Ancillary Justice follows the lone survivors of an imperial starship – a soldier and the ship’s AI inhabiting her body – as they seek answers and revenge. It is the only book to win the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards (pretty much the holy trinity of science fiction awards, and a big deal in a genre dominated by male authors).
Great science fiction can transport us to faraway places full of bizarre creatures or transform our known world into the unknown. How far the transformation goes is up to the author. Sadly, many people seem to think science fiction is only written by men for men. I’m here to tell you those people are wrong. And you don’t have to go all the way back to 1818 when Mary Shelley first published Frankenstein for proof. Here are six great science fiction reads – including three of my all-time favorite books – all written by women.
These particular novels range from scientific explorations of the universe (Ancillary Justice; A Thousand Pieces of You), to alternate/post-apocalyptic versions of our future (The Handmaid’s Tale; Fledgling; The Gate to Women’s Country – my three favs!), to world building epics where everything has been reimagined (The Fifth Season). I remember the visceral reaction I had the first time I read Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. It is not a stretch to say that many of the feminist views I hold and cherish today I owe to reading Atwood and Sheri S. Tepper as a teenager. I also remember being devastated that Octavia Butler, who died just five months after Fledgling was published, would not continue to breathe life into such vivid characters.
But what makes me truly excited is to see the newer talents of Ann Leckie, Claudia Gray, and N. K. Jemison continuing the rich tradition of female writers in science fiction. Their works continue to break ground and explore the unknown – often with higher levels of science fact mixed in with the fiction. So choose a classic, or one of the newer hits on this list, and get ready to explore!
The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where women are no longer allowed to read and only valued for their ability to reproduce. But one woman still remembers a past where she had a career, a husband of her choosing, and a daughter of her own.
While this story is at heart a mystery (the main character wakes up alone in the woods, severely injured, with no memory), it is also a fascinating exploration of race, humanity, and family in the guise of a vampire story.
This book has all the hallmarks of a great read: murder, revenge, romance…and parallel universes. ‘Nough said.
Jemisin has undertaken an epic world-building in The Fifth Season, and her effort has paid off. Essun can literally move the earth with her mind and she puts her gift (or curse?) to use tracking down the man who murdered her son and stole her daughter. This is the first book in the Broken Earth Series – look for Book 2, The Obelisk Gate, in August 2016!
This post-apocalyptic novel is set in a matriarchal society where women are the keepers of knowledge while men live and train as warriors. Through intricate character and plot development, the sinister secrets of this dystopian society, desperate to prevent another world war at any cost, are revealed.