The science fiction genre has provided feminist writers and critics with a valuable framework for criticizing dominant patriarchal pat terns of gender relations and for speculating about alternatives. In doing so, writers have had to be very selective within the genre. The character types of what is sometimes nostalgically referred to as 'Golden Age' science fiction, for instance, would be of little use to feminists, except perhaps for parodic purposes. 'Golden Age' sci ence fiction, science-based fantasies for a male readership appearing in the US between the mid-1920s and the mid-1940s, had very little use for women characters, let alone women's issues. As Susan Wood (1980) reports, women tended to be restricted to three broad types. The more scientifically orientated stories contained 'interminable examples of woman-as-recipient-of-expositorylump', someone to whom scientific complexities could be explained in simple terms a lay reader would understand. In the stories devoted to adventure and heroism (the 'space operas'), there were two possibilities open to women: 'blonde Victims, shrieking "eek"', or 'dark, sultry Temptresses, eternally trying to seduce the hero away from his rescue mission'. 'The latter,' Wood observes, 'had rather more fun', but generally ended up dead (Wood 1980: 66).