Modigliani: A Life by Meryle Secrest

While Modigliani: A Life by Meryle Secrest was not exactly the biography I was looking for, it is an entertaining, educational read that has much to offer both fans of the artist and general readers.

Several years ago I picked up a copy of Becoming Judy Chicago more or less on a whim to discover one of my favorite reads of 2007.  Turns out I enjoy reading critical biographies of artists.  (Finding a new sub-genre you enjoy is one benefit of reading outside your box.)

Ms. Secrest’s book on Modigliani is not really a critical biography.  My loose definition of a critical biography is a book that looks at an artist’s work in an attempt to illuminate how it came to be, to examine how it works, and to evaluate its overall quality.  Of course, much of the artists personal life will be covered but it is not the focus of a critical biography.  Ms. Secrest covers all of Modigiliani’s life which is her main focus.  She does spend plenty of time discussing how he came to be an artist and explaining both how is art works as well as why it is significant, but the life of the man takes precedence.  Hence the title, I suppose.
It’s an interesting life.  If you were one of the many people participating in the recent Paris in July by day-dreaming about being an artist in Paris during the heyday of Monet or Picasso, you will find plenty to enjoy in Modigliani: A Life.   Amedeo Modigliani arrived in Paris from Italy, in the early days of the 20th century.  He lived among the major artists of his day, became friends with Pablo Picasso, was the center of attention in avant-garde social sets, and lived la vie Boheme on nothing a year.   He struggled as a sculptor for years until he found his signature style as a painter.  While he never became rich or famous during his lifetime, he did live to enjoy some success before dying  at the age of 36 from tubercular meningitis.   In Modigliani: A Life you’ll find a rich story of struggles with art, family, women, and day to day existence in Paris of the early 20th century, when the art scene left Montmarte for cheaper quarters in Montparnasse.

Ms. Secrest attempts to correct several aspects of Modigliani’s reputation, namely that he helped bring about his own early death through excessive drink and the use of narcotics.  She builds a strong case.  What struck me most is the idea that he drank as a means to control the symptoms of tuberculosis which he kept secret until just before his death.  His fear that he would have been ostracized by just about everyone if his condition became known was probably correct.

If, like me, you’re looking for information about his paintings, you’ll find it towards the end of Ms. Secrest’s book.  Modigliani was at the height of his skill during the final year of his life.  He had been painting portraits of friends for several years, he worked with anyone who would sit for him without pay because he had no money to hire models, but these did not sell.  In Modigliani’s day, if the sitter didn’t buy the portrait, no one did.  Once he moved on to painting nudes, his work began to sell, and he painted what many argue are his best works.
Like Picasso and many other artists living in Paris at the time, Modigliani was heavily and clearly influenced by the African masks which were beginning to appear on the art market in Europe.  Ms. Secrest writes about the mask like faces in Modigliani’s work:
“The more he (Modigliani) paints individuals the more their particular features fade into the background, and the more faces seem encased in a smooth shell as hard as a carapace.  As Pierre Daix observed, the comparison between Picasso’s revised portrait of Gertude Stein and Modigliani’s mature style is apt.  Modigliani, however, never took his experiments with features further than that. Unlike Picasso, who has already turned his women’s faces into beak-like appendages by the time he is working on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Modigliani’s noses stay where they were put, the mouths fall beneath them, there are no double profiles or eyes placed in the middle of foreheads. Picasso’s interest is schematic, to see how far he can rearrange facial features and still have them be recognizable.  Modigliani’s interest is otherwise. He is trying to simplify and reduce to the irreducible minimum the essence of a personality without actually losing it altogether.  The masks of the commedia dell’arte wore, as Pierre Louis wrote in The Italian Comedy, “an indefinable expression as full of possibilities as of impossibilities, like the Mona Lisa, which every generation interprets differently.” Modigliani’s self-imposed challenge, to see how far he could venture into abstraction without ending in either anonymity or caricature, must be one of the most difficult any artist since the Renaissance has attempted.”

So why is Modigliani not held in the high esteem less able painters like Picasso are or recognized alongside the great painters of his generation like Matisse?  Ms. Secrest blames three major culprits.  The first is the author’s own personal reputation.  Modigliani’s private life was one of near complete chaos which gave him a lasting bad reputation deserved or not.  Second, because his work is so easy to fake and because he did not keep accurate records of the work he did, he became one of the  most frequently counterfeited artists of the 20th century.  For a long time, there was really no way to be sure you were buying a Modigliani.  Finally, his artwork itself worked against a lasting reputation.  Because Modigliani worked to create his own signature style, he was not included in the early narrative of 20th century art.  He is neither a cubist nor an abstract painter nor does he fit within any other school of art.  His work stands outside the rest and was often left out of the early histories of 20th century art as a result.

Fans of Modigliani, like myself, can hope that as more and more people begin to see how inferior Picasso’s work is to that of Matisse, that other excellent painters like Modigliani will be given their due.  Ms. Secrest’s book is a step in the right direction.
Since I first ran this review on my old blog, Ready When You Are, C.B., I remain a fan of Modigliani, but I’ve become a devote of Henri Matisse.  Fortunately, we don’t have to pick one or the other, we can enjoy them all.

Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer

Before she was executed, Anne Boleyn’s head was shaved.  Afterwards, her hair was given to the executioner as part of the payment for his work.  He then sold it, at a considerable sum for the time, to a maker of tennis balls, which were often filled with human hair in that century.  Anne Boleyn’s hair was valued material for tennis balls because it was female, reddish in color and from someone believed to be a witch.  Four tennis balls were made from her hair.  One was used in a famed match between Italian painter Michelangelo Caravaggio and Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo. Another, through the usual suspicious provenance, ended up at  the New York Public Library.

Since C.J. and I are cat-sitting in Brooklyn this summer, I, of course, thought we should go see this tennis ball made from Anne Boleyn’s hair.   So I contacted the New York Public Library to ask if the tennis ball was on display.  The librarian I spoke with, Nick, said he had never heard of this he would have heard of if they had a tennis ball made from Anne Boleyn’s hair, but he gave me the number of a department that would probably know more about it.

So I did some on-line research only to discover, in a few minutes, that Alvaro Enrigue made the whole thing up.  There are no tennis balls made from Anne Boleyns hair.  Caravaggio and de Quevedo never played tennis against each other.  The entire book is fiction, historical fiction.

But that I believed it all, or was so ready to believe it all, says something, maybe something about Mr. Enrigue’s book or maybe something about me.

Though I can say what happens in Sudden Death, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer, it’s hard to say what the book is about.  Even the narrator admits, just about two-thirds of the way through the novel, that he doesn’t know.  There is the tennis match which is interspersed throughout the novel. Is it a metaphor for something larger? There is a plot involving Hernan Cortez’s conquest of Mexico and the story of how this will bring a piece of feather work to the attention of Italian artists, changing forever they way they use paint.  And some treacherous popes, some surviving Aztec craftsmen, Cortez’s native wife who ends up living a life of luxury in Spain.

It’s a wonderful ride, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and one that I recommend.  One that I’m keeping around to read again someday.

It was also the first winner in the Tournament of Books.  Sudden Death beat out both The Throwback Special which I loved and The Sport of Kings which I have not read yet, though I do own a copy.  I didn’t think Sudden Death would win because it’s such a difficult book to pin down.  What’s really going on is not what’s really going on in Sudden Death.  The plot, as much fun as it was, may just be a cover for a discussion of writing or art or the nature of narrative or the unreliability of story or something someone more clever than I will figure out.  It’s also very experimental in nature they  Roberto Bolano’s work so often is.  After finishing the book, I looked at the back cover to find that Mr. Enrigue is Mexican, not Spanish as I had assumed and that his work has been compared to Roberto Bolano.  Should have known, I thought.

So while I was surprised to see it win the pre-tournament play-in round, I was still pleased.

It’s an excellent book.  Let’s see how it does against Francine Prose’s Master Monkey.

Black Wave by Michelle Tea

When I was in college, I was friends with a group of women who shared a flat on Divisidero Street in San Francisco, decades before it became a trendy neighborhood.  In the 1980’s, four college students living on four or five hundred dollars a month  each could come up with enough money to rent a flat.  As longs as no one spends all the rent money on cocaine.

One month, that happened.  The leaseholder, who collected all the cash, spend the rent money on cocaine.  When the land-lord came to call, they almost all ended up on the street.  One of them managed to convince the landlord to give them an extra month to come up with the money and to move the lease over to a different room-mate.

The former leaseholder, the one with the fondness for cocaine, was evicted by consensus.

So, yes, I do understand that addiction is a disease, but the rent is the rent.

Which is why I have less patience for stories of addiction than I might have.

Which is why I had a tough time with Michelle Tea’s novel, Black Tea.  I should have liked it more.  The first half of the story is set in San Francisco, much later, some 30 years or so, than my college days, but familiar territory that I am fond of. The main character is a lesbian woman who shares the flat with a series of roommates and girlfriends.  She even works in a book store.  But, boy does she use a lot of drugs. I kept thinking as I read her story that her roommate should throw her out.

So I found it all very tough reading in the same way I found Charles Bukowski’s Ham and Eggs tough reading.  I just don’t have much interest in stories of how far addicts go to serve their addiction be it alcohol or hard drugs.

Still, since Black Wave is in the Tournament of Books this year, I kept reading.  I think I’m glad I did.


Just short of halfway through the novel, the story shifts to Los Angeles.  The main character then turns to the reader to admit that not all of what she has told us so far is true.  The girl she introduced briefly as a sort of one-night-stand was really a long-term girlfriend.  She just didn’t want to be included in this “memoir.” Other details had been changed as well. So what’s really going on.

In Los Angeles we discover that the world is about to end.  Things are decaying around the main character who manages to get a job in a bookstore like the one she had in San Francisco.  Things get worse, gradually then dramatically.  It’s an unclear end of the world scenario that features the main character in a bookstore strewn with unshelved books, reminding me of Paul Auster’s wonderful novel In the Country of Last Things.  But Mr. Auster and Ms. Tea are up to very different things.  Ms. Tea is doing something much more in line with Samuel R. Delany’s Dahlgren in which a city, probably New York, decays in chaos while the hippie-like main characters build a temporary utopia amid the soon to be ruins of civilization.  I loved Dhalgren and came to enjoy the second part of Black Wave.

But what really surprised me about Black Wave is how moved I was at the ending. Even though I was enjoying the book by the end, I did not expect to care about the main character, this drug addled hipster with an attitude she is in no position to hold.  But I was.  The final scene, her last moments of life, struck me, profoundly struck me.

I did not expect that, not at all.

So I think I’m recommending Black Wave. 100 pages into the book I was ready to lay it aside for good, but by the final words on the last page I was thinking I might read more by Michelle Tea.  I think that’s a recommendation.

The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

How to find a place to begin when you’re confronted with something that’s not like anything you’ve read before?  When you’ve been reading for nearly 50 years, this doesn’t happen all that often which doesn’t make starting any easier.

I could say Chris Bachelder’s novel The Throwback Special is a book about sports, but like the other great sports books I’ve read, it’s not really about sports.   It is about football, but ootball is just a means to an end, here.

All of the 22 or so characters in the book are middle-age men, almost all of them white men, which made me feel a little guilty about reading it for some reason.  We’re supposed to be reading books about people not like ourselves, aren’t we?  I worry about how well a book about middle-aged white men will do in the Tournament of Books which I’m following closely this year for the first time.  I only read The Throwback Special because it made the final cut for the tournament’s short list.

If it had not been listed for the Tournament of Books, I probably never would have read this book about 22 middle-aged white men obsessed with a single 5-second play they all saw live on Monday Night Football 16 years ago.

I would have missed out.

It’s a wonderful book.

The men all gather each year at a nondescript strip-mall like hotel, one like all the others you find throughout suburban America, to re-enact the Throwback Special, in which Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann’s leg was broken so badly that he never played another game.

Mr. Bachelder’s novel floats from character to character as each of the men arrive at the hotel.  We get some of their back story, some of their thoughts, some of what brings them back to the hotel year after year, but we never find out how this entire ritual began.  They all seem to only know each other through this annual re-enactment.  But that didn’t matter to me at all.

Each man seems to be at a crossroads in life. A marriage that has not gone as hoped for.  Children who didn’t grow up to become what they promised to be. Career regrets. Lost relationships.  Aches in places where they used to play, as Leonard Cohen said. More than a few of them men are questioning why they go through this annual meeting at all.

I’m not doing a very good job conveying why I loved this book so much here.  I’m not really sure why I loved it.

I loved how well the author conveyed the nature of male friendships, how so much of it is performance.  They all seem to be great friends, very close, but so few of them really know what’s going on in each other’s lives. The talk but they don’t talk, connect without connecting.

There are three men for example, who all go outside by the dumpster to smoke one evening.  They’ve been doing this for 16 years.  Over the past few years each of the men has quit smoking, but none of them can bring themselves to admit this to the others.  They each feel like they would be letting the other two men down, breaking the bond that holds them together by ending this one connection. So they all end up standing there asking if anyone can give them a cigarette since none of them have a pack without them of course.  They all wind up bumming cigarettes off of a hotel employee who comes out to empty the trash. While this is both funny and kind of sad, I think it illustrates the nature of many relationships. We build them around whatever we have at hand when we can’t build them around things that really matter. When the connections cannot be based on something deep, they must be based on something shallow.

By the time the night of the actual re-enactment came along, I was excited to see what would happen.  I don’t care about sports at all, but good sports writing always captures my interest.  The men all spend the afternoon before the “game” preparing for their roles, studying the game footage, reviewing what happened that night and what each player went through before and after the event.  Each man will re-enacted the movements of and actual player so they have to know exactly what to do.  All this for five seconds of action.  But, I have to admit, by the time that re-enactment came along, I was excited to see it; I was thinking about how much I would like to know more about Joe Theismann and what really happened that night.

Mostly, I loved the writing itself.  I don’t say this often, but I found each sentence excellent, writerly but not forced.  The book I’m currently reading for the Tournament, which I’ll review later, relies heavily on the simple declarative sentence.  It’s very straightforward writing.  Economical.  Mr. Bachelder doesn’t go to Henry James extremes but reading his writing is reading someone who is very good at writing and willing to celebrate it for its own sake.  Reading The Throwback Special is putting your reading in the hands of a writer who knows his craft inside and out.

This rambling review has not done the book justice.  At its heart, is a strange little story, almost a non-story, that touched me and has stayed with me.  While I think it’s clearly an underdog, I hope it does well in the tournament.

I’d love to read it again some day.

Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke

It took me almost three months to read this book.

The little page counter/timer on my Kindle claimed that I should have been able to read the entire book in just about three hours, but even when using the audio read-a-loud feature, I never made it more than a few pages at a time without falling asleep.

Okay, I was reading in bed, sometimes lying on the sofa in the late afternoon.

But still.

It’s easy to see why Arthur C. Clarke is considered a visionary, one of the standards to whom subsequent science fiction authors have been compared to ever since.  From what I know, Earthlight is not considered one of Arthur C. Clarke’s best novels, but it’s still a very forward thinking book.  At least it is technologically.  Mr. Clarke imagines a realistic future featuring a colonized solar system.  Humans have moved on from the earth to large settlements on the moon and Mars along with several other smaller colonies on various moons throughout the solar system.

Things have reached a point where the colonies have begun to rebel against their home planet much like American colonies rebelled against England.

It’s all very well thought out, very feasible.  Earthlight is what’s known as hard science fiction, based on real science, focused on technology and what future technology might include.  In spite of my sleepy reaction to the book, Mr. Clarke is good with plot and with characterization.  I also really liked the central image of the book, that of the earth in various phases sitting in the moon’s sky.  What it would be like to live your entire life with the blue earth as the thing you see in the sky at night, is an interesting question.

What I have a problem with is that in Mr. Clarke’s future not a single woman is capable of working on the moon.  Not only women, but every man who’s neither white nor heterosexual.  What is that about?

I understand that Mr. Clarke wrote Earthlight in 1955 but seriously.  You can imagine life on the moon but not a woman capable of working in the observatory there.  Even if women can’t work on the moon, if there’s a colony there, surely some of the men will be married with children.  They’re all straight, right.

I’m a little tired of granting people leeway just because they come from a time and culture other than our own.  If someone who writes about the future is to be considered visionary, it’s not too much to expect that their vision include social progress along with technical progress.  And if you want to give an author credit for creating a world, you have to prove the existence of at least one fully realized female character in their work.  Yes, I’m talking about Mr. Tolkien.  The most emotionally complex female character he ever created was a giant spider.

That’s right.  I said it.

End of rant.


I first ran this review on my old blog, Ready When You Are, C.B., a few years back, but I still stand by my little rant. Since I’ve been focused on science fiction this past week or so, it’s been clear that the above rant is right on.


Of Men and Monsters by William Tenn

It’s easy to compare William Tenn’s 1968 science fiction classic Of Men and Monsters to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Set far in the future, Of Men and Monsters describes life on earth after a race of Brobdingnagian sized aliens have colonized our planet.  Unable to defeat the invading species, humanity has been reduced to living inside the walls and floors of the new dominant species’s homes, scavenging off the giant, six-legged aliens.  Think, The Borrowers writ very, very large and crossed with John Christopher.

While Jonathan Swift made his satirical points comparing the habits of  Brobdingnag’s giant citizens with humanity, Mr. Tenn builds his satire by looking at the humans who now live within the walls of the alien homes.  Of Men and Monsters follows the life of Eric the Only, later Eric the Eye, who comes of age after making his first theft, stealing something of value from a monsters.  Eric’s tribe, called Mankind, is made up of Ancestor Science followers.  Other tribes are followers of Alien Science. Both groups live within the walls of the same building– two communities in direct competition with each other although they are both sworn to strike back at the aliens who invaded many generations ago.

The book  works very well as an adventure story. Eric is a compelling enough character.  The journey he takes through parts of his world he has never seen before makes for a very good read. The fact that his journey takes place within a single alien dwelling serves to make the book even more interesting.  I had as much fun reading about the various human communities that live within the walls as I’m sure Mr. Tenn had writing about them in the first place.  Of Men and Monsters never becomes a complete page-turner, but it does keep events flowing at a quick pace building up more than enough narrative tension to satisfy anyone looking for a diverting read.

While Mr. Tenn does take time to make sure the reader gets his more satirical points, this comes in small enough doses to keep from overwhelming the plot.  It’s easy to see that he is comparing humanity to rats which wasn’t a new idea even in 1968 when the novel was first published.  His future simply takes a much more literal look at the analogy than anyone I’ve ever read before.  While Robert O’Brien’s classic children’s novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH came out three years later and closely follows the plot of Of Men and Monsters, I’ll have to leave it to others more knowledgeable than I am to establish a link between the two books.   I can say that if you liked Mrs. Frisby as a child, you’ll probably enjoy Of Men and Monsters as an adult.  I did.

Unless you’re a feminist.  If you are, then you’re likely to find Of Men and Monsters frustrating.  Ana, who blogs at Things Mean a Lot,  pointed me towards two excellent pieces in her favorite posts of 2012 article.    In the first Renay of Subverting the Text looks at the coverage of women authors on Science Fiction/Fantasy blogs and finds about what you would expect.   In the second Foz Meadows of Shattersnipe: Malcontent and Rainbows argues that stories are genderless.  Both are worthwhile reading, and both left me thinking in general about issues of gender, specifically about issues of gender in science fiction.

Looking at Of Men and Monsters with this in mind, Mr. Tenn does not present a very hopeful future for women.   In his book women have a position of some respect within the tribes of humans–they are the knowledge keepers, the ones who take the raw materials and technology the men find and make useful objects.  However, gender rolls are clearly defined in all groups: women are never allowed leadership positions, their primary purpose is to bear children, and they must submit to the will of their mate (always a male) whether he be worthy or not. Mr. Tenn’s future looks a lot like the distant past.

At one point in the book, Eric mates with Rachel, a young woman from a tribe much more advanced than his own.  He takes her as his mate on the condition that she will teach him what she knows.  During one of her lessons she makes a speech about all the horrors humanity visited upon itself and upon the world before the aliens invaded.   In a well-written speech lasting almost two pages, she blames mankind for enslaving members of its own race and for crimes committed upon other species as well.  The only mention she makes of the oppression of women throughout the centuries is a quick remark blaming both men and women for harming the other:

Sometimes men would trample on women and mock their hurt, sometimes women would trample on men and mock their hurt.

While I do believe we should critique the book the author wrote, not the one we wanted him to write, someone writing in 1968 really should have been able to see the situation of women throughout human history in a more thoughtful light than that.

However, there is still much to enjoy in William Tenn’s Of Men and Monsters.  Not the least is the way he envisions mankind finally travelling to other planets.  In the future, if mankind is reduced to the position of rats, then mankind will travel to new worlds the same way rats did.

It makes for a very funny, if slightly disturbing, ending.


I first published this review on my old blog, Ready When You Are, C.B., several years ago.  I still think this book is well worth a read, if you’ve never read it and you’re a fan of the genre.  But I don’t think it’s one I’ll be rereading in retirement, though I am keeping my copy.  I do like those Gollancz covers.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

After the earth is threatened by alien invasion William Mandella is drafted as part of the world’s first elite corp of soldiers and sent into battle light years across space.  A story as old as science fiction, perhaps, but what happens to William when he returns to an earth where decades have gone by during the months he spent travelling at nine-tenths  light speed makes Joe Haldeman’s novel The Forever War both a story of alien combat and of multiple utopian and dystopian futures.

It’s a mind-bending ride.

The Forever War is one of the defining examples of hard science fiction in that everything in the future Mr. Haldeman constructs is based on serious scientific knowledge.  Interstellar and intergalactic space travel is based on the use of collapsed stars,  the alien race is based on real world, or real space, biology, and most importantly, the effects of relative time are a key part of the novel.  Private Mandella participates in several battles, each involving a different trip to locations farther away from earth, taking him a few decades, then a few centuries into the future since his time, spent travelling at near the speed of light,  passes much more slowly relative to time back on earth.

This allows Mr. Haldeman to create a race of technologically advanced aliens along with several sets of futures for the earth, one just a few decades ahead of his own time, one 30 years past that and then two more much farther into the future.  Private Mandella is not only a soldier, he is a time traveler in a hard science fiction novel that recognizes time travel goes only one way, into the future, and that there is no going back.

While the worlds around Private Mandella change throughout the novel along with the cast of characters, his character remains the heart of The Forever War giving it a human touch many people who don’t read it think hard science fiction lacks.  Private Mandella is forced to give up not just everything he owns but everything he knows when he is drafted into the elite force.  He returns when his two year tour of duty is over to find that 29 years have passed on earth leaving a world so different from the one he left that he no longer has a place in it.  Even his own mother has changed so much he can no longer find a connection with her.  After his second tour of duty he finds the human race so changed he has trouble seeing himself as part of it any longer.  Each time he leaves for the battle field he knows that decades of relative time will pass before he reaches the front making each attack an invasion from the past as far as the enemy is concerned and leaving the elite corps always at a disadvantage.  How can they fight an enemy who is always years ahead of them?  Should they even attempt to attack when the war may have been won or lost in the time it took them to get to the battlefield?

When Mr. Haldeman wrote The Forever War the greatest threat to humanity, at least in the popular imagination of the time, was overpopulation.  When Private Mandella returns to earth for the first time, he finds a society that has begun to encourage homosexuality as a way to deal with overpopulation.  He finds his mother is in a relationship with a woman.  His second return to humanity finds a strictly homosexual race, bred in laboratories, engineered to be gay as a means of population control.  Private, now Colonel, Mandella must adjust to an army where he is the only straight person–the soldiers in Mr. Haldeman’s elite corp are equally men and women from the start of the novel.

I’ve no idea just how seriously this idea would have been taken as a cure for overpopulation when The  Forever War was first published in 1974 nor if it would have been received as pro or anti gay rights.  Mandella is not bothered by it much, though he rejects the surgery that would make him homosexual in spite of how lonely his position in an all gay society makes him.  In retrospect, overpopulation has not turned out to be the world ending problem we once feared it would become, so it’s difficult to judge its possible cures and consequences as presented in the science fiction of of the period.  Could Mr. Haldeman’s future have happened?  Today, genetic science is determined to find a DNA combination for every human characteristic.   When they do, if they do, they’re bound to try turning this sequence off, that one on.

Who knows.

But this story idea begs a more literary question.  How many science fiction novels have you read that imagined a world where something other than strict heterosexuality was the norm?  How many of those were written by someone other than Ursula K. Le Guin or Samuel R. Delany?


It’s been a couple of years since I read The Forever War for my old blog, Ready When You Are, C.B. but science fiction and fantasy still remain largely heterosexual genres.