Before going off to the Guggenheim to meet the visiting Juliet after her immersion in Matthew Barney and sweep her from the sterile Upper East Side to the lively East Village for dinner (ah, the life of a New York City blogger!), I rummaged through her archives and came across this site dedicated to Anna Akhmatova, which includes a short video clip of her reading. (I also found this moving reminiscence of James Tiptree, Jr., the first thing I’ve read that gives me any sense of why she—that’s right, she—killed her husband and herself in 1987.)


  1. Also tiptree related: the James Tiptree, Jr. award!

  2. LH– How happenstancial, I went into San Francisco last night for a late dinner and then off to the Castro Theater to watch Cremaster 4 and 5. –jfb

  3. I loved Cremaster 5, but perhaps that had something to do with its setting — the Hungarian State Opera did a lot of the work for Barney in that installment in terms of creating a sense of the otherworldly. The rest I’m reserving judgement on… Did you see Ros Chast’s cartoon about the Cremaster Cycle in this week’s New Yorker? Very funny.

  4. I haven’t seen it, but will seek it out. I read a scathing review of Barney by Hoberman in The Village Voice. I read somewhere that Barney wrote the libretto in Hungarian. I’ve heard mixed reviews on C3.

  5. Akhmatova READING? ((squeals))
    Tiptree is a gorgeous, gorgeous writer, but she is also majorly depressing. I once gave a short story collection of hers to a friend with the warning “Do not read all of these in a row.”

  6. Somebody is looking for a linguistics-related Tiptree story at Stack Exchange. As I noted there, I suspect that if the story being described existed, it would be discussed here. However, just in case it hasn’t been, and somebody else here recognizes the description, I’m dropping this note here. (I know some other regular commenters also answer questions on the Science Fiction and Fantasy stack from time to time, most recently January First-of-May.)

  7. John Cowan says

    Because of the possibility that the Tiptree Award honored a murderer (the evidence is equivocal), and the killer of a disabled person to boot, it was renamed the Otherwise Award in 2019.

  8. Owlmirror says

    Given that this list of linguistics in fiction (mostly SF) was compiled in ~1995, and James Tiptree/Alice Sheldon died in 1987 (and therefore wrote no later works), and neither Tiptree nor Sheldon appear on the list . . . I suspect that the OP may be conflating memories of two different stories.

    (Zompist has a pared down and slightly updated version of the above)

    I also found a resource more for conlangers, with many classic works of SF:

    Not there, either.

    The SF Encyclopedia entry for Linguistics has no Tiptree/Sheldon.

    Hm, maybe a hit: This article on Linguistics in Science Fiction — really an essay on the topic — has:

    The second type of translator (unknown-to-known) seems to appear more often in science fiction works and can be alternatively known as a “Universal Translator”. In I’ll Be Waiting for You When the Swimming Pool is Empty by James Tiptree Jr., the protagonist uses a universal translator called the ‘Omniglot Mark Eight Vocoder’ that instantly translates whatever is being said to the necessary alien language although the characters themselves do not know what language that is.

    But I don’t think that’s anything to do with Sapir-Whorf (which does get covered as a topic)

  9. Owlmirror says

    Akismet the Boojum strikes again.

    I posted a comment (looking for a Tiptree story on linguistics), and updated it with more links to SF linguistics . . . and it has softly and silently vanished away.

  10. Rescued!

  11. Owlmirror says

    Thanks for the rescue.

    I re-read the stackexchange thread, and noticed that one of the links was to a review of “I’ll Be Waiting for You When the Swimming Pool is Empty”. So my find was redundant.

    The only other idea I can offer is of an SF author who was active around the same time as Tiptree, and was also active in linguistics; the first name on the first list I posted: Suzette Haden Elgin.

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