Lady-friendly sci-fi recommendations?
July 10, 2014 1:50 PM   Subscribe

After getting really into Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, I'm looking for similar reading material. Can y'all recommend other sci-fi novels featuring a predominantly female cast?
posted by schooley to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series features quite a number of women, especially the two leads. They're also very VERY good. (And just recently released as ebooks! Yay!)

Also Kate Elliott's work, especially the Cold Magic trilogy, where the two leads are young women, and the most important relationship in the series is their friendship/sisterhood.

C. J. Cherryh's Chanur series mostly has female characters, although to be fair they're not human: they're felinoid space traders living in a matriarchal society. Start with The Pride of Chanur and go from there. Most of Cherryh's novels have strong female characters, although not all of them have female protagonists.

P. C. Hodgell's Godstalk novels have a female lead and a number of other female characters. They're very fun, with great worldbuilding.
posted by suelac at 1:54 PM on July 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson.
posted by bensherman at 2:03 PM on July 10, 2014

It's been a while since I read anything by her (and I forget what I have), but Sheri S. Tepper is good for this kind of thing. Some of it is more on the fantasy side of sci-fi, from what I remember, if that matters.
posted by darksong at 2:12 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series.

Here are a couple of Goodreads lists: Best SF with a Female Protagonist, Best SF with Female Main Characters, and an Amazon list SF with Strong Female Protagonists.

Also previously, and previously.

Love Connie Willis and Nancy Kress, for more personal recommendations.
posted by clone boulevard at 2:16 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nicola Griffith - Ammonite and Slow River.
posted by rtha at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and Nicola Griffith's Hild, which is history, but reads like SFF.
posted by suelac at 2:28 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anything by Elisabeth Vonarburg, but my favorites are Silent City and it's sequel In the Mothers' Land.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:35 PM on July 10, 2014

Seconding Sheri S. Tepper. She is without a doubt my favorite author. Grass is her most known work and is fantastic. But her entire oeuvre is well worth reading. I adore her set of three related trilogies starting with The True Game.

Also, lots of love for Kate Elliott over here. My favorite is her Jaran series. Lead is a woman.

It's a one - off but David Brin's Glory Days is a wonderful read. Almost entire cast is female.

I also love Catherine Asaro's Ruby Dynasty books. There are so many! Admittedly, they are pretty salacious, but highly enjoyable.
posted by mirabelle at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Melanie Rawn! Mercedes Lackey! Octavia Butler!!
posted by spunweb at 3:01 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Ursula K. Le Guin - Left Hand of Darkness
Sheri Tepper - The Gate To Women's Country
posted by plinth at 4:46 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

John Varley's Gaea Trilogy.
posted by Poldo at 5:15 PM on July 10, 2014

Not epic or fantasy-like, but I enjoyed "After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall" by Nancy Kress. Lauren Beukes writes some tough female characters in her SF, but they have to be given the situations she puts them in.
posted by Gotanda at 5:32 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might check out Lois McMaster Bujold's first two Vorkosigan novels about Cordelia Naismith, later Lady Vorkosigan: Shards of Honor and Barrayar, although I think they're now available in one volume as Cordelia's Honor.

The rest of the Vorkosigan novels (mostly) have Cordelia's son Miles as the protagonist -- they're all worth reading, and have a lot of good female characters, but you might especially enjoy two novels later in the series, Komarr and its sequel A Civil Campaign (collected as Miles in Love), which feature the excellent Ekaterin Vorsoisson heavily as a viewpoint character. I believe Bujold intended Komarr to be an entry point into the series for new readers, so you can skip ahead over the intervening seven books and 30-odd years of story time without being too lost.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 6:01 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lightspeed Sci-Fi and Fantasy just released their Women Destroy Science Fiction issue, it's chock-full of new and past sci-fi stories, all written by women.
posted by furtive at 9:11 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Holly Lisle - I've only read Talyn and Hawkspar - both very female centered, but I see she has a whole raft of other books too.
posted by lazy robot at 10:32 PM on July 10, 2014

Melissa Scott has a lot of female-centric sc-fi novels; she has moved into the LGBTQ-scifi genre more exclusively, but her older novels, the Silence Leigh trilogy, Mighty Good Road, the Dreamships trilogy are light on the LGBT parts, while Trouble and her Friends is considered a classic of LGBT-scifi.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:02 AM on July 11, 2014

Response by poster: Oh my gosh, this is awesome! Thank you guys so much!
posted by schooley at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2014

The later Earthsea books by Ursula Leguin are essentially a feminist deconstruction of the male-centered society she created a couple of decades earlier with the original Earthsea Trilogy.
posted by alms at 1:19 PM on July 11, 2014

I didn't notice this thread linked yet: recent previously.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:07 PM on July 11, 2014

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie has a protagonist who belongs to a society that has little to no sense of gender in their language. She is constantly referred to as female although "her" actual gender isn't ever clearly stated.
posted by Inkoate at 9:47 PM on July 11, 2014

Dreaming in Smoke, by Tricia Sullivan.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:07 AM on July 16, 2014

A friend who led the Feminist SciFi Book Club out of the Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative suggested Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.
posted by andythebean at 7:18 AM on July 17, 2014

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