Welcome back to my March series focusing on some of the women writing spectacular science fiction and fantasy!
March 19th – Kameron Hurley
Kameron Hurley has written some of the most memorable science fiction and fantasy novels I’ve ever read. While the start of her epic fantasy series The Mirror Empire was ultimately too grimdark for my taste, I admire her inventive world building and dedication to creating complicated, unlikable female characters. She’s also written several science fiction books, including the Bel Dame Apocrypha series (begins with God’s War) and a stand alone space opera with an all female cast, The Stars Are Legion. She’s written essays relating to the science fiction and fantasy genre, most notably the moving “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative.”
Recommended starting place: The Stars Are Legion, a science fiction novel about a fleet of warring organic planets, or The Geek Feminist Revolution, a collection of feminist essays relating to science fiction and fantasy topics.
March 20th – Leigh Bardugo
So far, all of Leigh Bardugo’s published work has been YA fantasy and set in the same fantasy world. She came onto the SFF scene with the Grisha trilogy, which begins with Shadow and Bone. The story has some familiar YA elements – a girl Chosen One, a love triangle, ect – set in a country that seemed loosely based off of Russia. Her next series, by contrast, was an ensemble cast heist story, Six of Crows. I wasn’t hugely fond of the Grisha trilogy, but I adored Six of Crows and it’s sequel. The pacing’s fast, the world well rendered, and the characters unforgettable.
Recommended starting place: Six of Crows, a YA fantasy heist novel.
March 21st – Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor writes both fantasy and science fiction. She’d written some YA fantasy before venturing into adult work with Who Fears Death, which won her the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. She later wrote a science fiction themed prequel, The Book of Phoenix, and the stand alone novel Lagoon, where aliens invade Nigeria. She’s currently writing two young adult series – the novella Binti and its sequel about a girl who accepts a scholarship to a university on another planet and Akata Witch, which is about an albino Nigerian girl who discovers she has magical powers.
Recommended starting place: Who Fears Death, a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, or Lagoon, an alien invasion novel.
March 22nd – Emma Bull
Emma Bull began publishing science fiction and fantasy novels back in the 80’s. Her novel War for the Oaks helped establish the urban fantasy genre and became an invaluable piece of genre history. She’s also known for the 1991 post-apocalyptic novel with fantasy elements, Bone Dance, which featured an agender narrator. Her most recent work is the 2007 weird Western novel Territory. She is the co-creator of the shared universe Liavek and has contributed to Terri Windling’s Borderland stories.
Recommended starting place: War for the Oaks, an urban fantasy novel involving the fae and music.
March 23rd – Noriko Ogiwara
Noriko Ogiwara is a Japanese fantasy author who was inspired to create fantasy novels that blended Tolkien and the Western fantasy tradition with Japanese culture, history, and mythology. Unfortunately, only two of her books have been translated into English. The good news is that while these stories are part of a trilogy, they can be read independently so the lack of the third book isn’t as painful. These novels are Dragon Sword and Wind Child and Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince. She has another fantasy series with an English manga adaption, The Good Witch of the West.
Recommended starting place: Dragon Sword and Wind Child, a high fantasy novel inspired by Japanese mythology.
March 24th – Catherynne M. Valente
Catherynne M. Valente is the author of fantastical stories, both short form and novel length, adult and young adult. Her prose is beautiful and lyrical, and her work often explores themes of gender and sexuality. The first book in her YA series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, won the Locus Award for best YA novel and was the first self published novel to ever win a major award. The awards she has won or been nominated for include the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy Award, Tiptree, and Lambda.
March 25th – Kat Howard
Kat Howard has recently published her debut novel, Roses and Rot, a fairy tale inspired story about two sisters at an artist’s retreat. However, before then she had a career as the author of fantasy short stories and has been published in venues such as Lightspeed, Uncanny, Subterranean, Apex, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies and included in anthologies such as The Starlit Wood. Her short work has been nominated for awards such as the World Fantasy Award. She is an up and coming author who’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.