SFF in Conversation is a new monthly feature on The Book Smugglers in which we invite guests to talk about a variety of topics important to speculative fiction fans, authors, and readers. Our vision is to create a safe (moderated) space for thoughtful conversation about the genre, with a special focus on inclusivity and diversity in SFF. Anyone can participate and we are welcoming emailed topic submissions from authors, bloggers, readers, and fans of all categories, age ranges, and subgenres beneath the speculative fiction umbrella.

We continue our ongoing new series of posts called “SFF in Conversation” with a guest post from Andrea K Höst, author of fabulous Science Fiction and Fantasy novels that never fail to impress us.

Stray And All the Stars

Please give it up for Andrea, everyone!

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Shelves Full: the 99 Author Challenge

“Women don’t write science fiction”. “The majority of fantasy writers are men.”

How many times have you heard that? I’ve lost count.

The response to these worn and yet strangely inevitable statements is almost invariably a list. Lots of lists to call attention to a vast and jostling horde of books, apparently invisible to a portion of the reading populace.

When I make lists myself, I tend to produce a short selection of favourites, despite the possession of bookshelves full of many more SFF books by women: books I’ve accumulated through decades of reading, and chosen to keep and lug about (despite moving house on average every two and half years). My criteria for keeping physical books is simple: “Is there a vague chance I’d want to read this again?”

Many of these books never seem to pop up on any list, despite their undeniable existence, and the fact that I liked them enough to keep. And it becomes one of those self-defeating circles: many of these books were not talked about, didn’t get enough buzz or sales, and never show up on any lists.

When asked to write a post recommending female SFF authors, I decided to remove my own self-imposed bias of favourites, and stick simply with “authors of books I kept”. And so here is a list of “Female authors with a physical book on my SFF bookshelves”.

Yes, this post will be long.

Lynn Abbey

AbbeyLynn

One of the founders of the classic shared world Thieves’ World, Lynn Abbey has written sword and sorcery, high fantasy, and one of the earlier urban fantasy series (about a librarian turned hunter-witch – a rare heroine in her fifties).

Availability: Lots of lovely ebooks waiting for you to try. Paperbacks primarily at used bookstores. (Goodreads).

Joan Aiken

AidenJoan

Best known for her work for children, Joan Aiken was a prolific writer. As well as her middle grade/young adult books, she produced a series of Jane Austen sequels, gothic thrillers, horror stories, and period romantic thrillers.

But for me Aiken is all about Dido Twite, one of the major characters from the Wolves Chronicles, who is introduced as an undersized brat sticky with jam, and gets by through sheer indomitability.

Availability: The Wolves books are readily available in most formats, while most other books are paper only. (Goodreads).

Constance Ash

AshConstance

Ash wrote the Horsegirl trilogy – fantasy novels that focus, as you may have guessed, around a girl rider. The second book even involves dancing horses performing in an opera!

Availability: Secondhand paperbacks. (Goodreads).

Wilhelmina Baird

BairdWilhelmina

I really enjoyed Baird’s Crashcourse trilogy, and expect it will appeal to fans of Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Gritty and pacey cyberpunk that holds up well for their adventure aspects despite the evolution of technology.

Availability: Secondhand paperbacks. (Goodreads).

Marion Zimmer Bradley

BradleyMarionZimmer

Bradley was one of the early powerhouses of SFF, published since the 1950’s. She’s best known for her world of Darkover science fiction (dozens of books!), and for her retelling of the Arthurian legends entirely through the eyes of women. I also have almost an entire stretch of shelf devoted to her Sword and Sorceress short story collections.

If you want to try her Darkover books, you could start at the chronological beginning – Darkover Landfall – and work your way forward, but may find it better to pick up, say, Hawkmistress or The Heritage of Hastur. You could think of Darkover as “Pern without the Dragons”, since the worlds start from the same “lost colony of Earth” concept, although the feel of the books is distinctly different (and involves far more psychic powers).

Availability: The Avalon books are widely available, and much of Darkover is available in both paper and ebook versions. Most of the Sword and Sorceress collections are available as secondhand only, but more recent volumes are more widely available (a search for Elisabeth Waters will bring them up). (Goodreads).

Mary Brown

BrownMary

Brown produced a seriously enjoyable set of books known (at least to Goodreads) as the Pigs Don’t Fly series. These books will hit a sweet spot for anyone who likes girls/women off having adventures, plus talking animals. There’s plenty of humour, but be wary of the occasional hand grasping your heart and squeezing!

Availability: Only secondhand copies for paper, but books 1 to 3 of the series are available in omnibus ebook format under the name Here There Be Dragonnes. A definitely recommended series for those who like fantasy adventure. (Goodreads).

Lois McMaster Bujold

BujoldLoisMcMaster

Bujold is one of the better-known female SFF writers, producing series in both fantasy and science fiction.

The SF ‘Vorkosiganverse’ has some meaty character study work and a great deal of interesting extrapolation of future science and society – and lashings of adventure! Her two main fantasy series are the Chalion trilogy (a universe where gods are a tangible part of life) and the Sharing Knife series (which focuses on cultural exploration and character interaction).

Availability: Readily available in multiple formats. (Goodreads).

Emma Bull

BullEmma

Emma Bull is probably best known for War for the Oaks, arguably the first urban fantasy novel (the Seelie and Unseelie Courts at war in Minneapolis, with a big dose of rock music). Other novels range from Urban Fantasy to post-apocalyptic cyberworld, and not to forget the Shadow Unit shared world, dealing with the paranormal unit of the FBI. European history fans will definitely want to check out Freedom and Necessity (co-authored with Steven Brust), set in the 19th century and brimming with spies and revolutionaries and ladies in disguise!

Availability: A large variety of formats available (though secondhand only for some of the less-known books). Ebooks available for the Shadow Unit books (nice and cheap!) and most of Bull’s sole author books, but not for Freedom and Necessity, sadly. (Goodreads).

Pat Cadigan

CadiganPat

I first encountered Pat Cadigan with Tea from an Empty Cup, and quickly collected a small stash of books that explored the intersection between being human and living virtual (with bonus murder mysteries). Although technology has rolled on since the early books, the thought and craft of Cadigan’s work endures.

Availability: Secondhand paper copies, but most of Cadigan’s work appears to be (suitably) available digitally. (Goodreads).

C.J. Cherryh

CherryhCJ

Cherryh is one of the major writers of SFF, with such an extensive output that a newcomer might feel like they’re facing a wall of where-do-I-start?

One of the great worldbuilders and deeply interested in exploring what it means to be human or to be alien, Cherryh’s books also have plenty of military and political meat – along with women getting stuff done. [If you're a fan of Mass Effect and FemShep, you're probably going to love Cherryh's SF.]

Since we’re talking over 60 books here, in both fantasy and SFF, I’m just going to suggest starting points. One of my favourite books is Cherryh’s Angel with the Sword, which is SF with a fantasy feel. The Cyteen trilogy is a nice introduction to her style, and delves into the implications of cloning. The Pride of Chanur is great fun, especially for the entertainment value of a human man thrown into a sexist female-dominated cat society – and bonus scads of adventure! Downbelow Station, which gets called space opera but I think of as hard SF (the primary focus is actually people being ground up by politics). And, finally, try The Gate of Ivrel, which is the start of the Morgaine saga (again a SF base in a fantasy feel book, with a strong dose of dedication and sacrifice).

Or you can be brave, take a deep breath, and plunge into the massive and ongoing evolving SF world which begins with Foreigner (15 books and counting!). [These books are written as a series of trilogies, so you can tackle the first trilogy without fear of being swallowed.]

Fun fact: Cherryh has an asteroid named after her!

Availability: A wide variety of formats, although the books from the less well-known series are harder to obtain. Only a small number of books are available as ebooks. (Goodreads).

Jo Clayton

ClaytonJo

Jo Clayton produced over 30 books in multiple series including the Skeen books, and the Diadem books. Her work combines SF and fantasy elements and they hit, for me, a similar note to Norton’s Forerunner/Zero Stone books (but with far more women). I’d definitely recommend readers who are Norton fans to check Clayton out.

Availability: Almost all only secondhand. Sadly. (Goodreads).

Brenda Clough

CloughBrenda

Clough’s Averidan series is fantasy with a humorous touch without descending into farce, while her Suburban Gods duology takes an interesting and somewhat dark approach to becoming superhuman. Those interested in fish-out-of-water time travel will definitely want to check out Revise the World.

Availability: Primarily secondhand, but has started to release her backlist in ebook format. (Goodreads).

Louise Cooper

CooperLouise

Louise Cooper’s Indigo series made a big impression on me. The main character is the flawed Princess Anghara, who does stupid things and then spends seven novels fixing her mistakes. It’s very rare to see a female character in the “flawed wanderer on an epic quest for redemption” role. [Her naivety in the first few novels might make you want to shake her, but you do get the pleasure of seeing her mature over the series.] Like Cooper’s Time Master series (and related sequel trilogies), the tone is sombre and serious, but the plot is very eventful and often painful.

Availability: Primarily secondhand. The only ebooks are the Time Master series and a more recent middle grade mermaid series. (Goodreads).

Julie E. Czerneda

CzernedaJulieE

Julie Czerneda has produced more than a dozen SFF books, primarily science fiction, with a notable flair for alien races – and page-turning plots (space opera or space adventure, or even space anthropology, depending on your preferred terminology). Try starting with A Thousand Words for Stranger, or Beholder’s Eye. If your taste is more for fantasy, check out A Turn of Light.

Availability: Wide availability of paper books. Some audio, and most books available as ebooks. (Goodreads).

Cara d’Bastian

d'BastianCara

It’s rare that I’m drawn to urban fantasy, but the Check Your Luck serial, set in Singapore and Malaysia and drawing upon the wealth of mythology mixing in those two countries, definitely captured my interest. A sensible heroine (and a snarky ghost) only added to my enjoyment.

Availability: Ebook only. (Goodreads).

Pamela Dean

DeanPamela

Pamela Dean’s The Secret Country trilogy could be described as Narnia-esque, but instead of Christian allegory, these books explore the division between fantasy and reality, as five children discover that the world they thought they’d created in stories is all too real. Along with this trilogy, Dean has a handful of standalone books based on classic traditional ballads and stories, such as Tam Lin and Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary.

Availability: Secondhand for paper, and The Secret Country trilogy is available in ebook (though not for Australians). (Goodreads).

Emily Devenport

DevenportEmily

I thoroughly enjoyed Devenport’s Eggheads and Godheads SF books, which use one of my favourite SF tropes: exploring the ruins of lost alien civilisations. There’s a whole lot of interesting things in Devenport’s other books, such as Broken Time (about a janitor at an asylum on another planet), and the more recent The Night Shifters (paranormal dream event) and Spirits of Glory (colonial mystery on another planet).

Availability: The earlier books I mentioned are secondhand only, while the more recent appear to be ebook only. (Goodreads).

Susan Dexter

DexterSusan

Along with a handful of standalones, Susan Dexter has two series that will particularly appeal to lovers of fantasy with a focus on horses (and other animals), adventures leavened by a touch of gentle humour, and flawed characters in sore need of redemption (or a swift kick ;) ). Try Prince of Ill Luck or The Ring of Allaire for starters.

Availability: a combination of secondhand, republished print, and some ebooks. (Goodreads).

Debra Doyle

DoyleDebra

Primarily co-writing with James D Macdonald, Debra Doyle touches on several different SFF sub-genres. Her Mageworlds series dials space opera up to eleven (start with The Price of the Stars), while the Circle of Magic books (aimed at middle grade level) are classic wizarding school (and are occasionally, hilariously, accused of jumping on the Harry Potter bandwagon by people who don’t look at publication dates). Then there’s the young adult Bad Blood series, about the complications of being a teenaged werewolf.

Availability: Primarily secondhand. Most books, excluding the Circle of Magic series, appear to be available in ebook format. (Goodreads).

Diane Duane

DuaneDiane

While best known for her Young Wizards series (start with So You Want to be a Wizard), Diane Duane has some serious classic SF chops as well, particularly in the Star Trek universe. Not only is she a novelist, but she has also produced an enormous number of scripts for many TV shows.

For those looking for something different, check out The Book of Night With Moon (cat wizards in New York), or The Tale of Five series (exploring, among other things, the impacts of a thoroughly pansexual world).

Availability: The Young Wizards in a variety of formats, and most books have been converted to eformat (although it appears there’s some regionality bars on purchasing The Tale of Five). (Goodreads).

Teresa Edgerton/Madeleine Howard

EdgertonTeresa

I discovered Teresa Edgerton with her high fantasy The Green Lion Trilogy (with its bones in Welsh mythology) and follow-up Celydonn Trilogy. On a somewhat different basis is the Goblin Moon< ?em> duology, with a fantasy world that brings into conjunction the sensibility of 18th Century Europe, the decadence of cities, and a moon on an elliptical orbit. Or try the dark world of the Rune of Unmaking series.

Availability: Goblin Moon is available in eformat. The majority of books are available as new or used paper copies. (Goodreads).

Rosemary Edghill/eluki bes shahar

EdghillRosemary

Publishing under two names, this author offers a wide variety of genres to sample. My favourite is probably the Bast Mysteries, a short series of murder mysteries based around a practicing witch and providing a wealth of detail about alternative communities. Under the Edghill name she has also published the Twelve Treasures series, about the perils of librarians rescuing elves in New York. Under the name eluki bes shahar she has released the Butterfly St Cyr space opera trilogy, which starts with Hellflower. Edghill has also co-written a number of books with Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton.

Availability: The majority of solo-authored books appear only available as secondhand paper copies, but the co-authored books are more widely available. (Goodreads).

Claudia J. Edwards

EdwardsClaudiaJ

Edwards wrote a variety of high fantasy that’s a particular favourite of mine: plunking a competent female soldier in a situation, and having her fix it. My favourite of these books would be Taming the Forest King, and though there are one of two things that niggle me in terms of gender dynamics, Edwards’ books are definite keepers for me. Unfortunately there’s only four, including part 1 of an unfinished series.
Availability: Secondhand only. No ebooks. (Goodreads).

Doris Egan/Jane Emerson

EganDoris

Egan’s excellent books unfortunately suffer from her extremely popular screenwriting career (she’s written for House, Smallville, etc). The space fantasy Ivory trilogy, written under the Egan name, is complete, but you may wish to consider carefully before going on to the Emerson book, City of Diamond – because it’s an excellent book, but also sets up for more books in a series that was never written. Very nice intergalactic politics and spaceships book, though.
Availability: Secondhand only. No ebooks. (Goodreads).

Cynthia Felice

FeliceCynthia

Felice created a half-dozen SF of the spaceship and planetary adventure variety, along with a couple of collaborations with Connie Willis. [She's also got a couple of really spectacular old-style covers.]

Availability: Primarily secondhand, but a few novels have been released as ebooks. (Goodreads).

Cheryl J. Franklin

FranklinCherylJ

Franklin produced two series, the Tales of Taormin (it’s never fun to be a mage when that could get you executed) and the Network/Consortium SF series starting with The Light in Exile, for high-stakes interstellar intrigue.
Availability: Primarily secondhand. No ebooks. (Goodreads).

Esther M. Friesner

FriesnerEsther

A prolific writer, Friesner can bring some very humorous twists to her novels (such as the Faerie King confronted with a divorce lawyer in her New York series). More recent books are YA retellings of the lives of princesses of myth and history (Helen, Nefertiti, Maeve, Himiko). Friesner is also known for a number of Star Trek novelisations and editing the Chicks short stories collections
Availability: A variety of new and secondhand, along with a variety of ebooks. (Goodreads).

Maggie Furey

FureyMaggie

For those looking for some epic fantasy, Furey has two series: The Artefacts of Power (mage wars!), and the Shadowleague series about a world divided into sections by magical barriers.
Availability: Paper books only. (Goodreads).

Mary Gentle

GentleMary

If you’re a lover of epic fantasy, and likes your worlds gritty, you’ve no doubt already heard of Mary Gentle. Ash, where a historian explores the life of a female mercenary in the fifteenth century, makes very clear that war is not fun or romantic. On the lighter (or darker) side, is Grunts, a go-for-the-guts parody where you’ll want the Halflings to kill the elves, and wince as you cheer for your protagonist orcs, rejecting their traditional cannon fodder role with the aid of modern weaponry. Gentle also has her SF Golden Witchbreed series – tackling alien politics, and corporate interference. Or try the occult-based world of Rats and Gargoyles. If you read Gentle you can expect complexity, and detailed and intricate world-building.
Availability: A good spread of ebooks, and primarily secondhand for paper. (Goodreads).

Sheila Gilluly

GillulySheila

It can be difficult to find copies of The Book of the Painter and Greenbriar series, but for lovers of high fantasy, Gilluly is definitely worth tracking down – particularly The Boy from the Burren.

Availability: Primarily secondhand only. (Goodreads).

Karen Haber

War Minstrels

Along with an array of Star Trek novels, Karen Haber has two original SF series: War Minstrels (empaths and intersteller politics) and Fire in Winter (co-authored with Robert Silverberg and centring around mutants v ‘normals’).

Availability: Primarily secondhand, with an ebook of The Mutant Prime. (Goodreads).

Barbara Hambly

HamblyBarbara

Lucky readers who discover Barbara Hambly will be rewarded with plenty of material to go on with. Check out the Darwath and Windrose series for fun (and often scary) portal fantasy. Try the Sun Wolf and Starhawk series for high fantasy (with plenty of women), or the James Asher series for its Oxford don detective meeting murderous vampires. Hambly also has a number of standalones along with the excellent non-SF Benjamin January detective series set in New Orleans.

Availability: Paper books widely available, extensively republished in ebook format, and now with audiobooks available. (Goodreads).

Tara K. Harper

HarperTaraK

Both of Harper’s series feature animal companions. Wolfwalker is science fantasy (planetary adventure with space travel lost), revolving a telepathic link to wolves. The Cat Scratch books use a link with enormous cats.

Availability: Primarily secondhand for paper. Some region-restricted ebooks. Some audio cassette editions. (Goodreads)

Dorothy J Heydt/Katherine Blake

HeydtDorothyJ

I first encountered Heydt with Point of Honour, an SF novel featuring one of my favourite tropes – a virtual game world. I also really enjoyed the Cynthia (daughter of Euelpides) stories in the Sword and Sorceress anthologies. The Interior Life, her novel published as Katherine Blake, can’t quite be called a portal fantasy, but a different take on combining a person from our world with a fantasy world.

Availability: Some short stories available in ebook, otherwise secondhand only. (Goodreads).

Helen Mary Hoover (H M Hoover)

HooverHM

Middle grade dystopia! The book that made the biggest impression on me was The Delikon, where the alien overlords are quite kindly…but still overlords. Parents looking for middle grade SF might want to check out the relatively more recent Orvis (two kids on a post-apocalyptic road trip with an obsolete robot).
Availability: Secondhand only. (Goodreads).

Tanya Huff

HuffTanya

Huff has books for paranormal, high fantasy and science fiction lovers. The Confederation series is her SF work (planetary marines meet diplomatic manoeuvres with aliens). For fantasy readers you have a choice of the Quarters series (bards, assassins [a brother and sister sharing one body!]) and the Wizard of the Grove series. For paranormal, you have the Gale Women series (charm magic family), the Keeper Chronicles (guest house with ghosts and gates to hell), and the Henry Fitzroy books, with the Tony Foster and Victoria Nelson sub-series (cops, urban wizards, vampires).

Availability: Wide paperback availability, some audiobook, (region-restricted) ebooks for most but not all books. (Goodreads).

Diana Wynne Jones

JonesDianaWynne

I’ve spoken previously at length about Diana Wynne Jones, so will only say that I’m both excited and sad about the approaching publication of her final book, The Islands of Chaldea.
Availability: Widely available in most formats. (Goodreads).

Sylvia Kelso

KelsoSylvia

An Australian writer who writes densely poetic novels, most set in Australia, or fantasy worlds with Australian landscapes. Her books include the Riverworld series (politics and adventure from the pov of a member of a not-entirely-positive matriarchy), the Rihannar Chronicles (a morality of mages series, another of my favourite tropes), and the Blackston Gold duology (a Queensland lawyer meets a ghost and a minefields mystery).

Availability: Paperback and ebook. (Goodreads).

Katharine Kerr

KerrKatharine

Katharine Kerr writes in both the high fantasy and urban fantasy genres. In high fantasy, start with Daggerspell to begin the Welsh-sourced Deverry saga (where destiny and tragedy come along to smack the reincarnated in the face). Alternatively, check out the Nola O’Grady series, where the government secret agents are psychic, and a serial killer is hunting werewolves. SF fans will be glad to know there’s something with this author for them – check out Polar City Blues, for a cop dealing with the murder of an alien.
Availability: Wide range of paperbacks, a variety of ebooks (though some seem to be region locked). (Goodreads).

Rosemary Kirstein

KirsteinRosemary

Kirstein’s Steerswoman series begins with the mystery of an unnatural jewel. The concept of steerswomen (travelling loremasters with strict rules about questions asked and answered) is a really fascinating one. Theirs are battles fought with knowledge.
Availability: Paperback only. (Goodreads).

Nancy Kress

KressNancy

Kress has produced both standalones and a number of hard SF series, including the Sleepless series (advanced humans engineered not to sleep), the Probability trilogy (military hard SF with alien contact), and the Crossfire duology (planetary colonisation gets complicated). Most recently is the cross-time catastrophe After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall.
Availability: Paperback, some audible, most in ebook format. (Goodreads).

Mercedes Lackey

LackeyMercedes

With a writer as prolific as Lackey, it becomes not a question of what’s available so much as where to start. Arrows of the Queen is very early Lackey, but it’s a strong representative and a fun read.
Availability: Widely available in multiple formats. (Goodreads).

Louise Lawrence

LawrenceLouise

Lawrence’s young adult science fiction is primarily post-apocalyptic or dystopic. The style of these books will ‘read young’ compared to current YA, but still do interesting things, and are great for those looking for a different read. I think the one I’d recommend as a starter is Calling B for Butterfly, about kids stranded on a lifeboat falling toward Jupiter.

Availability: Secondhand, except for Children of the Dust, which is available as an ebook. (Goodreads).

Tanith Lee

LeeTanith

Tanith Lee’s voice is lush, dark, poetic and distinctive – she’s a writer unlike any other. She has also produced over 90 novels. Ignore the temptation to be overwhelmed, and instead sample the following three books. The Silver Metal Lover: forget those stories about robots trying to kill you, and shred yourself internally with this tragic look at artificial life. Night’s Master: first of the Flat Earth series and a grand, beautiful and painful piece. Kill the Dead: I’ve seen this described as ‘Byronic’ – check it out for the dry wit of the ghost slayer, out to take on an undead town.
Fun fact: Lee wrote two episodes of Blakes 7!

Availability: A mix of new and secondhand paperbacks, and a number of ebooks. (Goodreads).

Ursula K. Le Guin

catwingsCOV.indd

I’m fairly sure I don’t need to tell anyone who Le Guin is, so instead I’ll mention one of the her less-known series, the charming children’s Catwings series (cats with wings – what’s not to love?).
Availability: Widely available in many formats. (Goodreads).

Shariann Lewitt

LewittShariann

Writing cyberpunk (in Venice), planetary romance, and courtly fantasy, Lewitt only has a few books available, but they are interesting and different and well worth checking out.

Availability: Mostly secondhand, and some ebooks. (Goodreads).

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

LichtenbergJacqueline

Jacqueline Lichtenberg will be familiar to many readers thanks to her Sime/Gen SF novels, where humans have developed into two separate species tangled in a symbiotic relationship. Other series include the Dushau books (aliens that can maintain a group telepathic link) and the Luren books (vampires with an extra-terrestrial origin).
Availability: Most books have been republished in paper and ebook, with some audiobook. (Goodreads).

Jane Lindskold

LindskoldJane

With multiple SF and fantasy standalones and series, Linkskold has been published since the early ’90s. Her Firekeeper Saga begins with a girl raised by wolves (and thus not necessarily well-equipped to face court intrigues), while her Breaking the Wall series takes mah-jong and the Chinese zodiac and brings them to the United States.
Availability: A mix of new and secondhand paper, plus some mostly region-restricted ebooks. (Goodreads).

Holly Lisle

LisleHolly

Lisle writes primarily in fantasy, but has several SF novels available. The Arhel trilogy deals with a mage society divided by gender. The Secret Texts places a trainee diplomat/shapeshifter in a post-magical-apocalypse world, while The World Gates trilogy is a portal fantasy with the interesting twist that the magic of the portal world has a negative effect on ‘our’ world.

[I thoroughly enjoyed my recent reread of Hunting the Corrigan's Blood (an SF thriller about a professional finder) and was pleased while researching this article to discover a 2012 release of a sequel. Win!]

Availability: A mix of current and secondhand paper, and some ebooks. (Goodreads).

Penelope Lively

LivelyPenelope

Lively’s The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy was one of my earliest introductions to the wild hunt myth. The feel of this story has some similarities to the Dark is Rising series. Other fantasy children’s books by Lively include Astercote (where the lives of children in the Cotswolds are complicated by a chalice), and The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (the ghost of a seventeenth-century sorcerer wants an apprentice).

Availability: Both paper and ebook. (Goodreads).

Anne Logston

LogstonAnne

Along with a number of standalones, Logston created the Shadow & Dagger series, focusing around the adventures of a quick-witted elven thief.

Availability: Both paper and ebook. (Goodreads).

Anne Lyle

LyleAnne

Lyle’s first series is the Night’s Masque series, which takes an alternate world approach to the reign of Elizabeth I, and focuses on the travails of the spy Mal Catlyn, giving readers a strongly set alt-history world, along with magic and the complexities of a non-human race.

Availability: Widely available in most formats.(Goodreads).

Margaret Mahy

MahyMargaret

New Zealander Mahy wrote books for younger and middle-grade children, and crossed into young adult territory. The families she creates are vivid, individual and very alive. Primarily creating standalones, her best known book is probably The Changeover, but there are many others to discover. Try Maddigan’s Fantasia for middle-grade readers, with its strange and wonderful circus.

Availability: Very few ebooks. Many of the books are available as secondhand only. (Goodreads).

Laurie J. Marks

MarksLaurieJ

Marks combines beautiful writing with fully fleshed out worlds that don’t fall into the same-old same-old cultural expectations of our own. Along with a very small number of standalones, she’s written two trilogies. The Elemental Logic series deals with warring nations, and elemental aspected individuals caught up in those wars. The Children of the Triad books start out with, substantively, an ugly duckling story, and delves deeply into non-human races, and the question of identity and belonging.

Availability: Secondhand. The Elemental Logic books have been reissued in eformat. (Goodreads).

Ann Maxwell

MaxwellAnn

Maxwell’s Fire Dancer series sadly stops at book 3 (as Maxwell went on to a highly successful career in a different genre), but the books are definitely still worth picking up, to enjoy the travels of the last survivor of a planet’s fiery destruction.

Availability: Out of print. (Goodreads).

Ardath Mayhar

MayharArdath

Reminiscent of Andre Norton’s fantasy, Mayhar’s early books combine aspects of fantasy with science fiction. There’s also The World Ends in Hickory Hollow, a Utopian post-apocalyptic novel. She also contributed a book to the “Little Fuzzy” series, retelling the story from the Fuzzies’ point of view.

Availability: Primarily secondhand. (Goodreads).

Anne McCaffrey

McCaffreyAnne

Another of the major planetary adventure science fiction writers, McCaffrey needs no introduction. Instead she is responsible for introducing vast numbers of readers to science fiction. The Firelizard Song at the beginning of Dragonsinger remains the only piece of poetry I can recite from memory!
Availability: Widely available in multiple formats. (Goodreads).

Vonda N. McIntyre

McIntyreVondaN

Like many, I first encountered McIntyre through her post-apocalyptic Dreamsnake, and then moved on to the intriguing Starfarers series (a strong focus on scientists in space). Star Trek fans will also absolutely know McIntyre from her novelisations of the second, third and four Trek films. YA fans should check out Barbary (twelve year old on a space station), and fans of alt history will be all over The Moon and the Sun, set in the court of Louis XIV, with added sea monsters.

Fun fact: The Moon and the Sun is heading for film!

Availability: Primarily secondhand. Ebooks appear to be available at Book View Café. (Goodreads).

Patricia A. McKillip

McKillipPatricia

One of the giants of fantasy, McKillip combines beautiful prose with stories that read like undiscovered fairy tales. Many of her books are standalones, or duologies. Her Riddle-Master trilogy is not as well known as Earthsea, but should be.

Quote:

“Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored.”

Availability: Paperbacks. Very few ebooks. (Goodreads).

Robin McKinley

McKinleyRobin

Another major fantasy author. My favourites will always be The Blue Sword and Beauty, eternal re-reads. I’m a little surprised to see only a handful of her books are available in eformat.
Availability: Primarily paperback. (Goodreads).

Melisa Michaels/Melisa C. Michaels

Sister to the Rain

An Elfrock band! It makes me wonder if all that big 80s rock hair was hiding any pointy ears in our world as well. ? Pity the unfortunate human PI hired as a bodyguard to protect this lead singer from death threats. And don’t be fooled by the cover to Cold Iron: this is an urban fantasy interested in some of the harder facts of life in the big city.

Along with the two Rosie Levine urban fantasies, Michaels has a “complications of crossing alternate realities” book, World Walker, and the Skyrider series (about a hotshot spaceship pilot becoming embroiled in a Colonial war).
Availability: Secondhand only, but apparently with intentions to release the backlist as ebooks. (Goodreads/Goodreads).

Elizabeth Moon

MoonElizabeth

Moon divides her time between a fantasy world (three related series: Legacy of Gird, The Deed of Paksenarrion, and Paladin’s Legacy), and military and trader space fiction (The Serrano Legacy and Vatta’s War). Outside these series there’s Speed of Dark, about a generation ‘left behind’ by advancing medicine, and Remnant Population (one of the rare SF books from the POV of an older woman, who has chosen not to be removed from her now-abandoned colony).

Availability: The majority of books available in a wide range of formats. (Goodreads).

E. Nesbit

NesbitE

Classics of the genre, Nesbit is as readable today as ever. Reading books written over a century ago has two advantages: they’re like time travel in themselves – and they’re usually out of copyright, so you can get them all for free from Project Gutenberg! ;)

The Ugly-Wuglys in The Enchanted Castle are sure to give your kids nightmares – and maybe you as well.

Availability: Books, TV series, everything. (Goodreads, Project Gutenberg) .

Rachel Neumeier

NeumeierRachel

Neumeier combines originality of plot with a beautiful prose style. Try the standalones The Floating Islands, House of Shadows or The City in the Lake, or travel into the beautiful and vivid world of the Griffin Mage trilogy. Upcoming is something different, Black Dog, an urban fantasy that ranges from Mexico to Vermont, with what sounds like a new take on werewolves.

Availability: Both paper and ebook . (Goodreads).

Andre Norton

AndreNorton

Norton, Grandmaster of SF and published author since the 1930s, has been a massive influence on me (and countless other SFF readers). When I think weapons, I think Norton’s weapons: blaster, stunner, tangler, needler. When I think transport, I think Norton’s transport: skimmer, flitter. When I think aliens, I think Forerunners, and lost advanced civilisations, and the occasional Star Gate (Norton’s book of this name was published in the 50s).

My favourite of Norton’s books is Catseye, which combines a large number of Norton’s favourite tropes: alien ruins, intelligent animals, and displaced loners searching for a place to belong. It’s also a good place to start for readers new to Norton. Other options include Sargasso of Space, or for the more fantasy-minded, The Crystal Gryphon.

Availability: The earliest of Norton’s books are now in the public domain, and can be found on Project Gutenberg. Her estate appears to be republishing a large number of her in-copyright work as ebooks, and it appears they’re exploring publishing a number of never-released works. (Goodreads; Project Gutenberg).

Jody Lynn Nye

NyeJodyLynn

Nye’s books range from the humorous fantasy of the Mythology series to the Taylor’s Ark books, where Dr Shona Taylor travels to colony worlds providing medical services and bringing with her a menagerie of specially-adapted animals (such as a dog who can synthesise vaccines). Nye also co-wrote a number of books with Anne McCaffrey.

Availability: Paperback, a range of audible and ebook releases. (Goodreads).

Diana L. Paxson

PaxsonDianaL

Fans of mythology will want to check out The White Raven, a retelling of the story of Tristan and Iseult. Paxson’s other books also reflect her interest in this mythological tradition, and include the Hallowed Isle series (Arthurian), The Chronicle of Fionn mac Cumhal, and the Westria series. She also continued Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon series.

Availability: Secondhand and many books republished as ebooks (though a large number appear region-restricted). (Goodreads).

Meredith Ann Pierce

PierceMeredithAnn

Along with her two series, the Darkangel Trilogy and Firebringer Trilogy, this incredibly evocative writer has several standalones. Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood reads like a brand new fairytale, while The Woman Who Loved Reindeer is set in a tundra landscape and has a sense of old Norse myth.

Availability: Primarily secondhand, with a couple of backlist ebooks. (Goodreads).

Tamora Pierce

PierceTamora

Tamora Pierce has been the introduction for many a reader to fantasy books where a girl gets to contribute to the fight. Most of her books are linked into the 20 volume Tortall sage (which contains multiple distinct series). Keen readers will also be glad to find a separate series in her Emelan (Circle) books.
Availability: Widely available in multiple formats. But the ebooks are region-restricted. (Goodreads).

Irene Radford/P R Frost

RadfordIrene

Radford released multiple books combining fantasy and science fiction elements in the series The Dragon Nimbus, The Dragon Nimbus Histories, and The Stargods, while Merlin’s Descendants gives a well-known wizard a multi-generational saga. As P R Frost she writes the Tess Noncoire series, about a writer/demon fighter.

Availability: Paper and secondhand, some audible and numerous ebooks (some region-restricted). (Goodreads/Goodreads).

Alis A. Rasmussen/Kate Elliott

RasmussenAlis

What’s a girl to do when her friend is kidnapped by alien bounty hunters?

(a)Rescue him!
(b)Kick ass.
(c)Win friends and influence intergalactic politics.
(d)All of the above.

Rasmussen has republished her Highroad Trilogy under her pen name, which makes for rather confused bookstore searches but does lead you to discover a lovely array of fantasy novels to go with this SF trilogy.

Availability: Paper and ebook. (Goodreads/Goodreads).

Deborah J Ross/Deborah Wheeler

RossDeborahJ

Under the name Deborah Wheeler there are two science fiction novels: Jaydium (combining time travel and possibility) and the planetary adventure Northlight (where a ranger in exile tries to track down a lost friend and discovers layers of conspiracy).

As Deborah J Ross, along with a number of books in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover world, the author has recently embarked on a grandly epic fantasy series revolving around a broken shield that is the key to keeping the whole world in one piece.

Availability: Mostly secondhand paper, and ebooks (though the first volume of the Seven-Petaled Shield Trilogy appears to be region restricted). (Goodreads/Goodreads).

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

RuschKristineKathryn

Rusch is a prolific writer working in many genres. In science fiction she has released the Retrieval Artist series (person recovery in an alien-complicated universe) and the Diving books (space salvage). Her fantasy Fey series sees a lone island holding out against a determined invasion. For fans of this-world magic, try the Seavy Village series, starting with witches attempting to fight off a mer attack.

Availability: Available in most formats. (Goodreads).

Joanna Russ

RussJoanna

Russ’ handful of science fiction novels (and collected short stories) take many of the conventions of early SF and invert them. And while How to Suppress Women’s Writing might not be technically classed as SFF, it expands the mind in the same manner.

Availability: Primarily secondhand, with one ebook. (Goodreads).

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

ScarboroughElizabeth

Along with a number of collaborations with Anne McCaffrey, Scarborough has several fantasy and science fiction series. I found her through the Songs of the Seashell Archives series, which are delightfully fun, gently humorous fantasy. Also available is the Godmother trilogy (urban fantasy in Seattle, with a fairytale element), the Valentine Lovelace Western fantasy duology, and the Songkiller Saga (the devil vs folk music).

If you’re a fan of the Seashell Archives, you’ll want to check out Scarborough’s Kickstarter campaign to publish another book in the series. The campaign successfully finished on 26 December.

Availability: A variety of new and secondhand paper. Many books are available as ebooks. (Goodreads).

Melissa Scott

ScottMelissa

Scott’s highly realised worlds feature in both her science fiction (planetary adventure such as Burning Bright and Mighty Good Road) and her historical fantasies/police procedurals such as the Astreiant series with Lisa Barnett (late Renaissance equivalent world with two suns). Recently she has begun a new series with Jo Graham called The Order of the Air, where post WWI aviation and archaeology and the occult combine to equal Adventure!

Availability: New and secondhand paper. Some but not all books are available in ebook format.(Goodreads).

Lisa Shearin

ShearinLisa

Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares novels takes a streetwise sorceress with a talent for finding the lost (and trouble!). At the end of the year she’ll release the first in a new series, The SPI Files, “described as Stephanie Plum meets Men in Black”.

Availability: New paper, audible editions and (sadly region-restricted) ebooks. (Goodreads).

Josepha Sherman

ShermanJosepha

Along with a number of Star Trek novelisations, Sherman’s books include contributions to the pre-teen Secrets of the Unicorn Queen series, and fairytale retellings (find a copy of The Shining Falcon if you can).

Availability: The Star Trek novelisations are available in new paperbacks and ebook. Secondhand for many others. (Goodreads).

Susan Shwartz

ShwartzSusan

Shwartz’s books include Byzantium-set fantasy and a number of science fiction novels, including the particularly grim prospect of a corporate future in Hostile Takeover.

Availability: Mostly out of print, but with some recent ebook and Audible republication. (Goodreads).

Sherwood Smith

SmithSherwood

You’re in for a treat if you’ve not sampled Smith before. Hook-your-curiosity-and-pull plotlines, combined with some serious worldbuilding chops, and plenty of variety in genre.

For the middle-grade readers, start with the Wren series (for those who read the first three books during their original release, a conclusion to the quartet was released in 2010). In the YA fantasy sphere you have options such as Spy Princess, or the Crown Duel/Court Duel duology. [Girls having adventures!]

Space opera fans will be right there for Smith’s collaboration with Dave Trowbridge, the Exordium series. Space Empires, murder, heirs on the run, starships…

Epic fantasy lovers should hunt down the Inda series, with its layered politics and society, or try the richly absorbing Banner of the Damned (set later in the same world). Those with a taste for contemporary fantasy can check out the Dobrenica series, where a California girl finds far more than she bargained for during a visit to Europe.

Availability: A wide variety of new books, audible and ebooks (unfortunately a sizeable portion of the ebooks are region-restricted). (Goodreads).

Midori Snyder

SnyderMidori

Snyder’s handful of books range from Renaissance Venice (The Innamorati), the Texas frontier (The Flight of Michael McBride), the edges of myth (Soulstring) and, in the Oran Trilogy, an occupied kingdom – a fantasy gem that should be far better known.

Availability: Some books out of print, and no ebooks. (Goodreads).

Dana Stabenow

StabenowDana

Along with her Alaskan-set murder mysteries, Stabenow wrote the Star Svensdotter science fiction trilogy. Svensdotter’s job is to oversee the construction of a space station – something that wouldn’t be easy on a good day.

Availability: Secondhand and republished as ebooks. (Goodreads).

Caroline Stevermer

StevermerCaroline

Stevermer is best known for her fantasy work – the College of Magic series (magic, wry humour, politics and adventure in an early 1900s setting), and for the Cecilia & Kate books co-written with Patricia Wrede (humour, comedy of manners, Regency, epistolary). For something slightly different try the post-apocalyptic YA River Rats, about a group of orphans and their paddle wheel ship.

Availability: Some out of print, but the series are available both new and in ebook (College is region-restricted). (Goodreads).

Judith Tarr

TarrJudith

Tarr (along with knowing horses backward and forwards), puts a thorough historical education to work in multiple series. The Hound and Falcon series brings together the Crusades, Richard the Lion-hearted, Byzantium, and an elven monk. Queen of the Amazons and Bring Down the Sun focus on the time of Alexander the Great, while the Epona series delves into the Celtic horse goddess.

Availability: Mostly secondhand, but wide release of ebooks. (Goodreads).

Sheri S. Tepper

TepperSheriS

Tepper has written extensively in both fantasy and science fiction. Major works focusing on ecology and gender include Grass, The Gate to Women’s Country, and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (a book about reproductive rights that seems to become more relevant every year). Fantasy fans will be rewarded if they hunt down the True Game, Jinian and Mavin trilogies.

Availability: Tepper’s science fiction is available in multiple formats. The fantasy trilogies are out of the print, with some possibility of eventually being re-released self-published. (Goodreads).

Joan D. Vinge

VingeJoanD

Best known for her Snow Queen cycle (epic planetary science fiction), Vinge also released the Cat trilogy (streetwise psychic outsider working as an undercover agent for an interstellar government), along with collections of space and post-apocalyptic novellas.

Availability: In print, along with (region-restricted) ebooks. (Goodreads).

Paula Volsky/Paula Brandon

VolskyPaula

Volsky’s fantasy world is set in a parallel of our world, so Illusion places a girl’s court debut in a version of the French Revolution, The Wolf in Winter resembles pre-Revolution Russia, and the Sorcerer trilogy echoes Venice. The Grand Ellipse even sees an around-the-world ballooning race.

Volsky has begun producing books again, now under the name Paula Brandon, with the recent release of the Veiled Isles trilogy, bringing to mind the wars of Italian city-states.

Availability: The Volsky books are mostly out of print (with a couple of region-restricted ebooks). The Brandon books are available new or in Audible. The ebooks are region-restricted. (Goodreads).

Margaret Weis

WeisMargaret

Like many others, I ate up the Dragonlance Chronicles back when they were released. I’ve kept the first two trilogies. Her current series is the Dragon Brigade. And, hey, she seems to own a tabletop gaming company now.

Availability: Widely available in multiple formats. (Goodreads).

Martha Wells

WellsMartha

Wells’ Books of the Raksura take us into entirely non-human territory, focusing on a shapeshifter wanting to belong, while the Ile-Rien books take us into gas-light territory with magic, mystery and war. YA readers with a penchant for steampunk should check out the Emilie books.

Availability: Widely available in multiple formats. (Goodreads).

K.D. Wentworth

WentworthKD

Wentworth’s Heyoka Blackeagle books focus on a human/alien space ranger partnership from the pov of the seven foot tall, furry and clawed Heyoka. The House of Moons books feature a heroine accused of murder, caught up in a greater conspiracy.

Availability: The Heyoka books are available in eformat in the Baen library, but I can’t see them elsewhere. Most other books are out of print, though Moonspeaker is available in e-format. (Goodreads).

Cherry Wilder

WilderCherry

Wilder wrote in both fantasy and SF. In Second Nature and Signs of Life she deals with planetary colonisation, while in the Rulers of Hylor trilogy deals with three different rulers whose lives are far from simple, starting with a princess fighting to free her people from slavery. Readers interested in gender exploration will especially want to hunt down the Torin books, beginning with The Luck of Brin’s Five (marsupial people).

Availability: Sadly almost entirely out of print. (Goodreads).

Carole Wilkinson

WilkinsonCarole

Writing for middle-grade readers, Wilkinson’s Ramose series focuses on an Egyptian prince, while her Dragon Keeper books are set in China’s Han Dynasty.

Availability: Paper only. (Goodreads).

Elizabeth Willey

WilleyElizabeth

Willey’s Argylle trilogy (with some links to Shakespeare’s The Tempest) focuses on the problems of extended mage families. You may wish to read books 2 and 3 before book 1, as the first book published (The Well-Favoured Man) is the last chronologically.

Availability: Out of print. (Goodreads).

Connie Willis

WillisConnie

Willis is well known for her time travel books, but don’t forget her less Earth-focused science fiction, such as Uncharted Territory or Water Witch (with Cynthia Felice).

Availability: Most books available in multiple formats. (Goodreads)

Patricia C. Wrede

WredePatriciaC

Many readers know Wrede from her young reader Enchanted Forest series, her Cecilia & Kate books with Caroline Stevermer, or the more recent Frontier Magic series. My personal favourites are the Mairelon books (I’m a complete sucker for a girl-disguised-as-boy trying to steal from a magician).

Availability: Widely available in multiple formats. (Goodreads).

Janny Wurts

WurtsJanny

Wurts is the author of a major epic fantasy series (made up of several sub-series arcs) called the Wars of Light and Shadow. A separate (shorter) series is The Cycle of Fire. If you want a standalone book to sample Wurts complex worldbuilding and characters, try To Ride Hell’s Chasm, where two loyal kingsmen race to unravel the mystery of a missing princess. Wurts has also co-written a number of books with Raymond E Feist.

Fun fact: Janny Wurts is also an artist, and the cover paintings on her books are her own.

Availability: Available in paper and ebook. Some Audible editions. (Goodreads).

Jane Yolen

YolenJane

Yolen is an extremely prolific author writing for children, teens and adults. Young adult books include the Pit Dragon series (gladiatorial dragon matches), the Stuart Quartet (historical fiction in the Stuart era) or the Foiled graphic novels (girl fencer!). Adult readers could start with Sister Light, Sister Dark (women able to call up their shadow/mirror selves) or the SF Cards of Grief (space anthropology).

Availability: A wide variety, including an increasing range of ebooks. (Goodreads).

Sarah Zettel

ZettelSarah

Zettel writes both SF and a variety of fantasy. Her Isavalta series is portal fantasy, but catches attention immediately by making our portral traveller a lighthouse keeper from Lake Superior in 1899. For Arthurian fans, try The Paths to Camelot series. For SF readers, Zettel’s Fool’s War takes a thoughtful look at intercultural pressures through the travails of the Muslim chief engineer of the ship the Pasadena, while her most recent release, Golden Girl, brings an American fairy to Hollywood.

Availability: Some out of print, but wide re-release in ebook. (Goodreads).

And there we have it, 99 female authors. I actually only had physical books by 95 female SFF authors, but I added four more to round out the numbers. ;)

This post has probably felt like it’s gone on for a lifetime, and yet I look at this list and count up how many female writers I haven’t mentioned and shake my head in wonder that anyone could ever think that SFF was not a genre full of female authors.

So here’s my challenge. If there’s a female SFF author you’ve read and liked, and she’s not on this list already, add her in the comments, with a brief description of her books. Because these 99 authors are only the beginning.

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About the author: I am an Australian author. I write what I like to read: stories about worlds where magic is real, women aren’t relegated to the background, and expectations are twisted slightly out of skew.

Website and Twitter.

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85 Responses to SFF in Conversation: Women Write SFF (Andrea K Höst’s Keeper Bookshelf )

  1. Ana says:

    Be right back: buying ALL THE THINGS.

  2. Kate K.F. says:

    Isobelle Carmody, an Australian author know for the Obernewtyn Chronicles. An Australian friend of mine told me to read her and I loved her work. She has an amazing anthology of short stories called Green Monkey Dreams that has stories that range from fantasy to SF. The Chronicles are fantasy about a young woman trying to make sense of her broken world and have recently been rereleased.

    Also Frances Hardinge, she mainly writes YA fiction but its brilliant. Her standalones such as The Lost Conspiracy which looks at colonization and language is an amazing read, the Fly Trap books are sort of historical fiction to do with early printing.

    N.K. Jemisin who has fantastic world building and stories that don’t let you go. There’s the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms trilogy that deals with what happens when gods get too entangled in the lives of their people and then a duology The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun and a new book coming out this year.

    Thank you for this list. I’ve read many of these authors but have added a number of them to my to read list.

  3. Cass M. says:

    This list is wonderful and will be expanding my to-read shelves greatly.

    Catherynne M. Valente writes what she calls “mythpunk”. It varies from her YA Fairyland series to the very adult historical/mythic Deathless to the Scherezade-like fantasy of the Orphan’s Tales duology.

    Gail Carriger writes steampunk — so, historical sci-fi, with a paranormal twist. Her Parasol Protectorate series gets stronger as it goes along, and I’m so far thoroughly enjoying her YA spinoff Finishing School series.

  4. Kristen says:

    Wow, what an excellent and extensive list! Thank you so much for sharing it. The authors I have read that you mentioned are wonderful, and there are also a lot here I haven’t read that I now want to check out.

  5. Lulu says:

    It’s a real shame that Esther M. Friesner books aren’t available as an ebook in the UK. For female speculative authors, though, I would like to add some off of my own shelves:

    Kij Johnson, who is known mostly for her short stories (my favourites include Ponies and Spar). She is the lady I would most like to be, my writing role model.

    The very popular Robin Hobb who writes gorgeous high fantasy, set in mostly the same world, which starts with the Assassin’s Apparentice.

    There is Angela Carter, most famous for her short story collection, the Bloody Chamber. She writes with rich, gothic prose, with a strong feminist stance.

    Maybe Anne Rice is a controversial one, but she has undoubtedly done huge things for the horror genre, in terms of vampires, and has inspired a huge amount of people. The first three of the Vampire Chronicles, in particular, are definitely worth a read.

    And a quick mention to Amanda Downum, a contemporary fantasy author who hasn’t had much publicity, with three books out at the moment, featuring a pretty kickass female character.

    I’ve only picked authors that are a) not on the current list, obviously, and b) the authors have not been reviewed by Ana or Thea (Robin Hobb & Anne Rice have plenty of mentions, but no proper review, so).

  6. Ian Sales says:

    You might find this a useful resource: http://sfmistressworks.wordpress.com/

    And there is also this list of 100 Great Science Fiction Stories By Women: http://iansales.com/2013/07/10/the-list-100-great-science-fiction-stories-by-women/

  7. SaraHope says:

    A couple of my favs who weren’t mentioned:

    Catherine Asaro has written both SF and Fantasy. While I’ve only read the Fantasy (which I’d define under a subgenre of Romantic Fantasy), her longer series is her SF Saga of the Skolian Empire.

    Mary Robinette Kowal writes lovely historical fantasy set in and around England during the Regency. The Fantasy element is a relatively small addition to mostly real-world plots involving both social and political concerns of the time. The hero and heroine are professional Glamourists–in the world of the books glamour is mostly an art form (a hobby for gentile folk, employment for others, both high and low depending on the work). For lovers of Jane Austen who enjoy a little magic.

    Linnea Sinclair writes romantic SF set mostly in space (I believe she’s Rita award-winning). Games of Command is a personal favorite.

  8. Amazing list – THANK YOU! Many of my favourites are there, which is great to see.

    From my own shelves I’ll add two names that jump out at me:

    Tricia Sullivan, who writes hard-SF-with-heart, with protagonists you’ll cheer for (I love Cookie Orbach from DOUBLE VISION). Tricia has a brand new YA SFF novel coming out later this year, SHADOW BOXER. I have to confess that I’ve read an earlier version of it… and it is so, so good!

    J.V. Jones, who writes wonderful heroic/epic fantasy. She’s been quiet lately, but I’m hoping for more from her and always keep an eye on her website. If you want to try her stuff but don’t want to get into multi-part epics, you could try her standalone portal fantasy, THE BARBED COIL. I still have a soft spot for it, and still have my tattered old copy from 1998. :)

    Kaz

  9. Michelle says:

    This is an absolutely AMAZING resource — I love how many backlisted and less-known authors you have on this list! Thank you so much for sharing and taking the time to create this extensive list.

    After a quick perusal through some of my goodreads shelves, I found Sara Douglass, author of the Wayfarer Redemption trilogy (among other things). I don’t remember much about the series, but I devoured and loved it in high school. Might have to reacquaint myself with it in the near future.

    Cherie Priest is also a favourite of mine — I’ve been following her Clockword Century series for a few years now. She also has a smattering of stand alone novels I’d like to get my hands on eventually.

    Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series is a must. They are some of the most subtle and in-depth character studies I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

    I must also point out Kim Wilkins! I’ve only read one novel of hers — The Veil of Gold (also published as Rosa and the Veil of Gold) — but that alone has made me want to seek out the rest of her work.

    Karin Lowachee also publishes the amazing (but hard to find) Warchild series. I’ve only read the first one, as well as her other novel The Gaslight Dogs.

    Wow, I didn’t realize it, but I could go on all day given the chance.

  10. Kerry says:

    Wow, that’s a wonderful list I will be saving for the future.

    We must be about the same age. I’ve read a lot of those, and recognise most of the authors I haven’t read.

  11. Sarah Rees Brennan says:

    What a fabulous resource!

  12. R.A.Deckert says:

    Alma Alexander’s books ought to be on this list. Details are available on her website – http://www.almaalexander.org/all-my-books/ – and she definitely deserves a wider readership.

  13. hapax says:

    Wow. So many beloved favorites. So many new ones to try.

    (now I want ALL THE THINGS…)

    A few authors to add:

    Lynn Flewelling, who has two fantasy series: the NIGHTRUNNER series: thieves, assassins, intrigue, and derring-do, plus one of the first (and still most popular) m/m romances in sff; and the TAMIR series, which is darker, more Game-of-Thrones-ish, but absolutely riveting in its examinations of gender and identity

    Sharon Lee, who writes grand hilarious romantic old-fashioned space opera along with Steve Miller in the Liaden series (I’d recommend starting with the AGENT OF CHANGE sequence available in various omnibuses [omnibii?] — it’s confusing) as well as the CAROUSEL urban fantasy series on her own

    and three YA authors who have definite adult appeal

    Kristin Cashore, whose three books in the GRACELING series have put her into Rock Star status, and redefined the “strong female character”

    Cinda Williams Chima, whose first book (WARRIOR HEIR) was good-but-derivative, but who quickly kicked it up into awesome with the rest of the HEIR series (urban fantasy) and the SEVEN REALMS series (epic high fantasy), all of which feature awesome female characters

    Leah Cypess, who has three loosely connected fantasy novels (so far) that read like poetic moody fairytales with a hidden gutpunch to the FEELS, and have remade tired fantasy tropes (shifters, zombies, assassins) fresh new and exciting

    (I’d add Sarah Rees Brennan’s books, since she popped in to say “hi!”, but none of her names begins with a “C”)

    Also, let me give a shout-out for Patricia Wrede’s LYRA Chronicles — awesome fantasy on an alien planet; there’s a reason that she literally wrote the book (well, the website) on worldbuilding

    {All those links are gonna put me in the spamtrap, aren’t they?}

    One last noodge — remember, almost all of those “secondhand” and “out-of-print” titles may very well be found at Your Local Public Library. If we don’t have ‘em, we’ll cheerfully scour the world for a library willing to lend them to you for free or for a very small fee.

  14. Kerry says:

    I’ve just read through the list again (I do wish there were more of these as ebooks – I do a continual repeating search for the old authors whose books I hope will turn up as ebooks and a lot are on this list).

    Anyway, Rosemary Kirstein has just released The Steerswoman as an ebook and is planning to do the same with the others this year.

    Let me also add Melanie Rawn to the list. Six books of dragons fantasy and some great female characters, especially in Sioned in the first trilogy. Another great series started (Exiles) but sadly never finished.

    Sharon Shinn: SF/fantasy about angels. Not at all what you would expect.

    Juliet Marillier: Celtic/Irish based fantasy. The first Sevenwaters book is based on the fairy tale of the seven swans.

    Wen Spencer.

    Patricia Briggs: As well as her popular Mercy Thomspon UF books, she wrote a number of very good straight fantasy novels before that.

    Carol Berg: Wonderful fantasy but she’ll break your heart. A standalone to try is Song of the Beast. Or the Rai-Kirah trilogy or, well, anything.

    Octavia Butler.

    Anne Bishop: Her Black Jewels fantasy series is well known. Her new Others series had a good first book.

    Patricia Kennealy-Morrison: Celts in Space. These are totally wish fulfillment books. You’ll love them or you’ll hate them. I know they’re wish fulfillment but they push all my buttons so I like them a lot. The first trilogy, starting with The Copper Crown is probably the best.

    Those are the ones waiting on my reread list along with a significant number Andrea already mentioned.

  15. Fran Wilde says:

    OH This list and all the covers gave me goosebumps. An excellent resource – some names I’ve not heard of – all around YES.

    Adding a few:

    Elizabeth Bear – Speaker to Shoggoths, writer of some of my favorite sf shorts, including “Tideline” and “The Deeps of the Sky,” and (co-written with Sarah Monette) the Boojum series – Over a dozen books, including the Eternal Sky series and the Jenny Casey Series.

    Aliette de Bodard – astounding short fiction in Clarkesworld. Her On A Red Station, Drifting, was a Hugo and Nebula Award finalist.

    V.E. Schwab – Her first foray into adult sci-fi – Vicious, just rocked.

    Seanan McGuire – The Newsflesh Trilogy.

    Ann Leckie – I’ve read her short stories for a long time. Her first novel, Ancillary Justice, blew my socks off.

  16. Rebecca says:

    OMG this post was Memory Lane for me — and introduced a few I’ve somehow missed over the years. Impressive list!

  17. Fran Wilde says:

    More: Jo Walton – The Small Change series, Among Others, Tooth and Claw.

    Michaela Roessner The Stars Dispose and The Stars Compel, especially.

    Mur Lafferty – Including 2013’s Shambling Guide to New York City.

  18. Kajol says:

    My resolution for this year is to read exculsively books by women. This list’ll help a lot. :D
    There are also some aiithors I’d like to add:

    Kameron Hurley – The Bel Dame Apocrypha

    A trilogy about two countries fighting an endless war on some planet with an extremely hostile enviroment. One country is run by women, one is run by men and it’s not about men vs. women. Yay?
    I love Nyx, the main protagonist, I love the bug technology and the general atmosphere and it’s my absolute favourite if I had to pick just one series to keep.

    Ann Aguirre – Jax series
    Seriously…one of the most satisfying SciFi series I ever had the pleasure to finish, with an amazing Sirantha Jax and from I think book 2 on a truely fascinating friendship between her and some person she meets during book 1. There is a romance, but…after a while I cared way more about this particular friendship, because it was just wonderfully written.

    Sara Creasy – Scarabaeus
    Tech spezialised in terraforming is kidnapped by some mercenaries and realises that not everything is the way she thought it is.
    The author has a degree in biology and it shows in a major way. I just love her technobabble, her characters and I really hope there’ll be more in the future.

    Janet Edwards – Earth Girl
    There are countless colonies out there you can access through portals. A small portion of humanity is unable to use those portals and they’re seen as lesser, mere apes. One of them is Jarra who’ll prove them wrong.
    YA with a female protagonist with no love triangle and an author who cleary loves writing about archaeology. Just awesome.

  19. Jaime says:

    Jacqueline Carey author of the Kushiel series.

    Ann Aguirre author of the Sirantha Jax universe.

    Rachel Aaron author of the Eli Monpress series.

    Laini Taylor author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series (YA).

    Rachel Hartman author of Seraphina (YA).

    MJ Rose author of The Reincarnationist series.

    Kim Harrison author of the Hollows series.

    I could write more but then I’d probably add another 99 names to the list :D

  20. Barb Caffrey says:

    Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s been missed . . . her Chronicles of Nuala are hard SF with some psychic overtones that’s as complex as “Dune” and deserves a much wider following. Her dark YA fantasy “Night Calls” is about Alfreda, a young woman in an alternate 18th/19th Century America learning how to use magic and defend her family against werewolves and other planar creatures . . . all is available in e-book format and “Night Calls” is available in trade paper as well via Createspace. I view Ms. Kimbriel’s work to be the best SF&F I’ve ever read outside of Rosemary Edghill, Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey . . . and I’m a tough critic.

  21. jabberwocky says:

    Great list! The Unlikely Ones by Mary Brown is a long-cherished book, but I never realised there were more in the series! I have just downloaded them onto my ereader – can’t wait!
    There are a few other writers I’d suggest: Lauren Beukes who deservedly won the Arthur C. Clarke award in 2011 for Zoo City – a brilliant, atmospheric dystopic S.A. where criminals have an animal familiar attached to them as a sort of branding – just fantastic! Also, Diana Wynne Jones manages to cross all sorts of genres from YA to SF to Fantasy, and often blends them all together. Hexwood is written in an SF vein, and is really great, but the Dalemark Quartet are epic fantasy that also have SF in their DNA.

  22. Lillian Butler says:

    Octavia Butler–one of the best speculative fiction writers, we lost her too young.
    Seanan MacGuire/Mira Grant–Urban fantasy under Seanan, zombie apocalypses under Mira.
    Suzette Hayden Elgin–Yonder Comes the Other End of Time is one of my favorite books.
    Michaela Roessner–The Stars Compel and The Stars Dispose–Italian Renaissance fantasy!
    Jennifer Roberson–The Chronicles of the Cheysuli will break your heart.
    These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head at work; more to come after I get home to the library.

  23. Debbie says:

    I love love love Katie Waitman‘s books The Merro Tree and The Divided, though those were the only two books she’s written. I found The Merro Tree while in early high school and still love it today.

    Jo Spurrier is an Australian author and unfortunately, only published there at the moment. But I read her first book and it blew me away.

    Octavia E. Butler is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Her books always make me think about life’s deeper questions and injustices.

  24. emmel says:

    Sharon Shinn: multiple series, all of them wonderful. And she’s currently writing, so her books are found relatively easily. An autobuy for me.

    Ilona Andrews: husband and wife team. The Magic series is great.

    Kristin Callahan: grand cyberpunk romance series.

    Anne Bishop: some stunning stuff, and loved her latest, Written in Blood.

    Beth Revis’s series starting with Across the Universe is fantastic.

  25. Liegh Bracket and James Tiptree, Jr. Yes, “James” was a woman.

  26. Hello, thanks for this list, I recognized many of my favorite authors… but you are missing some very good ones:

    – CS Friedman: she has written two major trilogies (Coldfire & Magister). Former is about interesting use of fear influence in magic use, very dark universe, very compelling. Latter is different in the use of magic, primarily limited to men but… (no spoilers).

    – Anne Bishop & Patricia Kennealy-Morrison have been cited already (guess where my domain name is coming from). Lynn Flewelling as well.

    – Carry Vaughn: wrote the Kitty Norville urban fantasy/paranorm series, very nice.

    – Sara Douglass: australian author, several trilogies incl. Axis/Wayfarer ones, Crucible (Middle-Ages based fantasy).

    – Katherine Kurtz: all the Saint Camber series set in a Christian world with all its intrigues/assassinations but with a different race of human called the Deryni.

    – Morgan Llywelyn: all sorts of celtic legends revisited

    – Melanie Rawn did two interesting trilogies (Dragon Prince/Star) and an unfortunately-still-unfinished series called Exiles.

  27. Mamculuna says:

    Madeleine Robins has a brilliant and wonderful swordswoman in her own Point of Honor, and a hedgewitch who learns better in Sold for Endless Rue. Read them and be happy!

  28. Sherwood Smith says:

    It’s good to see Jo Walton on this list. I’d also add Deborah Ross, whose has continued (and imo deepened) Darkover, plus added her own new series, The Seven-Petaled Shield which features strong women doing interesting things, and a blast from the past, Zenna Henderson.

    There are also a bunch of interesting indie writers appearing, like Ginn Hale, Lindsay Buroker, Ankaret Wells, Jodi Taylor, newcomer Francesca Forrest (Pen Pal, a new release, is one of the best books I read last year), and please do not forget the hostess of this blog post, Andrea K. Höst, whose terrific books nearly always begin with a fascinating female character who hits the ground running.

  29. Mamculuna says:

    Oh! Brand-new and wonderful: Laura Wise, Wish-Queen and Traveler. If Lord Peter Wimsey had been a mage…

  30. domynoe says:

    Philippa Ballantine: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1000381.Philippa_Ballantine

    Michelle Sagara (West): https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7031278.Michelle_Sagara

    Seanan McGuire: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2860219.Seanan_McGuire

    And I’m soooo glad to see Patricia McKillip on this list! Her writing is gorgeous, and she seems to get overlooked frequently on these kinds of things.

  31. Susan Erickson says:

    Wonderful lists, I also would underline Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. My favorites of hers are the Night Calls series, very complex in her alt pioneer days story, and a new volume is in the works.

    I don’t think any list for me is complete without Linda Nagata https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/578581.Linda_Nagata The first book I read of hers was Tech-Heaven incredibly evocative of the consciousness journey of someone who has been cryo-frozen, and the lengths a young wife will go to to change the whole world to bring back her husband but at great cost. She has now added recently some fantasy books, and a military sci-fi space opera type book. She’s amazing.

    I can’t believe that P.C. Hodgell isn’t on the list. Her Jame series has captured me and my adult children for the last 30 years (that seems amazing to say. Incredible dark humor, strong but flawed female protagonist, epic history of star gate portals, mythic themes, sister-secret writing complicated world building and myth making. Start with Godstalk and the latest in the series comes out this summer. Her series is available in eformat from Baen.

    I also started reading Andre Norton with Catseye that is a great overview of some of her favorite scifi tropes. I am just a few short of her complete ouvre, some in multiple versions. I read her Witchworld for the first release. Yes I am that old.

  32. Kristen says:

    This list looks amazing! Man, I have some reading to do.

    The only author that I would add is Lois McMaster Bujold, particularly Shards of Honor and Barrayar. The rest of her Vorkosigan Saga is also amazing, but I have an irrational (or rather, entirely rational) love for Cordelia, who’s the protagonist in those two.

  33. Geoffrey Dow says:

    An excellent idea and nicely-done. Bookmarking for personal use and tweeting because it deserves wider reading.

    I’d like to add Nalo Hopkinson’s name to the conversation. She writes both SF and fantasy (sometimes not so easy to tell on which side of the fence a particular book sits) with a Caribean/Canadian sensibility and is one of the best prose stylists around.

    If anyone is interested, I’ve reviewed two of her novels, Midnight Robber here and The Chaose, here.

  34. mary anne says:

    Jane Fancher’s Dance of the Rings series – was thinking about re-reading it the other day. Also Karin Lowachee’s series about children at war, which begins with the most awesome “Warchild.” It’s available in ebook format now, and it’s gripping. And I guess I always assumed R.A. MacAvoy was a woman. “Tea with the Black Dragon” and “The Grey Horse.”

  35. Katharine Kerr says:

    Nora Jemisen! Wonderful complex fantasy novels.

  36. Anthony Caryl says:

    So many excellent authors (and a fair few I don’t know so will need to try out)

    I’ll add Ellen Kushner; specifically Swordspoint a novel of swordsmen, politics and manners to(and in my top 5 reads ever since I first discovered it) to which there is now a sequel and Thomas the Rhymer a retelling of the classic fairy tale

  37. Jen Birren says:

    Janet Kagan’s books are unfairly our of print- Hellspark has a linguist dropped into what may be an investigation of murder by an alien- if the aliens are sentient enough to be capable of murder- and Mirabile is linked short stories about an explorer/geneticist on a colony planet with some unique wildlife problems.
    Joan Slonczewski is a professor of microbiology, and her SF often features biology or evolution. She has a group of books set in the same universe but on different planets- a couple that are available as ebooks are Brain Plague, about intelligent microbes who need to find a symbiotic home in people’s brains, and Children Star, with a group of refugee children who are bioengineered by a charity to live on an otherwise poisonous world.

  38. So often I’ve wondered why your voice seems to speak to me so well, and now I find that we have raised our tastes on a lot of the same books ^^. You are the first person I know online who has read Claudia J. Edwards, heh.

    So I’ll add a few more that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    multiple books
    – Katya Reimann: Wind from a Foreign Sky trilogy (not to mention she did a collaboration with Cherry Wilder, The Wanderer)
    – Melanie Rawn: Dragon Prince series
    – Jennifer Roberson: Sword Dancer series
    – Ru Emerson: Tales of Nedao I especially like, but all her series and single books are full of great female characters. Great standalone: Princess of Flames
    – Gael Beaudino: I eventually got tired of her fantasy lesbian elves series, but I still really like her urban fantasy lesbian rock love story, Gossamer Axe.

    Standalones (as far as I know):
    – Elyse Guttenberg: Sunder, Eclipse and Seed
    – Peg Kerr: Emerald House Rising
    – Sasha Miller: Ladylord

    Now to see if this will pass the spam filter…

  39. MarieC says:

    Great list!

    I would also like to throw in Ann Aguirre’s “Sirantha Jax” series and “Dred Chronicles”.

  40. Lexie C. says:

    Oh man its so great to see some of my favorites from years gone past on here (Midori Snyder! Pamela Dean! Holy Lisle! LOUISE LAWRENCE!). To add in (I apologize ahead of time if any are already mentioned):

    Older, mostly out of print Ladies:

    Sydney J. Van Scyoc: Wrote mainly science-fantasy, her Sunstone Scrolls trilogy was one I went back to repeatedly as a child.

    Joyce Ballou Gregorian: Her Tredana trilogy–a portal fantasy that is similar in vein to Pamela Dean’s Secret Country books in that it questions reality vs fantasy–remains some of my most prized possessions.

    You can find the Sydney books pretty frequently in secondhand shops–also she had a prolific short fiction selection, that hasn’t been collected unfortunately, but are well worth finding in the various magazines. Gregorian’s books are harder to come by and can be expensive when you do find them. Online if a better bet.

    Newer Voices available:

    Cynthia Voigt: Even though she’s mostly known for her contemporary teen books, her Kingdom quartet (especially Elske) is one of the series I often rec because it explores different facets and lives throughout the country as well as through different time periods.

    Jessica Day George: I adore her “Princess” books and my younger cousin loves her “dragon slipper” and “Castle” books a whole heck of a lot (its why she began reading).

    Moira J. Moore: Her books, the Hero books, are amusing, thoughtful and at times downright silly.

    Yukako Kabei: I can’t speak as to her other books, but her Kieli novels–about a young girl and her Undying companion far in the future–are some of my absolute favorites.

    Fuyumi Ono: Fan translations are better for her Juuni Kokki (Twelve Kingdoms) novels, and its rather unfinished at the moment in Japan, but oh my goodness. Chosen Ones, Destiny, Portal Fantasy…and rather brutal at times.

    Kylie Chan: Technically urban fantasy, her Dark Heavens novels, which figure heavily with Chinese mythology, are gateway drugs to asian fantasy in general.

    Rae Carson: Only her first trilogy, but it was a strong trilogy featuring a female main character who (other then a couple stumbling stones) remains true to herself.

    Sarah J. Maas: Same as Rae Carson, Celaena is just kind of the most kickass person.

    Shannon Hale: You can’t have a fantasy list without Shannon Hale’s Bayern books in my opinion. While Goose Girl remains my favorite, I enjoy The Princess Academy quite a bit.

    Maria V. Snyder: She remains one of the few authors I will re-read every single year her first book (Poison Study) because I find something new from it every time.

    Celine Kiernan: Her Moorhawk Trilogy–its one of the more engrossing political fantasy books I’ve read.

    All of the above are pretty either still in print, available as ebooks, or if you are so inclined many are available at secondhand shops.

    And this was much longer then I meant it to be…

  41. draconismoi says:

    Fantastic post! I get so sick of that “women don’t write X” bullshit from reviewers, publishers, and male authors.

    I would love to do a version of this for my blog….but then I realized it would basically be a list of All The Books On My Shelves. I only have a handful of male authors. Everything else is Brilliant Woman-Authored Speculative Fiction.

  42. Kallah says:

    Dru Pagliassotti’s Clockwork Heart (and forthcoming Clockwork Lies) steampunkish alt-world. (in-print)

    Stephanie Smith’s Snow-Eyes and The Boy Who Was Thrown Away. YA coming-of-age fantasies and complicated (dysfunctional) fantasies (out-of-print)

    Tamara Siler Jones’s Dubric novels (Ghosts in the Snow, Threads of Malice, Valley of the Soul), gory fantasy/horror mysteries. (out-of-print, e-books available)

    Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Green-Sky Trilogy (Below the Root, And All Between, Until the Celebration) middle-grade/YA SF with a fantasy feel. (out-of-print, e-books available)

    Victoria Strauss. Worldstone, Arm of the Stone and Garden of the Stone psychic alt-world/parallel universe fantasy – and a more recent duology, The Burning Land and The Awakened City – magic and religion.

    Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Nightpool, The Ivory Lyre, The Dragonbards. Lost kingdoms, magic, dragons and music. (e-books available)

    Catherine Fisher’s fantasies are hit-and-miss for me, but Snow-Walker still is a favorite. (in-print)

    Valerie Nieman Colander’s post-apocalyptic Neena Gathering. (e-book available)

  43. puddleshark says:

    Great post! Thanks – I have books to order!

    Has anyone mentioned:

    Kristine Smith for her Jani Kilian series – wonderfully complex military/political sci-fi with a great cast of characters.

    R.M. Meluch for fun fast-moving military sci-fi.

    The late Kage Baker for her Company time-travel series.

    Kate Griffin for her Matthew Swift books, fantasy with a unique narrative voice and deep love of London.

    Violette Malan for her Dhulyn and Parno books – adventures with two deadly but well-mannered mercenaries.

    Kari Sperring for the wonderfully complex and atmospheric ‘Living with Ghosts’ and ‘The Grass King’s Concubine’.

  44. Mary Cay Martin says:

    May I add Janet Kagan. I only know of two books- she died far too soon. ” Hellspark ” takes a language expert/trader to a recently discovered world to aid a survey team in determining whether the world has a sentient species. the whole universe for this book is incredibly detailed and evocative! “Urura’s Song” is my favorite standalone book in the original Star Trek universe. Urura’s friendship with an alien musician is the key to saving a world from a devastating epidemic

  45. cleo says:

    What a great list – I love the idea of starting with books that one owns.

    I think most of my “keeper shelf” authors have been mentioned. I was sure I was going to be the first to mention Janet Kagan, but Mary Cay Martin beat me to it. Kagan also wrote Mirabile and The Nutcracker Coup, which won a Hugo for best novella.

    I want to also mention Marge Piercy’s He, She, It and Woman on the Edge of Time. Piercy writes in a variety of genres and I think she’s better known for her fict lit and women’s lit, but He, She and It is a great feminist, environmentalist take on cyberpunk (although the technology is a wee bit dated). And Woman on the Edge of Time is a utopian/dystopian time travel SF. Well worth reading.

  46. Jeanine says:

    There are tons of wonderful author’s mentioned here.
    I third the recommendation for Janet Kagan — wonderful books if you can find them…. And Amanda Downum, Keri Sperrring and KD Spangler are my new add-to-the keepers shelves. Freedom and Necessity (Emma Bull) is Georgette Heyer for socialists. Wish there was more like this!
    KD Spangler has a great webcomic up on the internets for those that want to try her stuff for free — her debut novel “Digital Divide” is the best debut I”ve read since I discovered Andrea.

  47. Ulrika says:

    Glad to see so many favorites called out. While her novels are more an edge case, I think Ellen Klages still deserves a mention. Certainly her short fiction includes definite SF/F work and she’s just wonderful. The first fantasist I personally ever encountered, and whose work was formative for me in so many ways: Tove Jansson, and while we’re talking children’s authors, also Astrid Lindgren. Also a free-standing shout out for Sarah Monette seems in order.

  48. Ulrika says:

    Doh. Madeline L’Engle. How could I forget?

  49. Anonymous says:

    Jeanine, glad you added Kari Sperring, whose beautifully complex fantasies are favorites of mine along with Susanna Clarke.

    Madeleine Robins and her female detective in alternate Regency, Point of Honour and its sequels, ought also be mentioned.

    Also, I think Sarah Monette has been mentioned–I strongly recommend people be on the lookout for her release as Katherine Addison in spring, The Goblin Emperor.

    Finally, formative influences for so many of us: Elizabeth Marie Pope, Astrid Lindgren, Madeleine L’Engle.

  50. Sherwood Smith says:

    Jeanine, glad you added Kari Sperring, whose beautifully complex fantasies are favorites of mine along with Susanna Clarke.

    Madeleine Robins and her female detective in alternate Regency, Point of Honour and its sequels, ought also be mentioned.

    Also, I think Sarah Monette has been mentioned–I strongly recommend people be on the lookout for her release as Katherine Addison in spring, The Goblin Emperor.

    Finally, formative influences for so many of us: Elizabeth Marie Pope, Astrid Lindgren, Madeleine L’Engle.

  51. I believe you missed Liz Williams, British author of SF and fantasy from The Ghost Sister to the Det. Insp. Chen fantasy novels beginning with The Snake Agent. Also Jaine Fenn, author of the Hidden Empire series, published by Gollancz in the UK. And there’s Karen Travis, author of the 6 book gritty Wess Har sequence plus nummerous tie-in MilSF novels for Star Wars, Gears of War and Halo. Una McCormack who writes Dr Who and Star Trek tie-ins. And my SF debut is due from DAW towards the back end of this year.

  52. Konrad says:

    (came here from a link on Martha Wells’ blog)

    Limiting myself to authors I own that haven’t been mentioned yet in the comments…

    Donna Andrews is usually shelved in mysteries, but one of her heroines is an AI.

    Marie Brennan has historical and pseudo-historical fantasy series.

    Charlaine Harris of course is one of the biggest names in urban fantasy.

    Justine Larbalestier has a nice little YA urban fantasy trilogy set in Australia.

    Sarah Monette has already been mentioned in collaboration with another author, but her solo fantasy works are good too. And she has a new book coming out this year under the name Katherine Addison.

    Laura Resnick does good high fantasy and urban fantasy.

    Kat Richardson is another good urban fantasy author.

    Alison Sinclair has done a really great high fantasy trilogy and a science fiction series I can’t find anywhere.

    And finally, Liz Williams for more unusual urban fantasy.

  53. Cathleen M. Collett says:

    How about James Tiptree, Jr. Apparently a man unusually insightful about women– but actually Alice Sheldon, child of wealthy, elephant hunting parents. Also published one book as Racoona Sheldon..Still startlingly insightful.

  54. Jophan says:

    I have books on my “keep” shelves by many but of those you list. A few others from the early 80s: Elizabeth Lynn, fantasy &SF noted for some LGBT relationships, Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Tomoe Gozen trilogy, of a female samurai encountering adventure & magic, Zenna Henderson’s self-segregated castaway aliens in the contemporary US.

  55. hestia says:

    Great list (said as I add furiously to my “to buy” list.)

    A few others: Octavia Butler, Kate Wilhelm, Pamela Sargent

  56. Ambar says:

    I’m delighted to be able to add a few more:

    Elizabeth Bear, absolute mistress of remixing history and legend into compellingly new worlds.

    C.E. Murphy, hilarious urban fantasy in a couple different series.

    Sadly out of print and difficult to find, the late Joyce Gregorian (another writer who knew her horses). One trilogy.

    Faith Hunter (urban, yes, but to me, more paranormal fantasy. Don’t ask me to distinguish, please. :)

  57. Marta Randall, SWORD OF WINTER. That scavenger hunt is priceless.

    Gosh, where’s Sharon Shinn? — THE SHAPECHANGER’S WIFE is a perfect little gem; anybody who loves McKillip should look it up.

    RA MacAvoy! LENS OF THE WORLD is really beautiful.

    Merrie Haskell — I’m really looking forward to her newest release CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, which I read in draft.

    I’m going to go read through the earlier comments now — I wonder how long the total list is by this point?

  58. Andrea K says:

    So many wonderful (and new to me) authors listed. I’m sure we’re up to 200 by now.

  59. Kaz Augustin says:

    ::raises hand::

    Only because you mentioned my alter-ego, Cara d’Bastian. ;) Thank you very much for that. As KS Augustin, I write space opera and SF romance.

  60. Jennifer Roberson, the Tiger & Del novels and several other series.

    Patricia Wrightson, Australian author of numerous children’s fantasy books. (Not much published here in the US, but I enjoyed her THE ICE IS COMING trilogy.)

  61. Kira November says:

    Laura Anne Gilman for her Cosa Nostradamus series and the Vineart War. Kristen Britain writes the Green Rider series. Caitlin Kittredge writes urban fantasy with a female werewolf detective. Patricia Briggs wrote numerous fantasy novels before the Mercedes Thompson books. Elizabeth Vaughan has written a fantasy series that starts with The Warprize. Laurell K. Hamilton.

  62. The current generation of fabulous female authors is completely missing. To rectify this, I feel like I must add:

    Mary Robinette Kowal whose novels are mainly historical fantasy set in the Regency but whose science fiction short stories are the most incredibly beautiful examples of her writing.

    Catherynne M. Valente whose work is brilliant everywhere but whose fairyland series (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There etc) is especially charming in a way that IMO nothing since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland hasn’t been.

    Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant who is very possibly the hardest working person in genre literature. She has four active series under her own name as well as an active series as Mira Grant. I would especially recommend her October Daye series which is urban fantasy and the new Parasitology trilogy (starting with Parasite).

    Sarah Pinborough is a British author who writes a lot of good horror but whose fairytale retellings are especially amazing. Poison is the first in the series, retelling the story of Snow White with sex, drugs and violence while at the same time making pretty every one of the characters seem very human.

    Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author who writes awesomely on matters of race and ethnicity while at the same time creating believable worlds of fantasy and science fiction. Best known for Who Fears Death.

    Lauren Beukes wrote for example Zoo City and Rapunzel’s run in Fairest. Zoo City for example has one of the most interesting magic systems I’ve seen in a while, taking place in an alternate version of a modern day Johannesburg.

    Cherie Priest who’s best known for her Clockwork Century series which is one of the biggest must-reads for any steampunk list.

    Diana Rowland whose White Trash Zombie series is not only completely hilarious, brings a breath of fresh air into a subgenre that’s been completely overdone.

    Naomi Novik : dragons in the Napeoleonic wars. Need I say more?

    I know I’m missing some important names of the new generation but these are the ones off the top of my head.

  63. I’d like to add ‘Ella Enchanted,’ ‘Fairest,’ and ‘The Two Princesses of Bamarre,’ by Gail Carson Levine. These are children’s books, though any age can enjoy them.
    The first two are fairy tale retellings (of Cinderella and Snow White, respectively), the last is a quest story with fairy tale elements. They’re well-done first person with engaging narrators, fun adventures, and some sweet romances. Her fairy tale retellings go against the whole ‘love at first sight’ idea, and and ‘Two Princesses,’ has a neat reversal of some popular tropes as well. They’ve also got good friendships between girls, and some interesting villains. Levine also has a couple of fantasy mysteries out–starting with ‘A Tale of Two Castles,’ but I haven’t read those yet.

  64. Marla says:

    I must also mention, since I’m listening to Black Sun Rising, C.S. Friedman. Fantasy in a science fiction frame, and one of my favorite trilogies. I’m also fond of This Alien Shore, which is more traditionally SF.

  65. Gwyn says:

    Martha Wells yes! yes! yes! She and Emma Bull are my absolute favorite authors.

    Someone else suggested Jennifer Roberson’s Tiger and Del books. I second that. I also second Sharon Shinn: Archangel and The Shapechanger’s Wife are flawless.

    I would add Anne Bishop, who writes dark, slightly gothic fantasy set in unusual and carefully crafted worlds. For urban fantasy, you have to try Patricia Briggs, either the Mercy Thompson books or the Alpha and Omega series (though I like Mercy better). Lorna Freeman’s fantasy setting is a twist on the classic, with a distinctive tone. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard any news on book #4 since 2011 or so.

  66. Amy says:

    Michelle West/Michelle Sagara

    Some of the best epic fantasy being written today. Her current House War series is a companion/sequel series to the Sun Sword series, which was in turn a sequel to the Huntbrother duology. She also just released the second novel in a new urban fantasy YA series. Under the Michelle Sagara name she has an on-going second world urban fantasy that is wonderful. Seriously, one of the best writer currently working in the genre.

    Others – Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Anne Bishop, PC Hodgell, Wen Spencer, Lilith Saintcrow, Jacqueline Carey.

  67. Sylvia Kelso says:

    OMG, Andrea, excepting about 10 of these I cd. be looking at my own bookshelves!! *Freedom and Necessity* – Doris Egan! among about a dozen other beloveds.
    Apart from being gobsmacked that I’m actually on the list.

    There are a couple of others that cd. be there, I think, eg. Ellen Kushner for the two classic Mannerpunk books, *Swordspoint* and *Privilege of the Sword*, still available and now out in audiobooks.
    Also Phyllis Eisenstein, who has now vanished, missing or extinct, for a pair of lesser known fantasies I still re-read, *Sorcerer’s Son* and *The Crystal Palace.*
    (And how many people have read Elizabeth Marie Pope’s YA Historical, *The Sherwood Ring.*?
    Sliding over the line between historical and fantasy, Judith Merkle Riley, especially from *In Pursuit of the Green Lion* on through *The Serpent Garden* and *The Oracle Glass* to *The Water Devil* and *The Master of all Desires.* Excellent historical recreation and playful fantasy elements blended in.
    Cd. think of more, but this is prob. enough. Great list, Andrea!

  68. Hanneke says:

    So many good writers mentioned here – some I love, some I’m adding to my list to look for.
    There are many I’d endorse, but for brevity’s sake I’ll skip that; and a few more that I haven’t seen yet.
    Jane S. Fancher, who has written two complex, character-driven series, one fantasy and one science fiction, as well as a standalone vampire book that’s definitely not the usual paranormal romance associated with that subject now.
    RingDancers is the fantasy series (4 books), exploring family dynamics and gender issues as well as magic and power struggles between the natural and the scientific world.
    Her science fiction series ‘Netwalkers (originally published as a trilogy by Warner in the 1990s) has been completely rewritten and much improved, with two new ‘prequel’ books added, and she’s writing a new closing book to finish the arc in style. All her books are available as unlimited ebooks at closed-circle dot net, where she, Lynn Abbey and C.J. Cherryh are publishing their backlists as soon as the rights revert to them, as well as their own exclusive new short stories and books.

    I’m not quite sure Eileen Wilks fits your definition of SFF, but she hasn’t been mentioned yet and I like her Lupi series: yes there are werewolves and some romance, but also multiple dimensions, magic, ghosts, elves and other aliens, and Old Ones restarting an ancient war. Apart from Patricia Briggs who has already been mentioned in the comments (I heartily recommend the standalone The Hob’s tale, as a place to start reading her books, her books are widely avalable as ebooks and on paper), Eileen Wilks is the only author of a werewolf series I’m keeping on my shelves.

    Sharon Lee is writing a fantasy trilogy set on the Maine coast – the second book Caroussel Sun has just been published, the third will be published next year. She also co-authors the well-known Liaden science fiction series with her husband Steve Miller.

    Megan Whalen Turner deserves a mention as well. Her for books about the Thief of Eddis (and Attolia) are outstanding. Begin with The Thief, and don’t peek at the ending! (I usually do, unless I trust the writer already, but in this case it’s really worthwhile not to do so.) They’re set in more of an alternate-historical background with active supernatural influences so I’d consider them eligible for the Fantasy category. If you don’t agree with that, her short story collection Instead of three wishes is definitely fantasy.

    And of course, Andrea K. Höst herself has written a lot of fine SFF books: of course she couldn’t blow her own trumpet in her list, but I’ve enjoyed all of them and can certainly recommend them.

    A.C. Crispin, for her Starbridge books.
    Cat Kimbriel, for her Fires of Nuala trilogy.
    Pearl North, for Libyrinth and its two sequels.
    Jaclyn Dolamore, for her Magic under Glass series (2 books, ongoing) and for Between the sea and sky, a fantasy-story that has its roots in the tale of the Little Mermaid but branches off from that in interesting new ways.

    Eleanor Farjeon, an older writer; some of her books are available as ebooks from Gutenberg. Her fantastic short story collection The little bookroom is lovely and I think still available in a reprint edition as well as an ebook.

    And some more SFF writers for younger readers:
    The Kat, incorrigible books by Stephanie Burgis are written for a younger audience, but I enjoy her impetuosity in exploring her magic in a disapproving ‘Victorian’ sort of time.
    Eva Ibbotson writes fantastic little stories for kids, with magic and ghosts and monsters, as well as coming-of-age girl’s books.
    Angie Sage, for her Septimus Heap series, and Araminta Spooky for really young readers.
    Tove Jansson‘s Moomin books are favorite stories from my youth about fantastic creatures living in a Scandinavian natural environment, occasionally with magic too.
    Tonke Dragt is a Dutch female author writing for for younger readers (from 7 to 17), both fantasy and science fiction as well as historical fantasies and fairy tales – very few of her books have been translated so maybe it’s not fair to add her here, but I’ve seen at least one in English (sadly, its the one I like least) and hope to see more of them translated.
    And of course J.K. Rowling with her magic school books fits in the SFF for younger readers category too.

    And finally, three that are still in my to-be-read pile but sounded interesting: Freda Warrington, Juliet Marillier, and Margaret Weis.

  69. Rosemary says:

    Did no-one mention Kristine Smith and her Jani Killian series? Another one of my all-time favourites that I keep in dead-tree versions.

  70. MHood97 says:

    Oh, please remember, or come to know, British fantasy author Joy Chant, for her “House of Kendreth” series (“Red Moon and Black Mountain”- 1971- kept me awake ALL NIGHT when I was supposed to be finishing a project for school) and the related novels (not sequels) “The Grey Mane of Morning” and “When Voiha Wakes” set in an alternate world where good and evil and magic and gods are real. And a seven-year old girl from England can be transported into an epic quest there, with her two older brothers, and declare to them when she gets her new clothes, “And I’m wearing seven petticoats!”

  71. kootch says:

    I am astonished that you haven’t included Robin Hobb / Megan Lindholm in your list. Robin’s Farseer series and its successors (the latest is the Rainwilds series) are excellent fantasy books. As Megan Lindholm she is the author of several fantasy books, most notably the Ki and Vandien Quartet. All in my read-and-reread shelves.
    Also worthy of inclusion, Lynn Flewelling for her Nightrunner series and Tamir Triad. And Storm Constantine for her Wraethu books.

  72. Commentary42 says:

    Yes, Thank you so much for list wonderful list, which I have bookmarked! I am especially delighted you have included some of the earlier writers. I was immediately going to jump in with favorites such as Karen Traviss and Martha Wells but I see your readers are way ahead of me. I know how long it takes to do this quality posting and thank you again for your gift to all of us.

    I think there is a particular school that considers only military science fiction as “real” science fiction, but really any fantasy that takes you to another world with alternate technologies qualifies. I find women writers generally do a much better job of character development and depicting the inner world of those characters, but I do love me some hard nose action as well. I am disappointed that so much of the current crop is geared toward teens instead of adults.

  73. PJ says:

    Sandra McDonaldThe Outback Stars (1st in a trilogy): I actually avoided this book for quite some time because I’m just not into military sf. Then someone whose judgment I trust said it was a good read and I checked it out—and it became one of my favorite books and favorite trilogies. It’s a mystery story and a love story, combined with Aboriginal Australian mythology and mysticism, set in the Australian Navy in space, and full of great, dimensional characters. Definitely a I-Can’t-Wait-To-Get-Back-To-It book for me.

    Jaime Lee MoyerDelia’s Shadow (1st in a trilogy): Gorgeously written book as well as a a cranking good fantasy-thriller. Her meticulous research brings the San Francisco of 1915 vividly to life, against the backdrop of the Panama Pacific International Exposition (World’s Fair). Her characters are fully realized, people you come to care deeply for—and her villain a terrifying amalgam of shadow and sickness.

    R. A. MacAvoyDamiano’s Lute (1st in a trilogy), Tea With the Black Dragon (another trilogy), and many stand alones. She’s simply superb, whether she’s writing in a medieval milieu or contemporary times.

  74. Chot says:

    Might I suggest Lindsay Buroker, Ilona Andrews, and Dawn Cook? Lindsay Buroker has several series available, and most of them involve a mix of magic and steampunk. Ilona Andrews has three urban fantasy series available. Dawn Cook has two fantasy series out, as well as her far more well known urban fantasy series written under the pen name Kim Harrison.

  75. Pete Mack says:

    I have to weigh in here on my all-time most-impressive female SF authors. Not necessarily the ones with most reread potential, but the ones that absolutely blew me away with at least one book:
    * Kate Wilhelm (Welcome Chaos, Clewiston Test)
    * Connie Willis (Domesday Book, Impossible Things)
    * Robin McKinley (Blue Sword)
    * James P. Tiptree Jr (Starry Rift)

    Additionally, shout-out to Liz Williams, who don’t get no respect.

  76. michele says:

    This is perhaps the most useful blog post I have ever read. This is great!! It inspired me to start a Goodreads list that I don’t think exists up there yet. I know it’s just a subset of this list but I am really interested in filling it out. I really want to see the list of Adult Science Fiction written by women authors. So, skipping the fantasy and ya for this particular list. If you would be willing to add to the list, I’d really appreciate it. I’ll keep filling it out too. https://www.goodreads.com/list/user_vote/3134409

  77. SarahZ says:

    Wen Spencer: Her main series were the Ukiah Oregon series (aliens on earth, fighting a secret war for humanity’s future, but very grounded in the characters involved), and the ongoing Elfhome series, which is based on a premise where humans discover the ability to travel to parallel worlds, and find that one of our neighbors is home to elves.

    Holly Black: She’s got her modern faerie trilogy (dark books about fairies in the modern world), Curseworkers (alternate version of our world where organized crime is based around people with the ability to work magic, which is illegal), and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, which is definitely not your standard vampire book.

    For urban fantasy, Ilona Andrews is my current favorite, because she’s got great world-building and character development, with Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong as other good ones.

  78. Wendy says:

    Ann Maxwell wrote 5 or 6 scifi novels before Firedancer including Name of a Shadow and Dead God Dancing. Kristine Smith Code of Conduct. Catherine Asaro and Janet Kagan Hellspark

  79. Wendy says:

    Also Ann Aguirre Grimspace and Jean Johnson A Soldiers Duty

  80. Anonymous says:

    Johanna Sinisalo!

  81. Joel says:

    I haven’t gotten through all the comments, but how about J.V. Jones, who has written two fantasy series (The Book of Words, the “Ice” series) and a standalone (The Barbed Coil).

  82. Dawn says:

    I started reading Fantasy and a little Sci Fi in the 90’s with Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey & Mercedes Lackey, and I was a little surprised anyone would say there aren’t any good female writers in these genres. If you looked at my shelves, you might wonder if there are any good *male* writers!

    To your list, I’d like to add Gail Carriger and Gayle Greeno.

    Carriger is a relatively new steampunk fantasy writer, but her books are seriously awesome. The vampires and werewolves manage to be not nice even if they’re “good guys”.

    Greeno’s Ghatti’s tale books are really fun, especially if you’re a fan of Valdemar.

  83. K. Harris says:

    Loved seeing some old favorites that don’t get mentioned enough like Elizabeth Willey, but here’s a few others:

    Joan Slonczewski, Terry McGarry (even has some vegetarians), Greer Gilman, Margaret Ball, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Jan Siegel, Valery Leith, Maureen McHugh, Elizabeth Kerner, Peg Kerr, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Lyn Benedict, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’ Reindeer Moon, Carol Berg, Justina Robson, Cat Bordhi, RL LaFevers, and Kirsten Imani Kasai.

  84. Alyc says:

    One of my early and enduring favorites is Katherine Kurtz. Her excellent Deryni novels present a concrete, 12th century world with layered and complex politics, and characters who feel very grounded in their reality. From her, I learned that religion and faith can be interesting grounds for conflict. I learned that villains can have a perspective that I can understand and maybe even agree with, and that heroes don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes, they even say “I told you so.”

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