readers advisory for all discussion

so ask already!!! > SF/Fantasy strong female characters

Comments Showing 1-50 of 55 (55 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Deb (new)

Deb (debs913) I'm really enjoying this!

Looking for SF or fantasy with strong female characters. First things that come to mind are the works of Ursula LeGuin and Vonda McIntyre. I like worlds that are realistic and built on social and psychological foundations--but not alternate Earth histories. Strong character development, good pacing, and basic good writing are all key. Thanks!

message 3: by Dana (new)

Dana (danarohinsky) | 56 comments Have you read anything by Michelle West? Her Sun Sword series has many strong female characters and her world-building is first-rate.

message 4: by Mariel (new)

Mariel (fuchsiagroan) I recommended her Elantra series in the other thread Deb started. I almost did so here. Right-on, Dana. West is fantastic about building characters over time in realistic ways (which is frustratingly uncommon in series).

message 5: by Deb (new)

Deb (debs913) Thanks for these suggestions! I'm noticing that several of my GR friends are tagging these books to read too. That's an interesting little tidbit for the research paper--the viral nature of book recommendations!


message 6: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) I'll second both West and McKinley in particular. Some of Mercedes Lackey's earlier work fits the bill, in particular By the Sword (Kerowyn's Tale), and The Oathbound.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch uses strong women as well.

Also The Stepsister Scheme. It is a fairy tale world, but it is the start of a good series.

For SF (and fantasy) you might want to check out Elizabeth Moon.

If you don't mind humor, you should check out Terry Pratchett (in particular, the witches or Susan novels) and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Dealing with Dragons / Searching for Dragons / Calling on Dragons / Talking to Dragons

message 7: by Christy (new)

Christy (christymtidwell) | 149 comments You might enjoy A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon (who I see was mentioned earlier), Ammonite by Nicola Griffith, A Paradigm of Earth by Candas Jane Dorsey, the Wess'har series by Karen Traviss, and He, She and It by Marge Piercy. All of these include strong female characters and they include a wide range of settings but no alternate history and are, in my opinion, well-written.

I also love Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, but I'm not sure how science fiction-y or fantastic you want it to be. This one is basically a post-apocalyptic setting with two teenage girls, so it has a SF premise, but the core of the book is on their relationship and how they get along in this situation. And it's really well written.

I haven't read much by Gwyneth Jones, but she might be worth checking out, too.

message 8: by Natalie (last edited Mar 07, 2011 09:43AM) (new)

Natalie (nkmeyers) | 10 comments John Scalzi's Jane Sagan character in the Old Man's War series: Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe's Tale, and The Sagan Diary is one the strongest female sci-fi characters I have encountered.

Jane is biologically enhanced for a life of warfare as well as being mentally, and socially somewhat more capable than her soldier-peers. This allows the author to explore many of the limits of gendered expectations and relationships.

Jane plays a primary role in the series.

Octavia Butler also writes strong female characters in her Xenogensis Series.

GR user Marvin writes in his review of Dawn:
Butler's women are usually in situations between prisoner and rebel with no certainty of their final role. They are also amazingly strong and complex persons.

Deb wrote: "Looking for SF or fantasy with strong female characters"

message 9: by Deb (new)

Deb (debs913) Wow! What a great list. I've read Octavia Butler, Patricia McKillip, and Mercedes Lackey.

I've made a list of all the suggestions--I will be reading for a long time to come. Thanks everyone :)

message 10: by Deb (new)

Deb (debs913) Oh and thanks for reminding me of Marge Piercy--haven't checked in on her in awhile and she has some new books!

message 11: by Brian R. (new)

Brian R. Mcdonald Moonheart byCharles de Lint was an early exemplar of the "urban fantasy" or "modern fantasy" subgenre. If that field is to the OP's taste, then this book is well writen and features strong female leads. I haven't read Mr. De Lint's other works, notably the Newgate series, but again if that genre appeals then the reviews I've seen seem to indicate a good match to the other criteria.

message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian | 4 comments I can't believe nobody has mentioned Iain M. Banks! His sci-fi novels are driven by strong female characters. The Culture is so egalitarian that less evolved civilizations make fun of Culture men for letting their women get so uppity. His non-Culture sci-fi Against a Dark Background is also driven by a strong female protagonist. In his genre-bender Transition, the universe is basically run by two competing strong women.

message 13: by Richard (new)

Richard G | 1 comments "kushiel's dart","kushiel's chosen", "kushiel's avatar" by jacqueline carey has a strong and sexy heroine phedre. i only read the first three books and i loved them.

message 14: by Deb (new)

Deb (debs913) I just found the Culture series this year--excellent. I'd forgotten Charles deLint--will have to see if I've missed any of his books. Elizabeth, I love Tepper and Marion Zimmer Bradley--you've got a few titles on your list I need to find. Thanks so much!

message 15: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! | 51 comments Along with some of the others listed that I've read, I lovelovelove Paladin of Souls (the sequel to The Curse of Chalion but this one has a terrific female main character) and Dragonsbane (which I've raved about elsewhere).

message 16: by Mir (new)

Mir | 191 comments Alabaster. Kiernan has a horror-ish tinge, though.

The The Wizard Hunters trilogy by Martha Wells.

The Queen of Attolia is the second book in a series, but I think it makes sense on its own -- although I loved The Thief too.

The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl

...Um, come to think of it there is a list for this topic on the fantasy book club.

message 17: by Avrelia (new)

Avrelia | 4 comments A Deepness in the Sky has very good female characters - both human and not. I am a huge fan of Victory Smith.

I dearly love The Golden Key, which has a number of strong and interesting female characters. But I am not sure if the setting is not too Earth-like for you.

Which also left me thinking, what exactly do we mean we are talking about strong female characters? Acting like a normal 3-dimensional being?

message 18: by Flannery, html whiz (new)

Flannery (flannabanana) | 63 comments Mod
Just adding some links:
Kushiel's Dart
Jacqueline Carey

Please pardon the interruption...

message 19: by Mir (last edited Feb 21, 2011 08:13AM) (new)

Mir | 191 comments what exactly do we mean we are talking about strong female characters? Acting like a normal 3-dimensional being?

Usually people asking about this mean as opposed to older fantasy where the women are basically there to be rescued and/or lusted after.

message 20: by Deb (last edited Feb 26, 2011 07:39PM) (new)

Deb (debs913) Not all older SF/F have the dumb blond lab assistant. My very first fantasy book was Andre Norton's Ordeal in Otherwhere. She wrote of a woman dominated society and had a female hero who was pretty cool. Hmmm...have to read that again :)

message 21: by Steve (new)

Steve Melton (bigmelt) | 2 comments First thought if you like urban fantasy or paranormal fantasy or whatever they're calling books with werewolves and vampires in them...
Kelley Armstrong - her Women of the Otherworld series makes for excellent reading aside from the genre itself. The fact that the characters are supernatural is secondary to good character development. The fact that they're werewolves infomrs their character instead of defining it.

Less modern, but chock full of strong women...
Dhampir Taut story telling and consistent action, driven by the titular half-vampire, half-human woman. And please ignore the tag-line that it's a cross between Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's not. It has elves and vampires. That's all it takes from those two titles. It's good enough on its own.

message 22: by vard (new)

vard | 2 comments hi everyone --

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History have strong female characters at the center of the stories. Cayce Pollard (PR) and Hollis Henry (SC & ZH) are smart, strong, and clever. I thoroughly enjoyed all three books.

message 23: by Deb (new)

Deb (debs913) Thanks everyone for the recommendations. I've been sucked up in reading all the great books folks have suggested! Right now I'm in the middle of Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series. Much appreciated :)

message 24: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
were any of these recommendations better than others? were any not what you were looking for?

message 25: by Yngve (last edited Feb 15, 2013 04:02PM) (new)

Yngve Hauge | 7 comments I see that C.J Cherryh hasn't been mentioned here already. She is a must read for anyone into strong SciFi ... her Cyteen (and now its sequel), Downbelow Station and Rimrunners are all epic reads (2 of them are Hugo Award winners as well). I really love her books in general, and if I should mention another series that should be read then it would be her Compact Space series. All those are good starters.

David Weber's Honor Harrington space opera series is also very entertaining with a VERY strong female lead character and several other strong female characters as well.

message 26: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 190 comments I second the Honor Harrington series. And would like to recommend Hellspark, which I mentioned in another thread.

message 27: by Yngve (new)

Yngve Hauge | 7 comments Betsy: If you haven't read C.J. Cherryh yet then you should. I would recommend to start with the mentioned Rimrunners or her Chanur series (what I called Compact Space in my earlier message).

message 28: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 190 comments I loved both the Rimrunners and Chanur series from C.J. Cherryh, and would recommend them, but I didn't care much for Cyteen.

message 29: by Yngve (new)

Yngve Hauge | 7 comments Cyteen is quite heavy but also very important and a friend mine actually asked me when he was halfway through if they came out sane :P

message 30: by Jason (new)

Jason (skinnydippingintobooks) | 234 comments hmm donno if it it's on what you want, but Daughter of Smoke and Bone

message 31: by Christine (new)

Christine (smelltheink) | 11 comments I would try the "Ender's Game" Ender series. Ender's sister, Valentine, is a smart girl who grows into a very strong and intelligent woman. Nonetheless, she's human, and doesn't always have control, especially when it comes to her older brother, Peter.

message 32: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 190 comments Just thought of another series you might like. The Catteni series by Anne McCaffrey, starting with Freedom's Landing. Really strong female lead. Earth has been overrun by an alien species and many humans transported to other worlds as forced labor. Kristen escapes from her captors, then is recaptured and transported with other misfits to yet another world which has yet to be colonized. There are four books detailing how they survive to colonize the new world and eventually try to wrest their independence from the captor race.

message 33: by Betsy (last edited Mar 15, 2013 01:45AM) (new)

Betsy | 190 comments Another C.J. Cherryh series which you might enjoy is the Morgaine Saga, starting with Gate of Ivrel. It's a different fantasy/time travel quest, with a very strong heroine. She's the warrior of the tale and the male lead is her reluctant assistant. Morgaine is heroic and sad, even tragic. But a very enjoyable read.

message 34: by Yngve (new)

Yngve Hauge | 7 comments For some reason I got so focused on sci-fi that I forgot to consider fantasy not already mentioned. I second the Morgaine Saga - It is a REALLY good read.

message 35: by scherzo♫ (new)

scherzo♫ (pjreads) | 36 comments Every time I see this thread, I think of Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre. The OP has already read it, but I highly recommend it to others looking for strong female characters in science fiction.

message 36: by Francesca (new)

Francesca | 1 comments Warning: I'm definitely not a fantasy fan, except for Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire", which, rather curiosly, has tons of strong female characters. My favorite is absolutely Daenerys Targaryen, followed by Arya and Sansa Stark.

message 37: by jo (new)

jo | 43 comments what are alternate Earth histories?

message 38: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 190 comments Fiction that imagines what the world would be like if history had been different. For instance, if Germany had won WWII. It's a fairly popular genre.

message 39: by Yngve (new)

Yngve Hauge | 7 comments Alternative history series with strong female characters - Eric Flint is a strong candidate with the series starting with the book 1632. There are quite alot of books and anthologies in that series now.

message 40: by Yngve (new)

Yngve Hauge | 7 comments And for those who haven't read any of it already - quite a few other writers have teamed in building on that.

message 41: by Yngve (new)

Yngve Hauge | 7 comments If you haven't checked out the Baen free library then there is a link at the bottom of their website at ... 1632 is available there among alot of other great books like On Basilisk Station and The Honor Of The Queen from the Honor Harrington Series.

message 42: by jo (new)

jo | 43 comments Betsy wrote: "Fiction that imagines what the world would be like if history had been different. For instance, if Germany had won WWII. It's a fairly popular genre."

thank you!

message 43: by scherzo♫ (new)

scherzo♫ (pjreads) | 36 comments Louise Cooper has three great fantasy series with strong female main characters:
Time Master
Chaos Gate

message 44: by Harmony (last edited Mar 19, 2013 05:50PM) (new)

Harmony These are some of my favorite books that have strong female characters:
Clockwork Angel
Vampire Academy
The Girl in the Steel Corset
The Hunger Games

message 45: by Micha (last edited Mar 20, 2013 09:44AM) (new)

Micha (selective_narcoleptic) | 64 comments Have you read any Octavia Butler's work? I think you might really enjoy her.

I am also a HUGE fan of Peter S. Beagle (as I'm sure I've mentioned to this group in several recommendations) and I love his female characters. I think The Innkeeper's Song has some of the best I've ever seen.

I would also like to second Dianne Wynne Jones enthusiastically! Among her many amazing works, the most famous is likely to be Howl's Moving Castle, which the Studio Ghibli film is based on. The book is far richer in its background and detail though and you really get a broadened sense of who Sophie is as a character and where Howl came from.

And I've heard amazing things about Kushiel's Dart although I've yet to read it.

message 46: by Grey (new)

Grey Wolf | 29 comments The Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon (epic sci fi) has some great female leads.

message 47: by Grey (new)

Grey Wolf | 29 comments This new book sounds like it has great potential to sit on this list; I haven't ordered it yet, am a bit ordered out at the moment, but its on my real to-do list!

message 48: by Bradley (new)

Bradley Kelly | 6 comments Deb, if you are looking for SF with a STRONG female lead that takes place in a realistic setting, you should check out Colorworld. It takes place in California and the setting is to a "T", so very believable and relatable (especially if you've lived in California).

The characters are rich and the dialogue is entertaining...think Guardians of the Galaxy, in which someone always seems to say something that gets you excited or makes you laugh & smile.

It reads like a bullet train. It's 352 pages, but can easily be read in a few days by a serious reader or stretched out if you want to "live in the world" longer. The chapters are nice and short to keep things moving along. It's the 1st of a 7 book series.

Book 2 is out now and Book 3 is coming in November.

Let me know what you think!

Colorworld (Colorworld, #1) by Rachel E. Kelly

Deb wrote: "I'm really enjoying this!

Looking for SF or fantasy with strong female characters. First things that come to mind are the works of Ursula LeGuin and Vonda McIntyre. I like worlds that are realis..."

message 49: by Edie (new)

Edie (auntedie) I realize this is an old request but for anyone looking for something relatively new, I HIGHLY recommend:

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1) by N.K. Jemisin

message 50: by Diane (new)

Diane | 4 comments Catti-Brie is very strong, a human raised by a dwarf, in the R.A. Salvatore books about Drizzt Do'Urden.

« previous 1
back to top