The SFF Female Author Project: Week Two

Welcome back to this weekly series featuring women who write science fiction and fantasy. To find more posts in this series, check the tag “SFF Female Author Project.”

184786March 5th – Karin Lowachee

Karin Lowachee is perhaps best known for her science fiction novel Warchild, which won the Warner Aspect First Novel prize in 2001. Warchild remains one of the best science fiction novels I’ve ever read, a haunting coming of age story about a young boy healing from a traumatic childhood. Be warned, it is an extremely dark book.  In addition to Warchild and its sequels, Karin Lowachee has also published a fantasy novel, The Gaslight Dogs, and has had short stories included in various anthologies.

Recommended starting place: Warchilda space opera novel focusing on the effects of war on child psychology.

9461562March 6th – Martha Wells

Martha Wells has one of the best imaginations I’ve ever encountered in fantasy fiction. She uses her background as an anthropologist to craft some of the most original fantasy cultures I’ve ever read, and her prodigious imagination extends to the biology and physical landscapes her characters encounter. This year will mark the end of her Raksura series, the tale of scaled shapeshifters inhabiting an entirely non-human world. However, given her vast back list full of similarly impressive books, I have faith that Martha Wells will continue to create wonderful works of fiction.

Recommended starting place: The Cloud Roads, set in an entirely non-human world, or Death of the Necromancer, a gaslight fantasy, or City of Bones, a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel.

153220March 7th – Michelle West/Michelle Sagara

Michelle Sagara is an author of young adult and adult urban fantasy novels. Under the name “Michelle West,” she also publishes epic fantasy. The sheer quantity of material Michelle Sagara’s written is mind boggling, and I’ve only scratched the surface of her back list. She’s got a YA series, a fourteen book long urban fantasy series, and four separate epic fantasy series. What I most love about her work is how she has such a quantity and variety of female characters and includes relationships between them. Her epic fantasy work is some the best I’ve every read for female characters.

Recommended starting place: The Broken Crown, the beginning of a six book long epic fantasy saga.

Image result for jonathan strange and mr norrellMarch 8th – Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke has a relatively short bibliography. She’s only had one novel published, Jonathan Stange & Mr Norrell, and a collection of related short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories. Yet for such few published works, Susanna Clarke has had tremendous success. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell won the World Fantasy Award and was later excellently adopted into a BBC miniseries. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a historical fantasy novel where two magicians return magic to a Regency England.

Recommended starting place: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intricate historical fantasy novel.

Image result for intisar khanani booksMarch 9th – Intisar Khanani

Intisar Khanani is a relatively successful indie author who writes YA fantasy. She’s likely best known for her novel Thorn, a retelling of the fairy tale “The Goose Girl.” She is currently writing an ongoing fantasy series about a girl with hidden magical powers who’s going up against the mage council and an evil wizard who’s manipulating it. Her books are fun, her female characters have agency, and her worlds are beautifully described. She’s among my most favorite indie authors.

Recommended starting place: Sunbolt, the beginning of a YA fantasy series.

20706317March 10th – Claire North/Kate Griffin/Catherine Webb

Catherine Webb practically has a pen name for every subgenre she writes. She writes YA fantasy under her own name, Catherine Webb. Under the name Kate Griffin, she writes urban fantasy novels which take place in a magical version of London. As Claire North she writes adult speculative fiction that is often hard to define in terms of an explicit subgenre. Her Claire North titles usually have a “what if” question at their center – such as “what if” everyone forgot you as soon as they met you?” (The Sudden Appearance of Hope).

Recommended starting place: A Madness of Angels, an urban fantasy novel (Kate Griffin), or Touch, a speculative thriller (Claire North).

Image result for diana wynne jones cover artMarch 11th – Diana Wynne Jones

Have you ever seen the movie Howl’s Moving Castle? Did you know it was a book first? If yes, than you’re probably already familiar with the work of Diana Wynne Jones, an acclaimed children’s and YA fantasy author. If not, than it’s high time you give something by her a try. She has an extensive back list which even I haven’t read all of yet. Her work has easy appeal to many different age groups thanks to her charming but flawed characters and imaginative stories.

Recommended starting place: Howl’s Moving Castle, a fairy-tale like YA novel, Deep Secret, an adult sci-fi novel taking place at a con, or The Dark Lord of Derkholm, a YA novel where inhabitants of a fantasy world have to deal with quest seeking tourists from our world.

Review of The Voices of Martyrs by Maurice Broaddus

29362866The Voices of Martyrs by Maurice Broaddus. ★★★1/2

In these stories, Maurice Broaddus speaks with the voices of martyrs – past, present, and future. The anthology is divided accordingly into these sections. All or almost all of these stories involve some fantasy or science fiction element. Personally, I found I liked the future stories the best.

The collection begins with “Warrior of the Sunrise Rite of Passage,” the tale of a woman warrior in a long ago Africa, battling strange and ferocious monsters. From there, the collection moves to areas of the past that are more easily pinpointed in history books. “Rite of Passage” tells of the Atlantic Slave Trade.  In “Ah Been Buked,” a young woman survives slavery in the American South. “A Solider’s Story” is narrated by a vampire who witnesses the unspeakable destruction of a town’s black community. And in “Shadow Boxing” an up and coming boxer fights against segregation. I’m not one hundred percent sure if “Rite of Passage” and “Shadow Boxing” had speculative elements, but they’re the outliers in that regard.

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Review of Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks

28695584Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks. ★★★

Centuries ago, wars ruined the earth, destroying cities and wrecking the environment. But humanity remains as people struggle to survive in the harsh world that remains. But an ancient and powerful war machine, Lotus Blue, has awaken in the desert, and what’s left of the world may be at risk.

Lotus Blue has a variety of POV characters, but the protagonist is clearly Star, who has far more sections than anyone else. Star and her sister Nene live and travel with a caravan of traders, heading up and down the Sand Road. But unfolding events have a cataclysmic effect upon the caravan, drawing Star into the quest to stop Lotus Blue.

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The SFF Female Author Project: Week One

This month I will be highlighting female authors who write science fiction and fantasy. It’s remarkable that people still say that women don’t write science fiction or fantasy, but I thought I might as well use it as the chance to highlight some women doing wonderful work within the genres. Let’s begin!

19161852March 1st – N.K. Jemisin

Hopefully you’ve already heard of N.K. Jemisin, who’s currently taking the fantasy book community by storm. She gained quite a bit of popularity for her debut book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and has since won the Hugo award for her novel The Fifth Season. N.K. Jemisin writes brilliantly imaginative fantasy novels populated with a diverse cast of characters. From epic tales of gods and mortals to a world of constant apocalypses, her creations never fail to wow me.

Recommended starting place: The Fifth Seasona novel about a woman’s quest through a dying world to find her daughter.

1124884March 2nd – Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley is another author you may have heard of. She made her name with the Newberry Award winning young adult fantasy novel, The Hero and the Crown. She’s always been a big proponent of “girls who do things” and continues to craft stories with courageous young women. She has two distinct styles. For her more fairy tale like works, she tends towards very beautiful and lyric prose. For her urban fantasy, she tends to use a first person, stream of consciousness type narration. Even if you don’t enjoy one style, odds are you might like the other.

Recommended starting place: The Hero and the Crown, a young adult fantasy about a dragon slaying princess, or Sunshine, an adult fantasy novel about a woman who discovers her own power when she begins to tangle with vampires.

21466216March 3rd – S. L. Huang

S.L. Huang is an independent author writing the tremendously fun Russell’s Attic series. Cas Russell has a superpower – she’s really, really good at math. But while she might have superpowers, Cas is no superhero. She uses her skills to work as a mercenary, and she doesn’t much care about following the law or restraining herself from killing people who get in her way. But the series includes more character growth than you find in your usual action packed, science fiction thriller, and I love the focus on found family.

Recommended starting place: Zero Sum Gamea fast paced story with an anti-heroic lead

671560March 4th – Lynn Flewelling

Lynn Flewelling is an epic fantasy author who often focuses on themes surrounding sexuality and gender. She’s mainly known for her Nightrunner series, an ongoing fantasy about two thieves who fight against dark forces. The series takes place in a gender egalitarian world where same-sex relationships are completely normal and accepted. The two male protagonists get together in the second book. She’s also written a prequel trilogy to the Nightrunner series, the Tamir Triad, a gender bending story about a hidden heir to the throne.

Recommended starting place: Luck in the Shadowsthe start to a m/m epic fantasy series, or The Bone Doll’s Twin, the start to the prequel epic fantasy trilogy

Review of Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

29560003Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron. ★★★★

Island of Exiles is a survival focused YA fantasy novel that may appeal to fans of The Hunger Games.

The desert island of Shiara is a harsh world where allegiance to the clan means all. Khya, a young warrior, has ambitions to the council that helps the immortal elders rule the clan. Only one thing can rival Khya’s loyalty to the clan… her loyalty to her younger brother. So when her brother is endangered, Khya faces a choice that will reshape everything she knows about her world.

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