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The first guest of the week is New York Times bestselling novelist and comic book writer Marjorie M. Liu! She has written books in the Dirk & Steele and Hunter Kiss series, as well as graphic novels for Marvel such as Astonishing X-Men, X-23, Black Widow, and Dark Wolverine. Her novels have received many honors, including multiple Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and nominations, PEARL Awards, a RITA nomination, a PRISM Award nomination, and a Kiss of Death Daphne du Maurier Award nomination. She has also earned a GLAAD Media Award nomination for her work on Astonishing X-Men. A new comic she is creating with Sana Takeda, Monstress, is coming out this summer (and it looks amazing!).

Monstress X-23, Volume 1

I’m often asked what it’s like to be a “woman in comics”, and while I’m sometimes tempted to reply with, “Gosh, darn, I just strap on my ovaries before I start writing each morning,” the truth is that it’s an important question.  The fact that it’s asked means there’s still misunderstandings, some apprehension, a sense that it’s different for women than it is for men inside the world of comic book publishing. It’s no surprise that young women creators might have that impression — for years we were told that comics are for boys, that women who read comics are outliers, that they need special “girl” comics.  That’s not true, of course — but it’s also not very welcoming, either.  And neither are the various misogynistic marketing snafus, the tired gender tropes, and all the other micro-agressions that litter the field.

We need more women (and people of color).  We need these voices, we need women to be in comics, on every level — as writers, editors, artists.  And the good news is that things are changing — and things have changed.  For the girls who ask me what it’s like (code-speak for, “Can I do this, too?), I want to reassure them that being a woman in comics is like any profession where you love what you do: there are going to be highs and lows, a lot of awesome mixed in with equal or lesser or greater amounts of disappointment; and yes, sometimes your gender (or race) will get mixed up in all of that, because this is still a world where women aren’t always treated the same as men, where the patriarchy protects itself and holds on to its stereotypes in a tight little fist.

But I’m here to say that you can do it.  And if you ask me what’s it like to be a woman in comics?

It’s so much fun.

I’ve put together a list of comics written and drawn by women — books that I absolutely love.  It’s not comprehensive, but if you want a place to start, this is it.


A Bride's Story I Think I am in Friend-Love with You

A BRIDE’S STORY by Kaoru Mori: a lush, gorgeous tale set in 1900’s Central Asia, about a 20 year old nomadic woman who is sent to marry a twelve year old boy.

I THINK I AM IN FRIEND-LOVE WITH YOU by Yumi Sakugawa: a heartbreaking short comic about love, friendship, longing.

Friends with Boys Skim Persepolis

FRIENDS WITH BOYS by Faith Erin Hicks: a homeschooled teen goes to a public high school for the first time, and has to deal with making new friends, handling old family trauma — and trying to help a ghost that haunts her local cemetery.

SKIM by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – a goth biracial teen in Canada tries to figure out love, friendship, and her own identity.

PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi – a graphic memoir about an Iranian girl growing up before, during, and after the Islamic revolution.

Hark! A Vagrant Aya

HARK! A VAGRANT by Kate Beaton – a hilarious online comic that takes jabs at everything and everyone — from myths, comic book superheroes, historical figures, classic novels, and more. Love it: http://www.harkavagrant.com/archive.php

AYA by Marguerite Abouet – a lovely, uplifting graphic novel about a young woman’s life in Ivory Coast during the late Seventies.

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It’s hard to believe it’s nearing the end of the month, but week 4 begins tomorrow! Last week was once again filled with great recommendations and discussions, thanks to last week’s guests. In case you missed any of their posts, here’s what happened:

I was hoping to post a mini-review or discussion yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance to write anything up since I am preparing to move later this week. There probably will not be a new post next Saturday also due to moving.

Book List: If you haven’t already submitted 10 of your favorite speculative fiction books by women this year, there is still time to add up to 10 of your favorites to the list! It currently contains over 1,000 titles recommended during Women in SF&F Month in 2013 and 2014, and Renay and I are collecting more recommendations this month.

Upcoming Guests: April 20 – 24

Now, it’s time to announce the schedule for Monday-Friday! The next guests are:

Women in SF&F Month Week 4

April 20: Marjorie M. Liu (Monstress, X-23, Astonishing X-Men, Hunter Kiss series)
April 21: Leah Petersen (Fighting Gravity, Cascade Effect, Impact Velocity)
April 22: Genevieve Cogman (The Invisible Library)
April 23: Kelley (Oh, the Books!)
April 24: Karen Miller (The Falcon Throne, Godspeaker series, Fisherman’s Children series)

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Today’s guest is Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow! She reviews both speculative fiction books and short fiction on her blog, which also features bookish news, interviews, and guests posts. Those who enjoy in-depth discussions about books might also want to check out some of the read-along posts since she frequently participates in these with others. Earlier this week, she posted her responses to the first part of a read-along discussion of Max Gladstone’s Two Serpents Rise.

Over the Effing Rainbow header

So You Think Women Don’t Like SF/F…

When I got an email from Kristen inviting me to write a blog post for this site, my very first reaction was an excited one. See, I am a fan of what Fantasy Book Cafe have done with their site as a platform. Women in SF/F? Hey. I’m a woman. I read SF/F. I do this blogging thing too. Right up my street! Then came her explanation of the whole thing, and why it’s a thing at all. Cue an eye-roll so severe I nearly hurt myself:

“I started running Women in SF&F Month in April after there were some discussions online about women’s books not being reviewed as often as men’s and women who blogged about SFF not being suggested when recommending blogs for the Hugo Fanzine. One response to these was that women were not reviewed or mentioned because they weren’t writing or reviewing SFF…” (emphasis is my own.)

Pardon me while I use these eye drops.

I mean, really? We’re all over the place, you know. With that thought waving its sarcastic little arms wildly in my mind, I started looking at the blogs and review sites I tend to frequent for examples, and there are plenty to pick from. Writers, reviewers, bloggers, even my favourite podcast – women, women, women, and you guessed it, women. Here, I’ve narrowed down the list to give a few shining examples, where you can find them and why you should…

Sarah Chorn (http://www.bookwormblues.net/)

Sarah has been high on my list of SFF bloggers to pay attention to ever since she began running a regular column, ‘Special Needs in Strange Worlds’, to focus on representation of disabilities in SF&F. That spectrum is far broader than I’d imagined, both in fiction and in reality, and it’s clearly an exploration that Sarah takes seriously. It’s done well enough that the column has since been picked up by SF Signal, and it’s a signal boost that this column, and Sarah herself, thoroughly deserves.

Rinn (http://rinnreads.co.uk/)

Rinn is one of my favourite British bloggers, and one that I got to know in the last couple of years thanks to her handling of the hugely enjoyable Sci-Fi Month event in November. I’ve featured reviews of SF books as a contributor both in 2013 and 2014, and if this online community event returns this year you can bet your buttons I’ll be looking at what else I can throw into the mix. The name of this game, as far as I’m concerned, is fun, variety, fun, enthusiasm and fun – and Rinn Reads’ Sci-Fi Month has it all.

Andrea Johnson (https://littleredreviewer.wordpress.com/)

You know, I’m fairly certain my foray proper into the online SF/F community is Andrea’s fault. Her annual celebration of vintage science fiction (happens in January, do check it out if you haven’t) both got me properly hooked on SF, and opened that door into the world of People Like Me. Nowadays she still runs her own blog, but you can also find her between the digital pages of Apex Magazine as one of their interviewers. On a related note, my discovery of and subsequent love for Apex is probably also Andrea’s fault. She is a truly world-class geek, and does what she does very well. She didn’t even pay me to say any of that. (I don’t mind. Much.)

Emma Newman (http://www.enewman.co.uk/)

Emma Newman is a British writer with an urban fantasy trilogy, The Split Worlds, already under her belt and a new venture into science fiction on the horizon, with her next novel, Planetfall, due out later this year. Her books are marvellous, but I’m featuring Emma on this list thanks to her podcasting efforts. Tea And Jeopardy is basically a bi-monthly podcast interview with a different guest every episode, but what makes it really special is the comedy/”peril” element. It’s well worth checking out for yourself if you’re not familiar with it – it never fails to brighten my day. And all that’s before I even mention the singing chickens…

Kameron Hurley (http://www.kameronhurley.com/)

I’m tempted to end this list right here with a simple “’nuff said”. Kameron Hurley is currently one of the hardest-working writers in SF&F that there is, and with last year’s fierce victory at the Hugo Awards (she won the awards for Best Fan Writer and Best Related Work) to prove it, not to mention her epic (and epically diverse) efforts in her books, it certainly looks like it’s starting to pay off for her. In short, there was no way she wasn’t making it onto this list, and if you want proof that women’s voices are not only being raised but being heard, look no further*.

* Well, you should, really. Like I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of us out there. Go. Find. Listen.

Lisa McCurrach is 31 and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. She’s been blogging and reviewing SF/F since 2012, and reading since she learned how to. (Her optician can probably back that up.) Tea and cake is her fuel of choice, and also how she survives most encounters with reality. You can find her at her blog (http://overtheeffingrainbow.co.uk/), or on Twitter – @EffingRainbow.

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Today’s guest is New York Times bestselling fantasy author Michelle Sagara! She has published novellas, short stories, and approximately 30 novels, including the books in the ongoing series The Chronicles of Elantra (beginning with Cast in Shadow), The Queen of the Dead (beginning with Silence), and The House War (beginning with The Hidden City). Oracle, the sixth book in The House War series she writes as Michelle West, will be released on May 5.

Oracle by Michelle West Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara

I don’t write romance.

Let me say that again.

I do not write romance.


Now I’d like you to pause and consider that statement, because I’ve seen it a lot. And I’ve come to understand the ways in which it can be considered undermining—even when that’s not my intent.


Whatever else you want to say about dearauthor.com and smartbitchestrashybooks.com, I think they’ve done two incredibly invaluable things for the romance reading community. The first: they’ve de-stigmatized romance reading. The second: they’ve recognized clearly—and stated unequivocally—that romance readers drive fiction sales. They always have. Even in the ’90s, when I was first submitting fantasy, that was true. But in the ’90s, romance reading was in general a dirty secret. It was considered hugely, intellectually downmarket. You could read romance, and obviously, given sales numbers, many, many readers did, but you didn’t publicly admit it. Because people would judge.

People outside of the internet environs still do.


I don’t read a lot of romance. Before I stumbled across these sites, I didn’t read romance at all.

You may ask how it is I stumbled across these sites, and why I read them, if that’s the case. I found them in my feeds, as discussions on their various posts were linked. But I stayed because: reviews.

I like book reviews. I always have. I like reading book reviews about books I will never read. I like the construction of opinion, and the sense of the reader behind it. I used to read Locus for the reviews, not the news, back before I actually attempted to sell my first novel. Well, that and the forthcoming books list.

I had not realized that dearauthor.com had reviewed some of my books until, in my semi-annual google search, I came across a review there for one of my books. The book had been published in October, I believe – I found the review in March of the following year. I had missed the initial review posting, although I was otherwise quietly lurking and reading. I was learning about a different reading community. I’d worked in a general bookstore for years, and then in a specialty SFF bookstore for more years.

I knew very, very little about the romance genre and its readership.

I didn’t realize, for instance, that Romance required an HEA (Happily Ever After). I didn’t realize that calling a book a romance essentially promised that, if it promised no other thing. I didn’t come to most books with a sense of rigid expectation, and I was not part of the general readership.

But I learned.


The thing that impressed me most was not about the actual writing, and not, in the end, about the reading; it was the growing realization that the Romance industry—its writers, its editors—was predominantly female. That women writing Romance were actually making a much better living than most of the midlist writers in any other genre. Here was a segment of industry in which women were leaders and captains and in control, economically, of their lives.

It was, and is, a profoundly feminist and feminine work space.

As such, it has been accorded—it is still accorded—very little respect in the general polity.


One of the things that I do not seem to be able to get my head around while writing is romantic love. I understand couples. I understand relationships. But the beginning of a relationship is so different for so many people I can’t quite get a sense of that into the books I write. I am aware that this makes my books no-goers for some readers. Because even in non-romantic fantasy there is almost always a central romance or a love story.

My first four books had a very strong, central romance. But…the story, in some ways, grew out of Beauty and the Beast. Not in a way that was obvious even to me; a reader pointed it out to me and I realized: Oh. They’re right.

So in theory I am capable of this. In practice, not so much.

There is nothing worse for readers than an unbelievable, unfelt, romance. It is the worst kind of paint-by-numbers, the worst kind of character-manipulation. Doing that will not help my books in any way.

So…I read and watch and try very hard to figure out what I’m missing.

For me, Romance is hard. I could write horror or hard SF far more convincingly. But honestly? Romance and sex and desire are human. The authors I have most admired in fantasy frequently have them as strong, central pillars in their novel structures.

And I often feel that I am staring at them through a thick glass window. Reading moves me. But when I write, when I reach for character while writing, I can’t grasp it. Political motivations, yes. Almost every other emotion and reaction, yes.

Research will not give you romance.

Nonfiction reading will not give you romance.

Outlining will not give you romance.

Or at least, it won’t give it to me.


When I was fifteen, it was frequently assumed that unless you could prove your intellectual credentials and you were female, you were reading romance. It was assumed that your high school life devolved around romance. It was assumed that your shopping choices, etc., devolved around—what else?—romance. Girls were boy-crazy.

If you were not boy-crazy, it felt a lot like pressure or dismissal.

It is easy to reach a point where you’d kind of like to scream in frustration; where you want to tell people I don’t read romance or I don’t care about romance as a declaration. It’s easy to hate the entire social dimension of that particular mode, because you don’t want to be part of it. You want to play D&D. You want to read SFF and discuss Frank Herbert or Ursula Le Guin. You want to discuss the comics you’ve been reading, or the computer game you’ve just discovered. You have a headful of books and daydreams and many of those daydreams are about being a superhero, not a girlfriend or a wife.

But in point of fact, it’s not the social paradigm itself that you hate. It’s the pressure to fit in where you don’t, where you can’t, belong.

As I got older, I realized this. Daydreaming about being a superhero is not, in fact, more virtuous or more intellectual than daydreaming about being a wife or a husband or a spouse. The entire world is frequently caught up in exactly that pursuit, that negotiation. Everyone wants to be loved.

Everyone has daydreams or fantasies. Mine are still about being a superhero, for what it’s worth.


When you are a woman writing in the SFF field, many people—some of them even women—will decide that you are de facto writing romance, or paranormal romance, or books that are whatever patina-of-genre over romance. And, as if they are still in that particular mode of “my interests good, your interests infantile”, they will outright dismiss the work without, you know, actually reading any of it.

In general, I don’t argue with this because there’s no point. What readers choose to read for entertainment—when their grades do not depend on it, or their job does not depend on it—they choose for their own reasons. If someone comes into the store and says they don’t read books by women, I don’t immediately launch into an argument about why this is foolish. (Well, okay, honesty makes me state that I mostly don’t do this >.>.)

But the truth is, women who are not writing romance or romance-tinged books are caught between rocks and hard places. The people who would probably best enjoy those books are often those who give the books the side-eye. If you’re writing urban fantasy, for instance, like Kat Richardson’s, people assume you are writing books like Ilona Andrews’ (and I love her books – this is not meant to be a slam).

But people who like Ilona Andrews’ work and pick up yours expecting it to be tonally similar…are often not going to like your books. So while the theoretical reading audience is larger, in practice, you’re not actually writing what that audience is looking for.

And when you are in this position you often make it clear that you are not writing those books. You are not writing Romance. And sometimes you’re not careful about it, because you’re not thinking of all the ways in which Romance and its many, many readers are already looked down on; you’re not thinking about the way in which you suggest that Romance has … girl cooties. You aren’t thinking of the way in in which an entire industry that is economically powerful is already dismissed because the industry has … girl cooties.

But, in fact, because of the culture and its varied reactions and its almost gendered sense of what constitutes valid or intellectual or even plain interesting, that’s almost implied.



I don’t write romance.

I don’t understand the heart of it well enough to have it sink into the blood and bone of my fiction.

And I think, in the end, that’s not a particular strength.

Michelle SagaraMichelle writes as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West (and in one case Michelle Sagara West, don’t ask). Her newest novel, a West novel, is Oracle, the sixth book in the House War series. She can be found on the web at http://michellesagara.com, on twitter as @msagara, and on Facebook as Michelle Sagara.

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Today’s guest is Wendy from The BiblioSanctum! She—along with her co-bloggers Mogsy and Tiara—runs an excellent site mainly focused on speculative fiction and graphic novels. There are a lot of great reviews, interviews, and discussions at The BiblioSanctum, and I especially appreciate the list of most anticipated books by women they put together both this year and last. Wendy can also be found at Nightxade.com and Women Write About Comics.

The BiblioSanctum

Mind of Her Mind

Octavia E. Butler
Photo Credit: Joshua Trujillo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Source)

Disturbing. This is how I would describe Octavia E. Butler’s work – nay her mind – best. Perhaps I could even use the word “horrifying,” but I don’t mean it in the way you might think. Butler’s work isn’t something I could easily recommend to just anyone, and yet, I do. I feel that everyone should read at least one of her books.

She was recommended to me by a friend who sang her praises, and so I picked up the Lilith’s Brood trilogy first. In it, a small group of humans are saved from the destruction of earth by a race of aliens called the Oankali, who are genetic collectors, able to manipulate their human compatriots for the purposes of continuing both species. But not all of the rescued humans are pleased with the process, and the offspring that result suffer for it.

For a girl that grew up believing Star Wars and Star Trek to be the epitome of science fiction, where the good guys always win, and the world is black and white, this was something entirely new. Her work addresses topics like incest, slavery, racism, sexism, rape, pedophilia, religious fanaticism, addiction, hierarchy, genetic engineering, violence. Her protagonists’ experiences often made me feel uncomfortable, to say the least, not merely because she so openly broached such taboo topics, but because Butler showed me a frightening world where the scariest person was me. Butler’s writing feels as if she is holding a mirror up in front of the reader, revealing humanity at its best and at its worst and questioning your place within it. What we consider good and evil, right and wrong, is all called into question as Butler peers into our souls with her words.

I’ve read several more of her books since then and love them all. That’s not to say that none have disappointed me. Some, such as Clay’s Ark, didn’t work quite so well with me, but I don’t feel that reading it was a loss. Every book by Butler that I have read simply confirms her skill, her bravery for daring–within an industry filled with white male writers writing about white male heroes–to write stories that venture beyond the galaxies far, far away, and yet hit so close to home.

The more I read, the more I wanted to get inside this woman’s head just to see where these ideas came from. I was so pleased to find that I was not the only one when I picked up a copy of Conversations with Octavia Butler. The collection of interviews reveals an author who was passionate about writing and about exploring our society and its many, many prejudices. She was a woman who understood the value of labels and the human need to categorize everything, even though she herself was not fond of the labels that were pasted on her work. Her target audience is considered to be blacks, feminists, and science fiction fans, but even when the obvious elements of these categories are present, it is clear how far the woman transcended beyond them.

In my hunger for more insight into Butler, I read I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, an author Butler considered her mentor. In the introduction to his short story collection, Ted Sturgeon writes that some people “live out their lives, with a consciousness more aware, more comprehending, more—well, expanded—than the rest of us.” Though he was speaking of Ellison, I can easily include Butler in this description.

Through Ellison, through interviews with others, and articles from authors she’s influenced, I gained some insight into the mind I have come to admire so, but it was not until I went back to the beginning that I truly understood what Butler’s writing was about. Bloodchild and Other Stories is a collection of short stories and essays by Butler that earned both the Nebula and Hugo Awards. Most often, writers offer an introduction to their stories, explaining their intent, but Butler deliberately left her comments to the end of each tale to avoid colouring the reader’s views. It is in these brief thoughts that I finally got to see who she was and why she loved to write.

That’s not true. I’ve always known why she loved to write. She loved to write because she loved to write. She had stories to tell and so she told them. She obviously didn’t try to sugar coat any of her themes, and while money was a necessity, I have never gotten the feeling that it was ever a priority when she sat down in front of her typewriter and set to work. Writing was her passion. And that is a beautiful thing.

But what Bloodchild’s afterwords revealed to me was that she was never writing for me. The mirror that I see when I read her work isn’t for me.

Octavia Butler wrote for herself. This was her therapy, if you will. It was her way of exploring herself and a world that she saw through pessimistic eyes. And yet, even as her protagonists struggle with all the pain and horror released from Pandora’s Box, hope still remains. When Butler couldn’t cope with a friend’s pending mortality, she wrote about it. When her mother died, she wrote about it. When she was afraid of bot flies, she wrote about it.

Now, when I read her work, I still see myself in the mirror, but I also see the author using her words to explore her own mind and the society she lived in. All this time, I’d been wishing I could look into this woman’s mind and understand how she thinks; lamenting the fact that her death stole her away from us far too soon.

But she was always there, right in front of me.

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Today’s guest is fantasy author Alison Croggon! Her novels The Gift (titled The Naming in the US) and Black Spring were each selected as a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book of the Year. The Gift, also an Aurealis nominee in two categories, is the first novel in The Books of Pellinor series. Black Spring, a fantasy inspired by Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, is an Ethel Turner Prize finalist and her most recent novel (although that will change later this year with the release of The River and The Book). In addition to being a writer of renowned speculative fiction novels, she’s a poet, critic, and theatre writer.

Black Spring by Alison Croggon The Naming by Alison Croggon

Another day, another erasure of women in the world of books. This time, Guardian writer John Mullan writes a paean to the triumph of fantasy fiction. The staggering success of the HBO series Games of Thrones, the blessing of literary respectability conferred by Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, and the rush of love that flowed in the wake of Terry Pratchett’s death, all demonstrate to Mullan that fantasy is taking its place in the “mainstream”.

In the modern tension between literary respectability and the louche pleasures of popular genres, it’s perhaps a positive thing that fantasy can be so celebrated. But at what cost? Fantasy is a myriad-headed beast, with many manifestations. Yet, despite the length of his essay, it turns out that Mullan is very limited in his definitions: a fantasy novel, what he calls AU (Alternative Universe), is mostly a Big Fat Fantasy Book. With maps.

All fantasy readers, of course, adore these kinds of books, but volumes the size of bricks and maps with exotic names are hardly the hard-and-fast definition of fantasy. Even in Mullan’s white, male-centric world there is no mention of, say, the New Weird, the hallucinogenic post-apocalyptic (and profoundly literary) Britain of M. John Harrison’s Viriconium stories or China Mieville’s Marxist fantasies, or the queered worlds of Hal Duncan. And if you take his map of the genre at face value, it seems that, except as footnoted oddities, women don’t write fantasy at all.

Mullan’s article sparked a flurry of disbelief on twitter and a hashtag – #womenwritefantasy – listing dozens of authors who happen to be both women and who write fantasy. Fantasy is, in fact, rich in women. In the Antipodes, it’s a genre that is in fact dominated by women – as Trudi Canavan shows, two thirds of Australian and New Zealand fantasy authors are female. The real question is, how is it possible, in 2015, for anyone to claim that fantasy is a genre populated almost entirely by straight, white men?

Even the authors acclaimed in the article pay their dues to the women writers who preceded and often inspired them. George RR Martin has mentioned his debt to the epic historical fiction of Dorothy Dunnett. Neil Gaiman tips his hat to the inspiration of Diana Wynne Jones. Perhaps, as in Mullan’s implied claim that Ishiguro is the first literary author to bring the respectability of “serious” literary fiction to the vulgarities of genre, it’s just a matter of bad history (Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, anyone? Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker? Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale? Ursula Le Guin? Angela Carter? Anyone? Anyone?)

Sadly, it’s a pattern that’s all too familiar. Throughout history, women have been at the centre of cultural movements, only to have their influence and works erased by the historians and critics who only assign significance to men. The Surrealists, for example, boasted a wealth of women artists – Dorothea Tanning, Elisa Breton, Greta Knutson – who were comprehensively written out of the canon in favour of the male artists, and who only recently are being restored to their rightful places in art history.

As fantasy author Elspeth Cooper said, do we really have to do this again? “Women write fantasy,” she says. “Why do we have to keep telling the world this? Why do we have yet another article that implies that the only fantasy worthy of calling out as remarkable is that written by white, straight men?”

And there’s the rub. The liberating thing about fantasy – indeed, all speculative fiction – is that it permits us to imagine realities that, however much they reflect our own, are structured differently from the worlds we know. In their languages, in their genders, in their organic forms and geographies, in their politics and their conflicts, they can be anything that their authors imagine. This is certainly one reason why women – and people of colour, such as Octavia Butler, Saladin Ahmed, Samuel R. Delaney, Nnedi Okorafor and countless others – are so attracted to the form: here we can imagine utopias and dystopias, and explore possibilities and realities that we glimpse in our quotidian world, freed into a play of imaginings.

It’s not just bad history to erase women, LGBTQ people, people of colour, from the genealogies of speculative fiction. It also effectively reduces the genre, turning a kaleidoscopic wealth of possibility into a bland whitewash. Maybe, just maybe, if that’s the price of “mainstream” recognition, it might be better to remain in the margins, where the same old boring prejudices might be easier to escape.

Alison Croggon is a poet, novelist, theatre writer and critic who lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of the acclaimed young adult fantasy series, The Books of Pellinor. The first volume, The Gift, was nominated in two categories in the Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction in December 2002 and named one of the Notable Books of 2003 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. The US edition, The Naming, was judged a Top Ten Teen Read of 2005 by the editors of Amazon.com. The series has since been released to critical and popular acclaim in the US, the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Poland, and to date has sold more than a half a million copies in the UK and US alone. Her most recently published fantasy novel is Black Spring, released in 2012/14 in Australia, the UK, the US and Germany. It was a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book of 2013 and shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature in the 2014 NSW Premiers Literary Awards.

A new novel, The River and The Book, is forthcoming with Walker Books in October 2015, and 2016 will see the international release of a new Books of Pellinor prequel, The Bone Queen.