Hello lovelies! A while ago I posted a list of my top five women authors of sci-fi and fantasy on my blog Dragons, Zombies, and Aliens. Of course, favorites are constantly changing. So here is a list of five of my all-time favorite women authors of the SFF genre. You’ll be adding a few good books to your already daunting reading list by the end of the article.
(And no, Mom, a.k.a. Maryjanice Davidson, I’m not putting you on this list. Even though you’re a bestselling author who re-defined the vampire genre, I actually haven’t read your books. Because they are romance. Explicit romance. Written by my mother as inspired by my father. No, thank you.)
I need more Okorafor in my life. An author who specializes in afrofuturism, Nnedi Okorafor’s work blends everything we love about the sci-fi genre with all the amazing craziness of Africa. My personal favorite novel of hers is Lagoon, wherein we get our “standard” first contact with aliens in Lagos, Nigeria. Okorafor also tackles gender roles, religious fanaticism, the role of music and science in society, and several other topics.
Fortune’s ongoing Spectre War series is sci-fi mystery as its best. It’s one of those things where readers have to be very, very careful when explaining what the series is actually about to other people, because a simple description would be riddled with spoilers. So we’re just going to focus on her first book Nova.
In Nova, a sixteen-year-old girl named Lia has no memory and a bomb in her head. Except the bomb is a dud that stops at two minutes, and randomly counts down a few seconds from time to time. So now she has limited time to figure out who she is, what she is, and why she was sent to blow up a space station.
Hands-down my favorite steampunk author, Robyn Bennis is a rare creature: she’s a science fiction author who actually understands science. Furthermore, she uses it to make her books a lot more intense. Her Signal Airship novels (starting with By Fire Above) feature airships at war, and are filled with technical details. Normally, that type of thing would put me to sleep. Except within all those technical details are various ways the crew of the airship could blow up. For every time they almost get shot out of the sky by another ship, they almost blow themselves up because of faulty engineering. Think Michael Crichton in the steampunk genre.
As an added bonus, Bennis includes a healthy dose of feminism and sarcasm in her novels. The women of her military are awesome and they handle their problems with beautiful, scathing snark. Overall, they are an awesome read.
Superheroes don’t just belong on the big screen or in comics. Done right, they can make for some awesome YA novels. The Nemesis series centers around Danny, a new teen superhero named Dreadnought. She’s basically Superman. The only problem–well, “problem” according to everyone else–is that she’s trans. Which brings up a lot of issues: at school, at home, and in the superhero community.
Ironically, while all the superheroes are clutching their pearls, most of the supervillains are totally accepting of Danny’s gender. It’s a wonder she doesn’t say “screw it” and actually help Utopia destroy the world to create a new one from the ashes.
Sarah J. Maas
Meet my latest obsession. SJM writes the Throne of Glass series, an epic fantasy that follows the eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena. Again, like Margaret Fortune’s work, there’s not a lot that I can divulge without totally spoiling everything. But basically, the king of the continent Celaena is on is a total dick, the man who saved Celaena’s life when she was eight and raised her to be an assassin is a total dick, and the Fae queen across the ocean is a bitch. Celaena has to destroy all of them. As of now (the series is ongoing, book seven coming out in October), she’s two for three.
The good news is that Celaena is far from the only badass good guy in this series, or the only badass good girl. SJM provides a wide variety of complex, intriguing characters to rival George R. R. Martin. Except unlike GRRM, SJM doesn’t have a rape problem.
Those are my top five women authors of sci-fi and fantasy. Who are your favorites?