Cover illustration by Ilon Wikland
(Norwegian edition published by Cappelen Damm)
SFF WRITTEN BY WOMEN
There's an ongoing debate online about SFF written by female authors, and if there is too little visibility of it, I won't go into that debate here. Instead I'll tell you a bit about my experience with reading SFF by women. And give you some suggestions on some great female authors I have read, and where you can find suggestions from others online.
WHERE I STARTED
The image at the top of this article is the Norwegian cover for Ronja Røverdatter [Swedish: Ronja Rövardotter, English: Ronia, the Robber's Daughter] by Astrid Lindgren. This was the first book I was actually looking forward to being published, and I remember waiting for the Norwegian edition to come out. This was back in 1981, and there was quite a buzz about it among my friends at the time.
At the time we had seen lots of movies based on Lindgren's books. The Pippi Longstocking movies and Emil in Lönneberga movies were hugely popular with the kids back then(, and they still are, Emil was shown on Norwegian television not long ago). And The Brothers Lionheart movie, that was made in 1977 was re-released in 1981 (,according to wikipedia, I had probably seen it by then but can't really remember - it was a long time ago).
Pippi Longstocking is of course very well known internationally. But since I write about SFF here, I will focus on her two Fantasy books for children: Ronia, the Robber's Daughter and The Brothers Lionheart.
Ronia, the Robber's Daughter is about a girl who grow up with a father who is a robber in a castle ruin in the forest. She befriends Birk, who is the son of a rival robber, and much of the book concerns their adventures together. But Ronia is the main character, and everything is focused on her. There are many fantastical creatures in the book. And it is a great children's Fantasy novel.
The Brothers Lionheart is set in a pretty standard Fantasy setting. And it concerns the titular brothers as they join the resistance against the evil dragon Katla who rules the land. This is also a great Fantasy novel, and is probably the first Epic Fantasy I read.
Both of these books were filmed, The Brothers Lionheart in 1977 and Ronia, the Robber's Daughter in 1985. There's also a longer TV version of the former, although the internet seems to not know about this.
Both of these books are available in English, and I had no trouble finding the English editions for sale online. They have also been translated to many other languages.
I would urge people to get these books for their children, I'm sure they are going to love them as much as I did at that age.
I would like to point out here, that reading these books at an early age made me see it as natural that women wrote SFF. I have never thought of it as strange, and if you get these books into the hand of a seven year old boy maybe he will grow up with the same mindset. And in any case they are a great start for any kid on a life of reading SFF.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE SFF BY WOMEN
I noticed that I had read a lot of great SFF by women lately, and when it came to reviewing it just happened that three of the four books I planned to review this week were by women. So that was a good opportunity, I booted out the male author, and there will be two more SFF books by women reviewed here this week. Making this an all women week on the blog.
I haven't read nearly as much SFF by women as I should, but I am in the process of rectifying that. Here are some suggestions on SFF by women that I have read, and I think you should read too.
THE PARASOL PROTECTORATE SERIES BY GAIL CARRIGER
These are fun, Steampunk/Urban Fantasy/Alternate History books. I have read and reviewed all of them. The review for the latest one, Timeless can be found here and at the bottom of that review you'll find links to my reviews of all the other books in the series.
THE INHERITANCE TRILOGY BY N. K. JEMISIN
These Fantasy books are set in a world were the gods live among the humans. Jemisin has written a great saga about gods that are reminiscent of the old Norse and Mediterranean gods in their human-like ways, but there are clear influences from the pantheons of other cultures.
I have read all three books, and I really loved them. Reviews will be coming up on the blog in the not to distant future.
THE VALDEMAR BOOKS BY MERCEDES LACKEY
The Valdemar books are set in what is a pretty standard Epic Fantasy setting. I have only read the first trilogy, The Heralds of Valdemar, and I really enjoyed them. These books are a good antidote to the "gritty" Fantasy that seems to be everywhere at the moment, and despite being lighter in tone they are absolutely worth reading for anyone who loves Fantasy.
I have reviewed Arrows of the Queen here, and I will publish reviews of the other two books in that trilogy this week and next week.
THE CLOCKWORK CENTURY BY CHERIE PRIEST
Priest's books are Steampunk/Alternate History that is set in the USA. The Alternate History setting is very well realised, and there are lots of Steampunk machines present in the books.
I have reviewed the first book, Boneshaker, here. And will review the two other books tomorrow, and next week.
THE DEVERRY BOOKS BY KATHERINE KERR
These are set in a traditional Fantasy setting, but Kerr have given them a very good twist that makes them stand out from the crowd.
I read the first Deverry books some years ago in Norwegian translation, and I really liked them. I plan to re-read them in English sometime in the future, and when I do I will review them on the blog.
THE REALM OF THE ELDERLINGS BY ROBIN HOBB
Hobb has written three trilogies in this setting, The Farseer Trilogy, The Liveship Traders Trilogy, and The Tawny Man Trilogy. These are followed by the ongoing The Rain Wild Chronicles, that is now up to its third book.
These are among my favourite Epic Fantasy books, and if you haven't read them before I strongly urge you to do so. Start at the beginning with Assassin's Apprentice.
I have reviewed the three books that has so far been published in The Rain Wild Chronicles, you can find the latest, City of Dragons, here. And there is a link two my reviews of the first two books at the bottom of that review. I'll review the earlier trilogies on the blog when I re-read them later this year.
A COMIC SERIES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
Panel from Elfquest Fire and Flight, art by Wendy Pini
Elfquest is an Epic Fantasy series written by Wendy and Richard Pini and drawn by Wendy Pini, the first issue was published in 1978. I have loved this series since I first read it in the mid eighties, and if you love Fantasy and/or comics it is one series you really ahould read.
Unfortunately it is not available in print at the moment, but you can read it for free online here, on the official site. Start with the first issue of the Original Quest, and go on from there.
FINDING SFF BY WOMEN ONLINE
There are many hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs online that review Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and/or Young Adult SFF written by women. But if you are looking for women authors in other SFF subgenres it may be a bit more difficult to find a place that gives you suggestions.
I'm not really good at finding these blogs myself, but I will give a few suggestions underneath.
Mieneke van der Salm regularly reviews Fantasy by female authors. You can find many of them in her review index, and her two series tabs has lots of Fantasy by women.
This blog has not been updated since Amanda Rutter started as editor of Angry Robot Books' Young Adult imprint Strange Chemistry. But if you go to the Book Review Archive there you'll find lots of SFF books written by women, including the Katherine Kerr books I mentioned above.
Run by Ian Sales, this blog is set up to provide a resource for reviews of Science Fiction books by women. You can also submit any reviews you have made of Science Fiction written by women for publication here.
There are lots of female SFF writers online, I know because I follow many of them on Twitter. And you should be able to find them easily if you want to, there are some on my Twitter Author list.
I'm also sure there are lots of blogs reviewing SFF written by women. I have certainly forgotten some (, and I apologize for that), and there must be many that I am not familiar with. But I didn't want to spend a week or so collecting links, so see below for a way to give them some attention.
LINK TO YOUR REVIEWS OF SFF BY WOMEN
If you are a blogger that regularly reviews SFF by women outside the UF/PR/YA genres, please leave a link to your blog in the comment, and if you have reviewed just a few of the books I am talking about please leave a link to the reviews. If you are not a blogger, but know of anyone who fits the description given above, feel free to leave a link too.