In honor of Joanna Russ

In honor of the recent passing of author and critic Joanna Russ, I thought I would put together a short list of just a few of my favorite feminist science fiction and fantasy stories. For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Joanna Russ was one of the most ferocious and fearless science fiction authors around. Her approach to speculative fiction may have been too forceful and political for some readers, but it was this same unbridled passion that made her such a treasure in the field. 

Only a MotherA powerful short story by Judith Merril, who at the time of publication was married to science fiction legend Frederick Pohl. Though most of Merril’s novels have gone out of print, her short fiction is so singular it is definitely worth tracking down. “Only a Mother” is a chilling tale you won’t soon forget. 

Parable of the Sower– Octavia Butler filled every one of her stories with strong, black female protagonists, but she wasn’t interested in only making a allegorical commentary. Her stories are as thrilling as any popular page-turning author, but always in the service of deep sociological explorations.   

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever – James Tiptree, Jr. was not only one of the most revered science fiction writers of the past 50 years, he was really a she!  Alice Bradley Sheldon used the famous pen name in order to create a gender-free judgement of her work.  These 18 darkly complex short stories and novellas touch upon human nature and perception, metaphysics and epistemology, and gender and sexuality, foreshadowing a world in which biological tendencies bring about the downfall of humankind.

There is certainly no dearth of female writers with incredible talent in the science fiction genre, but I’d like to hear your suggestions. Add your favorite feminist science fiction authors or stories in the comments!

What to read while waiting for A Game of Thrones

It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since the Lord of the Rings hit theaters, and the world was instantly smitten with High Fantasy–visions of hobbits dancing through our heads! If you loved Tolkien’s Middle Earth and always craved something more after devouring the books, then HBO’s new adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones is a must see and read. 

For months now I have had patrons coming in asking for a copy of A Game of Thrones, which makes my little librarian heart flutter. However, with any book that is made into a movie or series, the holds list shoots through the roof, leaving my dear patrons in a lurch with nothing but time before they get their copy. And like a shining knight in the mists of Avalon, I come through to save the day! 

Part of the appeal of High Fantasy is the complex world-building and fully realized cultures the authors create. Below is an annotated list of High Fantasy epics that should appeal to fans of A Game of Thrones, Tolkien’s Middle Earth or anyone with an itch for worlds that never were.  

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
Only Robert A. Heinlein has won more Hugo Awards for Best Novel than Lois McMaster Bujold, a singularly lauded author whose work has been compared to Jane Austen’s. Now channeling her remarkable storytelling genius in an exciting new direction, she creates a riveting tale rich in atmosphere, magic, character, and consequence that twists and turns in unanticipated ways. Continue reading “What to read while waiting for A Game of Thrones”