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Laer Carroll
01-29-2016, 07:24 AM
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a web site called Women in Science Fiction. This is also the name of a project she has begun which will include several anthologies of shorter fiction by women writers. (It's unclear if she will also include writers of fantasy, but sci-fi seems to be her primary focus.)

http://www.womeninsciencefiction.com/

The site also includes guest blog posts by Toni Weisskopf, Pamela Sargent, Ginjer Buchanon, and Sheila Williams. I suspect there will be more such guest posts.

The posts make for interesting reading. About a third of the total numbers of sci-fi/fantasy writers today, women writers have been active in the field almost from the beginning. Indeed, by some estimates the very first sci-fi novel was by a woman: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Shelley

Though the science is now very outdated, at the time it was an ambitious work of scientific extrapolation of current science. Further, the issues she raised continue to resonate to this very day. This include stories of cloning, technological enhancement of our bodies, gene editing, artificial humans, and several more.

Thus I'm moved to expand my list of favored authors to include more female authors. Here is that list. It includes fantasy as well as SF authors. It also includes a few authors who are deceased or otherwise available mostly through online or physical bookstores.

Whom would you suggest I add to it? (Please give a link to them rather than just list them. This will make it easier for me and others to explore them.)

Marion Zimmer Bradley - http://www.amazon.com/Marion-Zimmer-Bradley/e/B000APXU48/
Lois McMaster Bujold - http://www.amazon.com/Lois-McMaster-Bujold/e/B00455PX26/
C. J. Cherryh - http://www.amazon.com/C.-J.-Cherryh/e/B000APR80U/
Jo Clayton - http://www.amazon.com/Jo-Clayton/e/B000APYAN8/
Teresa Edgerton - http://www.amazon.com/Teresa-Edgerton/e/B001H6UM6S/
Laurell K. Hamilton - http://www.amazon.com/Laurell-K.-Hamilton/e/B000AP73GO/
Nina Kiriki Hoffman - http://www.amazon.com/Nina-Kiriki-Hoffman/e/B000APU5Z0/
Mercedes Lackey - http://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-Lackey/e/B000APZNR0/
Ursula Le Guin - http://www.amazon.com/Ursula-K.-Le-Guin/e/B000AQ2M2S/
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller - http://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Lee/e/B000APHWO2/
Julian May - http://www.amazon.com/Julian-May/e/B000AQ4SPW/
Anne McCaffrey - http://www.amazon.com/Anne-McCaffrey/e/B000ARA0JO/
Elizabeth Moon - http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Moon/e/B000APWQCA/
Andre Norton - http://www.amazon.com/Andre-Norton/e/B000APZD0M/
Tamora Pierce - http://www.amazon.com/Tamora-Pierce/e/B000APBE82/
Wen Spencer - http://www.amazon.com/Wen-Spencer/e/B001IQXNE0/

AW Admin
01-29-2016, 08:31 AM
I'm not going to go link these for you; do your own research.

Catherine Asaro
Elizabeth Bear
Aphra Behn
Octavia Butler
Leigh Brackett
Patricia Briggs
Emma Bull
Margaret Cavendish
Jayge Carr
Suzy McKee Charnas
Anne Crispin
Diane Duane
Suzette Haden Elgin
Kelley Eskridge
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Nicola Griffith
Barbara Hambly
Janet Kagan
Stacia Kane
Anne Leckie
Tanith Lee
Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm
Kameron Hurley
Anne McCaffrey
Robin McKinley
Patricia MacKillip
Maureen MacHugh
Vonda Macintyre
Judith Merrill
Laura Mixon/Morgan Locke
Sara Monette/Katherine Addison
Elizabeth Moon
C. L. Moore
Susanne Palmer
Doris Piserchia
Marge Piercy
Joanna Russ
Alice Sheldon/Racoona Sheldon/James Tiptree Junior
Victoria Strauss
Joan Vinge
Lisa Tuttle
Fran Wilde
G. Willow Wilson
Virginia Woolf

I'll add more as I think of them.

Some anthologies:

Women Of Wonder, The New Women of Wonder -- several anthologies edited by Pamela Sargent
Aurora: Beyond Equality Vonda N McIntyre & Susan Janice Anderson, eds
Millennial Women Virgina Kidd ed.
Crystal Ship Joan Vinge ed.

themindstream
01-29-2016, 08:52 AM
I'll give a nod to Rausch herself: I've read a good chunk of her Retrieval Artist series. Pulp detective fiction on the Moon. http://www.amazon.com/Kristine-Kathryn-Rusch/e/B000AP60YK

Naomi Novik: Napoleonic alt-history with intelligent dragons. http://www.amazon.com/Naomi-Novik/e/B001IGNGVK

Diane Duane: If you're a Star Trek fan, she wrote a couple of highly respected Trek books. Else, best known for Young Wizards, modern day magic with a lot of sci-fi influence. Current personal writer-to-look-up-to. http://www.amazon.com/Diane-Duane/e/B000AQ31Q4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1454043160&sr=1-2-ent
(http://www.amazon.com/Diane-Duane/e/B000AQ31Q4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1454043160&sr=1-2-ent)
Elizabeth Moon: The Deed of Paksenarrion is one of my personal favorites and one of the best examples of a Paladin character done right. Remnant Population is a great one-off that happens to have been a Hugo and Locus nominee. Her two military space opera series, Heris Serano and Vatta's War, are a blast. http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Moon/e/B000APWQCA

jjdebenedictis
01-29-2016, 09:14 AM
Not all of these authors are ones I associate with science fiction. A lot of them write fantasy too, which I tend to glom onto faster than SF (although I read both).

I'll tack on Kameron Hurley, G. Willow Wilson, and Octavia Butler.

Brightdreamer
01-29-2016, 09:45 AM
Shouldn't James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon) be on this list?

Roxxsmom
01-29-2016, 10:05 AM
It's hard to get lists that are just SF, as most that say they're about SF still lump together with fantasy writers (http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_women_in_Science_Fiction). These I've listed are all writers who write SF (some may write fantasy as well), but it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Doris Lessing
Margaret Atwood
CJ Cherryh
Anne McCaffrey
Connie Willis
Carolyn Ives Gilman.
Karen Lord
Sheri S. Tepper
Lois McMaster Bujold
JK Accini
Julie E. Czerneda
Hiromu Arakawa (manga author, but it's SF)
Nalo Hopkinson
C.N. Lesley
G.S. Jennsen
Vandana Singh
Juliette Wade
Madeline Ashby
Tricia Sullivan
Kameron Hurley
MJ Locke
Elizabeth Moon (she's written quite a lot of SF in addition to her fantasy)
Kate Wilhelm
Joanna Russ
Pat Cadigan
Justina Robson
Octavia Butler
Ursula K Le Guin
Andre Norton
Mary Shelley
Clare Winger Harris
Gertrude Barrows Bennett
James Tiptree Junior

Bolero
01-29-2016, 01:00 PM
Juliet McKenna - fantasy with solid historical background
Tanya Huff - sf, fantasy and uf and contemporary fantasy
Ann Aguire - space opera - colourful series

Barbara Hambly - my all time favourite fantasy writer. Another with good grasp on reality

Justina Robson - I particularly like Mappa Mundi

Ann Leckie - big name at present (I haven't entirely got on with Ancillary Justice, but she is very popular)

And in anthologies, you could try The Mammoth Book of SF stories by Women edited by Alex Dally MacFarlane

BethS
01-29-2016, 03:20 PM
I didn't see Kate Elliott on any of the lists, but she's written a couple of good SF series: The novels of the Jaran, as Kate Elliott; and the Highroad series, as Alis Rasmussen.

Her last few series have been fantasy, both adult and YA.

Maxx
01-29-2016, 07:15 PM
Shouldn't James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon) be on this list?

Yes! That reminds me: there is (or was) a writer of the Confederate Alien Nazi alternative world histories for tough guys (renegade Confederate Alien Nazis I guess?) whose name for some reason reminded me of James Tiptree Jr. So somebody once said to me, "Hey what do you know about this writer of Confederate Alien Nazi masterpieces of tough-NCO-centric fiction?" Like I would know.

So I say, "He's a woman."
But they had him on their internets screen thing: and there he was with a big beard.
"He's a woman with a huge beard?"
"Hormones?"

amergina
01-29-2016, 09:48 PM
I used to be amused when men suddenly discovered that women wrote SF. Now it just pisses me off. I mean, for goodness sake, it's the 21st century.

Yes, women write SF. Yes, they've written it for a very long time. If you didn't know this before, you haven't been paying attention.

We've always been here.

robjvargas
01-29-2016, 10:51 PM
What about D.C. Fontana? Quite the prolific Star Trek scriptwriter. Across several of the shows. And the Logan's Run TV series. And Babylon 5.

Laer Carroll
01-30-2016, 03:13 AM
I'm not going to go link these for you; do your own research.

With that huge list, understandable. Thanks for it. It reminded me of some authors who are not on my bookshelves which I want to put back. They get lost in moves or worn to fragments.

One thing I find sad is the authors (of all genders) who deserve a modern audience but are no longer published. A prime example is Jo Clayton, one of my favorite authors. I have all her books and still occasionally re-read them. But the books are fragile, and I have to read them with care.


I used to be amused when men suddenly discovered that women wrote SF. Now it just pisses me off. I mean, for goodness sake, it's the 21st century. Yes, women write SF. Yes, they've written it for a very long time. If you didn't know this before, you haven't been paying attention.

I understand the sentiment. But please don't lump me in with 'men' as if we are all alike. I was standing in front of Planned Parenthood facing off against Operation Rescue decades ago and have been a feminist longer than some people have been alive. Not for some big ideological rationale which consumes my life but just BECAUSE IT'S FAIR.

Sad that years later we still have to face off against those who hate women thinking and choosing for themselves, on every issue, not just reproductive ones.


Not all of these authors are ones I associate with science fiction. A lot of them write fantasy too, which I tend to glom onto faster than SF (although I read both).

I can't tell if Rusch's series will include fantasy as well as SF. I'm of two minds. One, because women authors are often thought not to do SF well, I like a series which disproves that idea. Two, because fantasy and SF are part of a continuum with a common core, I'd hate to see Rusch exclude great fantasy by women.

AW Admin
01-30-2016, 04:55 AM
Jo Clayton died of cancer in 1998.

This is her official site. (http://joclayton.deepgenre.com/)

She's one of the women SF writers I read as a teen, and who had a profound effect on me.

She was an interesting person, a good writer, and kind to teenagers living in rural N.H.

She was one of the writers I "met" via letter and later the 'net.

And her story (http://joclayton.deepgenre.com/jostory.html) is pretty typical in many ways of many women who write.

Katherine Kerr (http://deverry.com/) is Jo Clayton's literary executor.

ULTRAGOTHA
01-30-2016, 06:01 AM
S. L. Huang
Heather Rose Jones
Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher
Becky Chambers
Zenna Henderson
Amber Benson
Aliette de Bodard
Joanna Clarke
Frances Hardinge
Zen Cho
Nnedi Okorafor
Jo Walton
Fran Wilde
Sofia Samatar

amergina
01-30-2016, 06:41 AM
I understand the sentiment. But please don't lump me in with 'men' as if we are all alike. I was standing in front of Planned Parenthood facing off against Operation Rescue decades ago and have been a feminist longer than some people have been alive. Not for some big ideological rationale which consumes my life but just BECAUSE IT'S FAIR.

Sad that years later we still have to face off against those who hate women thinking and choosing for themselves, on every issue, not just reproductive ones.


So here's the thing--and perhaps it's an underestimating your audience thing--your original post reads very much like you, yourself, are shocked there are all these woman writing SF (and having had written SF) or you're trying to teach us that there are all these women who've written SF because you don't think we know.

It's not a "Hey, I'd like to read more books by women SF authors, can you recommend some?" post. It's a "My goodness! Women! Writing SF! DID YOU KNOW? I will expand my reading!" post.

On the one hand, kudos. Good for you for wanting to read more women.

On the other hand...yes...we do know women write SF, because many of us are women writing SF. Many of us have delved into the history of woman writing SF. Many of us were on the front line of being told as of late that we can't write SF or we shouldn't because we're woman and invading a "male" space that has never been male. (Just as it's never been white or conservative or straight.)

Which has absolutely nothing to do with standing out in front of Planned Parenthood decades ago. (Thank you for that.)

It has everything to do with how women are perceived in genre fiction. We don't need to be preached at about something we already know. We need you, when you read an SF book by a woman author to say "HEY I read this really great book! It's about this! This is the author's name! You should try it!" to your friends.

And for goodness sake, leave off the "AND it's written by a WOMAN!" because that pretty much makes it sound like SF written by women is abnormal. It's not. There is no category of SF called "by a woman!"

And maybe you can also listen to the women writers around you. Just...listen. Rather than being defensive.

Laer Carroll
01-31-2016, 12:18 AM
So here's the thing...your original post reads very much like you, yourself, are shocked there are all these woman writing SF... or you're trying to teach us that there are all these women who've written SF because you don't think we know.

It's not a "Hey, I'd like to read more books by women SF authors, can you recommend some?" post. It's a "My goodness! Women! Writing SF! DID YOU KNOW? I will expand my reading!" post.

Interesting that you interpreted my post as saying all that. I THOUGHT I was saying "K K Rusch has this interesting new project. And she's guest posted several interesting comments by these women." Followed by active links to make it easy for others to discover that project.

And I THOUGHT I also said "My library shelf has lost some books by women authors. Please remind me of interesting ones." Not the "GOSH WOW! WOMEN WRITERS EXIST!" message that seems to have come across.



[...] Which has absolutely nothing to do with standing out in front of Planned Parenthood decades ago. (Thank you for that.)

You're welcome. But I didn't do it for just for women. From the moment I discovered feminism I thought it was most basically about fairness. Not just for women, but for men too. Men are privileged in our society, but we are also oppressed in some ways too.

As just one example, from birth we are taught "Big boys don't cry" and other similar messages. After decades of this, of repressing our emotions, it comes to the point where we often don't even have them.

Speaking of Planned Parenthood, the need to defend it today involves less physical confrontation and demonstrations and more social and financial methods. One of which is to sign up for a small but monthly automatic contribution to PP. Lazy? Perhaps. It could also be thought of as efficient.



And maybe you can also listen to the women writers around you. Just...listen.
Hah! As if that takes effort, with all the bright and articulate ones in every forum!

jjdebenedictis
01-31-2016, 02:50 AM
:rolleyes

Getting offended that your post isn't garnering unreserved kudos is not the way to prove you posted it to benefit women, rather than to feel good about being a good person (which you should do! But we're not here to help you out with that.) Neither is bringing up your feminist credentials in a discussion where it's weirdly off-topic to suddenly be discussing health clinics.

zanzjan
01-31-2016, 03:03 AM
Interesting that you interpreted my post as saying all that.

That's the thing, it's not just amergina who interpreted your post that way. It was MANY of us. Rather than -- again -- getting defensive about it, maybe you ought to consider that *you* have a tone problem and this is a good opportunity to figure out how to do better. By, as has been suggested, actually listening for a change.


You're welcome. But I didn't do it for just for women. From the moment I discovered feminism I thought it was most basically about fairness. Not just for women, but for men too. Men are privileged in our society, but we are also oppressed in some ways too.

As just one example, from birth we are taught "Big boys don't cry" and other similar messages. After decades of this, of repressing our emotions, it comes to the point where we often don't even have them.

Speaking of Planned Parenthood, the need to defend it today involves less physical confrontation and demonstrations and more social and financial methods. One of which is to sign up for a small but monthly automatic contribution to PP. Lazy? Perhaps. It could also be thought of as efficient.

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with what amergina and I and others are saying about how your post and your subsequent responses are dismissive, clueless, and damaging.

You know what's even nicer than running all over AW being fully confident in your own unassailable expertise in things? Finding that you still have room to grow, and that others are giving you that opportunity.

Roxxsmom
01-31-2016, 03:08 AM
I didn't see Kate Elliott on any of the lists, but she's written a couple of good SF series: The novels of the Jaran, as Kate Elliott; and the Highroad series, as Alis Rasmussen.

Her last few series have been fantasy, both adult and YA.

Can't believe I forgot Jaran, but yes, that's definitely SF, not fantasy.

Her fantasy is well worth reading too. Just read her new epic fantasy novel, Black Wolves, and it's really good.

Aquarianhelix
01-31-2016, 03:50 AM
Ian Sales has for some time been running the SF Mistress blog, where you will find lots of names of female SF writers. See https://sfmistressworks.wordpress.com/

On a personal note, I find that women SF writers at the hard end of science fiction very few and far between (having had my SF writing described as being harder than rhenium diboride, I've always been on the lookout for fellow writers, and they really are very very rare - and yes I'm female). Women seem to increase their percentage as their SF becomes softer. It would be interesting to get definitive numbers on this.

Roxxsmom
01-31-2016, 11:11 AM
Depends on the science you're talking about. Some women SF writers may focus more on biology than on physics, but biology is a science too.

When you say "hard" SF, do you mean hard as in every bit of science or technology in the book is an extrapolation of known principles that we're absolutely certain are possible (so, for instance, you couldn't have FTL drives of any kind), so you're pretty much stuck with generation ships or within our own solar system for stories? That rules out a lot of so-called hard SF writers like Heinlein, Niven, Bova and so on, but allows writers of in-system stories, like Robinson and Weir.

Or do you mean SF where science and scientists, or the development of a new technology, like Asimov's robot books or Egan's books are at the center of the plot?

Or do you mean "hard" SF to mean SF with a technological setting and the further future, rather than stories set in the nearer future? So almost any story set in space where the technology is at least somewhat possible, even if it's not rigorously explained.

And is soft SF more sociological or anthropological tales, like The Left Hand of Darkness, The Female Man? Or is it SF that combines inexplicable fantasy elements like telepathy, mind powers, or "the force," like Star Wars or the Dragonriders of Pern, or Dune?

One female writer who gets tossed out as a hard SF author sometimes is Catherine Asaro. She's known for the scientific depth (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Asaro) of her work. Also, Linda Nagata (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Nagata) and Nancy Kress (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Kress).

Some books I've seen tossed up as hard SF (Dune, Clarke's stuff) don't seem all that hard to me with regards to the science. And I wonder if there's a bit of a double standard there. If a female writer, like CJ Cherryh, writes something that is pretty scientific in some ways, but it has something less rigid like "jump" space that allows interstellar travel and a race of cat people, people will say she's really a soft SF writer because these things make no sense scientifically. But if a man like Larry Niven has hyperdrive and Kzin that aren't explained, he's still a hard SF writer.

Here's a list of some hard SF writers who are women from Tor.com.

http://www.tor.com/2013/05/21/sleeps-with-monsters-recentish-hard-sf-by-women/

No idea if you'd agree with the designation. I tend to think that getting accurate numbers of the number of authors of both genders writing along a "hard to soft" SF scale would be really hard. Rating the hardness or softness of SF is rather subjective, and we may not even all mean the same thing by the term. And then there's the confirmation bias thingy some people have, where anything a woman writes might automatically be deemed softer (as per the Niven/Cherryh example) because it's written by a woman.

Aquarianhelix
01-31-2016, 02:12 PM
Depends on the science you're talking about. Some women SF writers may focus more on biology than on physics, but biology is a science too.

When you say "hard" SF, do you mean hard as in every bit of science or technology in the book is an extrapolation of known principles that we're absolutely certain are possible (so, for instance, you couldn't have FTL drives of any kind), so you're pretty much stuck with generation ships or within our own solar system for stories? That rules out a lot of so-called hard SF writers like Heinlein, Niven, Bova and so on, but allows writers of in-system stories, like Robinson and Weir.

Or do you mean SF where science and scientists, or the development of a new technology, like Asimov's robot books or Egan's books are at the center of the plot?

Or do you mean "hard" SF to mean SF with a technological setting and the further future, rather than stories set in the nearer future? So almost any story set in space where the technology is at least somewhat possible, even if it's not rigorously explained.

And is soft SF more sociological or anthropological tales, like The Left Hand of Darkness, The Female Man? Or is it SF that combines inexplicable fantasy elements like telepathy, mind powers, or "the force," like Star Wars or the Dragonriders of Pern, or Dune?

One female writer who gets tossed out as a hard SF author sometimes is Catherine Asaro. She's known for the scientific depth (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Asaro) of her work. Also, Linda Nagata (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Nagata) and Nancy Kress (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Kress).

Some books I've seen tossed up as hard SF (Dune, Clarke's stuff) don't seem all that hard to me with regards to the science. And I wonder if there's a bit of a double standard there. If a female writer, like CJ Cherryh, writes something that is pretty scientific in some ways, but it has something less rigid like "jump" space that allows interstellar travel and a race of cat people, people will say she's really a soft SF writer because these things make no sense scientifically. But if a man like Larry Niven has hyperdrive and Kzin that aren't explained, he's still a hard SF writer.

Here's a list of some hard SF writers who are women from Tor.com.

http://www.tor.com/2013/05/21/sleeps-with-monsters-recentish-hard-sf-by-women/

No idea if you'd agree with the designation. I tend to think that getting accurate numbers of the number of authors of both genders writing along a "hard to soft" SF scale would be really hard. Rating the hardness or softness of SF is rather subjective, and we may not even all mean the same thing by the term. And then there's the confirmation bias thingy some people have, where anything a woman writes might automatically be deemed softer (as per the Niven/Cherryh example) because it's written by a woman.

I could (and probably will one day) write a long essay in reply to the questions inherent in the above. So just a few points for now... There are a series of sayings by various famous people that go along the lines of: biology is chemistry; chemistry is physics; physics is mathematics. So I'm a believer of biology being a science. To me the soft SF is going towards the fantasy end of SF.

Agree that placing hardness / softness on a measurable scale is extremely difficult. In part this is due to our shifting understanding of science. But those of us who work in science know how to look at the assumptions behind the science and say: "Hey! What happens if that assumption doesn't hold?" When you can look at science this way, what becomes possible not only becomes clearer, but also more marvellous.

My third (and for now final point)... I also agree that there is a bias against against women. In part this is due to the belief by some men that women can't do certain things. These men get angry when they find out they can and lash out, or go away and hide from the fact. (I've experienced this kind of behaviour face to face in competition chess.) It's totally wrong of them to do so, but it happens. I suspect the hiding away business has led to a lack of reviews and publicity for women SF writers, and even more so for women hard SF writers. I think this is what is behind the apparent double standards you talk about.

jjdebenedictis
02-01-2016, 12:24 AM
It sounds like one of those circular arguments to me. "Women go more for the soft sciences." "Well, what makes them soft?" <<Much back-and-forth equivocating, until...>> "The fact that women are doing them."

It's very much like the arguments as to why the books women read and write are somehow not "serious" literature. As soon as you start analyzing what makes one thing "serious" and another not, the argument starts crumbling until it has been reduced to "because men like it/don't like it."

Laer Carroll
02-01-2016, 01:08 AM
I agree with Roxxs & Aquarian that the definition of "hard" SF has a lot of possible answers.

A lot of it depends not on logic but our preference for the kind of stories we want to read and write. My own preference is to widen the definition to include not only current science but also speculative future science. At 70+ I've seen several scientific "impossibilities" proven possible. If the human race keeps progressing, more of the same will happen.

I frequent the seminars at the California Institute of Technology (http://www.caltech.edu/), which is half university and half research institute. I used to work for them and live an easy drive away. The seminars usually explore the cutting edge of scientific research. Among other topics in the last few years was FTL. It appears that there are at least two possible ways to achieve it. (Of course, in one, the black hole transit method, you'd be killed. But hey!)

Physics and astrophysics give SF lots of exciting possibilities. But much of it revolves around getting someplace fast, or neat locales such as near the event horizon of a black hole. The characters are the same old contemporary humans, changed not at all except for their haircuts and clothes and such.

To some extent that's necessary for us as writers. Not many people would want to read about characters they could not identify with in some ways. But I suspect it's as much because radical biological progress is still rare. It's only in the last decade or so that we began to get a handle on how genes really work, and begin to make changes in them - VERY cautiously, which is appropriate. One runaway genemodded virus could wipe out much of the human race.

Among the fairly few SF writers who include biological science as an important part of their stories is my favorite author Lois McMaster Bujold (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lois_McMaster_Bujold). (Anyone have suggestions for others?) What makes her stories special (for me anyway) is that her characters are affected by bioscience advances in emotional and social ways as well as physical ones. The superwarrior Taura is a heartbreakingly real person.

Even rarer are stories about psychological science. Mostly, perhaps, because modern psychology is barely groping out of the "alchemical stage." There are still people who swear by Freud and Jung and Maslow. IQ tests are considered definitive tools, as are personality evaluators such as the MMPI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Multiphasic_Personality_Inventory).

Women seem more at home in these "softer" but still hard sciences. Which is where I expect to see SF progress most in the decades to come - accompanied by loud complaints by a few that SF is being ruined, of course!

Kweei
02-01-2016, 01:32 AM
On a side note, I still get annoyed about the "hard" and "soft" distinction. I always felt it discredited my field. Anthropology might be a social science, but it runs the spectrum of culture to biology. Our fields are just different avenues to learn about the truth of existence.

But I'm always grateful to broaden my reading so I'll take a look at some of these authors I may have missed.

Roxxsmom
02-01-2016, 01:58 AM
I could (and probably will one day) write a long essay in reply to the questions inherent in the above. So just a few points for now... There are a series of sayings by various famous people that go along the lines of: biology is chemistry; chemistry is physics; physics is mathematics. So I'm a believer of biology being a science. To me the soft SF is going towards the fantasy end of SF.

Well, by that criteria, there are plenty of women who write SF that isn't fantasy in disguise, because the world presented in their book is based in technology and the stories don't rely on vaguely paranormal things that are *really* magic, like "the force," or "psi" or whatever. And there are people of both genders who do write this kind of SF (Dune is really a fantasy story in SF clothes, in my opinion, though there's nothing wrong with that).

We still end up with a question mark for stories that are set in the far future, say on a colonized planet. Nothing that happens in the story is implausible from a scientific standpoint, but how they got there may not be relevant to the story, and there's nary a space ship in sight (or they're only in the background). Physical sciences and and scientific issues may or may not be at the center of the story, but it's not unrealistic or fantasy. It's just more focused on sociology or anthropology or something.


Agree that placing hardness / softness on a measurable scale is extremely difficult. In part this is due to our shifting understanding of science. But those of us who work in science know how to look at the assumptions behind the science and say: "Hey! What happens if that assumption doesn't hold?" When you can look at science this way, what becomes possible not only becomes clearer, but also more marvellous.

I think the term "hard" SF is unfortunate for another reason. Hard has some negative connotations, depending on how a person takes the word. Some people think "hard" SF means "hard to read or understand if you don't have a degree in physics or engineering."

I'm a biologist, but that doesn't mean a story that is closer to fantasy (or fantasy through and through) is something I'll reject. I tend to read more for the characters and authentic feel of the setting, and while some things can toss me out of a story, it also depends on the story. Ironically, one of the "small" things I had a lot of trouble with when reading Heinlein as a kid and young adult was a future where everyone was using slide rules. WTF? Didn't he realize that people would invent technology to do tedious things like that for them (computers did exist in his time)? Furry aliens and FTL drives were much easier to swallow. It's the "riding a space elevator while listening to eight track tapes" syndrome. Space elevators? Sure. But eight track tapes? Come on.


My third (and for now final point)... I also agree that there is a bias against against women. In part this is due to the belief by some men that women can't do certain things. These men get angry when they find out they can and lash out, or go away and hide from the fact. (I've experienced this kind of behaviour face to face in competition chess.) It's totally wrong of them to do so, but it happens. I suspect the hiding away business has led to a lack of reviews and publicity for women SF writers, and even more so for women hard SF writers. I think this is what is behind the apparent double standards you talk about.

Definitely agree and the lack of reviews and publicity for women writers of SF is a thing. And it doesn't even necessarily stem from overt hostility or conscious sexism (though too many of those people are out there too, and they're nasty). One thing I've found frustrating is that people really do seem to be more inclined to forget the things women have done and are doing. It's like women have some sort of "field of obfuscation," as in an ability to enter a room, do something cool that people may like at the time, but later on no one remembers that the women were there, let alone remember what they did. Or worse yet, people don't notice women at all, even at the time. It's like that James Tipree Junior Story, "The Women Men Don't See" (except women often don't see other women either).

So while I agree that there are likely more men writing SF, especially some of the styles that are often termed "harder" SF, I think there are more women writing it than most realize. Consequently, women who write SF are often left off those "best of" lists people circulate or are simply forgotten. I also think (though I'll admit I can't support in any quantitative way without doing my own study) that some SF that really isn't thinly veiled fantasy ends up being classified as "soft" SF when women write it, while fantasy or "squishy" elements are ignored sometimes when men write them.

So I have some questions about some SF and whether or not you (and different readers) would class it as harder or softer, or somewhere in the middle, and if so, why?

Downbelow Station by CJ Cherryh
Rift by Kay Kenyon
Grass by Sherri S Tepper
The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
Cyteen by CJ Cherryh
The Color of Distance by Amy Thompson
Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Primary Inversion by Katherine Asaro
Synners by Pat Cadigan
Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie
Dark Orbit by Caroline Ives Gilman
Halfway Human by Caroline Ives Gilman
The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
Starfarers by Vonda McIntyre

RichardGarfinkle
02-01-2016, 02:13 AM
The hard and the soft distinction has always been problematic. If you extrapolate from current theories, adhering strictly to current scientific understanding but the stories you write from that extrapolation are about social changes brought about by new tech arising from that science is that Hard SF or soft?

There's probably more commonality based on when books were written than the genders of the writers. Dune and The Left Hand of Darkness are both explorations of the social and physical implications of certain ideas in biology and sociology. The Dispossessed and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress are both explorations of different societal structures. All of these arose in a time period where social evolution was a looming intellectual concern.

Cyberpunk writers had more in common with each other as regards the social effects of computers and corporate control than they did with writers before or since then regardless of gender.

Going back to the ur-example of Mary Shelley, Frankenstein fit in with the brief for writing it, scary gothic story with a hero as arrogant as her husband and their friend-is-a-hard-word-for-someone-that-egotistical Lord Byron (the presumed audience for the work). That work fit the society and fascinations of her time.

SFF evolves with social focus.

Roxxsmom
02-01-2016, 02:48 AM
I think this is a good point, Richard. And one thing that's easy to forget is that SF (and its sibling genre too) is nearly always about the people functioning in a particular "what if" scenario and dealing with its consequences.

With SF, the what if is supposed to be based on something that is plausible knowing what we know about science at the time of its writing. Fantasy isn't constrained by those kinds of rules. Even so, the lines can blur. Is a book that explores the implications and effects of something like a psychic ability being real potentially SF, if a somewhat plausible explanation is provided? Or is it closer to fantasy?

Another distinction that just occurred to me re both SF and fantasy is the role the technology (or magic) plays in creating the central conflict or problem the characters must solve, or the central premise for the story (even if the technology isn't explained). I think this might be a more important distinction than the harness or softness of the science itself.

At one extreme, the spaceships, genetic modifications, aliens, or magic and fantastical creatures (if fantasy) are just part of a world that the people in the story take very much for granted and have long since come to terms with. Change may be happening, but it may not be down to the recent discovery of a new technology or kind of magic.

Some people would call this "window dressing," but it doesn't mean it's necessarily unrealistic, if the society that's presented makes sense. For example, we take airplanes for granted today, even though they changed everything, from where we can build cities to how quickly diseases and exotic species spread, to how likely most of us are to have met someone from another part of the world. But how often are airplanes and how they work explained in contemporary fiction, even when they do have an effect on the plot?

So spaceships, or transporters, or magical gates (in a fantasy world) could play a similar role in a speculative fiction story. They're often setting elements that affect the world and allow the characters to do things they need to do for the story to work, but they're not what the story is about.

At another extreme, a technology or magic could be very much what the story is focused on. Whether it's a newer invention or discovery, or whether it's something that's been around for a while, and it's causing problems or forcing changes.

Say a story centers on Earth after we've discovered a drug that grants extended lifespan, and we're starting to see some major changes in society as a consequence, and these changes are a major obstacle the protagonist is dealing with.

That would be very different than a story set in a world where extended lifespan has been a thing for a long time, and the adaptations or changes in society have already happened and are in the story's background, taken as much for granted as we take lower infant mortality or air travel today, present and affecting the world, but not the story's main focus.

I'm probably not explaining the distinction well, but I wonder if both SF and F can be subdivided into story types based on the role the major speculative elements play in the story. Are they what amounts to an aesthetic or situational backdrop, or are they what the story is actually about at some level?

With regards to fantasy, we sometimes have discussions about whether "explained" magic systems are good or bad. As with SF, I'd argue that it depends on the actual role the magical elements play in the story.

So can fantasy be "hard" or "soft" too?

zanzjan
02-01-2016, 03:19 AM
Among the fairly few SF writers who include biological science as an important part of their stories

[snip]

Even rarer are stories about psychological science.

Something is not rare just because you, personally, haven't been aware of it.


Women seem more at home in these "softer" but still hard sciences.

Please stop now with these sexist and simplistic-to-the-point-of-nonsense generalizations.

Helix
02-01-2016, 04:59 AM
Might be a good place to leave this quote from Martin Rees (http://kingsreview.co.uk/magazine/blog/2014/05/02/an-interview-with-martin-rees-astronomer-royal-4/), Astronomer Royal, who is a Man and therefore his Opinions Carry Weight.*

"But I think its amazing weve got as far as we have [in astronomy] and that is because astronomy is based on physics and physics is easier than biology." **




* Sarcasm

** Not sarcasm

Roxxsmom
02-01-2016, 05:39 AM
Arthur C. Clarke, who is often said to be a hard SF writer in spite of writing stories about godlike beings that ascend humanity to a state of pure energy, made these oft-cited observations.

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I can't help wondering whether, if Clarke has been female, these would be cited as lame excuses for writing squishy-soft SF, or as an example of her lack of scientific understanding.

Laer Carroll
02-01-2016, 10:59 PM
...I still get annoyed about the "hard" and "soft" distinction.

Looking at a lot of the SF labeled "hard" it often seems to boil down to hard physical things like spaceships and planets rather than "rigorous" and "experimental." An emphasis on technology rather than science.



...I always felt [the hard/soft distinction] discredited my field [anthropology].

Certainly anthropology is more of a hard science than psychology. Much of it deals with objectively observable phenomena such as fossils and artifacts, behaviors of primates, and surviving texts and art in both paper and stone and clay. You can use tech such as carbon dating of physical and fossil specimens and magnetic subsurface scanning to find specimens. In some areas you can even conduct experiments. You certainly can't do THAT with the "hard science" of astrophysics!



Some people get plot bunnies. I get zombie plot goats that are unkillable.

Gee, thanks! You just added to my nightmares. Zombie goats! To be add to by zombie rabbits, zombie rats, zombie horses, zombie elephants, zombie birds, zombie EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

amergina
02-01-2016, 11:43 PM
Sometime I wonder if the Foundation trilogy, had it been written by woman, would have been as popular or as praised for its hard SFness. I mean, it's based in sociology.

ULTRAGOTHA
02-02-2016, 05:12 AM
If "Hard" science fiction = Space Ships and Planets then Bujold would be lauded as a diamond of SF.

I mean, *I* laud her as a diamond of SF but proponents of "hard" SF rarely do, despite the plethora of space ships and planets in the Vorkosigan books.

kuwisdelu
02-02-2016, 05:34 AM
While we're here, can I get some recs specifically for women PoC authors?


So spaceships, or transporters, or magical gates (in a fantasy world) could play a similar role in a speculative fiction story. They're often setting elements that affect the world and allow the characters to do things they need to do for the story to work, but they're not what the story is about.

This is definitely how I use speculative elements, whether sci-fi or fantasy.


With regards to fantasy, we sometimes have discussions about whether "explained" magic systems are good or bad. As with SF, I'd argue that it depends on the actual role the magical elements play in the story.

So can fantasy be "hard" or "soft" too?

Definitely. I think so, anyway.

I prefer the "soft" end of the spectrum either way, since I have as little interest in elaborate magic system based on "rules" as I do in intricate technological details and accuracy.

In fact, I don't really care whether a story is sci-fi or fantasy, as much as I care how the speculative elements are used in the story.

zanzjan
02-02-2016, 05:46 AM
While we're here, can I get some recs specifically for women PoC authors?

Right off the top of my head (and aside from the obvious Big Name authors like Octavia Butler): N.K. Jemisin. Holy gods can she write.

I tend to read a lot more short fiction than novels lately, but if you aren't picky about length I can name a bunch more.

kuwisdelu
02-02-2016, 05:51 AM
Right off the top of my head (and aside from the obvious Big Name authors like Octavia Butler): N.K. Jemisin. Holy gods can she write.

I've read her, Octavia Butler, and started some Nalo Hopkinson.


I tend to read a lot more short fiction than novels lately, but if you aren't picky about length I can name a bunch more.

Not too picky about length.

ULTRAGOTHA
02-02-2016, 06:05 AM
Kuwisdelu, have you read Zero Sum Game by our own S. L. Huang? I really enjoyed that.

Alessandra Kelley
02-02-2016, 06:12 AM
I liked the short story, "Monkey King, Faerie Queen" by Zen Cho.

VeryBigBeard
02-02-2016, 06:14 AM
I've read her, Octavia Butler, and started some Nalo Hopkinson.



Not too picky about length.

I really like Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring. One of several authors I was introduced to in a science fiction class and liked a lot but that book has stuck with me the most. (Also my first exposure to the Firefly 'verse in that class. I owe that prof so much.)

If you are familiar with Toronto it is very slightly hilarious, in addition to being a really neat and twisty story.

eparadysz
02-02-2016, 06:22 AM
I liked the short story, "Monkey King, Faerie Queen" by Zen Cho.

I'm reading her debut novel SORCERER TO THE CROWN right now and really enjoying it.

There's also Alaya Dawn Johnson.

eqb
02-02-2016, 06:22 AM
Nnedi Okorafor. Aliettede Bodard. Nisi Shawl. Karen Lord.

RedWombat
02-02-2016, 06:35 AM
If we're talking HARD sf, the aforementioned Diane Duane writes as good a game as anybody I've read (and sure, it may not work, but it sounds at least as plausible as most of the stuff getting lauded as "hard" SF.)

If we're not worrying too much about the distinctions, I'll toss in Clare Bell (sf about uplifted cat-creatures discovering fire) who is likely obscure because she's shelved in the children's section. And Janet Kagan is the BEST. (The best. Also, the best.) Kathleen O'Malley, who co-wrote with A.C. Crispin.

For fantasy, the late Eva Ibbotson and Pat O'Shea could be in my lifeboat any time, and P.C. Hodgell who is thankfully alive and kicking. Judith Tarr. Jessica Day George. Sharon Shinn.

ULTRAGOTHA
02-02-2016, 06:47 AM
RedWombat, I read an Eva Ibbotson based on your rec at File 770 and I stayed up until four am on a work night.

Next time I'll start reading Friday night.

Roxxsmom
02-02-2016, 06:54 AM
Linda Nagata is another woman who writes hard SF.

Every time we have these lists of women SF (and or fantasy) authors, I'm amazed how (given the large number and diversity of styles and settings that come up) anyone can still say they just assumed very few women write speculative fiction, or only a handful write specific subgenres within it (like EF, or harder or military SF). I also don't know how people keep just inadvertently under representing women authors on reader polls and best of lists.

And, oh, the Locus recommended reading list came out for 2015 novels, short fiction, collections, anthologies, art books, non fiction and so on for SF and F. Some intriguing looking stuff here, and a decent number of books by women (not 50%, but still a higher percent than many recommended lists will contain). I'm sad some deserving (imo) authors are missing, and I wish there were more adult EF novels on the list, but eh, it's just one of many lists out there.

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/02/2015-locus-recommended-reading-list/


Sometime I wonder if the Foundation trilogy, had it been written by woman, would have been as popular or as praised for its hard SFness. I mean, it's based in sociology.

I don't wonder much about this at all, or at least, I have a sinking feeling I know the answer :(

Laer Carroll
02-02-2016, 07:52 AM
I prefer the "soft" end of the [SF or fantasy] spectrum[s], since I have as little interest in elaborate magic system based on "rules" as I do in intricate technological details and accuracy.

Roxxsmom makes a useful distinction about SF or fantasy in which the science or magic is in the background or in the central part of the story.

If in the background we simply say something like "She flicked the light switch" or "She spoke the light encantation." Maybe with a helper sentence or two to clarify what's happening the first time the scientific or magical tech is mentioned.

If it is central to the story, something new perhaps in the personal or larger world of the main character, then we need to include more detail.

But here is what I've noticed about some of my favorite authors when they do go into such detail. It's usually short, very clear, and vivid. They don't need pages and pages of explanation and description for the new stuff to be perfectly clear.

It sometimes seems to me that writers who have a rep for hard SF are judged more on the quantity of the science writing than the quality of the writing. Which reminds me of times I worked on technical reports to be delivered to some funding authority, the Air Force or a Congressional panel. My bosses would send it back to me saying (basically) "Bigger words!" "More jargon!" "Longer sentences!" "Confuse the Hell out of them!"

Roxxsmom
02-02-2016, 11:36 AM
In keeping with the double standard on how the scientific accomplishments of men and women are often discussed with a different, um, tone, this just caught my eye.

http://www.rejectedprincesses.com/blog/if-male-scientists-were-written-about-like-successful-women

PeteMC
02-02-2016, 01:51 PM
In keeping with the double standard on how the scientific accomplishments of men and women are often discussed with a different, um, tone, this just caught my eye.

http://www.rejectedprincesses.com/blog/if-male-scientists-were-written-about-like-successful-women

I saw that on Twitter - isn't it marvelous!

BethS
02-02-2016, 02:26 PM
Just read her new epic fantasy novel, Black Wolves, and it's really good.

I have it on my Kindle, just haven't got to it yet. Can't wait!


Can't believe I forgot Jaran, but yes, that's definitely SF, not fantasy.

Interestingly, though, she set one of her fantasy trilogies (Crossroads) on that same planet. I still haven't figured out how to reconcile that. But I got a huge kick out of it when I discovered it.

Roxxsmom
02-02-2016, 02:42 PM
I have it on my Kindle, just haven't got to it yet. Can't wait!



Interestingly, though, she set one of her fantasy trilogies (Crossroads) on that same planet. I still haven't figured out how to reconcile that. But I got a huge kick out of it when I discovered it.

Yes, it's set in the same world as the Crossroads books, which I somehow missed when they came out. Black Wolves reads fine as stand alone, as I quickly got up to speed with how things worked (I tend to like it when I have to figure things out as the story unfolds). I think it takes place after Crossroads. Not sure if any characters from the earlier series carry over. I'll have to go back and read them now while waiting for the next book in the new series. Not that I don't have tons of reading I'm behind on.

RedWombat
02-02-2016, 07:56 PM
RedWombat, I read an Eva Ibbotson based on your rec at File 770 and I stayed up until four am on a work night.

Next time I'll start reading Friday night.

Isn't SHE MARVELOUS?!

Cobalt Jade
02-02-2016, 08:49 PM
It sometimes seems to me that writers who have a rep for hard SF are judged more on the quantity of the science writing than the quality of the writing. Which reminds me of times I worked on technical reports to be delivered to some funding authority, the Air Force or a Congressional panel. My bosses would send it back to me saying (basically) "Bigger words!" "More jargon!" "Longer sentences!" "Confuse the Hell out of them!"

Hee, in my work as a technical writer, I have always tried to dumb it down. But I was writing for consumers or employees.

I have seen in a few cases over the years of reviewers criticizing the inner logic of a female writer's made-up world, whereas they let a male writer's made-up world slide.

Alessandra Kelley
02-02-2016, 09:18 PM
Isn't SHE MARVELOUS?!

I found Eva Ibbotson when I was casting about for books like Diana Wynne Jones' for my children. She is utterly wonderful.

Laer Carroll
02-06-2016, 02:59 AM
I just discovered that the first of the women-sf-writers anthologies K. K. Rusch said she was planning is scheduled for September.

Women of Futures Past: Classic Stories (http://www.amazon.com/Women-Futures-Past-Classic-Stories/dp/1476781613/)

Can anyone suggest other such anthologies? I know about Pamela Sargent's Women of Wonder series which came out in 1975, '76, and '78. And I have the two successors which came out in '96.

Women of Wonder: The Classic Years (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0156000318)
Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years (http://www.amazon.com/Women-Wonder-Contemporary-Science-Fiction/dp/0156000334/)

amergina
02-06-2016, 03:12 AM
Women Destroy Science Fiction:http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/special-issues/women-destroy-sf/women-destroy-science-fiction-about-the-issue/

Roxxsmom
02-06-2016, 03:23 AM
There is the Sword and Sorceress series (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_and_Sorceress_series), originally edited by MZB (I know she's problematic as a person, but a number of female writers of the 70s and 80s first appeared in her publications). I remember finding some in the library way back when, and I discovered some authors I enjoyed. The focus was more on fantasy than SF (some works qualify as softer SF, at least), however. It appears it still exists today, as the last collection came out in 2015.

Michael Panetta
02-06-2016, 08:43 AM
Some people consider it science fiction; they enjoy a good story that just happens to have science fictional tropes. Others prefer science fiction, which is to say that they like speculation about science and technology in the context of story.

I've always preferred this distinction to the "hard/soft" categorization.

amergina
02-06-2016, 08:53 AM
Hot funk, cool punk, even if it's old junk, it's still science fiction to me...

(with apologies to Billy Joel)

Roxxsmom
02-06-2016, 09:05 AM
Some people consider it science fiction; they enjoy a good story that just happens to have science fictional tropes. Others prefer science fiction, which is to say that they like speculation about science and technology in the context of story.

I've always preferred this distinction to the "hard/soft" categorization.

Me too, though I'm happy to read either if I like the writing, setting, characters and story.

While I get that people have different tastes (and that's fine), so it can be useful to have terms to distinguish different kinds of world building, plots etc., focus on technological/magical speculation versus sociological speculation, some of the arguments over whether a particular trope or setting or premise is "hard" enough (not to mention arguments over whether women can grasp or write the science as well as men overall) feel like people desperately seeking excuses to keep some people out of their club.

One thing those of us who teach science are desperately trying to do is debunk the notion that science is something a rarefied few have the intellect or mindset to understand or appreciate. Scientific thinking utilizes skills all people have, or can learn, and the actual vocabulary and technical understanding of a particular subset of science is no more esoteric or unfathomable than (say) the terminology and technical details of a sport. A good writer can give their reader what they need without losing them.

Laer Carroll
02-09-2016, 12:55 AM
Women Destroy Science Fiction:http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/special-issues/women-destroy-sf/women-destroy-science-fiction-about-the-issue/

Thanks for the reference. I just bought it from Amazon & an hour ago began reading it on my mini iPad. One of the reasons I ordered it is that it includes two-dozen-plus interviews and articles by various authors.

And I ordered it for digital download because I need new reading NOW. I'm currently blocked on TWO books. How can this be?!!! AND I've exhausted all my new fiction books. How can THIS be? I'm really getting sloppy. (Brain tumor?)

Reading (fiction) is my usual solution to blocks. I almost always get a happy boost, sometimes even grow actively excited.

In ordering I discovered Lightspeed Magazine also published Women Destroy Fantasy & bought that. Here are the Amz links for anyone interested in these two books. Both pages have the option of reading the first tenth of the books & deciding if you really want them.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KPEWAJK
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O2R1SPS

(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O2R1SPS)

mirandamiranda
02-09-2016, 02:38 AM
I like these books for a historical perspective: The Penguin Books of Classic Fantasy by Women, and of Modern Fantasy by Women. Should note that the latter book was published in 1996 so 'modern' is relative!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Penguin-Book-Classic-Fantasy-Women/dp/0140243186
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Penguin-Book-Modern-Fantasy-Women/dp/0140243364