Previous Entry Add to Memories Tell a Friend Next Entry
08:16 pm: I'm trying to read more science fiction.
However, a few months of jumping in headlong has proven to me that a) hard science fiction is not my thing, and b) a lot of "classic" authors like Heinlein and Asimov are not my thing either. My favorites have been feminist works (examples: LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, Joanna Russ's The Female Man and The Two of Them, some of Tiptree's short stories) and funny novels, or at least novels that do not take themselves so dreadfully seriously (examples: Bujold's Vorkosigan series, Walter Jon Williams's Drake Maijstral novels, Douglas Adams).

So please recommend me science fiction (not fantasy) authors you think are feminist, or funny, or both. I've decided to stop treating my SF reading like a graduate literature course's grueling attempt to know "the classics," and I think both it and I will be better for it.

Poll #248 Science Fiction Recommendations
Open to: All, results viewable to: All

So, what science fiction authors would you recommend?

(If you don't have an account, you can leave a comment).

Current Mood: hopeful


Date:August 13th, 2007 01:11 am (UTC)
Someone already left Sherri S. Tepper as a suggestion on your LJ feed, which I'd second. I'd recommend starting at either Gibbon's Decline and Fall or The Gate to Women's Country.

-gjules from lj
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Date:August 13th, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
... ... ... Also David Brin's The Practice Effect is highly hysterical, as it is his attempt at sword-and-sorcery fantasy, only the hero is a physics nerd.

Ummmm. Cordwainer Smith's short stories, and his single novel, Norstrilia, have good things to say about women, animals, poetry, and interesting things to do with architecture. I can't recommend Smith highly enough for his prose. Eeee!

There is a short story by Theodore Sturgeon that is called "The World Well Lost" that is neither feminist nor funny, but is the first example of slash that I ever came across.

... all the other sci-fi I know is probably not going to be your thing if Asimov isn't.

OH! There's a book I read recently called Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds that is not overtly feminist, but the two most sensible people in the book are in fact women, and the male ... not quite protagonist ... is an archaeologist. Also, the Puzzle Jugglers are cool as hell.

CS Friedman's This Alien Shore is not feminist, but it's pretty funny. (For given values of "funny".) Nothing even remotely close to Gerald Tarrant is in it, SO THAT'S GOOD SHE'S PAST THAT PHASE. Her The Wilding is ... well, no, it's not feminist. The patriarchy in that book sucks real hard.

Okay that's all I got off the top of my head. I'll go scan the bookshelves for more!
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Date:August 13th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
You've read THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood, right?
Date:August 13th, 2007 02:37 am (UTC)
Have you tried Blindsight, by Peter Watts? It's not lighthearted, but it is funny, and the main character reminds me in a roundabout way of your crazy empath Evansoun, on account of being good at figuring people out, but also possibly a sociopath (by human standards anyway). Plus, if I can figure out where the link is hidden, you can read it for free (

Elizabeth Bear has a sci-fi trilogy out, too, if you didn't know about it already: Hammered, Scardown, and Worldwired. Fun, funny, and feminist!
Date:August 13th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
I recommend checking out the free samples at Baen and seeing if you like them.

Specific recommendations to sample:

With the Lightnings, by David Drake
Boundary, by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor
March Upcountry, but David Weber and John Ringo

The Weber and Ringo series is at the limit of my tolerance for MilSF.

But one of the things I like about Eric Flint is the intelligence and competence of the female characters.

Date:August 13th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Connie Willis' stuff is pretty good, though it could stand to be less Eurocentric. Maybe try some Jane Yolen; the pit dragon series is SF, but feels like fantasy. Some (though not all) of Nalo Hopkinson's stuff is SF; Midnight Robber is the one I have on my bookshelf. You may want to check out Octavia Butler also.
[User Picture]
Date:August 13th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
Dude, I totally forgot CJ Cherryh. I haven't read her other stuff yet, but the Foreigner sequence is pretty damn awesome. There's all this neat linguistic stuff (the protagonist is a translator) and it basically works the idea of alien cultures and what real cultural interaction would look like really well.

And I see my reading comprehension is fail, since it looks like you've read the Vorkosigan series. XD

Herbert is just trippy.. I really loved Dune, and ended up reading the rest of his stuff for sheer WTF factor.

I've only read Childhood's End out of Arthur C Clarke's stuff (I have 2001: A Space Odyssey but I haven't started reading it yet) and I liked that novel, at least.

..I'm way behind on my science fiction myself. I got into fantasy in my late adolescence and stopped reading it for the most part. :/
Date:August 13th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
Spider Robinson's Callahan and Lady Sally stuff.

Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon
Time Travellers Strictly Cash
Callahan's Secret
(The above three can be found in the Callahan Chronicals omnibus)
Callahan's Lady
The Lady Slings the Booze
The Callahan Touch
Callahan's Legacy

There are others, but really, stop reading there if you want to end with a positive impression of the series. Goes downhill fast after that.
Date:August 13th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
andre norton, CJ Cherryh are both very good, also barbara hambley though not all of her stuff is sci fi - The Time of the Dark and the other two related are really good and I think while it involves a little bit of magic is pretty science fiction too, and she mixes both very well.
Date:August 13th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)

If you like Left Hand of Darkness, I'd recommend reading Storm Constantine's Wraeththu books if you haven't already. They toe the line between fantasy and sci-fi, but they develop the concept of an androgynous society.

Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale is feminist dystopian science fiction at its finest.

I'd also heartily recommend Octavia Butler, but I'd be hard pressed to pick a single title to champion.


Alas, most of the gems of comic science fiction are in film and television, rather than print. Aside from Douglass, I don't know of many other authors who are laugh out loud funny, but there are several who do irreverent satire quite well. I'd put Kurt Vonnegut's more irreverent works into this category. The Sirens of Titan, especially.

My other big favorite here would be Harlan Ellison, particularly his stories like 'Repent Harlequin, said Ticktockman' and 'The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore'. He's largely known for his darker works (and his groping Connie Willis), but he can evoke a sense of whimsy in his work that's just exhilarating.
Date:August 13th, 2007 03:31 am (UTC)
Joanna Russ for feminism. Except her first story -- the short story "Nor Custom Stale."

Funny: If you're able to enjoy short stories, try collections by William Tenn and Robert Sheckley.
Date:August 13th, 2007 04:13 am (UTC)
I quite like John Scalzi, who has a selection of free stuff on his blog-site.

Kage Baker is also a favorite, although the science in the fiction tends to be somewhat deux ex machina. Still, art-historian hollywood-loving cyborgs. What's not to love?

Jasper Fforde's main series of novels has a female protagonist and a Byzantine sense of humor.

Tanya Huff wrote a trio of military scifi centering on a female marine, although it's mostly focused on the fighting.

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Liaden Novels.

A couple of lj-acquaintances: Jessica Reisman and A.M. Dellamonica.

I'm not an especially deep reader, so these (except the last two) may be lighter than you're looking for, but I'd love to know what you thought of them if you do pick up any of these author's works.
Date:August 13th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)
Elizabeth Bear's sci-fi for feminist - Carnival, the Jenny Casey stuff (Hammered, Scardown, Worldwired)
Date:August 13th, 2007 05:17 am (UTC)
Richard K. Morgan is feminist (and I highly, highly recommend him-- he can get technical, but generally not in what I think of as a hard SF way). Definitely not funny, though, unless you're talking the kind of funny that makes you die a little bit inside. He's quite dark. I'd recommend picking up one of his Takeshi Kovacs books (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, etc) before reading Market Forces, which is unrelated but much starker.

Kristine Smith does some interesting things with gender. Her male characters annoy me a little, though.

-Eveanhei (on lj)
Date:August 13th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC)
People have already mentioned Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler, both of whom are good.

I'll throw in Mary Gentle, and Iain M Banks. I'm not sure I'd classify them as necessarily feminist, but they're definitely good.
[User Picture]
Date:August 13th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC)
What is hard science fiction? I've been amazingly surprised to enjoy CJ Cherryh and I'd have called her Foreigner series Hard SciFi. I have also greatly enjoyed Lois Mcmaster Bujold and the tales of Miles Vorkosikan.

Hopefully I'll be mentally settled in my new apt to list them on interlibrary loan so I can continue reading.

Now, in truth, they're both Space Opera. And my love for Space Opera has become glaringly obvious. Somehow I developed a mental block of space and space ships and exploration as being too technical for me to enjoy - despite my long standing love of Trek and the fact that I used to be able to tell you when, where and how to shove your dilithium crystals.

So what's hard SciFi? Is it something you're having a seeming block against? Or is it something specific?

Do you mean something like Robert J Sawyer? My former roommate seemed to like the books. But then again she liked Carnival and I couldn't get through the first chapter.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Date:August 13th, 2007 06:05 am (UTC)
From: 'arterialspray'....

-- CJ Cheryh's Chanur books are excellent (start with 'The Pride of Chanur', but don't stop there, it gets better).
-- Dennis Schmidt had an excellent series called "the Questioner Trilogy' that was heavily steeped in existentialism and philosophy, if you're into that sort of thing.
-- EE Knight's psuedo-post-apocalyptic 'Vampire Earth' series is pretty good: he is very good at worldbuilding and evoking the grim future of an Earth under Kurian (vampire-like aliens) domination.
-- If you haven't read it yet, Orson Scottt Card's "Ender's Game" is fairly good (though I haven't found anything else of his that I like).
-- You might find David Weber's Honor Harrington series somewhat amusing (basically it's Horatio Hornblower in space....and with tits); though probably not because the author intended it to be amusing.
-- Carl Sagan's "Contact" is pretty good science fiction (and differs significantly in many respects from the movie), though I generally prefer his 'The Demon Haunted World" (which isn't fiction at all).
-- Herbert's "Dune" is a must, though the rest of his Dune series is not as interesting.
-- Paul Preuss wrote an intriguing series called "Venus Prime" that is based on one of Arthur C Clarke's short stories. It gets a little weird at the end, but it's pretty good until then.
-- I seem to remember Jack L. Chalker's "The Rings of the Master" series as being excellent, though it has been some years since I read them.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Date:August 13th, 2007 07:12 am (UTC)
If the Heinlein and Asimov you've tried is novels, you could also try their short stories (also Arthur C Clarke's) - they work far better for me; I think because you don't expect to be able to explore the characters much in a short. Also they're less of a time investment. If you like shorts, there are good magazines online, including free ones. Um, Strange Horizons, Abyss and Apex

Bujold is always a great read: deceptively fun, much goes on underneath, and she gets better and better as the Miles series progresses. It's possible to read most any of the books as a standalone but you get more out of them if you read them in order. What "in order" means is much debated, of course.

CJ Cherryh writes in a variety of styles; some are really hard to get into, some are very accessible. I found "Cuckoo's Egg" an easy read (er, as easy as Cherryh gets, anyway), and "Port Eternity" somewhat stranger but still readable.

Re Mary Gentle - Grunts is fantasy, Ash and 1610 are alternate histories that look like fantasy but are probably sf, more or less, others are on my to read list.

R.A. Lafferty is neither feminist nor funny but it's really weird. My favourite is "The Reefs of Earth".

I have Joan Vinge's "The Snow Queen" on my shelves but I haven't read it yet.

Connie Willis is brilliant. Eurocentric??? If she is, it's a welcome relief to all the America-centric stuff out there. "Bellwether" is hilarious; "Doomsday Book" is tremendously sad; one of her short stories left me feeling sick for the longest time, and as long as I don't think about it too hard I can admire her a great deal for being able to evoke that sort of response.

I personally dislike Atwood in general and "Handmaid's Tale" in particular. Le Guin I shrug at. And when I look at a Tepper book I always feel sad because her writing is wonderful - particularly the first book of hers I read, it was real sensawunda stuff and I had such high hopes - but I really hate her themes. She's definitely feminist though. This makes it sound as if I'm not. :-) I think partially it's a generational thing.

Hmm. I need to read more books.

(InsaneJournal's comment form has an option for "LiveJournal user" but of course what they really mean is "InsaneJournal user but we forgot to tweak the code". I tried to tell them about it a few months ago in a comment thread about the LJ exodus, but apparently they were deleting anonymous comments unread.)
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Date:August 13th, 2007 08:04 am (UTC)
The Helliconia books by Brian Aldiss are neither feminist nor especially funny, but Aldiss is a master worldbuilder, which I think would make them interesting to you.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Date:August 13th, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)


I agree with you that the "classics" are mostly pretty tiring to read. I DID like Asimov and Heinlein and Haldeman and many more of them, but they're just not entertaining.
Out of the hundreds of SciFi titles I've read so far, I've never encountered a better combination between entertainment, mind-boggling ideas and literary achievment than Dan Simmons' "Hyperion".
With your background in literature, you'll probably enjoy his absuolutely intimidating skill at structuring in the first Hyperion book.

Date:August 13th, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
Kameron Hurley. Stumbled across her recently and only been able to enjoy her free stuff so far:

Date:August 16th, 2007 04:08 am (UTC)

Jack Vance

I don't like most science fiction, but Jack Vance is a must-read. He's George RR Martin's favourite author, which should be recommendation enough.

His stories focus on the characters and how they're affected by their surroundings, and his dialogue is just one-of-a-kind. The humour is subtle and astoundingly clever too.

If you want SF you should start with the (badly named) Demon Princes series. Lyonesse and the Dying Earth books are fantasy and also excellent.
Date:November 28th, 2007 05:58 am (UTC)
Hi! I was away for July/Aug and I completely missed your journal switch (along with all the drama of LJ OMG!). And I know this post is ridiculously old, but if you're looking for vaguely feminist SF that isn't hard and is space opera, I hesitantly suggest Elizabeth Moon's Esmay Suiza series (an the Heris Serrano one that predates it chronologically). They're nothing like Deed of Paksenarrion, fear not.

I say hesitantly, however, because while I remember enjoying them both a LOT...I remember enjoying a lot of things that now make me want to crawl under a rock, and it's been a couple years since I read any of them. But they're a fun diversion if nothing else.

Date:February 6th, 2008 06:18 am (UTC)
I don't know about feminist, but Gibson has some strong, butt-kicking female characters as part of his ensemble casts.
Date:March 10th, 2012 06:10 am (UTC)

Jeremy Lin New York Knicks

Jeremy Lin Jersey ( rarely played for the Warriors, being on the inactive list most of the season. However, whenever Jeremy Lin Christian ( managed to get a couple minutes of playing time, the home crowd would give him a mighty ovation. Linsanity Jerseys ( became a fan favorite who didn't play. Against the Jazz a few nights later, godblessjeremylin ( went for 28 points and 8 assists. Who was this kid? Lin Jerseys ( was essentially a no namer to the majority of fans and here he was making headlines. Surely this was just a fluke......
Powered by InsaneJournal