The third annual Women in SF&F Month here at Fantasy Cafe has come to an end. Thank you to all of this year’s participants—without each of them, this monthly series of guest posts would not be possible, and I’ve been blown away by the amazing articles that were written for it!
For the last post of this year’s event, I just want to talk a bit about why I’ve begun this annual event and share some resources that show there all all kinds of science fiction and fantasy books written by women.
Like Trudi Canavan and Beth Bernobich, I’ve seen comments that “women don’t read/write science fiction and fantasy.” A large part of why I started this annual event was in response to those comments, which are mind-boggling when there are so many wonderful writers of these genres who are women—when there are women like N. K. Jemisin, Kate Elliott, Patricia A. McKillip, Lois McMaster Bujold, Karen Lord, Tanya Huff, Elizabeth Bear, Tananarive Due, Freda Warrington, Robin Hobb, Karin Lowachee, Laini Taylor, Martha Wells, Kristin Cashore, Nancy Kress, Carol Berg, Rachel Neumeier, Marie Brennan, Teresa Frohock, Catherine Asaro, Rachel Hartman, Courtney Schafer, and so many more writing excellent science fiction and fantasy books. I was also dismayed to see comments that women did not read and review these genres when I myself do and also read many blogs by women who do the same—Angieville, The Book Smugglers, The Little Red Reviewer, My Bookish Ways, Sci-Fi Fan Letter, Spec-fic Romantic, and many more.
It’s a bigger problem than a few people on the Internet who wrongly believe there are not women writing, reading, and discussing science fiction and fantasy, though. In general, women’s books are often reviewed less than men’s in a variety of publications containing book reviews. Strange Horizons has also compiled stats showing that nearly half of the science fiction/fantasy books Locus receives for review are by women but a lot of SFF venues that review books are not even close to covering an equal proportion of books by men and women. There are some caveats mentioned regarding the book count, such as some of them being reprints instead of new books published that year, but the 2012 count did show that about 46% of books received from the US and UK combined were written or edited by women and about 53% by men (with a few books that were by both and a few unknown). Over half of the SF venues they tracked reviewed books by women roughly 1/4 of the time or less. (After I wrote most of this post, they released the 2013 count.)
These have contributed to my decision to spend the month of April highlighting and hearing from some women writing these genres. Before then, I felt like women’s books were not reviewed as much on book blogs so I already reviewed a lot of books by women. This was before I saw these statistics for blog reviews by gender compiled by Renay at Lady Business, but that was also a contributing factor in the first Women in SF&F Month. I do think I see more books reviewed by women on blogs than I used to as more people have become aware of this issue—and that’s why looking at statistics like these is so important. I don’t think many people do pay attention to whether or not the authors of the books they are reading are men or women—I know I never used to think about it, and it wasn’t until I saw a discussion about women writing speculative fiction that I realized I found it a lot easier to name men writing these genres than women. Only by knowing about it can we begin to change it.
Fortunately, there are lots of places to find information on women writing speculative fiction and recommendations for their books. During the three months total that have comprised Women in SF&F Month, there have been guest posts by many authors and bloggers who are women—and mainly different women during these three months since I have been trying to invite (at least mostly) different guests from year to year. Many of these guests have mentioned some of their own favorite books by women so there have been lots of recommendations as well. In particular, I’d like to point out:
The 2013 List of SFF Books by Women
Last year, Renay from Lady Business asked for people to submit some of their favorite speculative fiction books by women. The response was amazing, and it resulted in a list of over 800 individual books by women (many people recommended the same books multiple times and the list shows how many times each book was recommended). After this year, we’ll have a 2014 list and that will eventually be merged with the 2013 list to make an even bigger list.
The Book Smuggler’s List of Female SFF Authors Writing YA/MG
Last year, Ana and Thea of The Book Smugglers recommended some of their favorite lesser known YA/MG books by women and also shared a Goodreads shelf containing over 100 recommendations total.
Trudi Canavan’s List of Australian Women Writing Alternate World Fantasy
Trudi Canavan discovered that about 2/3 of Australian fantasy fiction is written by women, and she also compiled a list of Australian fantasy writers with links to their Goodreads pages.
There are also a variety of resources elsewhere on the Internet that show the great number of SFF books by women:
Ian Sales began this site to collect reviews of science fiction books written by women published during or before the twentieth century.
Andrea K. Höst’s List of Female Authors with Books on Her Keeper Shelf
Andrea K. Höst provided a list of 99 authors on her keeper shelf at The Book Smugglers. There are also many more authors mentioned in the comments.
Non-European Fantasy by Women
This list, compiled by Martha Wells and hosted at The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review, contains a lot of recommendations for fantasy books by women set in non-European settings.
Science Fiction Romance Authors
Heather at The Galaxy Express has a list of authors of science fiction romance by decade, starting with the 1930s. While not all of these authors are women, many of them are. (You can also read her guest post from this year to find additional resources for discovering more science fiction romance.)
Female Science Fiction Author Reading List
Jessica at Sci-Fi Fan Letter started a reading list of science fiction books by women with their subgenre.
While this site has books by both male and female authors, it is a great place for finding recommendations for books that are feminist friendly.
It’s been a very busy month and I haven’t read a single book (eek!). I am now going to take a break from blogging and spend some of my weekend reading, but check back on Wednesday for a guest post on vampire fiction written by Freda Warrington, author of the Blood Wine Sequence!