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New to the sci-fi genre or looking for more reccos? Here are 12 women science fiction authors I really believe you should give a read.
Mary Shelley was an English novelist, essayist, dramatist, biographer, scientific fantasy and travel writer. She is best known for her outstanding work- ‘Frankenstein‘. ‘Frankenstein’ was first published in 1818 and is considered to be the first science fiction novel. Her Frankenstein is a perfect blend of science and fantasy.
It is also sometimes considered as a gothic novel which is skillfully thought provoking. Mary Shelley fostered the works of her husband, the romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was a woman with political opinions. Keeping 18th century politics in background, her work reflects pessimism towards enlightenment and the hopes of bringing perfection to humanity. Her other notable works are ‘Mathilda’, ‘Lodore’, ‘Falkner’ and so on.
Octavia Butler was an American science fiction writer. She is one of the best known authors in this field and the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship. Butler worked on a distinctive theme while writing three novels which later came to be known as Patternist Series, which exhibits transformation of humanity into three genetic groups.
Her patternist series comprised of ‘Pattern master’, ‘Mind of my mind’ and ‘Survivor’. She is also well known for her best-selling novel, ‘Kindred’. Next she worked on ‘Bloodchild‘, a critical short story and won the Nebula, Hugo, Locus and the Science Fiction Chronicle Reader Award. She is also the author of ‘Xenogenesis Trilogy’, ‘The Parable Series’, ‘Amnesty’, ‘The Book of Martha’, and her last publication before her demise was ‘Fledgling’.
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is one of the most popular names in the genre of science fiction and fantasy. Her works exhibit a futuristic and different vision to the world of politics and echo some of the prominent themes like gender, sexuality, environment and religion.Le Guin was influenced by fantasy writers like J. R. R. Tolkien, science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, notable figures of Western literature such as Leo Tolstoy and feminist writers such as Virginia Woolf.
Some of her notable works are ‘Earthsea Fantasy Series’, ‘Hainish Science Fiction series’, ‘Lavinia‘, ‘The Compass rose’ and so on. She won Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Awards, more than a time. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for her contribution to American Letters.
Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley is popular for her contributions in the field of fantasy, historical fantasy, and science fiction. A feminist perspective reigns throughout her work. She gained popularity in major due to her best-selling Arthurian fiction novel– ‘The Mists of Avalon’ and the ‘Darkover series.’ She is one of the co-founders of a spiritual organization named the Centre for Non-Traditional Religion.
Her notable works are ‘The Atlantian series’, ‘The Avalon series’, ‘Shadow’s Gate series’ and so on. Bradly also produced several works other than science fiction and fantasy under various pseudonyms like Lee Chapman, John Dexter, Miriam Gardner, Valerie Graves, Morgan Ives, Elfrieda Rivers and Astara Zimme.
Alice Bradley Sheldon was an American science fiction author better known by her pen-name James Tiptree Jr. She is well-known for breaking gender barriers. Her works and pen-names kept her gender veiled and she performed as a male throughout her writing career. It was after 1977 that the gender of James Tiptree Jr. became publicly known as female.
Her first published short story was ‘Birth of a Salesman’ in March 1968 followed by ‘If and Fantastic.’ Feminism has been a constant theme of Sheldon’s work and she was perceived as a feminist science fiction author particularly after her notable work, ‘The Women Men Don’t See’. Some of her eminent works are ‘Ten thousand light-years from home’, ‘The Starry Rift’, ‘Her Smoke Rose up Forever’ and so on.
Anne Inez McCaffrey was an American-born Irish writer, brilliant in the field of science fiction and romance. She is popularly known for her best-selling work ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ which won Hugo award for best novella in 1968. McCaffrey’s first novel was ‘Restoree’, published by Ballantine Books in 1967. Some of the other short stories and novellas by McCaffrey include ‘Weyr Search’, ‘The Smallest Dragon Boy’, ‘A time When’, ‘The girl who heard Dragons’, ‘Ireta series’ and so on.
Few of her books are co-authored. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame citation perceives her work as science fiction with a shade of fantasy. Her work wonderfully casts a magical spell on adolescent readers. Her 1978 novel ‘The White Dragon’ became one of the first science-fiction books to appear on the New York Times Best Seller list. In 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America acknowledged McCaffrey as its 22nd Grand Master. In her writing era, she was the first woman to receive Hugo Award for fiction and Nebula Award.
Vandana Singh is an Indian science fiction writer, born in New Delhi. She is famous for her works in the genre of science fiction, fantasy, children’s literature and poetry. She currently works at Framingham State University in Massachusetts as a Physics instructor. Her notable works include ‘Delhi’, ‘The Wife’, ‘Young uncle comes to town’,’The Woman Who Thought She Was A Planet’ and other stories.
Vandana Singh’s ‘Thirst’ was long listed for the British Fantasy Award and finds Honourable mention for Year’s Best Science Fiction and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Also, her work ‘The Tetrahedron’ was shortlisted for the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and is an Honourable mention in Year’s Best Science Fiction.
Catherine Ann Asaro is an American science fiction and fantasy author with notable contribution in American Space opera. Her best known contribution in the genre of science fiction is the Saga of the Skolian Empire. Asaro is well known for distinctive scientific depth in her works and she is considered as a mathematical fiction and hard science fiction author.
Her work is imbued with sophisticated mathematical concepts. Some of her notable works include ‘Primary Inversion’, ‘Catch the Lightning’, ‘The Last Hawk’, ‘The Radiant Sea’, ‘The Moon’s Shadow’, ‘Skyfall’, ‘The Ruby Dice’ and so on. Asaro won innumerable accolades among which the significant awards are Saphire award, Homer award, Nebula award and the Prism award.
Pat Cadigan is a very popular name in the genre of science fiction and cyberpunk. Her work exhibits a common theme and aims at blurring the lines between reality and perception, which in turn makes human mind more explorable destination. Cadigan’s first novel ‘Mindplayers’ brilliantly explores the complexity of human mind.
Her second novel, ‘Synners’ elaborates on the same theme. Her stories radiate a hope of accessing mind through technology. Cadigan majorly worked on giving her chilhood fantasies a shape through her stories. She has won a number of awards among which is the Hugo Award 2013 for ‘The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi’. Some of her notable works are ‘Dore Konstantin’, ‘The Web’, ‘Patterns’, and ‘Home by the Sea’ and so on.
Karen Joy Fowler is an American author of science fiction, fantasy and literary fiction. With the collaboration of Pat Murphy, Fowler promoted the James Tiptree, Jr. award in 1991, a literary prize for science fiction or fantasy. She earned popularity due to her bestselling novel ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’, which was also later made into a movie.
Her works depict a dominating theme of alienation and lives of women. Fowler’s writing career bloomed with her first novel ‘Sarah Canery’, which displayed her feminist inclination and mindset. Her works are slightly eccentric than being completely genre oriented with an ambiguous climax.
Some of her notable works are, ‘We are completely beside Ourselves’, ‘Sister Noon’, ‘The Sweetheart Season’, ‘Peripheral Vision’, ‘Letters from Home’ and so on. Her ‘Black Glass’ and ‘What I Didn’t See’, and other stories won the World Fantasy Award. Among other accolades Fowler was awarded the Nebula award twice, followed by Shirley Jackson award and Faulkner award.
Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist well known for her innumerable contribution in Canadian literature. Her name finds popular mention in the genre of historical fiction, speculative fiction, science fiction and dystopian fiction. Atwood was influenced by feminist ideologies and her work portrays female characters oppressed by patriarchy.
She doesn’t however claim herself to be a feminist because she believes that the feminist label can only be applied to writers who consciously work within the framework of the feminist movement. Her notable works are ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘Cat’s Eye’, ‘Alias Grace’, ‘The Blind Assassin’, ‘Oryx’ and ‘Crake Surfacing’ and so on. She was awarded the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature . Atwood has also won the Booker Prize and the Governor General’s Award.
Kelly Link is an author and editor of American origin. Readers often find some of her works to be a combination of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and horror with a hint of magic realism. Few of her works doesn’t clearly fall under a particular genre. This abstractness is what makes her work distinctive. Among other accolades, she has won Hugo award, three Nebula awards, and The World Fantasy Award for science fiction. Some of her notable works are ‘Magic for Beginners’, ‘Get in Trouble’, ‘Pretty Monsters’, ‘Strange Things Happen’, ‘The Summer People’ and so on.
These are just some of the wonderful female science fiction authors whose work is out there. What others would you suggest?
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As parents, we put a piece of our hearts out into this world and into the custody of the teachers at school and tuition and can only hope and pray that they treat them well.
Trigger Warning: This speaks of physical and emotional violence by teachers, caste based abuse, and contains some graphic details, and may be triggering for survivors.
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