Women Writing Hard Science Fiction

March 21st, 2009

There aren’t a lot of them in my estimation, unfortunately, so let’s celebrate the women who do write hard science fiction and encourage others.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog entry about women in science.   There’s not a lot of women in physics or other hard sciences, and the primary reason is not discrimination it seems, but according to the latest research (which I’ve also blogged about before, at least in Starlinks) several issues involving wanting families which hits the career hard, preferring working with people to machines/tools, etc.   For science fiction, the story is likely similar, as women seem to avoid hard science fiction in the same way as hard science.   [And hard here, for the record, means the physical sciences which are very quantitative and robust compared to softer sciences like sociology.]

In the linked post above, I referred to a review of one hard science fiction anthology edited by Hartwell and Cramer, in which Cynthia Ward wrote:

You may have noticed the lack of women in that list. It reflects the book: the 30-odd contributors (some with two stories) include only three women (Nancy Kress, Joan Slonczewski, and Sarah Zettel, with one story each). Some eyebrow-elevating omissions are Eleanor Arnason, Catherine Asaro, Nicola Griffith, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Connie Willis, all of whom have written hard SF stories in the period covered by The Hard SF Renaissance.

There, and here, I will disagree with her most of her omissions, as those writers don’t write much short fiction or much hard science fiction when they do write at short lengths, and usually not at longer lengths, in my opinion.   Catherine Asaro definitely meets the bar, at least my bar, for what is serious hard science fiction.   Willis and Arnason do not, Le Guin rarely if at all, and I haven’t read Nicola Griffith.

In general, I haven’t read enough of the field either to do a proper survey.   What I want to do is to make a list of the women I know who write hard science fiction at least semi-regularly, as best I can estimate from my own reading or descriptions/reviews, and solicit input from you for more.   So, here goes.   I’ll try to link to at least one book that is, or looks like, hard science fiction.

Catherine Asaro. The Last Hawk.

Nancy Kress.   Probability Sun.

Laura Mixon.   Burning Ice.

Syne Mitchell.   End in Fire.

Joan Slonczewski.   A Door into Ocean.

Linda Nagata.   Vast.

Chris Moriarty.   Spin State.

Kathleen Anne Goonan.   Queen City Jazz.

Brenda Cooper.   The Silver Ship and the Sea.

Alexis Glynn Latner.   Hurricane Moon.

Pat Cadigan.   Synners.

Others?   I’m sure I’m missing a few obvious writers who are only obvious in hindsight.   Or some writers here that really aren’t all that hard about the science on closer inspection?   I have a kindle to fill up and would like to add some hard sf above and beyond the usual suspects.

Please be encouraged to make corrections or offer other suggestions.   I’m really looking for stuff with some science integral to the story and not an overwhelming amount of totally implausible stuff.   Thanks!


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