Best Science Fiction With a Female Protagonist

Science fiction only (no fantasy / urban fantasy), and only 1 book from a series, to keep it organized.
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4.12 avg rating — 44,135 ratings
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4.08 avg rating — 32,648 ratings
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4.12 avg rating — 131,918 ratings
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17

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4.06 avg rating — 215,794 ratings
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21

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3.76 avg rating — 15,728 ratings
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23

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4.12 avg rating — 1,070,567 ratings
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30

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31

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4.04 avg rating — 116,654 ratings
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32

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3.98 avg rating — 14,718 ratings
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33

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34

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36

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37

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38

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39

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40

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41

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42

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3.87 avg rating — 125,201 ratings
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43

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44

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45

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4.19 avg rating — 1,510 ratings
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46

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3.86 avg rating — 9,270 ratings
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47

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48

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49

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50

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51

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53

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55

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57

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58

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59

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60

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61

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62

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63

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64

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65

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66

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67

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68

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69

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70

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71

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72

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73

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74

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 9,729 ratings
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77

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86

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87

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88

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1,266 books · 2,835 voters · list created January 4th, 2009 by Dara S..
450 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Emily 1431 books
20 friends
Molly 676 books
46 friends
Snail in Danger (Sid) 5274 books
12 friends
Bernice 68 books
6 friends
Kirstin 136 books
14 friends
Michael 1335 books
179 friends
Eugenia 41 books
10 friends
Maebhe 1186 books
33 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 57 (57 new)


message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary J.D. Robb

any of "In Death" series


Em~Lost In A Dream~ IsTwilightScience Fiction or not?


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy Erm Harry Potter is male. If you're voting on a list of books at least know what it is you're voting about for Pete's sake!

pro·tag·o·nist/prōˈtagənist/
Noun:

1.The leading character or a major character in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text.


message 4: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn How is Twilight Science Fiction...? It's more paranormal than anything else.


message 5: by Lauray24 (new)

Lauray24 Why is Harry Potter on this list?


message 6: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Popham While The Dispossessed is great scifi and does address gender equality issues, its protagonist is male - not sure why it's on the list.


message 7: by Eunice (last edited Apr 21, 2012 08:06PM) (new)

Eunice Some of these books are hardly sci-fi! Like any number of the ones with vampires in it. Do those vampires time-travel?
Or even if you want to argue it's sci-fi, then I can just get any fictional book and argue it has sf/f elements in it!
And then there's freakin'
Twilight (Twilight, #1) by Stephenie Meyer
and I can tell the people who voted for it don't even read sf/f and just want that accursed book on every list on goodreads!


message 8: by Eunice (new)

Eunice Emily~Boss 3~Chocoholic 6~Beast 9~^.^ wrote: "IsTwilightScience Fiction or not?"

No. So many times 'no'.


message 9: by Text (new)

Text Addict Too much fantasy on this "SF" list, such as: Twilight; Monstrous Regiment; Harry Potter; I Shall Wear Midnight; Boneshaker; Wicked; Behemoth; Airborn; The Raven Ring; The Paladin; God Stalk.

And that's not even mentioning the ones that are debatable. But I added 10 more actual SF books.


message 10: by Jessie (new)

Jessie I don't think House of Night should be on here either


message 11: by Cindy (new)

Cindy So, Emily, do you want me to remove the fantasy books from this list?

Also, some are steampunk, like Behemoth and Airborn. I could go either way on those. Want me to leave them or take them out?


message 12: by Craig (last edited Jul 30, 2012 02:48PM) (new)

Craig Fulton Emily~Boss 3~Chocoholic 6~Beast 9~^.^ wrote: "Is TwilightScience Fiction or not?"

Twilight is NOT science fiction.


message 13: by John (new)

John good


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Harry Potter, Twilight and Graceling have all crept back on....


message 15: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Removed those three, but there's a LOT of fantasy on here. The Diane Duane Wizard series is all more fantasy than sci-fi. Lots more creeping into pages 3 &4.


message 16: by Katlyn (new)

Katlyn Hello, I moderate a small YA group called Reading is Life YA and we're currently looking for new members! Our books this month (September 2012) are Switched by Amanda Hocking and Heist Society by Ally Carter. We're also taking suggestions for our October books. We'll welcome all new members! http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/7...


message 17: by Aquariana (new)

Aquariana Rose Twilight isn't sci fi. The only genre it belongs in is "crap"


message 18: by Gigi (new)

Gigi S. Insurgent is a second book and Divergent is already there :-)


message 19: by Gigi (new)

Gigi S. Sasha wrote: "Twilight isn't sci fi. The only genre it belongs in is "crap""

Haha^^


message 20: by John Behnken (new)

John Behnken hahaha Twilight...

I added a bunch of Sci-Fi-Actual. :)


message 21: by John Behnken (new)

John Behnken Apparently I accidentally added some non-sci/fi too. ugh. Editing....
sorry!


message 22: by David (last edited May 04, 2013 01:19PM) (new)

David AFAICS none of the following books belong on this list.
Betrayals
Bite Me
Code Name: Silence
Coraline
Dealing with Dragons
Defiance
Demon Inhibitions
Fall of Eden
Heir to Power
High Wizardry
I Shall Wear Midnight
Jealousy
Mistborn
Monstrous Regiment
Mortal Abomination
Reckoning
Strange Angels
Wicked
Wolfwalker


message 23: by Clyde (last edited Mar 06, 2013 08:24AM) (new)

Clyde She's not the main protag, but Maya in the upcoming book "Memories With Maya" is worthy of a mention imho.

Disclaimer: The book is written by me.

**edit**
After considering the logic of Kelley's post below, I've deleted the link and what came across as blatant advertising for my book.
Maya will be a protagonist eventually...


message 24: by Kelley (new)

Kelley I wish this list could come with a brief explanation of why each book has been voted on. Don't get me wrong; I love reading these lists, and clicking on the titles and covers that intrigue me in order to find out more about them; but a little too often I find myself shaking my head when I read the reviews, wondering, "What the heck is this book doing on this particular list?"
An example of this would be Zelazny's Lord of Light. First, the synopsis makes it abundantly clear that the protagonist is male. Second, none of the numerous reviews I read of the book even mentioned a female character by name. Third, more than one reviewer commented on the whiff of misogyny in the book, noting that female characters are few in number and painted in a negative light. Why, with all that, would this book be voted into inclusion on a "Best Science Fiction With a Female Protagonist" list?

This isn't the only instance. The Maze Runner is included also, and while no reviewer accuses this book of misogyny, the reviews do make clear that the protagonist is male and that while the female character is somewhat important, her role is actually very small.

These lists are a valuable resource. We should all value them highly enough to do what we can to keep them free of books that don't belong on them.


message 25: by Carla (new)

Carla Patterson I agree with so much of what people have written (esp. about Twilight from the Crap nebula).

Why aren't the following true sci fi books on the list?

The Adventures of Alyx and Picnic on Paradise (both by Joanna Russ)

The Color of Distance and Through Alien Eyes (both by Amy Thomson) - oh and Virtual Girl is another of hers which is good

Clay's Ark (by Octavia Butler - well, actually, everything by Octavia Butler!) ;)

The Shore of Women (Pamela Sargent)

So many more...


message 26: by Kelley (new)

Kelley I think The Color of Distance actually is on this list. It has a substantial place in my TBR pile.

I found a few more that don't belong:

First, let me say that I adore Terry Pratchett, and I don't know of any, as in ANY male writer who creates stronger, smarter, funnier female protagonists than he. Entirely too often, when male writers attempt to create a "tough female," they make her humorless (which tends to render her unlikable), and Pratchett, God bless him, lets his kick-butt heroines be funny.

But Monstrous Regiment and I Shall Wear Midnight don't really belong on this list. Both are great books with wonderful female protagonists, but they're set in the Discworld, and the Discworld is fantasy, not science fiction. Fantasy tends to feature female protagonists a bit more often than science fiction does, so science fiction really needs its own list.

It is still bugging me that Lord of Light, which features a male protagonist and no sympathetic female characters at all (would it ever have occurred to Zelazny to create a female protag?), is higher on this list than Telzey Amberdon and Biting the Sun. I'd be grateful if someone could explain how/why.


message 27: by Aude (new)

Aude Amy wrote: "Erm Harry Potter is male. If you're voting on a list of books at least know what it is you're voting about for Pete's sake!

pro·tag·o·nist/prōˈtagənist/
Noun:

1.The leading character or a major c..."


Ever heard of Hermione? The main problem with Harry Potter is that the books aren't science-fiction.


message 28: by jennifer (new)

jennifer wow, thanks so much for this list peoples of goodreads. having started reading heavily again, i have been wondering if there are any strong female leads anywhere in sci-fi/fantasy. being the mother of 2 headstrong, teenage daughters, i have become particularly cognizant of how women are treated in literature. and man, is it pretty crappy. ive bookmarked this and the fantasy list and am eager to jump in and hopefully introduce my kids to some kick-ass women.


message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Deleted for not being science fiction:
- Wicked
- I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
- Graceling
- Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
- Pegasus by Robin McKinley
- the Earthsea books
- Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon
- The Wheel of Time


message 30: by Erin (last edited Aug 14, 2014 08:01PM) (new)

Erin Why is Ruby Daly #280? She should be a lot higher on the list.


message 31: by Chantelle (new)

Chantelle Costa Hey sorry about this but I was looking for a book that I think shoud fall into this category but I can't remember either the name or the author. It has a female lead character that gets abducted in a spaceship run by an android. She turns out to be a living engine capable of moving whole worlds.


message 32: by Anastasia (last edited Feb 17, 2015 10:16AM) (new)

Anastasia Hey, how are Catching Fire and Mockingjay considered to be the first books in the series?

Clearly states only ONE book per series.

(Just had to point it out)

Also, The One, Insurgent and Allegiant


message 33: by Nick (new)

Nick This list is suffering from pretty severe lack of maintenance. So many fantasy books on it, and a great deal of books where the "protagonist" is male. Just because the book contains a strong female character, that doesn't make her the "protagonist".


message 34: by Kelley (last edited Nov 09, 2015 03:18PM) (new)

Kelley #157, "I Am Number Four," should be removed due to the protagonist being male. #223, "Game Slaves," #267, "Titan Fleet: The Invictus," #351, "First Contact (In Her Name: The Last War)," #361, "Jack Commer: Supreme Commander," "Pilgrimage," "Feedback," "The Dangerous Rescue (Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice 13)," #601, "Dying of the Light," "The Gods Themselves," and #663, "The Gripping Hand (Moties 2)" all have male protagonists.

One book whose removal I hate to recommend is #355, "To Say Nothing of the Dog." It's a delightful book, and the female lead is smart and charming. But yet again, the protagonist -- the first-person narrator in this case -- is male.


message 35: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie I just came across this list as it came up in my feed based on books I had read. I voted and rated where I could, but the whole time was wondering why more than one book in the series and why books that are not sci fi were on it. I suspect many people just want to add their favorite books and haven't bothered to actually go through the list. There are some cases where a book in the series would be appropriate to be included separately, such as Anne McCaffrey's Pern series as the books are written in different period of time and the female protagonist is not the same character.


message 36: by Kelley (new)

Kelley "Gateway" (161) really does not seem to belong on this list. Based on every review, the protagonist is decidedly, aggressively male, and the female lead is no active heroine.


message 38: by Brooke (new)

Brooke You should post The throne of glass series. There's four books out right now and another coming at the end of this year. Its a great book and one of my favorite series.


message 39: by Mitchell (new)

Mitchell So I'm thinking for Honor Harrington, I'd expect to see only On Basilisk Station


message 40: by Tony (last edited Jun 21, 2020 12:39AM) (new)

Tony Harmsworth There is little hope for a new SF author trying to write a female lead when you see so much non-science fiction in this list. If you want a real female protagonist written by a male author take a look at my VISITOR book https://harmsworth.net/#thevisitor for descriptive science fiction.

It seems to me that science fiction needs to be separated out from fantasy, magic, witches and vampires.


message 41: by Rick (last edited Dec 30, 2016 01:37PM) (new)

Rick Lizzie wrote: "I just came across this list as it came up in my feed based on books I had read. I voted and rated where I could, but the whole time was wondering why more than one book in the series and why books..."

Okay, but Pern is also sort of science fiction. Their society came from the stars, and they ended up settling the planet and using their ships to create their initial homes. They used the dragons to defend themselves from a natural enemy. I suppose they do come across more as fantasy than science fiction, however.


message 42: by Rick (new)

Rick Tony wrote: "There is little hope for a new SF author trying to write a female lead when you see so much non-science fiction in this list. If you want a real female protagonist written by a male author take a l..."

If we are arguing that, then even Star Wars isn't technically science fiction, as it is more science fantasy/space opera. There are so many sub-categories. There is the category of space horror, and there are books about space vampires. It gets complicated. If we're only speaking of hard science fiction, then that severely limits science fiction lists. I do agree that if it doesn't have space ships or futuristic technology, then it isn't science fiction. For instance, Harry Potter or Twilight, etc, which would both be supernatural/fantasy.


message 43: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow Some fantasy titles...



248 Graceling
317 Mistborn
359 Mistborn 2
369 Mistborn 3
941 I am Alice
942 I am Grimalkin


message 44: by Tony (new)

Tony Harmsworth Rick wrote: "Tony wrote: "There is little hope for a new SF author trying to write a female lead when you see so much non-science fiction in this list. If you want a real female protagonist written by a male au..."

Star Wars is more science fiction than fantasy and Felicity Jones is a brilliant female lead. But in hard science fiction I don't believe good female protagonists can be counted on more than two hands which is sad. They are half the human race. I don't know what triggered me to choose Evelyn instead of Charles as the main character - it just seemed she was more likely to be fascinated by the beauty of her surroundings.


message 45: by David (new)

David R Mitchell wrote: "So I'm thinking for Honor Harrington, I'd expect to see only On Basilisk Station"

True, if only the first book in that protagonist's series is listed. Note: The "Shadows of Saganami" series' protagonists are MOSTLY female, but non-Honor. "Mike" Henke, Helen Zilwicki, Abigale Hearns & etc., are really too much of an ensemble cast to cite just one of them.


message 46: by Kelley (new)

Kelley I'm wondering about The Sparrow (#126). It has some prominent women in it, but the protagonist, the focus of the book, is a man.


message 47: by Elyse (last edited Sep 30, 2017 08:51PM) (new)

Elyse I, the Sun I deleted I, the Sun #781. It is not science fiction and the main character is not female. It's a double whammy deletion.


message 48: by Kelley (new)

Kelley "Space Team" (#701) has a male protagonist. In fact, only one review on the first page even mentions a female character.


message 49: by Sarah (new)

Sarah 48> I've deleted Space Team.


message 50: by Hanneleele (last edited Dec 14, 2018 07:37AM) (new)

Hanneleele There are several series where many books are represented (and don't have different protagonists): Hunger Games for example :)


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