Sibyl Sue Blue

SIbyl Sue Blue

Rosel George Brown

Review by Kris Vyas-Myall

Rosel George Brown is one of the greatest forgotten women SF authors. Nominated for the Hugo for Best New Author in 1959, she started releasing novels at the same time as Ursula K Le Guin and her first novel was longlisted for the Nebula Award in 1967. Yet she has been overshadowed by the big names coming out after her like Anne McCaffrey and Joanna Russ. Thanks to the Journey Press first reprinting of Sibyl Sue Blue in half a century, hopefully this can be somewhat remedied.

For this is a noteworthy book in a number of ways. In 2018 Aliette de Bodard wrote an excellent essay On Motherhood and Erasure. One of the points she has in this is there is an unspoken assumption that mothers cannot have adventures. Sibyl Sue Blue has no trouble with that at all. It should also be noted that whilst de Bodard mentions some exceptions to this, all are from later (with the exception of The Count of Monte Cristo), showing how unusual this tale was for the time.

One thing that is interesting about Sibyl, is the way she is able to both embrace her femininity and yet subvert the stereotypes of women in these kind of detective stories. On the one hand she does in some ways appear like a femme fatale description but yet she is essential the story and also always willing to have a big cigar on hand.

In some ways the science fictional mystery may not have been to my taste, the pacing and writing itself kept me engaged throughout and made it a very quick read and enjoyable story. That is not to say there is not depth and subtext in the story, but I will leave that for you to explore yourself.

Unfortunately, Brown died of lymphoma in 1967, at just 41. There is only one more adventure in this universe, The Waters of Centaurus, published posthumously. Her career was just picking up again and I can imagine a whole series of Sibyl Sue Blue adventures could easily have been written through the seventies.

What we have though is still wonderful, and I very much look forward to exploring her other adventure.

Waters of Centuarus

Until next time…

Goodreads Link

Publishers Website

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