The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Memoirs of a Spacewoman is a first-person narrative set in a utopian future. Mary, of indefinite age because of time blackouts during space travel, recalls her career as a communications specialist on various space expeditions. The novel, structured around Mary’s different voyages, also centers on her sexual desires and her pregnancies. As a communications specialist, Mary risks losing her own identity through establishing complete empathy with an alien life-form; despite extensive training and a stable personality, she has sometimes come close. In her first voyage, she communicates so successfully with radiate beings that her vertical, two-sided psychology becomes confused. She temporarily loses the ability to make choices; she thus loses the chance to have a child with a fellow voyager to whom she was attracted (and by whom she later bears a child).

On a second voyage, having barely survived an explosion, she is impregnated by the Martian Vly, who tries to communicate with her in order to save her. From this pregnancy is born a haploid, a being with the mother’s genes doubled and none of the father’s. She feels an unusual attachment for her haploid Viola, worrying that because of her daughter’s short stature, she may never become an explorer. This would be an unfortunate plight, because nonexplorers are bound by time. Another voyage presents Mary with a generalized life-form that she does not recognize as a single being. When she...

(The entire section is 458 words.)