The Sword and Laser discussion

Girl Cooties in SF

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message 1: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Critic James Nicoll has undertaken an interesting project where he goes through recently published books looking at the sex breakdown of both authors and protagonists. The results so far are depressing:

19 female protagonists; 43 male
14 female authors; 52 male

14 female protagonists; 24 male
11 female authors; 27 male

Angry Robot:
2 female protagonists; 17 male
3 female authors; 15 male

13 female protagonists; 10 male
3 female authors; 16 male

So Haikasoru is the only publisher with as many or more female protagonists, and Baen comes closest to parity of authors and they're still almost 3:1.

Haikasoru editor Nick Mamatas says in the comments that they have several female writers with upcoming books and he's working on more; no word from anyone at Angry Robot.

So what's causing this disparity? Are editors discriminating against women, or are they responding to reader taste? Do guys now want to read about female protagonists in SF?

(And not to point fingers, but I think The Mists of Avalon is the only female-authored book we've done in S&L.)

message 2: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4203 comments I think many authors, male and female, are afraid of writing female protagonists. Maybe it's because they don't want to stereotype them in one way or another.

Personally, I can't think of any SF/Fantasy I've read with a female protagonist that I've liked. Some I've tolerated, but not liked.

message 3: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6376 comments The women are writing urban fantasy.

message 4: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Ashby | 119 comments There are more reasons for a disparity than discrimination or taste. The first and most important question would be what is the ratio of male and female authors submitting books for publication. It may be a simple case that more male authors are writing SF than females.

message 5: by Danforth (new)

Danforth (nomad_scry) | 35 comments Monkey see, monkey do? Maybe.

I don't know the truth of it, but I keep hearing that boys (meaning children) will not read books with female protagonists, while girls will read books with either male or female protags. An author who wants to sell, is going to do a male protag to reach the widest audience.

Which leads back to monkey see, monkey do.

The really interesting thing is the impression that I get that the actual business of publishing is predominantly female. I don't have any sort of vague pop-psych explanation for that one.

message 6: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments One thing I find tiresome is the obligatory love interest female characters are repeatedly saddled with. A book I listened to recently and loved was True Grit(non SF), which has a strong female protagonist and no annoying romantic issues to deal with. It's one reason I gave up early on Catching Fire, along with the tedious re-hashing of the first book in the series.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I think most male authors are wise to stick with writing male protagonists.

message 8: by Larry (new)

Larry (lomifeh) | 88 comments Could it be an identification issue? If SF is traditionally dominated by a male audience it would make more sense that the writing is mainly geared toward allowing a mostly male audience to identify with the main characters?

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