Award, was given to the short story "The Girl Who Was Plugged In". A year later, the second collection was released - [Warm Worlds and Otherside], the foreword to which was written by the famous science fiction writer Robert Silverberg. "There is speculation that Tiptree is a woman," Silverberg wrote, "a theory that I find absurd." Yes, the hoax was two hundred percent successful for Alice Bradley. In 1976, Alice`s mother died, and the writer herself received a "double": a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for the story [Houston, Houston, Do You Read?] In the same year, the secret of the writer’s pseudonym was finally revealed. The revelation was shocking to many. Daredevil James Tiptree, macho to the core, was a tired, recent heart attack, sixty-year-old woman. This event gave rise to the appearance of many essays, articles and literary works that investigated this phenomenon. After the death of Alice Bradley, a special James Tiptree award was established. Very few science fiction writers have received this honor. But that was later ... In 1977, the third collection of short stories was released - [Star Songs of an Old Primate] and Alice`s first novel was published - [Up the Walls of the World] out of a habit that the writer was not going to give up, also published under a pseudonym. Alice received another Nebula Award for her story [The Screwfly Solution]. In the following years of her life, Alice Sheldon created several novellas and many stories that forever entered the golden fund of science fiction, was awarded the SF Chronicle Award (1986), the collection "Tales of the Quintana Roo" was nominated for the World Fantasy Award (1987) and twice - in 1984 and 1986 - Locus Poll Award. The success of Alice Sheldon`s works greatly facilitated the path of other women-writers who came to science fiction later, and also somewhat anticipated the emergence of the cyberpunk genre. Meanwhile, the writer could not boast of good health, alas. She suffered several heart attacks with her inherent gloomy humor, devoting this article in one of the fanzines [How To Have an Absolutely Hilarious Heart-Attack], suffered from a severe form of stomach ulcers (the attacks of pain were so strong that one of the doctors who could not relieve Alice`s suffering, he himself collapsed near her bed with a heart attack) and struggled with bouts of deep depression that had followed her all her life. "When I was twenty I tried to open my veins with a razor blade," Alice recalled. "I cut my wrists from all sides, because I did not know where the veins were." On May 19, 1987, Alice Sheldon shot and killed her 84-year-old husband (by then completely blind and paralyzed), and then committed suicide with a shot in the head. The bodies were found in the house where the couple had lived together for the last 28 years of their lives. They lay in bed hand in hand.  "My first memory of death - when I was ten and traveling with my parents on one of their expeditions - one night I saw a man on the banks of the Ganges, burning his dead mother. Not a big fire, I think just couldn`t afford firewood, maybe just a bunch of brushwood. The body didn`t burn very well. He tried again and again, but in the end he gave up and threw the bones into the Ganges. The river was dark, muddy, majestic. But then he went down to the river and pulled out the skull before it was carried away by the current; and he pulled out a golden tooth from there. " © 2003 Shop of the Worlds Memorial page of the author: http://davidlavery.net/Tiptree/ (eng.)