The Rise in Women Authors in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Genre?

by Sharon Browning

Recently, the Boston based magazine The Atlantic ran an interesting article entitled Women Rise in Sci Fi (Again) with the tag Mirror Empireline, “This year’s major science-fiction awards had strong female representation, but don’t call it a feminist victory for the genre just yet.”  In it, they interviewed writers Ann Leckie (author of the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, BSFA, Arthur C. Clarke and Kitchie Award winning novel Ancillary Justice and the just released follow-up, Ancillary Sword) and Kameron Hurley (author of the “Bel Dame Apocrypha” trilogy, and the recent The Mirror Empire, the first book in her “Worldbreaker” Saga).

Both women are held up as examples of the new explosion of powerfully voiced women in the sci-fi/fantasy (also known as speculative fiction) genre.  Both have written works where genders are atypical of what we generally consider “the norm”, to great success.  Ms. Hurley even wrote an intriguing essay for the exemplary genre blog A Dribble of Ink, entitled “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative“, about female warriors; it won the Hugo Award in 2014 for Best Related Work.

In The Atlantic article, both women were optimistic about the recent acclaim being awarded to female genre writers, but both also cautioned that this is not an anomaly – women writers have been major contributors in the field before this, but that legacy often is forgotten in what is still considered a male dominated landscape.  “We mirror a lot of what the overall culture is doing now,” Ms. Hurley says in The Atlantic article, “which is saying that we have always been here you’re just not listening.”

It’s a compelling article that scratches the surface of the seemingly recent proliferation in major female voices in science fiction and fantasy writing, but there are also links to other works that continue the discussion.  It’s well worth taking the time to read and digest – and to keep an eye on!

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