Once again, it has been made abundantly clear that female sf writers get less respect, less reviews, and less sales than male sf writers. In response, I’d like to take the meme going around (in honor of Joanna Russ) and give it a bit more content.

The original meme is a basic list, available here, which simply shows which writers you're familiar with.

My version: Drop the authors you’ve never read to the bottom. For the remainder, discuss or rec at least one of their books with at least one sentence of explanation about why you do or don’t like it. Ask your readers to tell you about the authors you’ve never read.

Eleanor Arnason. Ring of Swords. A first-contact story involving a race of furry aliens, hwarhath, with a strictly gender-segregated society. The alien culture is wonderfully detailed, unusual but not gratuitously bizarre, and it captivated me. The plot is fairly standard, but the characterization and prose style is good, and oh, those aliens!

Octavia Butler. Wild Seed is an exceptionally well-characterized and thoughtful novel set largely in Africa, about the multi-generational relationship and battle between two people whose mutant abilities make them effectively immortal. Most easily available in the compilation Seed to Harvest, but note that while it stands on its own and ends hopefully, the loosely related sequels are really depressing. Click her tag for more reviews.

Joy Chant. Only read one of hers, and was not enormously impressed. Click her tag to read the review.

Suzy McKee Charnas. I’m a fan of hers. All else aside, she made me read a horse bestiality book – and like it! Her books are all extremely different from each other, and several of the ones long out of print are back, either in paperback or Kindle, such as the unsentimental The Vampire Tapestry, the moving southwestern fantasy Dorothea Dreams (Heirloom Books), and the genuinely epic post-apocalyptic feminist quartet beginning with The Slave and The Free: Books 1 and 2 of 'The Holdfast Chronicles': 'Walk to the End of the World' and 'Motherlines'. For the latter, warning for upsetting content and amazingly non-gratuitous bestiality. If you can get through the first one, they get steadily less depressing and more hopeful as they go along. Click her tag for more reviews.

C. J. Cherryh. I love Cherryh, bizarre prose style and all. No one captures paranoia, sleep deprivation, and alien thought processes quite like she does, which makes reading her books a disconcerting yet immersive experience. I often have to plow through the beginning before I get sucked in, but I am immensely rewarded when I do. My favorites are Cyteen (you can skip the stultifying prologue to get to the juicy emotional and psychological dynamics between the clone slaves and their co-dependent owners), and the weird and wonderful duology Rider at the Gate (Nighthorse, Book 1) and Cloud's Rider, which is both revisionist of and glories in the tropes of the companion animal story, set on a planet where all the animal life is telepathic, and humans must huddle in enclaves protected by the bonded riders of native “horses,” lest they be driven insane. Click her tag for more reviews.

Diane Duane. I’m a huge fan of her, from her marvelous Star Trek novels suffused with a sense of wonder, to her great original fantasy. She can be uneven, but her better work is fantastic. So You Want to Be a Wizard and Deep Wizardry (The Young Wizards Series, Book 2) are still wonderful (the sequels are uneven), and I will never stop pushing her adult fantasy “Tale of the Five” books, which are charming and lovely and have dragons and polyamory and battles and shapeshifting and very cool magic, and make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (Note: warm fuzzies notwithstanding, the second book contains a non-gratuitous, plot-essential scene of child sexual abuse.) Also, you have to click this just to see the most hilariously inappropriate cover in the history of anything: The Door Into Fire (The Tale of the Five #1). Click her tag for more reviews.

ETA: I have been tipped off that "Tale of the Five," several of the Young Wizards books, some uncollected short stories and an original fantasy novel I never heard of before are all available now in e-book form, DRM-free and for anyone in any country to read, here.

Mary Gentle. I either love or hate her books, which vary widely in tone and subject matter. Her completely engrossing A Secret History: The Book Of Ash, #1 (one book split into four due to length), is an alternate history/science fiction/steampunk/war story, about a medieval woman mercenary on a very, very strange journey, featuring stone golems, incursions from the future into the past (and vice versa), a Carthage that never fell and where the sun never shines, and a whole lot of pigs. Dark and violent but not depressing, and laced with black comedy. It might well have been hailed as one of the essential classics of the field had it been written by a man and had a male protagonist: in terms of ambition, scope, and cutting-edge ideas, it’s up there with Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun.

Authors I’ve never read, A-G: Lynn Abbey, Moyra Caldecott, Jaygee Carr, Jo Clayton, Candas Jane Dorsey, Phyllis Eisenstein, Sally Gearhart, Dian Girard, Eileen Gunn. If you’ve ever read anything by any of them, please discuss in comments.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( May. 12th, 2006 09:18 pm)
My, I am in a spammy mood! Perhaps I am wishing for human contact in a language I speak. I was so delighted when I went to a Japanese restaurant in Madrid with Sara and Lawrence, because I had been bummed about my Spanish being so horrible and I hoped for a chance to speak a foreign language I can actually kind of speak. Except the waitress we got was Korean and didn't even know the Japanese word for plum. (So comment away!)

Today I read C. J. Cherryh's Gate of Ivrel, an earlyish work, I suspect, in the drenchingly romatic style of Leigh Brackett or early George R R Martin, but in Cherryh's spare-formal prose style (she has others) and with her usual tendency to never let her heroes get a decent night's sleep or a bite of satisfying food.

Vanye is a... hmm, sort of a ronin, though the culture on his backward planet is not Japanese-ish.. he's an outlaw warrior who must swear himself to some lord for a year of duty. He's still unsworn when a deer he shoots staggers between the shimmering air of a magic cursed gate, and a tall pale woman rides out: Morgaine, last seen a hundred years ago and not aged a day, nor remembered fondly. The gates are the destructive remnants of an ancient dead civilization who used them to travel in space and time, she is on a mission to walk from world to world, closing each gate behind her lest they destroy the universe, until the end of time, or her death, or the last gate closes behind her.

She is cold and harsh and the last survivor of her mission party; he is brave, in the sense that he has fear and does the right thing anyway, and more gentle than is healthy; he can't understand exactly what she's doing and why, and he's going to follow her anyway, no matter what. I think Oyce would especially like this.

Victor Appleton: Tome Swift: The Astral Fortess. Pulp sf I enjoyed as a kid wand was delighted to find used. It's fun. You're all too old to read it. Here's a sample:

Benjamin Franklin Walking Eagle, Tom's co-pilot and best friend, was already checking the stratling information Aristotle had described by running it through the Exedra's main computer. Ben's face bore the same intense look of concentration that his Indian ancestors had worn while stalking buffalo so many generations before.

Lindsey Davis, Silver Pigs. Mystery set in ancient Rome, in the wisecracking private eye style, about an 'informer'-- aka private eye-- Marcus Didius Falco. This works surprisingly well. The voice is great, the details seem authentic, and the relationships between the characters are wonderful.

Donna Leon, Blood from a Stone. Murder mystery set in contemporary Venice, starring a police commissioner. Very well-written and atmospheric, but suffers from an overdose of noir corruption and angst, so that the protagonist does not solve the mystery himself, but has the solution handed to him by a powerful figure in the know, and then can't do anything with the information. Also, the mystery concerns Senegalese immigrants, and everyone keeps bemoaning that they know nothing about them, but no one ever so much as gets online to google some basic info on their country of origin.


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