Today I’m thrilled to have a wonderful message on how we can support women writing science fiction from the fantastic Elizabeth Bear! She is extremely prolific and has written a lot of books that fall under various categories of both science fiction and fantasy. I’ve enjoyed every single one I’ve read, and her Edda of Burdens trilogy is among my favorite series for its beautiful writing and handling of myths. Since I love Elizabeth Bear’s books so much that I keep seeking them out and reading them, she has the distinction of being the author whose books I’ve reviewed the most on this site. Range of Ghosts, her most recent novel and the first book in the Eternal Sky trilogy, will be my tenth by her when I find time to finish it (it’s wonderful, this month’s event has just been keeping me too busy to fit in much time for reading!).
I’ve got to assume that you’re here reading this because you care about science fiction, and you care about science fiction by women. And you may be wondering, “But what can I do to support female SF writers?”
The thing that boggles me most about the invisibility of women writing science fiction in so many panel and online discussions is the sheer number of us doing it–and receiving some high-level critical acclaim for doing it well! Just in the past few years, women SF writers who have been major genre award nominees include Mira Grant, Jean Johnson, Maureen F. McHugh, Sara Creasy, Rebecca Ore, C.L. Anderson, Nancy Kress, Kij Johnson, Nnedi Okorafor, Connie Willis, Lois McMaster Bujold–
–the problem is not that women are not writing science fiction, or that science fiction by women is not being published. It’s that a certain segment of fandom doesn’t pay enough attention to notice.
As you might imagine, I find this intensely frustrating. It’s as if one or two women in each generation of writers are anointed to become token representatives of our gender in the general critical discourse, and the rest–somehow never get talked about very much.
The good news is, this is easy to fix. And the power lies with fandom! And especially male fandom, because–sadly–too often the sort of male readers who don’t already make a point of reading widely and diversely also don’t read a lot of critical blogs and fan sites by women, or possibly ask their female friends for book recommendations.
So the answer to the question, “What can I do to support women SF writers?” is easy. Buy their books. Read them.
Talk about them. In public, on panels, on Goodreads, to friends. In convention bars. In internet forums. On blogs. Talk about the ones you love and the ones you hate. Be honest and incisive.
It’s not so hard.
About Elizabeth Bear:
Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the Hugo and Sturgeon Award-winning author of over a dozen novels and nearly a hundred short stories. She lives in Massachusetts with a Giant Ridiculous Dog, but may frequently be found in Wisconsin keeping company with her partner, fantasist Scott Lynch.