At the start of October, an interview with 1999 Clarke Award winner Tricia Sullivan provoked a huge and wide-ranging discussion on Torque Control about, initially, the representation of female writers on the short-lists. This broadened somewhat to become a particularly epic thread which considered the wider problems that female SF writers have in gaining recognition.
This was then followed up with another posting inviting readers to submit a top ten of their favourite SF books written by women between 2000 and 2010. The idea being as to create an antidote to the all-male “Future Classics” range recently published by Gollancz. As it happens, several of the novels in it I have enjoyed, though I’m not convinced that they are necessarily the best work by each of the authors. I don’t, therefore, have any particular problem with the complaints about the lack of female representation there as it’s not clear to me that any of the novels are intrinsically deserving of their inclusion.
Thinking about this made me realise that, while there are some female writers that I hold in high regard (Ursula Le Guin, James Tiptree Jr./Alice Sheldon or Joanna Russ, for example) I’ve read very few SF books written by women that have been published in the past 10 years. There are a few that I’ve read over the past few years that I would certainly consider as worthy as any in the Gollancz Future Classics range, but not enough, I think, to make an adequate top ten.
I’ve decided, therefore that I’ll try and read, over the next few weeks, a few of my existing to-be-reads from female authors and some that I hadn’t considered to add a little diversity to my list-making (just so that it doesn’t end up a list of the 10 SF books from the past 10 years by female writers that I’ve read).
The books I intend to read are as follows (some were already in the TBR, but I’ve moved them up the list):
- Zoo City – Lauren Beukes
- Lavinia – Ursula Le Guin
- Servant of the Underworld – Aliette de Bodard
- Maul – Tricia Sullivan
- Palimpsest – Cathryn M. Valente
- Midnight Robber – Nalo Hopkinson
If I have time, I may have a look at some more Gwyneth Jones and Steph Swainston, but I’m happy to include the novels that I’ve read by them in the list, as both are excellent writers. Jo Walton also interests me, but I think that her books may have to wait a little.