(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Naomi Mitchison, a prolific Scot writer in many genres, was born into a family of scientists—her brother, J. B. S. Haldane, was a leading scientist—so it was natural that she should turn to writing science fiction. Memoirs of a Spacewoman is her first science-fiction novel. After this book, it was thirteen years be-fore she again turned to science fiction, with Solution Three (1975).

One of the first science-fiction writers to present a feminist point of view, she was concerned with problems of sexuality: Mary’s sexual attractions and her pregnancies form one of the structural devices of the novel. The novel presents a peculiarly feminist utopia. Mitchison had long been active in advocating birth control, and in her novel women have complete control over reproduction. The pains of childbirth have been eliminated, the responsibilities of rearing children are taken over by others (except for the first year of life), and financial responsibility has been assumed by the state. Although sexual attractions still exist, the novel is devoid of romantic love. People have long since abandoned such delusions, and women and men are considered absolutely equal.

Mitchison, however, posits unique abilities of the sexes. Specialties in communication, Mary says, are particularly suited to women, because the communications specialist must put her individual identity in abeyance to achieve total empathy with the alien. Even the female...

(The entire section is 473 words.)