Oct 14 2010 2:56pm

Future Classics: Best science fiction by women written 2001-2010

Future science fiction classics by womenNiall Harrison of Torque Control has been hosting an interesting discussion about why so little science fiction by women is published in the UK. This started with Tricia Sullivan talking about why so few women win the Clarke Award, which is for the best science fiction (not fantasy) published in the U.K., and went on from there.

British publisher Gollancz has published a set of “science fiction future classics” which do not contain any books by women. I’m sad to see this, as I imprinted on Gollancz’s yellow-jacketed SF line when I was a teenager and have always felt fond of them. Now Niall’s interested in what people think are the best ten science fiction novels written by women between 2001 and 2010—as if the future classics list was to be all female, instead of all male.

In the Torque Control discussion some people said women just aren’t interested in SF because science is too hard for girls, which is just teeth-grindingly annoying as well as demonstrably untrue. Other people said that women just weren’t writing top class stuff—and I’ve also seen the opposite claim that only the outstanding women were being published.

There does seem to be a problem, and it does seem to be with science fiction. As well as women SF writers not being published in the UK, this decade has seen a shift towards fantasy. I think it may be a general shift and there’s less science fiction than fantasy being written by people of all genders and in all countries, but it seems most marked among women. Lois McMaster Bujold’s work this decade has all been fantasy. Alison Sinclair, who has quite astonishing scientific qualifications, has switched to dark fantasy. Le Guin’s full-length work this decade has all been fantasy. If you look at the female Hugo nominees for this decade only two of them are science fiction rather than fantasy—Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber and Connie Willis’s Passage.

There are still plenty of women writing science fiction, especially if we don’t limit ourselves to what’s been published in Britain. Niall’s challenge is to limit ourselves the best ten. These are my personal choices:

Please make your own lists. Please limit it to science fiction—I appreciate that there are edge cases, and that’s fine, but I reserve the right to roll my eyes at anyone suggesting Susanna Clarke or J.K. Rowling.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Half a Crown and Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

Kristi Lea
1. Kristi Lea
Linnea Synclair
Sarah Creasy is a debut author this year (and I'm waiting impatiently for her next book)
Sharon Lee

There are quite a few Sci Fi authors published by e-presses (Carina, Samhain, probably others).

By "limit it to science fiction" I hope you don't mean "rule out anything with a hint or more of romance". :)
Tony Linde
2. tonylinde
I'd vote for Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant by Gwyneth Jones. It'd be near the top of my ten.
Jo Walton
3. bluejo
Kristi Lea: If it's SF with romance, no problem. If it's vampire romance, forget it.
Chris Hawks
4. SaltManZ
Karen Traviss
She's known mostly for her Star Wars and Gears of War tie-ins, but her 6 original Wess'har books are powerful stuff, dealing with interspecies relations between multiple races and environmental issues.
Ty Margheim
5. alSeen
Bujold has written 3 Vorkosigan stories since 2001. One novel in 2002 (Diplomatic Immunity), one short (Winterfair Gifts), and the most recent novel comes out this month (Cryoburn).

You've been able to buy an ARC ebook of Cryoburn for about a month now.
Sean Arthur
6. wsean
Yes, was just going to mention Bujold. Diplomatic Immunity isn't her best work, though she's probably my favorite author working today. On the other hand, Curse of Chalion and its sequel are awesome, but not sci-fi.

Oops, posted this comment without reading the whole post! I see you've already covered Bujold. :)
Kristi Lea
7. Jenny Davidson
I just read Blackout and loved it, what a good book...

Have only read a few of the others on your list, and will gratefully take them as recommendations. I would put Gwyneth Jones on that list for sure - I like Tricia Sullivan quite a bit but do not know that she has yet written a single particular book that is the equal of the ones you mention here, though I wouldn't be surprised if she does so in the near future.
Joe Sherry
8. jsherry
I would mention Elizabeth Bear's Jenny Casey trilogy, as well as the first two Jacob's Ladder Books: Dust, and Chill. Oh, and Undertow.

And a second for Karen Traviss and the Wess'har Wars (starting with City of Pearl)
Sean Arthur
9. wsean
Funny enough, now that I think of it, most of the scifi I've read recently--well, that I've read and enjoyed--has been by women. Bujold, Cherie Priest, Sharon Lee, Suzanne Collins.

Oh yeah, if YA counts, I'd nominate The Hunger Games. :)
Mike Scott
10. drplokta
I'd include something by Kage Baker -- probably The Graveyard Game.
Kristi Lea
11. James Davis Nicoll
1: By "limit it to science fiction" I hope you don't mean "rule out anything with a hint or more of romance". :)

Romance is hominid brain chemistry and some cognitive programming, inherent and otherwise; clearly the stuff of hard SF.
Kristi Lea
12. jessicaemilymoyer
I was totally blown away by Empress of Mars by Kage Baker.
Kristi Lea
13. N. Mamatas
Natual History by Justina Robson.
Alexandra Wolfe
14. awolfe
I have Elizabeth Moon (Vatta's War), Elizabeth Bear (Jenny Casey Series), Kristine Smith (Jani Kilian Series), Kage Baker (Empress of Mars) to mention just four, on my bookshelves.
Kristi Lea
15. erinlb
If YA is accepted:
Siberia by Ann Halam aka Gwyneth Jones;
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer;
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson (no, it doesn't sound like a very SFnal title, but it's totally SF);
Exodus by Julie Bertagna

Kage Baker's Company series as a whole, though I know not all of it was published before 2000.
Kristi Lea
16. David G. Hartwell
I like and admire Molly Gloss, and owned the rights to publish Wild Life for Tor. But the rights were reverted at the author's passionate request because she did not want it published as science fiction, and so it was resold elsewhere and not published as SF. She intended it to be a literary novel, not SF.
Rob Munnelly
17. RobMRobM
Can't do this list without Bujold, so I'd vote for Diplomatic Immunity.
Jo Walton
18. bluejo
David: Even so, I am pointing at it and saying it is SF.

People who want to know if YA counts: YA counts, it always has.
Beth Friedman
19. carbonel
I'll second the suggestion for Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. It partakes of the keep-you-reading nature.
Kristi Lea
20. Fred Davis
Linda Nagata's Memory - It gets the feel and simplistic grandeur of fairy tales better than Gaiman's Stardust does, but does so on a Ring World where a society, one that is technologically advanced compared to our own, has shaped itself and its habits around an eerie glowing fog that rises out of the ground at night and destroys any person or objects it comes into contact with.
Kristi Lea
21. Tansy Rayner Roberts
I passionately agree with the recommendations for Spirit by Gwyneth Jones (and don't forget Bold as Love), Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (and Passage), and the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

I'd also like to give a shout out to The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which has to be one of the most successful SF novels of the decade, bringing SF into mainstream popularity just as Susanna Clarke and JK Rowling did for fantasy.

Nylon Angel by Marianne de Pierres and Less Than Human by Maxine McArthur are my Australian pics. My favourite Elizabeth Bear (a writer who has exploded all over this decade) is Carnival, which is also one of her SFest books.

Let's not forget Jo herself, of course. :D At the risk of sucking up, Farthing and Lifelode would both be on my list, though both of them are the kind of science fiction novels that require a firm conversation in order to establish their credentials.

Ursula Le Guin's Lavinia is a tricky one, and I'm on the fence about whether it is SF enough (to me), though it is an amazing book and I want it to count.

I would also like to add that I have read Cryoburn already thanks to a review copy coming my way and it is definitely a return to form for Bujold, who also disappointed me with the damp squib that was Diplomatic Immunity. It's a powerful new chapter in the Vorkosigan saga which, far more than Diplomatic Immunity, sets up the next phase of Miles' life, reinvents the character all over again, and has so much thematic punch that my ears are still ringing.

Yes, I know that's more than ten. Damn it!
Kristi Lea
22. AL McGregor
Nancy Kress's Probability trilogy (2000-2002) has an interesting combinton of discussion reality and xenobiology and genetic modification.

Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series (2003-2008) is excellent space opera, with some good discussion of future economies.

I also strongly endorse Karin Lowachee, Liz Williams, Connie Willis, Bujold's Cryoburn, Suzanne Collins, Elizabeth Bear, Karen Traviss, and definitely Kage Baker.

And Farthing is alternate history, which is a subset of SF. And one of the most chilling books I read in the last decade.
Jo Walton
23. bluejo
Tansy: Lifelode and Lavinia are fantasy, so that gets you down to ten.

(Alternate history is SF.)
Ada Kerman
24. momerath
I got a post-apocalyptic vibe from Bujold's Sharing Knife series, and I could postulate SFnal explanations for the magic in it. I expect that is pushing it too much, though.
Jo Walton
25. bluejo
Momerath: Yes, they're post apocalyptic. But it's a fantasy apocalypse -- the good guys fought the evil Malice, and the evil Malice split into several zillion mini-Malices. This is explicitly explained in the books. Great books. Totally fantasy.
p l
26. p-l
I agree with N. Mamatas about Natural History by Justina Robson.

I'd also name Nekropolis by Maureen F. McHugh. I don't like it as much as China Mountain Zhang, but it's still a great '00-'10 release.
Peter Stone
27. Peter1742
But ... the Clarke Award does sometimes go to fantasy. Or at least, it sometimes goes to China Mieville. What is going on? Do men write science fiction and women write fantasy? That would explain why no women are winning it.
Kai Jones
28. gelasticjew
Kristine Kathryn Rusch published a terrific hard SF novel last year (2009) named Diving the Wreck; sequel next year, I think.
Kristi Lea
29. Ellie Ferguson
I'd recommend Sarah A. Hoyt's novel, DarkShip Thieves. It's the first in the series and has great world building and is lots of fun. Bujold is always good as well.
Kristi Lea
30. Lin Wicklund
Sarah A. Hoyt's Darkship Theives, definitely! Space opera! First in a series, incredible attention to the universe she created -- great stuff!
Kristi Lea
31. John Wagner
Oh yeah, I'll second that one! Dark Ship Thieves is good reading, old school sf but with actual 3 dimensional characters!
As well as an actual plot! So Sarah A. Hoyt is a keeper.
Moon, of course as well as Linda Evans. I like Evans and Webers collaborations (Tor? Sounds right), good stuff.
Kristi Lea
32. Helen Merrick
Yes to so many of these books - I'd second Jones' Spirit, but even ahead of that would put her Life; yes to Julie Czerneda, Nalo Hopkinson, Liz Williams (Ghost sister and Nine layers of Sky) Cherryh, Kress and many others. I'd also have Tricia Sullivan's Maul; Kathleen Ann Goonan's nanotech quartet (I think Light Music makes it) and another not mentioned, L Timmel Duchamp's Marq'ssan cycle.
Shame we can't stretch back a year to 2000 - then we could have Le Guin's The Telling; Sarah Zettel The Quiet Invasion ; and Janine Ellen Young The Bridge
Kristi Lea
33. Elizabeth Campbell +1
I'm reading and enjoying Linnea Sinclair, S. L. Viehl, Karen Traviss, Elizabeth Bear, Catherine Asaro (not Diamond whatever, though), Kristine Smith, Sarah Zettel (published recently as C. L. Anderson)... as has been mentioned, my fantasy novels lately are written by men. My latest craze and fave is Julie Czerneda. I really love the Species Imperative series.

I enjoy all of these authors for different reasons. They all giver a different reading experience.
Niall Harrison
34. niall
Hi Jo! Thanks for this post. And to everyone else: when you've narrowed your picks down to ten, please do email them to me! (

And unfortunately, I think Midnight Robber and Wild Life are also 2000 books, like the books Helen Merrick mentions (and Mary Gentle's Ash), so just outside the ten-year period.
Kristi Lea
35. NigelQ
Gwyneth Jones' Spirit, but also the YA she wrote as Ann Halam, Siberia, not to mention her wonderful Dissolution Summer series.
Kristi Lea
36. namelessfrankie
Rather off topic, but James Nicoll's comment up above (at 11) about romance and hard sf is insanely brilliant. I am now desperate to read some stories inspired by it.

Does anyone know roughly how many of the books mentioned here were actually published in the UK at all? I definitely remember seeing some of the names in bookshops here, but a lot of the others I've heard about online but not ever seen in a shop here.
Jo Walton
37. bluejo
Namelessfrankie: James Nicoll is a national treasure.

I believe only two of my list had UK publication.
Niall Harrison
38. niall
namelessfrankie: Try "It Takes Two" by Nicola Griffith
René Walling
39. cybernetic_nomad
Elisabeth Vonarburg's Dreams of the Sea and A Game of Perfection (Books 1 and 2 of the Tyranaël series, the original French was released in the 90s, but the English translations in 2003 and 2005 would they count? I think Reine de mémoire is Fantasy, but have not read it yet (a situation I really need to correct)

Of Wind and Sand by Sylvie Bérard

The Taming by Heather Spears

I'd like to recommend Francine Pelletier (Un tour en Arkadie, Le Sable et L'acier (The Sand and the Steel) series ), who is unfortunately not translated into English (yet).

Candas Jane Dorsey's A Paradigm of Earth
Geoffrey Dow
40. ed-rex
Just off the top of my head, Kristine Kathryn Rush has been writing first-rate short SF at a Golden Age pace for - what? - the last decade at least. Hers is one of the few names that will stop me in my tracks at the newstand and and force me to buy whatever magazine it is that's got her name on the cover.
Andrew Plotkin
41. zarf
Of the female SF writers I've read this decade, Elizabeth Bear stands out. Undertow may be my favorite.

Nobody's mentioned Tanya Huff? Her Confederation books (aka "Valor", aka "Sergeant Kerr kicks ass and takes names and then kicks the names too") are probably not timeless SF but they're entertaining and funny.

Wen Spencer's first couple of Ukiah Oregon books were very fine. I got disenchanted with the later ones.

Linda Nagata, Memory. (Already mentioned, I see.)

(Of the books recommeded in this thread, Darkship Thieves sounds like what I should jump on... I saw Hoyt at a con guest last year, but I didn't get around to trying her books.)
Bob Blough
42. Bob
At the top of the list would be Natural History by Justina Robson - absolutely amazing and somehow forgotten on this side of the Atlantic. The rest in no particular order:
Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge
Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress
In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan
Life by Gwyneth Jones
Darkland by Liz Williams
Shelter by Susan Palwick
Passage by Connie Willis (Waiting for All Clear to read Blackout but I have a feeling that together they will be here, as well)
Nekropolis by Maureen McHugh

Reading Moxyland by Lauren Buekes right now. Very fine novel - and a first as well. She will be on this list next decade, I'm sure.
Kristi Lea
43. drxray
I don't think anyone has mentioned Kay Kenyon's Entire and the Rose series. Very good SF with excellent world building.
Peter Stone
44. Peter1742
Even though I liked all her other books, I just couldn't get into Nekropolis because McHugh kept quoting from the "New Koran". Imagine somebody writing about a near future where there's a "Third Testament" to go with the Old and New Testaments, nobody thinks its apocryphal, and there is not even any mention that the Christian religion has been changed. I just couldn't suspend my sense of disbelief.
Kristi Lea
45. HelenS
Peter1742@44: what about the Book of Mormon?
Alison Sinclair
47. alixsin
Late to the party, thanks to day job and errand-running ...

Thank you for the mention, Jo. I can't think of any book to add - and my hunt-down-and-read list has grown yet longer ...

But at some point could we please make another list, one of the works by women writers of all decades that belong in a masters' collection? A while back I had one of those disconcerting, post-Backlash, 1984-ish conversations that left me wondering whether history had been rewritten or I had only imagined that women had been writing interesting SF though the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. I didn't, did I?
Kristi Lea
48. James Davis Nicoll
I had only imagined that women had been writing interesting SF though the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. I didn't, did I?

Just off the top of my head, female authors whose first published works came between 1970 and 1980 include the following:

Lynn Abbey, Eleanor Arnason, Octavia Butler, Moyra Caldecott, Jaygee Carr, Joy Chant, Suzy McKee Charnas, C. J. Cherryh, Jo Clayton, Candas Jane Dorsey, Diane Duane, Phyllis Eisenstein, Cynthia Felice, Sheila Finch, Sally Gearhart, Mary Gentle, Dian Girard, Eileen Gunn, Monica Hughes, Diana Wynne Jones, Gwyneth Jones, Leigh Kennedy, Lee Killough, Nancy Kress, Katherine Kurtz, Tanith Lee, Megan Lindholm, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Phillipa Maddern, Ardath Mayhar, Vonda McIntyre, Patricia A. McKillip, Janet Morris, Pat Murphy, Sam Nicholson (AKA Shirley Nikolaisen), Rachel Pollack, Marta Randall, Anne Rice, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Pamela Sargent, Sydney J. Van Scyoc, Susan Shwartz, Nancy Springer, Lisa Tuttle, Joan Vinge, Élisabeth Vonarburg, Cherry Wilder, and Connie Willis.

And I know I missed some.
Kristi Lea
49. AndrewN
I was going to say Nicola Griffiths Ammonite, then realized it was way beyond 10 years.

But what about Catherine Asaro and The Spacetime Pool?

But much as I love Le Guin, Lavinia definitely isn't science fiction; in fact, I'm not even convinced that it's fantasy as opposed to historical fiction (not that it greatly matters.)

Margaret Atwood for Oryx and Creyke and the current sequel--much as she denies it.

As for Gollancz and their Classic series, I believe their prejudices and narrow mindedness are both plainly showing.
Kristi Lea
50. Ready4more
CJ Cherryh's "Regenesis" has to sit atop the pile as well.
I agree with listing Julie Czerneda, Elizabeth Moon, Elizabeth Bear, Connie Willis, and Lois McMaster Bujold for "Cryoburn" All of these authors have produced multiple volumes of true SF that makes no apologies, and that aren't ashamed to be called SF.
Will Leong
51. wi3leong
I second the nomination of Regenesis by CJ Cherryh & nominate Warring States by Susan Matthews.
Kristi Lea
52. David G. Hartwell
I'm glad someone mentioned Kathy Goonan. I am a bit surprised no one has mentioned M.M. Buckner. Mary Buckner has gotten two PKD nominations for SF novels, and my own opinion is that her third book, Watermind is her best--all in this decade.
Kristi Lea
53. erinlb
Do dystopias (set recognizably in the future, without magic) count as SF?

What about alternate histories where no magic appears to be involved?

If the latter case can be allowed, I would definitely nominate The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson, possibly my favorite "overlooked book" of the past couple of years.
Kristi Lea
54. James Davis Nicoll
OK, clearly blockquote doesn't work here. Good to know.

Do dystopias (set recognizably in the future, without magic) count as SF?

What about alternate histories where no magic appears to be involved?

I'd say yes and yes. Both might get stuck in another section of the store depending on the track record of the author (Len Deighton's SSBG is in mystery because that's where people look for him while Jo's Small Change books are in SF&F because that's where people look for her].

Hmph. Pat Murphy's There and Back Again (The Hobbit reimagined as SF) is just a bit too old for this, I don't remember if Wild Angel had anything really SFnal and I didn't actually care for Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell....
Peter D. Tillman
55. PeteTillman
Hi Jo:

I like your line that "some people said women just aren’t interested in SF because science is too hard for girls, which is just teeth-grindingly annoying as well as demonstrably untrue."

Generalized and added to:

My first serious relationship was with a woman geologist , an experimental petrologistwho was both brainy and beautiful. Also hard to live with, but then so was I....

Best wishes,
Pete Tillman
Jo Walton
56. bluejo
Erinlb: Yes, and yes. I can't see any possible argument by which dystopias wouldn't be SF, and alternate history has always been considered SF.

The Explosionist, however, while I liked it a lot (and reviewed it here), is a difficult edge case. I think the fact that in that book spiritualism is real and ghosts can testify in court pushes it over the line into fantasy.

And the issue here is that women are writing a lot of fantasy, and they are being recognised and acknowledged as writing a lot of fantasy. It doesn't do anybody any favours when the cry goes up for science fiction by women and people throw in all this fantasy, however good it might be -- not so much The Explosionist, which is a legitimately arguable care, but Lifelode and Lavinia and the Sharing Knife books! It's like saying oh, no, can't think of any science fiction, but women can write fantasy and let's call it SF.
Peter Stone
57. Peter1742
@HelenS: If somebody had written a science fiction novel in a future where all Christians had suddenly decided to become Mormons (without any reasons given for why), I would also not be able to suspend my disbelief.
Sandi Kallas
58. Sandikal
Wow. I just looked at my Science Fiction shelf on GoodReads and it is surprisingly lacking in books written by women in the 21st century. Most of the SF books I've read by women were written prior to 2000. So, here's my short list of SF written by women this decade:

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (I don't care if she thinks it isn't genre.)

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

The Wilding by C.S. Friedman

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Braided World by Kay Kenyon

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Any SF that was published by Connie Willis or Kage Baker this decade.
Kristi Lea
59. Khavrinen
Maybe my eye just skipped over it in reading the comments, but I was surprised not to see anyone mention Sandra McDonald's "Outback Stars" series yet: The Outback Stars, The Stars Down Under, and The Stars Blue Yonder ( the latter of which just came out in paperback a few weeks ago ).
Kristi Lea
60. KatG
Oh I hate you all. You just made my reading list groan. I think Lauren Buekes' second novel Zoo City may make it on there, perhaps more than Moxyland. The buzz over it seemed similar to me to when Nalo Hopkinson debuted with Brown Girl in the Ring. Sarah Hoyt seems to have taken on Julie Czernada's mantle (not that Czernada has put the mantle down either.) Kress, Cherryh, and Willis can pretty much write anything and deserve to be on the classics list. And then there is Sheri S. Tepper, but I'm not sure if her oughts novels qualify or not as she is a genre onto herself. Maureen McHugh did indeed do some interesting mind games in Nekropolis and continues to write books of enduring quality. I've long been a fan of Mary Rosenblum's and so I'll nominate her Earth orbit, zero gravity thriller Horizons.
Heather Jones
61. JourneywomanJones
Does Sherri Tepper fall more under SF or Fantasy? It's sometimes difficult to tell...
Kris Hasenfratz
62. khasenfratz
My recommendations for the list include the following, with a favorite book or series attached:

Linnea Sinclair - Accidental Goddess
Robin D. Owens - entire Heart series
Wen Spencer - Tinker
CJ Cherryh

Of course, I am not at home with my library in front of me, so I know I am forgetting some.
Lois Bujold -
Kristi Lea
63. Andrea Lawlor
Here's my list, chronologically:

(2001) Maureen McHugh - Nekropolis
(2002) Larissa Lai - Salt Fish Girl (Also When Fox is a Thousand. More urban fantasy than SF but then so is most of Neil Gaiman or China Mieville's work, as a previous commenter also mentioned.)
(2003) Margaret Atwood - Oryx and Crake (Also the Year of the Flood)
(2004) Scarlett Thomas - PopCo (Also The End of Mr. Y)
(2005) Octavia Butler - Fledgling
(2006) Kit Whitfield - Benighted (Are werewolves SF is obviously subject to debate, but the speculative social realism puts it over the edge for me.)
(2007) Sarah Hall - Daughters of the North
(2007) Susan Palwick - Shelter - I completely agree with Jo Walton's review; why was this book overlooked?
(2008) Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
(2010) Nnedi Okorafor - Who Fears Death (also her YA books)

And there's plenty more where that came from.
Kristi Lea
64. Shrike58
While nominally fantasy Martha Wells' "The Fall of Ile-Rien" trilogy could pass as steam-punk; not to mention that it's very good.

Let's also have a little love for Cherie Priest, even if by the time I got to her work I was over the whole zombie craze.
Kristi Lea
65. filkferengi
No one's mentioned Tanya Huff's Valor series, which is solid, military sf with excellent character development.
Ryan V
66. JesterJoker
If you're mentioning Chris Moriarty's Spin State, don't forget its sequel, Spin Control!

Those books simply never get enough attention. :D
Kristi Lea
67. ofostlic
My top list: Kirstein, Moon, Moriarty, Willis, per Jo's list.

C. L. Anderson's "Bitter Angels"

Elizabeth Bear: "Carnival" or "Undertow"

"Farthing", if I'm allowed to call alternate history SF rather than Fantasy.

Bujold "Diplomatic Immunity" (or perhaps "Cryoburn", once I've read it).

Nancy Kress "Dogs" (or "Steal Across the Sky")

There does seem to have been a trend away from SF in the past decade. Melissa Scott doesn't seem to have published any SF this decade (and only one book?). C. S. Friedman's "This Alien Shore" misses out by two years.
Kristi Lea
68. redwall_hp
Fantasy is usually my area, but... Anne McCaffrey. She's been writing in her scifi/fantasy hybrid universe since the 1960s. The Dragonriders of Pern is definitely a sci-fi classic.
Kristi Lea
69. Marsroever
I have to mention New York Times bestselling author Karen Traviss as she was only mentioned a couple times and her Wess'Har series is really a great work of science fiction writing.

Thanks Jo for this post. As a female who writes and avidly reads sci-fi, I often feel that I'm in the minority.
Kristi Lea
70. Cushie
Second many of those mentioned above and will have to add the others to my ever growing list to be read.

Maybe the reason so many good women SF writers go over to fantasy is because it outsells SF on a 3 to 1 basis. A lot of writers are in it, apart from satifying the the lust to write, to make a living and I suppose that writing fantasy is perhaps a tad preferable to frying the brain working 8 hours a day for someone else.
Kristi Lea
71. Meg Thornton

Would good colonial writers be acceptably "British"?  If this is the case, I nominate Marianne des Pierres, who is Australian, and has written a rather good cyberpunkish sci-fi trilogy based in a post-Apocalyptic Australia, and who probably deserves some kind of award just for getting the blasted thing published in the first place as a result (because I can just about hear the marketing exec blethering on about "niche markets" and "not enough interest" and soforth).  Of course, she's also (under an alternative surname) written a crime thriller set in Perth, Western Australia, so possibly she just enjoys writing stories like that. So: Marianne des Pierres - for "Nylon Angel", "Code Noir" and "Crash Deluxe". I'd also put Justina Robson into the science fiction category, because despite the elves, faeries and demons she has running about through her work, the majority of the fantasy stuff is very firmly treated as being just sufficiently advanced science.  Which in my opinion puts the "Quantum Gravity" series ("Keeping it Real", "Selling Out" and "Going Under") into the science fiction box.
Kristi Lea
72. Koke
Nancy Kress: "Crucible" and "Crossfire" about colonizing a new planet.
Christopher Chittleborough
73. CChittleborough
I think Disappearing Act by Margaret Ball (2004) is very good. It starts out looking like a YA romance, then goes deeper and grittier. Another good SF novel that goes places you might not expect from the early chapters is Endless Blue by Wen Spencer. (khasenfratz @62 mentioned Tinker by Spencer, which is science fantasy rather than science fiction.)
Kristi Lea
74. Vickie Morgan
Katherine Kurtz with both her Deryni books and her Adept books.

Sherrilyn Kenyon
Kristi Lea
75. Valerie Bijur
Just a simple comment: a thank you for Connie Willis, one of my favorite authors in ANY genre.
Tamara Allen
76. tamaralynn
Rachel Swirsky, the former submissions editor of Podcastle, a podcast that produces fantasy stories. Rachel's "Eros, Philia, Agape" is awesome, and was published here on, along with two other stories that I haven't yet read so I don't know if they're SF or fantasy.
Peter Stone
77. Peter1742
May I comment that the British awards situation is even much worse than it would seem from the Clarke award. In its entire history, the BSFA best novel award has been won twice by women (both named Mary) and the British Fantasy best novel award has been won only once by a woman (named Tanith).
Kristi Lea
78. Kid Geezer
Justina Robson, hands down.
Pat Murphy's The City Not Long After should already be a classic.
Lisa Mason Summer of Love
Lisa Goldstein Dark Cities Underground
Kristi Lea
79. Cat Faber
I can see I need to add some books to my reading list.

I'd like to put in a word for Feed by Seanan McGuire I mean Mira Grant. Yeah, it's zombies--but the scientific details of it matter to both the worldbuilding and the plot, so I'd argue that as science fiction.

And Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
Kristi Lea
80. Strangeattractar
Dante's Equation by Jane Jensen
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
Passage by Connie Willis
Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

I wanted to mention Dante's Equation by Jane Jensen, which doesn't get enough attention, I think. It is about alternate universes that have different physical properties and equations to describe the ratio of good and evil in them. The map of these universes is very similar to the Kabbalah Tree of Life. There are many POV characters, including a theoretical physicist and her grad student.

Also, does Sharon Lee's collaborative work with Steve Miller count? If it does, then I would include some of their work, perhaps Fledgling.

Other than that, my list is similar to ones other people have mentioned. In addition to the ones above I liked the Probability series by Nancy Kress, and a number of other science fiction books by women. I don't think I'd call them classics, so I didn't include them.

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