James Tiptree Jr., aka Alice Sheldon, is justly revered as a science fiction pioneer. And writing for NPR, Harvard professor and poet Stephen Burt makes a strong case that she represents the perfect fusion of some of science fiction's most essential strands.
Burt's must-read essay on Tiptree begins:
We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words.
And if we want all those things at once — a sense of escape, a sense of injustice, a sense of mortality and an ear for language — we can read the stories of James Tiptree Jr., real name Alice Sheldon.
You should definitely read the rest over at NPR.