From time to time, I get into a conversation with another woman, a librarian or a teacher or another writer or a dedicated reader who gets through more genre fiction in a month than I do in a year. So of course we talk about books – about what we’re reading now, or what titles most impressed (or disappointed) us in the past year; about the ending to The Hunger Games trilogy or whether the basic mystery in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was actually obvious all along; about our favorite under-appreciated authors and how much more they deserve notice than the current hot name in fiction. All those things.
And one thing that comes up more than occasionally is the poor representation of female SFF writers, or female protagonists, or strong female characters, in SFF fiction when we were growing up. This always takes me by surprise, because that was not my experience at all. I wonder what the defining decade might have been, where this changed? Or whether the difference might perhaps be regional? Either way, I look back on the books that shaped my taste as a reader, and who do I find back there? Patricia McKillip. Robin McKinley. CJ Cherryh. Lois McMaster Bujold. Barbara Hambly. Those are some of the authors who taught me to write by their example. There are guys in that list, too. Tolkien, I suppose, though I read that so early that I don’t remember ever having not read it. Guy Gavriel Kay. But there are more women than men. Not that I noticed that, or cared, when I was in high school.~ read more ~