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Women & Minorities in Science Fiction

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Being pretty progressively minded, I think its important to seek out works written by people not usually associated with the genre. Science fiction is dominated by middle aged, balding white men. I look at my sci-fi read list and am frustrated with myself for not having read more female writers, and more writers who aren't typical scruffy white men.

I recently read Dexter Palmer's "The Dream of Perpetual Motion," but thought it was awful. I just picked up Ursula K. Le Guin's Hugo Award winner "The Dispossessed," but I'm looking to add more works to my list.

Any recommendations?


message 2: by Dima (new)

Dima (d1ma) | 3 comments Well, Connie Willis, Elizabeth Moon, Margaret Atwood are all big names. As for younger generation :), I read Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty recently and really liked it.


message 3: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6362 comments Nnedi Okorafor was just on Geek's Guide to the Galaxy:

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=c...


message 4: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Oh my. About a year ago, there was a huge cross-site flamewar on this subject. It started when
Elizabeth Bear posted something along the lines of "It's easy to write characters of color. Here, I'll show you how," and various people objected that she was being condescending. Within a couple weeks, one major sci-fi editor had deleted his LiveJournal, another was threatening to blacklist people who'd disagreed with her, one author was proclaiming that he'd never write a non-white character again, and many many people were saying, "See, this is why science fiction is so whitebread."

It got worse from there.

There's a good summary here, or you can just google "racefail" and get more posts on the subject than any sane person would ever want to read.


message 5: by aldenoneil (last edited May 27, 2010 04:23PM) (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Dima wrote: "Well, Connie Willis, Elizabeth Moon, Margaret Atwood are all big names..."

Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness deals with a race of sex- and gender-swapping humanoids. Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian future where casual sex is outlawed, and fertile women are chattel.

Those are two I read and enjoyed. The Handmaid's Tale is the more accessible of the two.

I'm reminded of a project in high school English where we had to choose a powerful female character to write about. We had to approve our book choice with the teacher first. I chose The War of the Worlds, for whatever reason, and the teacher ok'ed it, for whatever reason. That book contains, if I remember correctly, two full sentences about a female character.


message 6: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Nobody's mentioned Octavia Butler? Wild Seed was a truly amazing science fiction work dealing with both race and gender.

One of my favorite female science fiction writers is C.S. Friedman. Most of her stand-alone novels are terrific space operas.


message 7: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern has got some sword and laser in them. I loved them as a teen and have been planning on re-reading them for some time now.


message 8: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4193 comments Philip wrote: "Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern has got some sword and laser in them. I loved them as a teen and have been planning on re-reading them for some time now."

Oooh good call. I haven't read those books in ages, though I have the first book on my iPod. One day, when I don't have a huge list of stuff to read...


message 9: by Qoman60 (new)

Qoman60 | 3 comments terpkristin wrote: "Philip wrote: "Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern has got some sword and laser in them. I loved them as a teen and have been planning on re-reading them for some time now."
"


Any of Anne McCaffrey's books all have strong female lead characters. I'm a fan of the Pern novels, been reading (and re-reading) them since the '60's. Her other books and series are also good IMO.


message 10: by Qoman60 (new)

Qoman60 | 3 comments A few female authors I've read, come to mind, C. J. Cherryh, Catherine Asaro, Octavia E. Butler, as well as Anne McCaffrey who has already been mentioned.


message 11: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6362 comments One day I'll try Joanna Russ


message 12: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new)

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1707 comments Mod
Philip wrote: "Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern has got some sword and laser in them. I loved them as a teen and have been planning on re-reading them for some time now."

I'm also planning on going back for a reread at some point! I was so young when I first read them that I'll break my usual "no rereads!" rule!


message 13: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (nightveil) Carole Nelson Douglas. Known more for her mystery novels, she's written a few fantasy books as well as the Probe/Counterprobe duet.

Also, Elizabeth Moon is pretty good if you like military SF with strong female characters.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments Tamahome wrote: "One day I'll try Joanna Russ"
I've read her! I did a big project on feminist science fiction in one of my library science classes, particularly the books where the women are the ruling class on an alien planet, hehe.

I love Margaret Atwood (her three dystopian novels - Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood), Ursula K. LeGuin (Left Hand of Darkness and the Dispossessed plus her boy-wonder Earthsea fantasy trilogy), Octavia Butler (my favorites are her post-apocalyptic ones - Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Earth), Sherri Tepper, Joan Vinge, even Patricia A. McKillip. Madeleine L'Engle was brought up recently in the podcast, and I've loved her.

It is funny, because while most of these would fall under science fiction, I think of some of them as fantasy writers even if the stories take place on other planets, because of the handling of the characters and settings.


message 15: by Michael (last edited May 30, 2010 04:12PM) (new)

Michael Guenther | 14 comments Veronica wrote " I'm also planning on going back for a reread at some point! I was so young when I first read them that I'll break my usual "no rereads!" rule! ."

A no re-reads rule? How can you possibly have such a rule? That is simply unconscionable.....

I must've read the Dragonriders books at least 10 times.....

BTW, Janny Wurts has a good mix of sword and laser mixed together (mostly sword, the laser is concentrated within the story's background).


message 16: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Michael wrote: "A no re-reads rule? How can you possibly have such a rule? That is simply unconscionable....."

I kind of have a no re-reads rule too. There are just too many books and too little time. The only time I re-read is if a book is on a group read and it's been a long time since I've read it. I do also occasionally re-read books that I've read more than ten years ago. Maybe my no re-read is really a don't read more than once a decade rule.


message 17: by Scott (new)

Scott Whittaker (scott_whittaker) | 2 comments I thoroughly enjoyed Julian May's excellent Saga of the Pliocene Exile trilogy and the follow-up Galactic Milieu quadrilogy. The Pliocene exile series is a mix of Sci-Fi and fantasy and starts off a little slow but she manages to create a very rich and detailed world and while there are a lot of fantasy influences woven through the fabric of the stories, she has the grounded and believable realism of a hardcore sci-fi author. Highly recommended.


message 18: by Tina (last edited May 10, 2011 12:49PM) (new)

Tina (javabird) | 711 comments Of course there is also Lauren Beukes, who just won the Arthur C Clarke award for Zoo City
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes


message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 491 comments "Minority" writers seem to be in scarcer supply in SF than women. Samuel R Delany stands out - the only black, gay SF writer I've ever heard of. As well as Delany and Octavia Butler already mentioned the only other black SF writer who springs to mind is Steven Barnes - although I confess that if I haven't stumbled across a picture of a writer I don't generally think about their colour.

I guess it's the classic liberal dilemma; in theory one should be colourblind, but that's easy to say belonging to the dominant group. A literature should be inclusive, and can only be richer the more variety of experience it encompasses. The feminist movement made such important and influential use of SF (le Guin, Attwood, Butler, Tepper, the late Joanna Russ), but race (I actually prefer the word 'tribe') has been an issue largely addressed by white writers.


message 20: by Sean (last edited May 11, 2011 09:16AM) (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Paul 'Pezter' wrote: ""Minority" writers seem to be in scarcer supply in SF than women. Samuel R Delany stands out - the only black, gay SF writer I've ever heard of. As well as Delany and Octavia Butler ..."

There are a few others -- Jemisin, of course, Maurice Broaddus, Wrath James White (though he's more of a horror writer)and Nnedi Okorafor -- and a number of Asians: Brenda (Wang) Clough, S.P. Somtow, Ted Chiang, Charles Yu, and all the translations Haikasoru is putting out.


message 21: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) Scott wrote: "I thoroughly enjoyed Julian May's excellent Saga of the Pliocene Exile trilogy and the follow-up Galactic Milieu quadrilogy. The Pliocene exile series is a mix of Sci-Fi and fantasy and starts off ..."

Love those books!


message 22: by Al (new)

Al | 159 comments Some great suggestion here.

A 2nd on Chip Delaney. I've pretty much loved everything he's written. Some are more accessible than others. The Einstein Intersection and Babel-17 are quick reads and a good introduction.

Let me plug Kage Baker once again as well, too.
In the Garden of Iden and Sky Coyote are both a great place to start.

If all else fails, there's always Dorris Lessing.


message 23: by Mary (new)

Mary (valentinew) | 118 comments http://www.weregeek.com/2011/04/21/

Anybody have a link to that article she mentions?


message 24: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (adrew) | 426 comments Mary wrote: "http://www.weregeek.com/2011/04/21/

Anybody have a link to that article she mentions?"


The article is linked to on the page itself. Enjoyed the tounge-in-cheek nature of the comic.

I was having a to-and-fro with Sean over in the Another Must Read Book List thread about this topic (minorities/gender bias in SF/Fantasy) which I hadn't really thought about per-say, and didn't twig that The Hunger Games was choosen specifically for being by a female author.

Curious if anyone has any interesting reading on the topic beyond those links covered in SF Mistressworks. I particularly enjoyed Nicola Griffith's post but was a little sad to see a lack of inquiry, which to be fair was acknowledged as a todo;

"To begin with, we need numbers: ratios of women/men being published as sf in UK, US, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia, and other English-speaking territories. Ratios of historical publication of same. Reviews of same. Of book format. Of cover design. Of sales. Of awards. And so on. Anyone got any of that to hand? Anyone got a platform through which they can put out a call for same?"


message 25: by Al (new)

Al | 159 comments Much as I enjoy Pat Murphy and Pat Cardigan the Mistressworks is missing some highly influential works including Left Hand and the Ged books by LeGuin, Downbelow Station by Cherryh, any of the Dragon books by McCarthy (c'mon, there should be at least one) and, imho, Riddle Master of Hed by McKillip. And, hey, how about a mention of my current fave, Kage Baker!


message 26: by Cheaposhopper (new)

Cheaposhopper Rm | 1 comments I am an amateur, sci-fi, minority writer. I wrote one book, and I wrote it with three main characters, and if you read it, you would surprisingly not be able to identify their race... I do not know if I did this subconsciously or not, but it begs the question if I can really write the way I want or if I'm ultimately limited by the popular perspective mentioned above... The one thing I made sure of is the importance of a strong female heroine.


message 27: by kvon (new)

kvon | 562 comments Karen Lord wrote The Best of All Possible Worlds--female black Barbadian. Nalo Hopkinson is female black Jamaican. (And I'm reminded that Tobias Buckell is male white Grenadian.)

I'm assuming you looked at Ann Leckie for the book club.

I will note that several of the recent books set in Africa, from Okorafor and Buekes, are more contemporary fantasy. I'm guessing you're looking for more hard sf.


message 28: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Knighton | 158 comments Scott wrote: "I thoroughly enjoyed Julian May's excellent Saga of the Pliocene Exile trilogy and the follow-up Galactic Milieu quadrilogy. The Pliocene exile series is a mix of Sci-Fi and fantasy and starts off ..."

These are among the very few books - possibly the only series - that I've read multiple times. Fantastically evocative and fascinating.


message 29: by Ben (new)

Ben Rowe (benwickens) Caitlin R Kiernan is one of my favorite authors and whilst she is perhaps more widely known within the fantasy and horror genres she has written some excellent short SF too. Her writing also sometimes includes lesbian and transgender characters, something that is pretty rare in the genre. There is plenty of her shorter fiction free online if you want to give her a try.

Sandra McDonald wrote the superb short story Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots which is available free online too as well as a range of other short fiction. She has also written some novels although I have not checked them out yet.

James Tiptree Jr, Nancy Kress, Catherynne M. Valente, Sheri S. Tepper, Karen Joy Fowler and Rusch, Kristine Kathryn are all women writers worth checking out.

http://sfmistressworks.wordpress.com/ is a good resource.


message 30: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Knighton | 158 comments Andrew wrote: "Curious if anyone has any interesting reading on the topic beyond those links covered in SF Mistressworks. I particularly enjoyed Nicola Griffith's post but was a little sad to see a lack of inquiry, which to be fair was acknowledged as a todo..."

It's not heavy on data I'm afraid, but I stumbled across this earlier today, covering some of this ground:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieljoseold...


message 31: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2872 comments Andrew - I'm reading that author's Salsa Nocturna and it's quite good.

Tobias Buckell's work is excellent too.


message 32: by Lena (new)

Lena There's a new Book Box I'm stalking http://www.afrofuturebooks.com
Just ordered
Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor Home (Binti, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor
From BookOutlet


message 33: by Lena (new)

Lena
Did anyone else know she had a twin fashioned from black clay named Nubia?


message 34: by Brian (last edited Aug 05, 2017 06:43PM) (new)

Brian Webb (brianqwebb) | 45 comments I'm not sure that I should participate in this discussion as an author, but I try and keep my stories as gender and ethnically diverse as the people I choose to surround myself with. In my first book (_Shift: A thriller of multiple dimensions.), the main character is a Taiwanese immigrant female, science reporter, and an African-American male, photographer. Their relationship is sarcastic, sibling-esque and not romantic. There is also diversity in the secondary and tertiary characters. In the follow-up book, which I am writing now, the main characters are an Indian male (2nd generation immigrant) and Caucasian female (Eastern European immigrant).

Writers base characters on their own experiences.

I'd also love to plug a peer of mine, J.J. Green, who writes some wonderful science fiction in the style of Douglas Adams, as well as some great science fiction operas, all with good female protagonists.


message 35: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Richter (stephenofllongbeach) | 1344 comments Also Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue . Every year more women put out Science fiction and Fantasy books. Did you notice that all the Hugo nominated Best Novel are written by women? I do not even keep track anymore. I just snag whatever because in the end, if you read just the most recent books, it will be 50/50.


message 36: by Rick (last edited Aug 06, 2017 02:05PM) (new)

Rick | 2872 comments EVERYONE - Please note that this thread was started in 2010 If some of the early comments feel odd to read, that's probably it. Me, I was confused since someone referred to racefail as 'a year ago' (it was a contretemps in 2009) etc.

The field's far from perfect but it's changed A LOT in just the last few years. As Stephen notes, many award nominees and winners are now from women and/or PoC (or WoC.... ).

Just wanted to give folks a heads up on the necro as the comments make a lot more sense if you realize it's a seven year old post.

That said, Lena's link has some really interesting stuff at it.


message 37: by Lena (last edited Aug 06, 2017 01:27PM) (new)

Lena I found the old thread and brought it back because I thought the Afrofuture Book Box was relevant to the conversation.

http://www.afrofuturebooks.com


message 38: by Rick (last edited Aug 06, 2017 02:04PM) (new)

Rick | 2872 comments Lena - it is. Not a criticism at all and I apologize if it came off as that (I'll edit).

I was just reading the early posts and getting confused about some of the comments and then realized they were older.

The Afrofuture stuff looks really interesting btw - thanks for mentioning it.

PS: Whenever I see Butler's name it saddens me on two levels. First, that she passed so early. Second, that it turns out she lived a few miles from me and I didn't know that at the time. Sadly, we didn't have a good bookstore then for her to have read at.


message 39: by Lena (new)

Lena That's a shame. I hadn't realized she passed so many years ago. For some reason I thought that Fledgling had come out recently. It was a loss to the community.


message 40: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2872 comments Absolutely. She was only 58 too.


message 41: by Lena (new)

Lena This article just smacked me on the head - how had I never noticed there was no divorce in fantasy and everything that implied about women's rights and the patriarchy?
https://www.tor.com/2017/08/08/beyond...


message 42: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2702 comments Lena wrote: "This article just smacked me on the head - how had I never noticed there was no divorce in fantasy and everything that implied about women's rights and the patriarchy?
https://www.tor.com/2017/08/0..."


That piece is great and I would *love* to see more fantasy stories incorporate divorce into their plots.


message 43: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 227 comments Wow, that really is a thought provoking piece!


message 44: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8768 comments Epic Fantasy does seem to be a little light on divorce, but it's definitely present within general Fantasy, especially Urban Fantasy.

That said, isn't there a divorce in Bujold's The Warrior's Apprentice? Surely that can't be the only one. I wonder if there's any in the Kurtz's Deryni books?


message 45: by Lena (new)

Lena Even in urban fantasy/science fiction it's a struggle to think of some. Adam has an ex wife in the Mercy Thompson series and I think it 2010 Haywood Floyd has an ex wife.


message 46: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8768 comments I've never really paid attention to marital status in and of itself, but I seem to recall that divorce is a bigger thing in UF that features some version of a private eye. Mercy Thompson is one, but I'm sure there have been others. I don't know what a good good search term would be, though, that wouldn't sweep up every book about divorce.


message 47: by Trike (last edited Aug 28, 2017 04:43PM) (new)

Trike | 8768 comments Oh, I just thought of another book that features a divorce or two: The Goblin Emperor. Maia's dad divorces wives a lot, besides having mistresses on the side.

Also in Animorphs and The Spiderwick Chronicles Box Set.

ETA: maybe it's more common in TV and film? I know Buffy's parents were divorced, as are the parents in Zathura and Lost Boys. I think also in Stranger Things.


message 48: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2304 comments The one secondary-world example I can think of is in Steven Brust's Jhereg series; but that's a series where in a lot of ways the setting feels pretty contemporary even though it's about a magic-using human assassin in a city of "elfs".


message 49: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Nagy | 379 comments Divorce comes up quite a bit in military sci-fi and stuff, normally it's part of a characters backstory and they have a kid and it may feature every single possible relationship between divorced but they are still decently friendly with each other to burn everything to the ground never seeing your kid again.

Fantasy it's a bit rarer but it kinda should be especially when they are going for faux feudal system it should be as a marriage was more of an alliance than now a days.


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