Multiple sources are reporting that Joanna Russ has died following a series of strokes. She was 74.
I don’t even know how to talk about her: her influence on writing, on writers, on the direction of the genre, on generations of readers, and especially on other women in all areas of the field. She was tremendous. I read The Female Man when I was in college, and was awed. I read “When It Changed” some time later, I think when it was first reprinted on SciFi.com (for which I am very grateful to Ellen Datlow, the site’s fiction editor, who ran a phenomenal series of reprints there), and I read it again today when Graham Sleight posted a link to it. It is just as powerful as I remember. Do yourself a favor and read or reread it now; it isn’t long, and is well worth the little time and effort it requires. I always expect it to end differently, or maybe I want it to end differently: the simple ending, the brute force ending. But that wasn’t Russ’s way; she always went for the complex ending, the realistic ending, the ending that is not really an ending because human stories don’t end in that neat and tidy way.
Her story also has not ended, as long as we remember her–which I hope will be for a very, very long time.