And they’re all women

18 02 2009

As a corollary to my last post, I just realized that all the authors I talked about (Jensen, Willis, Monette, and Clarke) are women. In fact, although like many fans of SF/F I started off with Tolkien and Lewis, I find myself drawn primarily to women writers in current SF/F these days. As I think about the books I’ve read in the past year for the first time, these are the ones that stand out to me:

  • Elizabeth Bear, Blood and Iron
  • Bear, Whiskey and Water
  • Susanna Clarke, The Ladies of Grace Adieu
  • Pamela Dean, The Secret Country Trilogy
  • Dean, Tam Lin
  • Neil Gaiman, American Gods
  • Gaiman, Stardust
  • Diana Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock

All women, except for Gaiman, who (let’s be honest) is kind of in a class of his own anyway.

I should add that I started Gene Wolfe’s The Wizard Knight, and while I really liked the world, it all just felt too macho-male for my tastes. I mean, he’s a boy who magically becomes a man by sexing up a fairy queen, and then he spends most of the first book looking for a magical sword. The symbolism is pretty obvious. Maybe it gets better in the second book, but the first one just made me roll my eyes a lot, given that none of the female characters play more than a walk-on role in the narrator’s Great Phallic Quest.

ANYWAY.

On my to-read list:

  • Bear, The Stratford Man (consisting of Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth)
  • Marie Brennan, Midnight Never Come
  • Lois McMaster Bujold, The Hallowed Hunt
  • Bujold, Miles in Love (omnibus consisting of Komarr, A Civil Campaign, and Winterfair Gifts, a novella.  I know, I can’t believe I’ve never read A Civil Campaign either)
  • Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
  • Scott Lynch, Red Seas Under Red Skies
  • Michæla Roessner, The Stars Dispose
  • Jo Walton, The King’s Peace
  • Walton, Tooth and Claw

Dominated by women. This is fantastic. (Pun really not intended.)

I’ll have to think more about the male writers I read, and why their novels don’t stand out to me as quite so interesting. The only really memorable male writers I’ve read lately have been Scott Lynch and Neil Gaiman. It could just be that the women in SF/F have really got it going on these days, and rightfully so, but this is food for thought. Delicious, captivating fairy food.

After I finish Jensen, Marie Brennan’s Midnight Never Come is next on my list. I’ll be thinking about it in contrast with Michael Moorcock’s Gloriana and Bear’s Stratford Man duology. I’m interested to see how they handle the sexual politics of the Elizabethan court differently based on their respective versions of the queen.

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