SpecFic 101: Women write Science Fiction too

November 29, 2016 Bookish 3


No really. They do! But in a world where women are encouraged to use their initials so they can hide their gender when publishing science fiction, you might need some help picking your next amazing read. Here are some to get you started!

• I have read •

C. J. Cherryh

Author of the acclaimed Alliance-Union universe, Cherryh is the author of more than 60 books. I’ve read a few of them but my favourite will always be my first: Cyteen.

A brilliant young scientist rises to power on Cyteen, haunted by the knowledge that her predecessor and genetic duplicate died at the hands of one of her trusted advisors. Murder, politics, and genetic manipulation provide the framework for the latest Union-Alliance novel by the author of Downbelow Station. Cherryh’s talent for intense, literate storytelling maintains interest throughout this long, complex novel.

Ursula K. Le Guin

My first Le Guin was actually The Wizard of Earthsea, but The Left Hand of Darkness shouldn’t be missed.

A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.

Anne McCaffrey

Whether you classify her work as fantasy or science fiction, there’s no debate that she deserves be on ALL THE LISTS! I’d start with the Dragonriders of Pern series.

To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches.

Lois McMaster Bujold

Bujold is the winner of four Hugos, which should automatically make her a must-read for everyone. I recommend the Vorkosigan saga.

When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge.

Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice. That is all.

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Marianne de Pierres

I loved the Nightcreatures and Peacemaker books, but I’ve heard great things about the Sentients of Orion series as well.

While drifting in space, lost, due to navigational failure, a mineral scout discovers God. When word gets out, academics from the studiums across Orion scramble to gain the Entity’s favour.

Mary Shelley

No list like this would be complete without the author of Frankenstein!

Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Suzanne Collins

Look, if you haven’t read The Hunger Games then we can’t be friends anymore.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

Margaret Atwood

A Handmaiden’s Tale, of course, but also the MaddAddam books.

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.(less)

Andre Norton

Have you read the Forerunner books?

The Throg task force struck the Terran survey camp a few minutes after dawn, without warning, and with a deadly precision which argued that the aliens had fully reconnoitered and prepared that attack. Eye-searing lances of energy lashed back and forth across the base with methodical accuracy. And a single cowering witness, flattened on a ledge in the heights above, knew that when the last of those yellow-red bolts fell, nothing human would be left alive down there. And so Shann Lantee, most menial of the Terrans attached to the camp on the planet Warlock, was left alone and weaponless in the strange, hostile world, the human prey of the aliens from space and the aliens on the ground alike.

Amie Kaufman

Amie has co-written two science fiction series to date: Starbound with Megan Spooner, and Illuminae with fellow Aussie Jay Kristoff.

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

Jo Anderton

Another Aussie author! Because I could.

In a far future where technology is all but indistinguishable from magic, Tanyana is one of the elite. She can control pions, the building blocks of matter, shaping them into new forms using ritual gestures and techniques. The rewards are great, and she is one of most highly regarded people in the city. But that was before the “accident”. Stripped of her powers, bound inside a bizarre powersuit, she finds herself cast down to the very lowest level of society. Powerless, penniless and scarred, Tanyana must adjust to a new life collecting “debris”, the stuff left behind by pions. But as she tries to find who has done all of this to her, she also starts to realize that debris is more important than anyone could guess.

• On my TBR •

Norma K. Hemming

Lisa Tuttle

I’ve read The Silver Bough, The Mysteries (fantasy) and Windhaven (co-written with George R. R. Martin), but her science fiction is on my TBR.

Connie Willis

Elizabeth Bear

Octavia E. Butler


This was post was inspired by an article on Lifehacker which could only name one woman in an article titled “17 Science Fiction Books That Forever Changed The Genre”.

3 Responses to “SpecFic 101: Women write Science Fiction too”

  1. Senga

    Sheri S Tepper should be on this list too. You’ve given me some to add to my TBR list. Thanks!

  2. Kathryn Flaherty

    Elizabeth Moon does decent SF as well as fantasy plus she co-wrote with Anne McCaffrey, Sassinak 1st book of the Planet Pirates is my favourite by the both of them.

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