Contemporary Short Speculative Fiction by Women
September 22, 2020 8:23 AM   Subscribe

In the mood for some short spec fic collections by women. I’d love to hear your recommendations.

I’ve been reading novels, so I find myself missing my beloved short fiction. I've already read plenty of work by men lately, and now I'm trying to read more by women. While I know about the various magazines publishing fantasy and science fiction, I’m more interested in a collection. I want to immerse in a single author's style, y’know?

I love mythic fiction and fairy tale riffs, but I also really dig slipstream-y stuff you’re just as likely to see in non-genre venues as in genre mainstays. I lean more toward fantasy than SF, but if there are more writers blending character and insightful extrapolation like Maureen McHugh, I'm all ears.

Authors whose short stories I already love and/or have on my to-read pile: Aimee Bender, Holly Black, Octavia Butler, A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, C.S.E. Cooney, Carol Emshwiller, Eugie Foster, Karen Joy Fowler, Theodora Goss, Elizabeth Hand, N.K. Jemisin, Kij Johnson, Margo Lanagan, Ursula K. Le Guin, Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, Maureen McHugh, Karen Russell, Ekaterina Sedia, Angela Slatter, Sofia Samatar, Rachel Swirsky, James Tiptree, Jr., Catherynne M. Valente, and Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher.

What are some collections from 2000 onward that might scratch my itch, aside from any by the above authors? Thanks in advance!
posted by xenization to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of the authors you list are also some of my favorites and I think you might also like Helen Oyeyemi's What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 8:31 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I haven't read it myself, but I've heard absolute raves about What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah.

Also, this is a (rather short) novel so doesn't quite fit your request - but Severance by Ling Ma is stunning, heartbreaking, overwhelming, and strange.
posted by lewedswiver at 9:27 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's been a little while, but I recall liking Women Destroy Scienc Fiction!.
posted by jclarkin at 9:28 AM on September 22, 2020

The Penric/Desdemona stuff from Lois McMasters Bujold are fantasy novellas that are readable in one (long-ish) sitting. On the light side in tone, they hit the same spot for as T. Kingfisher's stories.
posted by mark k at 9:41 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seems like a good place to drop in a shoutout to MeFite brainwane's excellent ongoing series of short story FPPs. Not all will fit your criteria but certainly some will.
posted by rekrap at 10:03 AM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Three recent short story collections that I enjoyed which may be up your alley:

- Sisters of the Revolution collection, edited by the VanderMeers (I'm not done this one yet, but I haven't read a story in it that I haven't liked. Various authors though, and many from your list)
- Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin. She's one of my favourite new authors.
- Cat Person and other stories (also marketed as You Know You Want This) by Kristen Roupenian (on the darker side; many are more "strange" than the title story, which went viral)

Also check out my previous ask for some other suggestions that I haven't got to, yet! Really want to check out Daisy Johnson's Fen (based on how much I loved her novel) and Zoe Gilbert's Folk.
posted by Paper rabies at 10:35 AM on September 22, 2020

Oh oh oh also definitely Karen Tidbeck's Jagannath!
posted by Paper rabies at 10:43 AM on September 22, 2020

Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho is GREAT. If you want to test the waters on her writing, If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again is my personal fave and is available at the link for free.
posted by peppercorn at 10:57 AM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Maybe Elizabeth Bear's Shoggoths in Bloom. I haven't read the whole collection but I have read the title story and thought it was very good.
posted by crocomancer at 11:41 AM on September 22, 2020

Aliette de Bodard doesn't have a published short story collection, but most of her short stories are linked from her website. I particularly like her Xuya universe stories, my favorite being Scattered Along The River Of Heaven.
posted by Frowner at 12:17 PM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin is a compilation that covers some of the angles. The obscure vintage/pulp pieces that start the collection are fairly clever and don't feel too dated.
posted by ovvl at 12:37 PM on September 22, 2020

Check out Luna Station Quarterly and Holdfast Magazine.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2020

Great question. Thanks for asking.

Sarah Pinsker's And Then There Were (N-one)
+1 on Zen Cho. Here is a link to her own list of her short fiction. My favorite is The House of Aunts.
They are novellas so possibly too long, but Martha Wells's Murderbot series is excellent.
Check out Naomi Kritzer's So Much Cooking. It's so prescient about our situation these days that she wrote an essay about it: Didn’t I Write This Story Already? When Your Fictional Pandemic Becomes Reality. She also has a funny story that might be better for these times: Cat Pictures Please
Not all women, but I subscribe to Tor's newsletter. They make short story collections (and other ebooks ) available for free. Here's a link.
posted by AMyNameIs at 2:30 PM on September 22, 2020

you want Wild Milk by Sabrina Orah Mark
posted by kokaku at 4:59 PM on September 22, 2020

Kelly Link, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Susanna Clarke, Camilla Grudova
posted by Miss T.Horn at 1:04 PM on September 23, 2020

Lucy Snyder, Installing Linux on Dead Badger
posted by mark k at 1:46 PM on September 23, 2020

I appreciate all the answers, everyone, but I marked best the suggestions for specific collections (or writers with collections). Thanks!
posted by xenization at 8:57 AM on September 24, 2020

Maybe Fire Watch by Connie Willis? There's also Impossible Things, and A Lot Like Christmas would be worth it just for "All Seated on the Ground," which I thought was delightful.
posted by kristi at 10:32 AM on September 24, 2020

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