YOU NEVER HEARD OF HER ― BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE!
Her name is Frances Deegan. She wrote 21 stories and 35 articles under her own name for the science fiction pulps between 1944 and 1952, when few other women were selling to them at all. Yet you won’t find her listed in any book about science fiction. Not The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, A Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction, Pamela Sergeant’s Women of Wonder, Roger C. Schlobin’s comprehensive listing of women science fiction authors, Urania’s Daughters, Alexei and Cory Panshin’s The World Beyond the Hill, or David Hartwell’s Dark Descent. In fact, in the years since her death, Frances Deegan has become the forgotten woman of the golden age of pulp science fiction, and none of her stories have ever been reprinted.
The only place you will find Frances Deegan’s name is buried among the plethora of male authors in the table-of-contents listings for old sf magazines. Yet at a time when only a handful of women were writing or reading science fiction, Frances Deegan was one of the field’s most popular authors, if the letter columns of the period are to be believed. And that popularity was deserved, as this first-ever collection of her stories shows. And what stories they are! Set against backgrounds that are often rustic (“The Radiant Rock”), peopled with characters who are decidedly not urban (“The Wizard of Blue Gap”), and frequently humorous, with comic touches in even the most straightforward scientific puzzle story (“The Third Bolt”), they blazed new trails for science fiction when first written and still stand out as vigorous, idiosyncratic work even today, a half century after they were written.
It is hoped that this collection will introduce the work of this forgotten woman to new generations and help, in some measure, to rescue the name and reputation of Frances Deegan from obscurity.
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