By Richard C.
Sometimes it’s good to zoom out on your reading tendencies and see what you’re missing. The leading women in these sci/fi choices may cause you to wonder if some diversity would refresh your favorite themes, or perhaps even spark some new ideas:
1) Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney. A poet, linguist, and ship’s captain sci/fi heroine?! Yes indeed. Rydra Wong is famous for her poetry throughout known space. But when the military asks her help deciphering a mysterious language they’ve captured on radio waves, she might learn too much about her own mind and the nature of linguistic warfare. Try Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson if you’re intrigued by the war and language theme.
2) We Who Are About to… by Joanna Russ. This one will squeeze you like a sponge. A passenger starship blown far off course crash lands on an unknown planet. So many lifetimes away from Earth, anything but death and starvation are tough to imagine. Most of the motley survivors are optimistic with plans for society, but an unnamed narrator, a woman of compelling personality and character, refuses to conform. Events quickly get out of hand, and it leaves you wondering whether her actions are justified. You be the judge…
3) Diving Into The Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Boss is deeply intelligent, tough as nails, and a proudly self-identified loner. Her passion is history, but only when she can get her hands dirty. As a “diver” she hunts for abandoned spaceships, hoping to salvage valuables or learn something significant about the past. When it turns out one discovery is so old it must be from a past Earth, but also can’t be, Boss confronts the possibility that some secrets may be better left outside our memory.
4) The Engines of God (The Academy, #1) by Jack McDevitt. Priscilla Hutchins is a pilot and amateur archaeologist at a time when humanity has discovered extinct civilizations on other planets. Quraqua has been studied for decades, but time is running out for any hope of discovering its mysterious connection to sculptures scattered throughout the galaxy by beings only known as the Monument Makers. The seven Priscilla Hutchins books make a highly entertaining and intelligent sci/fi series, one with a well-rounded and formidable heroine at the steering wheel.
Want more? Done and done:
5) Dragonflight (Pern, #1) by Anne McCaffrey
6) Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
7) Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
8) 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
9) Empress (Godspeaker Trilogy #1) by Karen Miller