Do you tend to gravitate toward a certain genre? Maybe books with a similar theme or tone? In reflecting on my reading habits recently, I’ve found that when I hit a lull in my borrowing, I always fall back on science fiction with a feminist bend. I love the play on gender, sexuality, and gender roles and find it fascinating to imagine a world so different from our own. Whether the author envisions a near-future deeply rooted in our world, or an entire civilization outside of our current understanding, I am always drawn to women’s experience of the future. Sometimes I hate them, sometimes I love them, but these books always get me thinking. Here’s a few favorites:
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler: Suffering from a hereditary trait that causes her to feel the pain of others as well as her own, a young woman flees her small community to make her way toward a refuge in Northern California. Octavia Butler is the best of the best to me. I love her spare and powerful prose and her thought-provoking analyses of humanity.
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz: In a parallel-world America where time travel is possible, a secret time editing war is waged between the Daughters of Harriet who fight for women’s rights, and a group of men trying to strip women of all human rights. This book was a random grab for me, and I was so excited by it. It’s compellingly written, action-packed, and so smart.
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett: In an insular community where men hold all the power, women are sent, at the age of sixteen, into the wilderness until they are purified of a dark magic and allowed to return home to marry. But is the magic real, or does paranoia take hold of the community? I’d characterize this YA novel as a mash-up of The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies. It’s bleak and disturbing, with fascinating characters and a slow unraveling of information that adds to the suspense.
The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper: Three hundred years after a nuclear war, society is divided; women have segregated most men into military garrisons and have taken on every other function of society themselves. A young woman defies orders leading to a decision that could have momentous repercussions. This is a leisurely paced, imaginative world written by a total powerhouse of the genre. If you’ve not read anything by Tepper, this is a great one to start with.
Want even more feminist sci-fi? Check out this list for some ideas. And be sure to drop me a comment sharing your faves!