10 of the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Women Writers

Looking for a great book to read? In honor of Women’s History Month, why not pick up a book by a fabulous female author! Here are some of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy women writers! (In no particular order)

1. Jacqueline Carey

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Carey is probably best known for her novel Kusheil’s Dart. The book is an alternate history fantasy novel set in medieval-esque times. It’s all about intrigue, and it’s epic. Her writing is so detailed. I’ve reread Kusheil’s Dart so many times, and each time I get completely transported to her world. She has a few other series, and their tone is very different. Her newest series is very urban fantasy. Regardless of the style she’s writing in, Carey is fantastic. Check out the books she’s written!

2. Mary Robinette Kowal

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Kowal writes gorgeous books. Basically, if you took a Jane Austen novel and added a bit of subtle magic to it, you’d get Kowal’s Glamourist History series. The style is spot-on, and her writing is precise, in as much as she exhaustively researches the time period and makes sure to not be anachronistic. The first novel in that series is called Shades of Milk and Honey, and after I read it, I immediately snatched up the second book. Check out the books she’s written!

3. Anne McCaffrey

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McCaffery is a legend. Her Dragonriders of Pern series is fantastic and expansive. I grew up reading the series, and I loved it. I’m pretty sure she irrevocably influenced the way I imagine dragons when I read fantasy novels. Her Pern series is really interesting, because even though they start out squarely in the fantasy genre, as you go through the series, they travel towards the sci-fi end of the spectrum. Check out the books she’s written over her lifetime.

4. Laini Taylor

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The first book I read of Taylor’s was Daughter of Smoke & Bone. I was floored. Her descriptions are hauntingly beautiful, and the story is rich and mystical. She brings ancient folk stories to life in modern times. I freaking love her books! If you’re in the mood for something that you literally can’t put down, check out her books. You won’t be disappointed. And, if you like audio books, check out the Daughter of Smoke & Bone audio book. The narrator is incredibly evocative.

5. Ursula K. Le Guin

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Le Guin is another staple of the literary community. I know her by her Wizard of Earthsea books, which are fabulous. Like many excellent books, they tried to make a TV series out of it, and failed miserably to live up to the quality of the books. The Earthsea books are very short, but packed with amazingness. If you don’t have time to read an epic, sprawling novel, but still want a book of high quality, pick up these books. Check out all of the books she’s written.

6. Madeline L’Engle 

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I started reading L’Engle’s books when I was a child, and the first book I read, A Wrinkle in Time, blew my mind. I was easily able to relate to the characters, and the scenarios were amazingly fantastic. I loved her explanations of how these fantastic things were able to be accomplished. Seriously worth reading, or rereading if you’re feeling nostalgic. Or, if you feel like diving into a new book of hers, check out all of the books she’s written.

7. Marion Zimmer Bradley

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Bradley is another fantasy staple. The Mists of Avalon is awesome; I actually made one of my first friends in middle school because of that book. There was a TV show made out of it, and it was awful. I’ve read a ton of her Avalon books, and I absolutely love her book about Cassandra of Troy called Firebrand. Her books are probably some of the first historical fiction novels I ever read. Here’s a list of all of her books.

8. Mercedes Lackey

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I freaking love Mercedes Lackey. I literally have more than a whole shelf dedicated to her books. I inhaled her books as a kid. Many of her books feature strong female protagonists who kick ass, and they continue to inspire me. Seriously, if you haven’t read some of her books, you should pick one up. Or, if you have children, buy one of these books for them. Check out all the books she’s written.

9. Robin McKinley

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McKinley is awesome. I still sometimes flash back to the first two books I read by her, The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. She writes really strong female characters who refuse to abide by the gender stereotypes of their worlds. They persevere through pain and fear, and while they succeed, they often face horrible consequences – but even then, they manage to overcome. Super inspiring and super awesome. Here’s a list of all of her books.

10. N. K. Jemisin

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I recently discovered N. K. Jemisin (thanks to the awesome book club Vaginal Fantasy), and man, is she an awesome writer. I’ve only read her book A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and it is gorgeous. I devoured the book in two nights. About halfway through, there was no way I was going to put the book down until I was finished. I am super excited to pick up her other books and add them to my growing list of “books I really need to read.” Check out all of the other books she’s written.

These are just some of my favorite female writers. Who are your favorites?!

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5 thoughts on “10 of the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Women Writers

  1. LOL I swear I have had that exact same fantasy!

    I’ve added some of your choices to my “to be read” pile as well. Often though, many of these great authors like to write these huge multi-volume tomes, Marion Zimmer Bradley especially. I tend to love them with a passion, but if I were to attempt to read all the Darkover series I don’t think I’d have time for much else. 🙂

    The Giver is actually the first in a series as well, but it works great as a stand-alone and I’ve never read the others. I think it was intended originally to be a stand-alone.

    • Coolio! Yeah, I’ve seen the book and it looks short. Right now I’m in the middle of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera novels, which are fantastic, but long!

      I love Marion Zimmer Bradley, but I don’t think I’m ever going to re-read her stuff! Each book is like a thousand pages! Fantastic pages, but way a lot of pages! Yeah, I’ve never read her Darkover series! And I actually gravitate towards long-ass novels, so reading a ton doesn’t really happen for me. Womp womp 🙂

  2. I love Suzanne Collins!! I ripped through the Hunger Games books.

    And yes, great point about Mary Shelly! I almost put her on, but the (embarrassingly) I haven’t read “Frankenstein!” Be assured it’s on my list. I also haven’t read “The Giver” either! Shame on me I know!

    And I’ve seen House of the Scorpion at the store, and just never picked it up. Now it seems I must add her to my list!

    Glad you liked my list! And thanks for your suggestions! My list of “books to read” is so huge. I wish there was like an alternate dimension that I could step into where time stops here and I could just read books in that dimension. That would be pretty cool. Work on that Science!

  3. Great list!

    Ah so many books, so little time. Some obvious choices are J. K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Veronica Roth. Let’s not forget Anne Rice either. And of course, there is the original science fiction author: Mary Shelly. Where would we be without Frankenstein?

    I’ve only read one book by Nancy Farmer: House of the Scorpion. I thought it was exceptional. It’s about cloning, but more broadly it’s about the natural human tenancy to dehumanize those who are not like us.

    Lois Lowry has written in several genres, and I’ve only ever read “The Giver.” by her. I’m glad I have. I would say it’s about how the difficulties of life are the things that give life value. The upcoming movie version is looking really stupid sadly. I hope I’m wrong.

  4. One of my favorites is Diana Wynne Jones! She wrote The Dark Lord of Derkholm and Howl’s Moving Castle, among many other books. Gail Carson Levine is great too (Ella Enchanted, The Two Princesses of Bamarre). I’m adding these women to my list!

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