Women to Read: Where to Start Part 2

Women in Genre Month is over, but there are still several fabulous folks I want to highlight. So, as promised – and better late than never – I present part 2 of my list of women whose work I recommend seeking out, and a starting point (or two) to get you, er, started.

Fran Wilde : She connects authors with authors, and authors with readers, while illuminating an often overlooked aspect of worldbuilding through her fantastic Cooking the Books series of interviews: food. We all eat it, many of us love it, but we often take it for granted. Fran’s series of interviews focusing on food in SF/F/H has opened my eyes, and made me look at many works in a new way. For that reason, I recommend starting at her blog, looking up every interview she’s conducted, then proceeding from there to read all her other entries. Once you’re done with that, seek out her story Without in Nature’s Futures series, then keep your eyes peeled because her name will be everywhere soon.

Damien Walters Grintalis: Here is yet another author where I had trouble picking just one story to recommend as a starting point. There are so many works to choose from, all brilliant, and like so many authors on my list, she is just everywhere recently. But since I have to pick something, I’ll go with Dysphonia in D Minor, a story dripping with rich and gorgeous language, and urge you to seek out her other work from there.

Ekaterina Sedia: Another author who likely needs no introduction. I could point to any number of her works as a valid staring point, but I’ll go with The House of Discarded Dreams, a beautiful, hallucinatory novel that managed to simultaneously take me by surprise with its power and solidify my love of the author’s writing.

Maria Dahvana Headley: I’m somewhat ashamed to admit this, but I only discovered her work last year. However one story convinced me to seek out everything she’s written, and that is Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream. Like other works on my list, it hits so many of my fictional sweet spots and it is beautifully written. I couldn’t help but love it.

Elizabeth Bear : Once again, an author who needs no introduction. She’s so prolific, I’m convinced she doesn’t sleep. In terms of a starting point, I can’t help recommending the place I started – Blood and Iron. I stumbled across a review, was intrigued, sought out the book, and it delivered so much more than promised. I was smitten in an instant, subsumed by the use of language, and Elizabeth Bear earned herself a permanent spot on my must-read list from that moment on.

Nnedi Okorafor:  At every turn I found praise for Who Fears Death, which is the novel I recommend as a starting point for her work. It was one of those books that upon finishing it, I despaired over the fact I would never write anything that powerful or important, but rejoiced that such a novel existed in the world. All the praise heaped on it is deserved.

Bogi Takacs: Is another emerging name in fiction – one I strongly suspect you will soon be seeing everywhere. Even so, it’s her non-fiction reviews that first came to my attention, and so I’ll recommend her blog as a starting point. She focuses on under-represented voices in genre fiction, and consistently opens the way for valuable dialogue on racism, sexism, ableism, and other topics in need of discussion.

Genevieve Valentine: Here is another author whose work I picked up after seeing praise for  it at every turn, and where every bit of that praise is deserved. I point you to Mechanique, a novel that swept me away, made me despair of my own writing (again), made me fall in love, and made me hunger for more, in all the best ways.

Livia Llewellyn: I cannot recommend highly enough her short story collection Engines of Desire. And I can’t pick just one story from it to recommend as a starting point. The collection is dark and brutal and brilliant and unflinching. Just go read it, and you’ll understand.

Kelly Link: Her stories are shapeshifters. Every time I re-read one of her works, I question whether I’ve really read it before, or whether I just think I have. It’s rare these days to find an author whose mastered the short story genre, and gained recognition for it without novel to their name. I admire Kelly Link for that, and for her ability to fold a multiplicity of stories into every single story she writes.  As a starting point, I recommend her collection Stranger Things Happen, so you can get a fine sample of what she’s capable of doing.

This is still just a fraction of the incredible work out there. There may be another post coming, but in case I get distracted by something shiny, here are more women you should be reading: Mari Ness, Tori Truslow, Camille Alexa, Rachel Swirsky, Liz Argall, Aliette de Bodard, Nalo Hopkinson, Nicole Cipri, Desirina Boskovich, Cat Rambo, Megan Arkenberg, Kit Reed, Ada Hoffmann, Erin Morgenstern, Lauren Groff, Kelly Eskridge, and Kij Johnson.

There are so many others, and my brain is sadly inadequate to the task of doing them all justice. So now it’s your turn. Introduce me to someone whose work you love, and tell me where to start reading.

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