I’m so pleased that my Feminist Futures Storybundle came out in time for International Women’s Day! This bundle celebrates some of the best science fiction being written by women today, gathering a wide range of outlooks and possibilities, including an anthology that gives you a smorgasbord of other authors you may enjoy!
This is my favorite bundle so far, although I’m already assembling one in my head for next year that will be even better and more diverse. Why? Because I used to work in the tech industry, and there I saw how diversity could enhance a team and expand its skillset. Women understand that marketing to women is something other than coming up with a lady-version of a potato chip designed not to crunch or a pink pen sized for our dainty hands. Diversity means more perspectives, and this applies to science fiction as well. I am more pleased with this bundle than any I’ve curated so far.
In her feminist literary theory classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing, science fiction author Joanna Russ talked about the forces working against the works of women (and minority) writers. A counter to that is making a point of reading and celebrating such work, and for me this bundle is part of that personal effort, introducing you to some of my favorites. Ironically enough this bundle idea started with a particular book, Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin, that fell through at the last minute sadly — but that’s all the more reason to do this theme again next year for Women’s History month again. 😉 But don’t wait till then – you can find the Elgin book currently available online and it’s worth the read.
And in the name of expanding one’s knowledge and enjoyment of women writing SF, the majority of these books are first volumes of series, and I hope if you enjoy them, you’ll find the others as well as telling other people about them. The Kirstein series is the only one where not all the books are available; she’s currently working on book five and plans seven altogether. Many of them are independently or small press published, showing the depth and quality of work such publishing venues can yield.
I come to the task of writing these notes having just finished reading through a slush pile for an anthology I’m editing, If This Goes On, devoted to political science fiction. Some of the themes there are echoed in some of the works here, and it’s been interesting to note the resonances. Other books in the bundle are more lighthearted or escapist. I hope everyone will find at least a few they enjoy, and that many readers will join me in thinking they’re all swell.
I’ll be doing some video interviews with authors about their books – look for the hashtag #thefutureisfeminist on social media or subscribe to my Youtube channel or newsletter to make sure you get notified when they appear!
Here’s the bundle participants:
Athena Andreadis has produced multiple anthologies focused on women writers and I’ve had the pleasure of being in her anthology The Other Half of the Sky. Its sequel To Shape The Dark focuses on female scientists doing science in ways that move outside the traditional modes. This solid, intriguing anthology holds more than a few creative, inventive stories that you will enjoy.
L. Timmel Duchamp’s Alanya to Alanya is the first volume of her Marq’ssan cycle. Like the Gussoff book, it’s set in a near future Seattle and world that has become fiercely divided by gender, visited by aliens with very different ideas about such things. Political and intricate, this book pulls no punches in setting up a world that echoes that of The Handmaid’s Tale while remaining a unique vision. DuChamp is also a literary scholar and publisher; her Aqueduct Press is publishing great stuff.
Caren Gussoff’s The Birthday Problem is set in a near-future Seattle where a nannite plague has overtaken the world. It deals with issues of connection and mathematics in a multiple point of view narrative that showcases her ability with evocative, illuminating prose, and contains figures like former-WNBA center Didi VanNess and The King of Seattle, an ex-rockstar now living in one of Seattle’s iconic landmarks, as well as thirty cats named Ira.
M.C.A. Hogarth’s Spots the Space Marine features a military heroine who’s also a parent in a book that has aptly been called “Pollyanna meets Starship Troopers”. If you’re not familiar with Hogarth’s work, I urge you to check it out. If you’re a fan of furry fiction, you’ll particularly enjoy her Pelted Universe works, but another favorite of mine is Black Blossom.
Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling is a fresh and funny romp detailing the travails of running a fast-food enterprise in space as unhappy proprietor Gaia Jones finds her life growing increasingly complicated. My only sorrow is that there isn’t a sequel, because Happy Snak is comfort food of the highest grade,
The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein is the first in a fantastic series by the same name. This is a terrific book with a landscape that fascinates and a protagonist exploring that world and its challenges carefully and methodically, to the best of her efforts. I was delighted to be able to secure this book for the bundle.
Louise Marley’s The Terrorists of Irustan deals with a world where women’s roles are severely limited — and details the struggle as they begin to fight back. Louise writes under a variety of names, including Cate Campbell, Louisa Morgan, and Toby Bishop, every time with an elegance and empathy that is showcased in this early book of heres.
Vonda N. McIntyre is a favorite writer of mine, and here I’ve stuffed a little extra value in the bundle for you with not one but four books in this Starfarers omnibus edition from the Book View Cafe. When a group of scientists find their alien contact project has been cancelled, they go to extreme measures to keep it going. Also: intelligent squidmoths. Does it get better than intelligent squidmoths?
Kristine Smith is working in military sf and doing it with panache and grace in the Jani Kilian series. Tight and fast, Code of Conduct will pull you into one of my favorite series, with a set of characters and fascinating worldbuilding that will leave you scrambling to find the next volume in this five book series.
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