Reading Women: Science Fiction edition


Check it out!
It’s been a busy week here and a bit chaotic with weather disruptions, but I’ve managed to keep writing. I’m working on a spate of shorter stories and filling up my submission queue. It feels good to have new batch of stories out there making the rounds.
I also managed to get some reading done. I just finished Ann Leckie’s excellent Ancillary Justice, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Here’s what the back cover says:

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

First, this is just a straight-up fun read, and a great example of genre writing with real intelligence behind it. But, what I really loved, was how Leckie plays with gender. Breq has trouble distinguishing gender and simply refers to everyone as “she” by default, which kept me guessing about some of the characters and feeling a little off balance – but in a good way. Because 99.99 percent of books default to “he” in issues of gender. I can’t describe how refreshing it is to read a science fiction novel where the default is “she” instead.
Then I read E. Catherine Tobler’s excellent post about how much women writers get read compared to men, I checked my Goodreads profile to take stock of what I read last year. I was surprised to find that my ratio was about 70 percent male authors to 30 percent female.
So many of my favorite genre writers are women from Mary Shelly (whom some call the mother of the science fiction genre) to Leigh Brackett, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, and Nancy Kress just to name a very few. So many books that inform my writing are by women, I’d just assumed that I’d been reading men and woman equally.
Luckily, this is a problem that’s easy to rectify. There is, and has never been, any shortage of great women science fiction writers.* Here are a couple great places to find out about them.
Books That Prove Science Fiction Just Got Harder from io9, in which the majority of hard science fiction books listed are written by women including such masters as Lois McMaster Bujold and C.J. Cherryh
For a more exhaustive list check out Jessica Strider’s post over at Sci-Fi Fan Letter.

But wait, there’s more! The fine folks over at Lightspeedrecently ran a Women Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter campaign, and it sure looks like there’s no shortage of people who want to read science fiction written by women. They blew through their goals and unlocked both the Women Destroy Horror and Women Destroy Fantasy stretch goals. These are going to be amazing anthologies and there’s still a few hours left to pledge few dollars and get in on some special extras.

So what’s your ratio? Are you reading women writers? If you aren’t how many worlds are you missing out on?
* There are also a great many women writing fantastic fantasy and horror, but that will have to be a blog for another day.

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