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so ask already!!! > classic SF that respects women...

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message 1: by Cheryl is busier irl atm. (last edited Feb 17, 2012 10:28AM) (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) Ok, I saw the other threads, but I don't want fantasy, and I didn't like Honor Harrington, and I own but haven't gotten around to Moon's Vatta's War yet. I'm looking for the even older stuff, the short novels that were popular in the 40s and 50s. I know that not everyone writing then had the persona of a naive pimply-faced teenage boy.

Remind me of the robots and aliens and spaceship stories from the good old days that I can safely recommend to irritable feminists and vulnerable survivors, please!

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) For another take on my question, here's what I posted to a (very different) group:

I found this listopia:

but most of the books there seem to have more avant-garde stuff, more about redefining gender & sexuality. I'm sure they're good books and I'm sure I'll read some of them. But meanwhile....

I'm looking for the other books, the classic robots and aliens and spaceships written back in the forties and fifties. I know some of them included real women, not just women who were eye-candy or victims or shrewish spinsters or housewives... but I can't remember any examples.

I'd welcome suggestions for modern books that read like classics, too, like the League of People series by James Alan Gardner.

I am aware of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber and know it has fans, but since I don't like warfare or politics I don't know whether it's apt.

I also like what I've read by Elizabeth Moon but haven't read her big Vatta's War series that starts with Trading in Danger yet, so, again, I don't know if it fits.

message 3: by Christy (new)

Christy (christymtidwell) | 149 comments I haven't read much from these authors (none at all from some of them), so I can't vouch for their quality, but these are some of the more successful female sf writers of that period: Leigh Brackett, Leslie F. Stone, Clare Winger Harris (who might be a little earlier than the 1940s and '50s), C. L. Moore, Zenna Henderson, Miriam Allen DeFord, and Judith Merril. I'd also recommend looking for Pamela Sargent's Women of Wonder series of anthologies.

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) Thanks Christy, that's a start.

I hope someone actually has read something?

Unfortunately women have been known to write for the market, and the gender of the writer is far from a guarantee of an enlightened sensibility.

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) Thank you Elizabeth - I'm especially appreciative of your enlightening annotations. I do have some of these on my piles & lists, off I go to explore the rest... !

More ideas always welcome from anyone! :)

message 6: by Christy (new)

Christy (christymtidwell) | 149 comments Ooh, James Tiptree, Jr., is fabulous! I didn't think to suggest her because I think her work is mostly a little later than the dates you listed, but she does write some great big idea SF that deals with gender in interesting ways. She's best known for her short stories; I'd recommend Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, a collection of some of her best or best known short stories as a place to start.

message 7: by Christy (new)

Christy (christymtidwell) | 149 comments Other, more contemporary, suggestions: Sarah Zettel and Julie Czerneda. They both write big picture SF focusing on science and exploration and aliens and, as far as I remember, they write women well. Their women didn't strike me as weak or falling into those icky old feminine stereotypes. Czerneda's Species Imperative series, for instance, has a female marine biologist as a protagonist and she's pretty great. I remember the specific books I read by Zettel less well, but it appears that I liked The Quiet Invasion.

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) They're all great additions to the list, thank you! I'm still looking for the older ones, though. The ones that I read as a teen and that didn't make me hate the genre even as I became more of a feminist, you know?

Maybe it'd help to give a little background. I was trying to turn a friend onto classic sf and she picked up The Martian Chronicles and did not like it, especially because of Ray Bradbury's portrayal of women. Now the thing is that I don't recall everything I read being that bad. So, hmm, what the heck did I read, and was it bad, was I naive - or was some of it perfectly fine? Danged if I know - I hope someone on GR does!

Meanwhile I'm going to filter all the suggestions I get and then recommend some of the best to my friend. And read some of them myself. :)

message 9: by Tuck (new)

Tuck | 184 comments Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "Ok, I saw the other threads, but I don't want fantasy, and I didn't like Honor Harrington, and I own but haven't gotten around to Moon's Vatta's War yet. I'm looking for the even older stuff, the ..."
this isn't that old but great femi sci fi "ammonite"


Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) Thanks :)

message 11: by Betsy (last edited Nov 04, 2012 05:35PM) (new)

Betsy | 189 comments Cheryl, I think an awful lot of the older, classic sci-fi really was sexist. I won't read Heinlein because of his sexism, and don't get me started on the ones like John Carter (can't remember the author - Burroughs?).

One of my very favorite books (I reread it nearly every year) is Hellspark. The main character is a space trader who is asked to investigate a murder on a newly discovered planet. It's about first contact and what constitutes language and what constitutes sentience. There are several plot lines and lots of interesting characters, as well as some really weird plants.

ETA: Written by a woman. Protagonist is a woman. Lots of strong female characters.

It's from the 70s and unfortunately it's out of print. But I think Amazon has some used copies available.

message 12: by scherzo♫ (new)

scherzo♫ (pjreads) | 36 comments I love Hellspark!!

message 13: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 189 comments It just makes me feel good every time I read it.

message 14: by Pghbekka (new)

Pghbekka | 8 comments The Books of the Black Current by Ian Watson ( - Completely unexpected find.

message 15: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 4 comments Jo Walton's Among Others, while not meeting your criteria, is itself a book about an adolescent girl reading and loving science fiction. It can function as a great reading list all by itself.

message 16: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I would recommend The Best of C. L. Moore over any of her other collections. It has all of her best stories. "Vintage Season" and "Shambleu" are my two favorites of hers. It's also better introduction for readers new to the genre and might not be accustomed to reading sci-fi collections.

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