One of our elders left us this week. Suzette Haden Elgin was a writer of science fiction, a professor linguistics, the founder of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and a feminist, among many other things.
While I thought less of her novel Native Tongue than a lot of people did, I’ll always remember her fondly as the author of one of my favorite short stories, “Old Rocking Chair’s Got Me.” First published in a 1974 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction, I discovered it in a science fiction textbook, Dick Allen’s Science Fiction: The Future. It’s a gorgeous tale (among many) of an explorer/scientist on trial for giving her people’s knowledge to an alien civilization by leaving a symbiotic creature in a person’s rocking chair so they can see the world they way it really is. These little critters breed very quickly and these no way to take them back.
As it says in SFWA’s annotated Elgin bibliography, “Explains the real function of rocking chairs in the Ozarks…. “
A feminist, a lover of peace, and a darned good writer, Ms. Elgin will be missed.