Time and time again, we hear: “Women don’t read science fiction. Women don’t write science fiction.” We all know that’s bullshit. Time and time again, this cry is answered with examples to prove the statement wrong. Unfortunately, the same examples tend to be trotted out each time: Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Mary Shelley, Anne McCaffrey, and Shirley Jackson. There’s nothing wrong with these examples. They’re perfectly fine examples, and I’ve even used some of them myself in my Women to Read series, both here and at SF Signal. But what about the new voices in speculative fiction? The Shirley Jacksons of tomorrow? The names we’ll be pointing to in ten, twenty, thirty years, when the same damned question rears its head again?
So, calling on the power of the internet hivemind, I asked for examples of women who made their first speculative fiction sale (pro or otherwise) within the last two years or so. And lo! The internet delivered onto me a glorious list of names, which I’m delighted to share with you. Some names from the list will be elaborated upon in at least one, if not more, Women to Read post at SF Signal in the future.
I’ve done my best to track down links where available for author websites and first publications. If you see any glaring errors, feel free to let me know. If you have additions to the list, let me know that, too.
So, without further ado, I present the Epic List of Mighty New Voices in Speculative Fiction:
Corrected! Ada Hoffmann has informed me her first paid sale was The Chartreuse Monster, which appeared in Expanded Horizons in 2010. However, I will still recommend Harmony Among the Stars, which appeared in Future Lovecraft in 2011. And I will continue with my editorial crowing and recommend Ada’s Centipede Girl was published in Issue #2 of the Journal of Unlikely Entomology, also in 2011, and reprinted in Imaginarium 2012 The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Go, Ada!
Brit Mandelo started at the top, with her first story Though Smoke Shall Hide the Sun appearing at Tor.com in 2011. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she followed that up with another story at Tor.com in 2012, The Finite Canvas, which was a 2012 Nebula Nominee.
Brooke Bolander‘s first paid sale was actually in 2008, with Trickster Blues in Reflection’s Edge, though her next sale and also her first pro sale Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring appeared in Lightspeed in 2012.
Newly added 8/12: Brooke Wonders‘ first short story, Substitution, appeared in Daily Science Fiction in 2011. Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, who recommended Brooke’s addition to this list, highly recommends Brooke’s 2012 story, Everything Must Go, originally published at Clarkesworld, and reprinted in the Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2013.
Carlie St. George‘s first published story, Expiration Date, was part of Weird Tales’ One Minute Weird Tales Series in 2011. I’m not sure whether One Minute Weird Tales were paid or for the love, so I’ll also point toward the excellent This Villain You Must Create, which appeared in Lightspeed this year.
Carmen Maria Machado was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Award for New Writer’s in 2011. She’s been nominated for various awards since, but it’s not clear (to me at least), which of her stories was her first paid publication. That being the case, I’ll go with Inventory, which appeared in Strange Horizons in January 2013.
Newly added 8/12: Claire Corbett ‘s first novel, When We Have Wings, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2011. It was shortlisted for the 2012 Barbara Jeffries Award and the Ned Kelly Awards for Best First Fiction. The first chapter is available as a free download on Claire’s website.
Fran Wilde‘s first speculative fiction story, Everlasting appeared in Daily Science Fiction in 2011. If I remember correctly (never a sure bet with me), the first time I met Fran, she’s just made the sale. Poke into my archives, and you’ll see I highlighted Fran’s work as part of my first ever Women to Read post on this blog.
Hao Jingfang seems to have a story translated by Ken Liu forthcoming from Lightspeed, but I’m unclear whether it’s her first. Still, I’ll be keeping an eye on Lightspeed, and look forward to reading it when it comes out.
I don’t believe she has a website, but Jessica Barber’s first story, MonitorBot and the King of Pop, appeared in Strange Horizons in 2012, and I believe she was work forthcoming from Lightspeed as well.
Jessica Hilt also appears to be without a website, but her first story Kill Me Again was published in Bourbon Penn in 2012.
Kali Wallace‘s first story Botanical Exercises for Curious Girls appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2011. But just so you aren’t left without a link, her story The Liberators appeared in The Weird Fiction Review in 2012.
Karin Tidbeck‘s Augusta Prima appeared in Weird Tales in 2011, but again, for something to link to, I give you Drabblecast’s audio version of Jagannath, the title story in Karin’s recently published short story collection.
Corrected! Kat Howard‘s first published story was a Life in Fictions, which appeared in the anthology Stories. For something you can read immediately, I recommend Breaking the Frame, which appeared in Lightspeed in 2012.
Kelly Lagor is another one who started at the top, selling her first story, How to Make a Triffid, to Tor.com, where it was published in 2012. Now, a small editorial plug, if you’ll pardon my boldness: Kelly’s story, the Tower is forthcoming in The Journal of Unlikely Architecture later this month, so keep an eye out for it!
Laura Friis doesn’t appear to have a website, but her story Ushakiran appeared in Lightspeed in July 2013.
Leah Thomas doesn’t appear to have a website, but her first short story, Shards, appeared in Daily Science Fiction in 2011.
Luna Lindsey brings me to another editorial brag. I’m trying to keep them to a minimum, I promise. Her first paid sale was Let the Bugs Work Themselves Out to the Journal of Unlikely Entomology’s ‘hello world’ mini-issue in August 2012.
Margret Helgadottir‘s short story, Nora, won Fox Spirit Books’ International Talk Like a Pirate Day story competition in 2012, and was reprinted in June 2013 in their Piracy anthology. For something you can read immediately, I recommend The Rescue, which appeared in Luna Station Quarterly earlier this year.
I’m not entirely sure which of Misa Buckley‘s publications came first, but Out of This World: Three Romances, Three Unlikely Heroes was published in May 2013.
Rachel Verkade doesn’t appear to have a website, but her first story is Blood and Ivory, which appeared in On the Premises in 2011.
Sarah Grey doesn’t appear to have a website, but her story The Ballad of Marisol Brook appeared at Lightspeed in June 2013.
Tamsyn Muir doesn’t appear to have a website, but I believe her first published story is The House That Made Sixteen Loops of Time, which appeared in Fantasy Magazine in 2011.
Yukumi Ogawa doesn’t appear to have a website, but as far as I can tell, her first published story is Town’s End, which appeared in Strange Horizons this year.
A few additional authors were suggested, but they all seem to have fairly steady publishing histories going back farther than my arbitrary past two years(ish) point, but their works are still well-worth seeking out:
Sunny Moraine (who has appeared in the Journal of Unlikely Entomology, and who I’ve had the honor of sharing several ToCs with.)
So there you have it! A massive, epic, wonderful list of new voices in speculative fiction. Read their works, spread the word, and recommend additional names so the list can continue to evolve and grow. I expect to continue seeing wonderful works by all of these women in the future.
Thank you to everyone who gave me suggestions to help me build this list. Hopefully I didn’t miss anyone. I’d also like to applaud Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Tor.com for regularly publishing new and upcoming writers.