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Present Writers: Lisa Goldstein

This is the latest in a recurring series! For more about the series, please read the original post on Marta Randall, or subsequent posts on Dorothy Heydt, Barbara Hambly, Jane Yolen, Suzy McKee Charnas, Sherwood Smith, Nisi Shawl, Pamela Dean, Gwyneth Jones , Caroline Stevermer, Patricia C. Wrede, Lois McMaster Bujold, Nancy Kress, Diane Duane, Candas Jane Dorsey, Greer Gilman, Robin McKinley, Laurie Marks, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman,Rosemary Kirstein, Karen Joy Fowler, Susan Cooper, and Ellen Klages.

Critical discourse about the speculative genres often focuses on alienation. And Lisa Goldstein does a lot with that theme–but she often does it in the slightly gentler realm of visitor/tourist. The bewildered traveler–either metaphorically or literally–estranged from the world around them but interested–is a common theme through Goldstein’s books. With this angle comes the willingness to experience new things but also the struggle to free oneself from previous perspective.

The first time I read Tourists, Ivory Apples, and A Mask for the General–my three favorite of Goldstein’s novels–this common thread didn’t strike me as strongly as it does on this time around. Maybe it’s because I’m staying put myself. Maybe it’s just having a little more perspective. It’s not like she didn’t hand us clues to what she was doing: her collection is called Travelers in Magic, for heaven’s sake. But right now, in the middle of our pandemic shutdown, I’m particularly appreciating the strangely familiar feel of this kind of long strange trip. And I’m particularly glad that Lisa Goldstein is still around imagining new places to take us. We need them now.

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