In this week’s post, I shamelessly crash the party started by Kristen over at her blog Fantasy Café (www.fantasybookcafe.com) and encourage you all to join her in declaring April Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy Month. A post on Heather Massey’s The Galaxy Express blog (www.thegalaxyexpress.net) led me to the Fantasy Café, where I discovered a wealth of fascinating stuff, including guest blogs from authors Elisabeth Bear, Carol Berg and, hold on to your space helmets, Lois McMaster Bujold!! Breathe, space cadets, just breathe!
You also have a chance to add to the Big, Giant List of Fantasy and Sci Fi Books by Women being compiled on the blog site. We can make sure some SFR titles get on that list!
My own post will be correspondingly short today so you can check out the goodies on Kristen’s site. (I know when I’m outclassed!) I do have a few personal notes to add, though.
If I had to tally the greatest female Science Fiction and Fantasy authors of all time, Ursula K. LeGuin would top my list. Her Rocannon’s World (1966), was one of the first (maybe the first) science fiction novels I ever read. I completed the Hainish trilogy with The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) for a class in college and The Dispossessed (1974) the year after I graduated. My husband and I used a passage from the latter novel in our wedding vows. (The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed won back-to-back Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1970 and 1975. That’s right—both awards in the same year for the same book, two books in a row.)
After the Great Split between fantasy and science fiction in the mid-to-late-Seventies, when the kind of humanistic SF LeGuin wrote was pushed to the fringes of the genre and she turned to fantasy and children’s literature, I stopped reading. But she certainly didn’t stop writing and has won many awards, in both SF and fantasy, since then.
The late Sixties and early Seventies, the time of the so-called New Wave of SF, could be said to be the Golden Age of women in SF. Most of the women on my list come from that time—Zenna Henderson (The People), Marion Zimmer Bradley (the Darkover series of SF fantasy), Kate Wilhelm (Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang), James Tiptree, Jr. (“The Girl Who was Plugged In”, “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?”) and, of course, Anne McCaffery. Octavia Butler comes from a much later era (the late 1990’s to early 21st Century), but she writes in a similar vein, focusing on the people in her stories and how they adapt to survive in their strange, future world.
It remains to be seen which of the many promising women writing today will stand the test of time to be added to the list. Lois McMaster Bujold without question. Susan Grant and Linnea Sinclair, certainly, as pioneers in the subgenre of SFR. Nalini Singh, Alexis Morgan, Angela Knight, Gena Showalter and others for Earth-based futuristics. Zoe Archer and Meljean Brook as the frontrunners for romantic steampunk. But there are so many, and only time can sort out the great from the merely good.
So, join the fun. Who are your nominees for Greatest Women SF&F Writers of All Time? Who do you think will be on that list in ten years? And head on over to the Fantasy Café to add your faves to the Big Giant List of Fantasy and Sci Fi Books by Women.