However, when I was younger, I used to actively avoid reading books by female authors, unless I’d heard overwhelming support for a particular book.
*gasp* I know. I’m a traitor to my gender. We live in a culture of gender-bias that tends to skew male, and I had internalized some of this bias.
Why I Used to Avoid Reading Books by Women
In my pre-teens, one of my favorite books was by Andre Norton. But as I moved into my teenage years, I began to avoid SFF books by women.
Back then, browsing shelf-by-shelf at the bookstore or library was the only way I found books to read, other than a few recommendations from friends (though I had few who read in the genre). At that time, a boom in paranormal romance rocked the shelves of the brick-and-mortar stores.
|Fishnets by Jim C. Hines, on Flickr
See his blog for more info.
I tried a few, but they just weren’t what I wanted to read. What I dislike about paranormal romance:
- The skin-baring women on the covers…
- The romance/erotic plots thinly veiled by a layer of fantasy window-dressing…
- The “strong female characters,” which in PR just seems to mean women who know what they want (sex) and how to get it.
I don’t read in the romance genre. But I hated paranormal romance because I viewed it as romance masquerading as my beloved SFF. And since I didn’t see many (any?) male authors writing PR, they were “safe.”
Instead of recognizing it was a subgenre I didn’t have a taste for, I developed a bias against female authors.
But that’s stupid. Female authors also…
- speculate on the effects of superstorms with science fiction
- develop unique secondary-world fantasy not based on Tolkien races
- create zombie plagues
- worldbuild epic fantasy on the edge of time
- write contemporary speculative fiction
- imagine future fantasy
- add a dash of politics to hard science fiction
- punk out with the best of them and write steampunk
- embrace the darkness with dark fantasy
- engage us with gripping post-apocalyptic novels
- blend science fiction and fantasy
Now that ebooks are booming, it’s easier than ever to find books in the subgenres of speculative fiction I like. I read widely in science fiction and fantasy, and the only subgenres I tend to dislike are paranormal romance, detective/mystery urban fantasy, military SF, romantic SF, horror… and space opera can be iffy.
Avoiding female authors because of a dislike of a certain subgenre is ridiculous. There’s no excuse for using gender bias to choose what to read.
And I need to make up for lost time. My next post will detail which science fiction and fantasy novels by female authors I intend to read in 2014.
This post is part of a series:
- Reading retrospective (what I managed to read in 2012 and 2013)
- Why I avoided reading female authors (this post itself)
- 2014: Year of the Female Author (what I plan to read next year)
(Final note: I feel I must mention that while gender is a false dichotomy, I used what the authors identified as on Goodreads.)
Finding Female Authors
If your to-be-read pile is full of testosterone, and like me, you realize you’ve skewed heavily male over the past few years, here are a few resources to help you find great books by female authors.
- 10 Best Science Fiction By Women (Future Classics) by Jo Walton on Tor.com
- Female Science Fiction Author Reading List on Sci-Fi Fan Letter (broken down by subgenre!)
- Mind Meld: The Best Women Writers in SF/F on SF Signal
- Periodic Table Of Fabulous [Female] Writers (PDF)
- The 10 Greatest Female Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors Of All Time according to FlavorWire
What do you plan to read in 2014?
Leave a comment below or find me as +Traci Loudin on Google+, the perfect place for fans of science fiction and fantasy to hang out. I’m also obviously on Goodreads, as well as Twitter and Facebook to a lesser extent.