The invention of the science fiction genre is often accredited to Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein. While there is no shortage of women writers in sci-fi, they are often overshadowed by their male counterparts or miscategorised as fantasy. However, some of the best sci-fi books I’ve read were written by women. Here are a few books I recommend you read.
Winner of the MacArthur Fellowship and multiple Nebula and Hugo awards, it’s not difficult to see why Octavia Butler made the cut. Dawn, first of the Lillith’s Brood trilogy, takes place in a not-so-distant future following a nuclear apocalypse. An alien race of gene traders rescued the last vestibules of humanity. Offering a way to survive and evolve, can they be trusted? Are they humanities benevolent saviours or is there something sinister at play? Playing on the typical alien-invasion trope Butler explores topics such as race, class, and humanity.
Hainish Cycle won several awards, from the Hugo and Nebula to the Locus SF and Endeavor awards. Inhabiting the same literary universe, Worlds of Exile and Illusion includes the first three books in the series. These loosely interconnected stories have it all, from all-out war, romantic epics, and post-apocalyptic planets. Each character is well-developed, their choices, motivations, and fears resonate with the reader. Le Guin not only explores social and psychological norms, but she invites the reader to do so as well.
The Luminous Dead is an atmospheric debut and a wonderful mixture of sci-fi and horror. Gyre lives on an impoverished planet with little hope of a better life. Her only chance is to lie her way into a dangerous caving expedition and hope the payout is worth it. That is before she meets her handler Em and before Em starts to learn more about Gyre. Em withholds critical information and manipulates Grye with drugs, putting her at more of a risk than the expedition alone. This harrowing novel is a merciless lone-survivor thriller that keeps you captivated until the end.
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, Ancillary Justice is space opera at it’s best! The first in a trilogy, this book follows a lone soldier, Breq, formerly Justice of Toren. Breq was an airship in the service of the Radch Empire with thousands of soldiers linked to her. Now she’s alone, on a remote icy planet with only one soldier in sight. Ancillary Justice follows Breq across time and space as they try to come to terms with the treachery that led to their downfall.
The Seep is set a near future where an alien entity has invaded Earth. Under their rule capitalism falls, war, poverty and illness are eradicated! Though the Seep rule humanity, their goal is to be fully merged with mankind. Trina and Deeba seem happy in their lives, until Deeba craves a deeper connection, leaving Trina alone and devastated. Turning to alcoholism and unlikely friendships Trina embarks on a journey to confront The Seep and the void Deeba left behind.
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