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NPR’s top 100 science fiction and fantasy book included only 15 by women. Here they are, my new reading list. Correct me if I missed anything!*

1. Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
2. Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
3. Anne McCaffrey – Dragonflight
4. Marion Zimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon
5. Ursula K. LeGuin – The Left Hand of Darkness
6. Lois McMaster Bujold – Shards of Honor
7. Susanna Clarke – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
8. Robin Hobb – Assassin’s Apprentice
9. Audrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife
10. Jacqueline Carey – Kushiel’s Dart
11. Ursula K. LeGuin – The Dispossessed
12. Mary Stewart – The Crystal Cave
13. Diana Gabaldon – Outlander
14. Robin McKinley – Sunshine

15.Connie Willis – Doomsday Book

I haven’t done the calculations, but I suspect the numbers are similarly dismal for books written by authors of color, featuring female main characters, or featuring main characters of color. This list was a result of reader voting, and it has some sad things to say about awareness of and access to female-written speculative fiction. I’d like to combat that with y’all today, by sharing our favorite sci fi and fantasy novels written by women. Bonus points for female main characters, and POC, queer, or differently abled authors and main characters!

Speculative sausage fest.

Speculative sausage fest.

Lady Bee started us off months ago with her Ode to Cimorene, the main character of much-beloved Dealing with Dragons (and subsequent series) by Patricia C. Wrede.

I’d like to kick off this particular open thread with a recommendation of a book I just finished reading: Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. Written in 1993, it depicts a moving-toward-distopian near-future in 2024, in which a young woman must shape a community and fight for safety in a changing world. It was a page turner! You know those books that keep you awake reading for later into the night than you should? And then when you wake up the first thing you do is pick the book back up? Parable of the Sower is one of those. The main character, Lauren Olamina, is very intelligent, balances strength and empathy, has a unique perspective on religion, and navigates sexism and racism in an already-dangerous world in a way that is just so compelling. So compelling. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Parable of the Talents.

So, what about you? What science fiction and fantasy novels with women authors do you recommend?

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