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Women are writing science-fiction! Original! Brilliant!! Dazzling!!!
July 31, 2013 8:11 AM   Subscribe

100 great science fiction (short) stories by women, with links to the stories where available, as compiled by Ian Sales out of irritation with a 1978 anthology of great science fiction stories in which only five had been written by women.
posted by MartinWisse (32 comments total) 117 users marked this as a favorite

 
And now to count up how many of these authors I know, let alone how many of these stories I've read...
posted by RainyJay at 8:18 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comment points out he missed CS Friedman, Butler is on the list, but no Shinn. I'd add others, don't know some of the ones he picked. Wonderful list. I've read many of them.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:19 AM on July 31, 2013


The "note to redditors" is hilarious but also very sad.

What a great list! I am going to share it with an SF class I facilitate. Happy to see Aliette De Bodard on there - she is a really terrific and very unusual writer.
posted by Frowner at 8:23 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know of a good anthology that contains a bunch of these? I really want to read them but find the idea of tracking down all of the original sources rather daunting.
posted by IjonTichy at 8:26 AM on July 31, 2013


You could probably make a list of at least thirty just from Ursula LeGuin. Semley's Necklace, which eventually became the beginning of her novel Rocannon's World, is one of my top 5 of all time.

Also, everyone should definitely read Angélica Gorodischer. Actually, someone recently published her Trafalgar stories in English, which are quite fun.
posted by selfnoise at 8:26 AM on July 31, 2013


For the SciFi experts out there, if you were to recommend just 1 or 2 from this list, what would it be?
posted by gwint at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2013


The gender of the author is not irrelevant. Find me a list of great or top or best sf stories where at least half were written by women. You will fail.

It's tragic that anyone even needs to point this out. Yeesh. SF has a lousy track record for recognizing women. SFWA, are you paying attention?

No, I didn't think so.....

This is an amazing find; I do wish they could all be stitched together in an ebook, though....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2013


Nice, and I'll be reading as much of it as I have time for. I would have selected "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" for the Tiptree entry, but it's nice to see some of her other work being promoted, too.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:31 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Excellent list (with another good list in the comments). Off to hunt down the ones available online...
posted by inire at 8:33 AM on July 31, 2013


I am deeply biased, but I like pretty much everything Eleanor Arnason has written.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:36 AM on July 31, 2013


There are enough of these available online to keep me from getting anything done for a while, and to make me wistful for the huge box of science fiction magazines (dated from the 1950s-1980s) that I scored from the dumpster behind the Half Price Books in Austin one victorious night.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:37 AM on July 31, 2013


A few women writers who come to mind who aren't on the linked list include: Melissa Scott, Justina Robson, Karen Traviss, Cherie Priest, and Carolyn Ives Gilman. (A couple because they write primarily novels.)
posted by aught at 8:54 AM on July 31, 2013


Carolyn Ives Gilman

She's on there: 74 ‘Arkfall’, Carolyn Ives Gilman (2008, novella)

As long as he was including "novelettes", I would have put Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman on the list. It was published as a stand-alone novel but it's so short I'd consider it a valid entry for this list.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:11 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Awesome, I'm going to read them all, starting with the newest first. Thanks for the post.
posted by dobie at 9:25 AM on July 31, 2013


Love that Caitlin R. Kiernan is on the list. Not enough people read her work, sadly.
posted by Kitteh at 9:29 AM on July 31, 2013


Wow. Between this and the Year of Reading the World project list, I am pretty much set for reading choices in the forseeable future. :D
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:38 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also would a "reading" and/or "literature" tag be appropriate?
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:44 AM on July 31, 2013


This is so neat! Thanks a lot!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:57 AM on July 31, 2013


If you want to get a different perspective on the canon of SF, I recommend The Norton Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ursula K. LeGuin and Brian Attebery. It's not women only but it does shine a spotlight on plenty of great SF authors who aren't always given the time of day by other anthologies.
posted by Kattullus at 11:44 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


And again my favorite writer (even if she used a pseudonym) was ignored. James Tiptree anyone? Houston, Houston, Do you read? is her most famous work, but a lot of her short stories are brilliant.
posted by francesca too at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2013


"Spar" by Kij Johnson should really be on here, whether the list maker "likes" it or not (it is undeniably great, even if it isn't really enjoyable).

Also glad to see Genevieve Valentine and Cat Rambo on here; they are my favorite short form writers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:28 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


And again my favorite writer (even if she used a pseudonym) was ignored. James Tiptree anyone

She's #19 with ‘And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side.'

It's a great list, it even has Ekaterina Sedea, Kelly Link. I get super excited when I see a good number of the names that I recognize in an anthology. Now I've got even more authors to add to my hugely bloated "to read" list on Goodreads.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:06 PM on July 31, 2013


SF has a lousy track record for recognizing women.?

Historically, maybe. But roughly half of the last 25 Best Novel Hugos (SFs highest honor) have gone to women. Is there another major literary award that is comparable to that record? Besides Romance, of course, for obvious reasons. 50% seems pretty decent.

Anthologies may be another matter but it's still okay to recognize SF does pretty well recognizing women in terms of awards.
posted by Justinian at 2:21 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was a young male of that tender high school age, James Tiptree Jr's "Houston Houston Do You Read" scared the everloving shit out of me and sent me into an androgynous/gender-curious spiral of David Bowie and various other homosexual things. So I'm glad someone here has mentioned it and even linked to a copy.
posted by koeselitz at 3:05 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anthologies may be another matter but it's still okay to recognize SF does pretty well recognizing women in terms of awards.

It should be noted that number 36 on that list, Connie Willis, has more Hugos for fiction than anyone else (eleven). The next two winningest authors are Harlan Ellison with eight, and Poul Anderson with seven. That's not to suggest that science fiction can't do better -- far from it -- but by possibly overstating the case, there's the risk of ignoring the many, many women who are active and successful in the field, and their even more numerous accomplishments.
posted by TCash at 6:00 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is true that SF is better now than it used to be but this hasn't happened by itself. Feminists pushed for recognition of female SF authors with great success. Not that things are perfect. The recent SFWA blow-up was a stark reminder of that, but in this regard SF is healthier than a lot of other literary scenes.
posted by Kattullus at 7:06 PM on July 31, 2013


Hey! The title of this post is the blurb on the back cover of Margaret St. Clair's Sign of the Labrys. What'd I win?

(Here's the rest of it, for your amusement. Wow, it's almost like women are a completely different species...)
Women are closer to the primitive than men. They are conscious of the moon-pulls, the earth-tides. They possess a buried memory of humankind's obscure and ancient past which can emerge to uniquely color and flavor a novel.

Such a woman is Margaret St. Clair, author of this novel. Such a novel is this, SIGN OF THE LABRYS, the story of a doomed world of the future, saved by recourse to ageless, immemorial rites.

FRESH! IMAGINATIVE!! INVENTIVE!!!
posted by Bron at 8:40 PM on July 31, 2013


*SPOILERS*



If I'd been compiling such a list, I might not have chosen Houston, Houston, Do you read? to represent Tiptree either, because of the way it assigns the great bulk of innovation and creativity to males.

The society of female clones is almost static, and the few deeply original contributions come only occasionally from the clones of a woman with 'manic depressive' illness.

That's a strikingly odd thing for a woman as creative as Tiptree to have put in her story, and would be doubly odd in the context of the rest of the list.
posted by jamjam at 1:49 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The society in "Houston, Houston" is full of big red flags for anyone who lived through the era of the Soviet Union, indicating "Stalinist Hell." Note that the way that the future world people talk politely of eliminating the danger of social contamination by outsiders (the astronauts from the past) is pretty much the same as the way the totalitarian government of the Joilani do (in "We Who Stole The Dream").

Tiptree has gotten this reputation as being "feminist," and she is, but there plenty of feminists writing in the '70s, and she was different. She was dark & fatalistic and she saw humanity as bugs. Men and women are forever fighting each other, and all humans are struggling against their own biology which hates them. I don't think it's unfair to say she could be misanthropic, misogynist, and misandrist, often all in the same story. (And that's part of what makes her SF so DAMN GREAT.) Look at "Your Faces, O My Sisters!" that seems to be set in a Whileaway-like all-female utopia, which is eventually revealed as the insane delusion of a feeble-minded runaway.

Characters in Tiptree stories tend to be decent people who are totally doomed by enormous impersonal forces. That is to say that in addition to being a feminist writer, she a science fiction writer, tied into that vast, cosmic aloofness of Stapledon, Lovecraft, and Clarke.

I'm getting way off topic for this FPP -- which is basically a really damn good list of stories, by any gender! -- but I am a big Tiptree nut. If you ever see a copy of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, buy it and read it when you're not feeling suicidally depressed about humanity.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:42 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you want to get a different perspective on the canon of SF, I recommend The Norton Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ursula K. LeGuin and Brian Attebery.

That's a great collection. It got slagged off by a lot of people who didn't understand what it was trying to do, probably because its title makes you think you're getting a Norton Anthology. It really should be called "The History of the 'New Wave' in Science Fiction and What It Made Possible." This is a period which is much celebrated and/or reviled but very little documented. The result is a book you can fruitfully give to people who've read too many conventional "best SF of all time" anthologies. (Also the other purpose of the book is "Ursula LeGuin's Favorite Science Fiction Stories" and that is ALL BY ITSELF a reason to have it.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:00 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey! The title of this post is the blurb on the back cover of Margaret St. Clair's Sign of the Labrys. What'd I win?

A lollipop.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:14 AM on August 1, 2013


If you ever see a copy of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, buy it and read it when you're not feeling suicidally depressed about humanity.

One of my all time favorite collections and one of the two or three best of the last 25 years. The other candidates being Greg Egan's Axiomatic and Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others. My head says Tiptree's collection should get the nod because of sheer importance but my heart says the Egan since the Tiptree has the advantage of hindsight in selecting stories while Egan's is simply a stunningly brilliant collection of whatever he wrote in the couple years before it was published.
posted by Justinian at 4:30 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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