In Which I Am a Woman in the Sci-Fi Section at the Library’s Annual Used Book Sale

This really is the only place it’s socially acceptable to carry around a giant Sutter Home wine box in this town.

Okay, what are the sections this year? Let’s see: General Fiction, Gardening, Mystery, Nonfiction About War with Lots of Maps, a whole table of Pilcher, a whole table of Binchy, a whole table of Atwood… oh, I liked that book. I should get more of it.

Do I bother to find the three square feet they’ve allotted for sci-fi and fantasy and risk the opinion of whatever dude is over there?

Oh, look! It’s the sci-fi section, and hallelujah, it’s empty.

Nope. Here’s a man, because of course. He must have smelled a female getting close to the Sword of Shannara or something.

Someone really should make a nature special about this phenomenon.

(to be read in a BBC voice) The female sees an opening in the sci-fi and fantasy section, her preferred diet, and begins to graze. She is not aware that nearby, in the Music & Film section, a male has been lying in wait. Seeing a lone female enter his territory, he gives her a moment to settle into her hunt. The male moves in and begins his display.  First, to assert dominance over the sci-fi section, he muscles close, making an attempt to move her from her spot so he can graze in the choicest section.

My dude, I am 170 pounds and carrying a Sutter Home box filled with books. Physics is on my side here.

Then he attempts to gain her attention with a series of mating cries.

Thank you for recommending that I read The Silmarillion if I *really* want to understand the Lord of the Rings movies.

Why yes, I do know who Kurt Vonnegut is.

I am not now and will never be comfortable saying the words “Dirk Gently” to you.

The female, uninterested in mating, has two choices. She can stand her ground, or she can move on to less preferred hunting grounds in General Fiction. Suddenly she remembers: determined foragers can often find caches of undisturbed treasure in boxes on the floor. She just has to get to the other side of the table, away from the male, before she can drop to the floor and check. She leaves his territory, cutting through Romance, where she knows he will not follow, and rounds the table. On the other side, just between Romance and Science Fiction, she kneels down, and victory! A fresh trove of paperbacks, overlooked by her fellow grazers.

Oh my god! An uncorrected advance reader’s copy of Sorcerer to the Crown!

But the male, unfinished with his dance, has followed her and in his final bid, aggressively displays the full extent of his virility in the most plausibly fashion deniable fashion possible.

Did this asshole really follow me over here so he could stand here with his crotch in my face? Nice Dockers, jackass. I know you didn’t come over here just so you could look at all the upside-down Jim Butcher spines up there.

Another female approaches, and addresses the male. It is clear from her familiarity with him that they are a breeding pair.

-Bob. Are you in the Romance section?
-No! This is Science Fiction and Fantasy, Diane.

The breeding pair move off, leaving the solitary female to gather up all the Star Trek: Next Generation novelizations she can find, undisturbed. Meanwhile, in Biographies About White Men, a male is lying in wait.



4 thoughts on “In Which I Am a Woman in the Sci-Fi Section at the Library’s Annual Used Book Sale

  1. Ha, funny, AJ! Next time you are in this section try looking for Stanislaw Lem. You may appreciate his unique sense of humour along his visionary skills which seem to become closer and closer to reality in the age when we are so serious about the coming of the AI.

    From wiki:
    ” The Cyberiad (Polish: Cyberiada) is a series of humorous science fiction short stories by Polish writer Stanisław Lem, originally published in 1965, with an English translation appearing in 1974. The main protagonists of the series are Trurl and Klapaucius, the “constructors”.

    The vast majority of characters are either robots or intelligent machines. The stories focus on problems of the individual and society, as well as on the vain search for human happiness through technological means.”

  2. By the way, AJ, as my previous comment “awaits moderation”… 🙂 let me complement you on your short piece. I think it opened my eyes to the existential anxiety of today’s women. And, did I read it right, a sense of cognitive dissonance…? Quite a load to pack in this brief passage. Good job! -J.

    • That is a very appropriate response to a mating cry. But not everyone has your delivery. Your delivery of that line is *kisses fingertips like a french chef*.

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